According to recent data gathered by the Content Marketing Institute, 89% of B2B marketers and 88% of B2C marketers surveyed are already using content marketing to drive everything from brand awareness to leads and sales.
Even more interesting is that the majority of these marketers plan on increasing the amount of content they produce this year compared to last.
That’s huge, and it’s a clear sign that, if you want to succeed online today, you need to be investing in content marketing.
But what if your team is stretched too thin to add another channel to its marketing mix, let alone one that can be as time and resource-intensive as content marketing? Fully outsourcing your campaigns may be a possibility, but it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly. Keep the following things in mind to ensure you’re outsourcing efforts are worthwhile and effective.
1. Understand the Components of a Content Marketing Campaign
First, understand that “fully outsourcing” your campaigns doesn’t just mean hiring a freelance writer or designer to throw together some company blog posts or an infographic. Effective content marketing is comprised of:
Planning: Initial research and strategy planning, encompassing audits of existing content, competitive analysis, and topic generation that’s informed by how close the reader is to converting to a lead
Execution: Delivery of content in a way that supports the strategic aims of the campaign
Measuring Success: Goal setting and ongoing metrics analysis to determine ROI and most effective content marketing formats
Imagine that you hire a freelance writer and say, “Please write an article for my company blog.”
Now, imagine that, before you hire that same writer, you do enough research that you’re able to say, “Based on our competitive analysis, we’d like you to write a blog post that’s 2,000 words long on the following subject, and incorporate the following call-to-action in order to target middle-of-funnel website visitors.”
It should be pretty obvious which scenario will give you better results. In this example, only the execution of content marketing is covered. Below, we’ll incorporate the strategy planning and goal setting component.
2. Plan to Outsource Your Content Marketing
As you begin to make a plan for outsourcing your content marketing, you need to determine which of these requirements – if any – you’ll handle internally. If you have the resources to keep strategy and metrics management in-house, that’s great (especially given that outsourcing these needs will be more expensive than outsourcing content creation alone).
However, if you aren’t able to take on the tasks associated with campaign planning and follow-through, you’ll need to outsource these as well. There’s no point in creating and deploying content if it doesn’t serve a strategic purpose for your organization.
Typically, when outsourcing content creation, you have two choices:
- Contracting with individual freelance workers, either those who specialize in a particular type of content creation or who have more strategic experience.
- Hiring an agency that can devote multiple team members with different areas of expertise to your project.
Working with agencies is-understandably-more expensive than hiring individual freelancers. That said, Kelsey Meyer, writing for Entrepreneur, shares another benefit to agency engagements that might interest some companies: the ability to scale content campaigns quickly.
3. Manage Your Outsourced Content Team
Whether you opt to work with a solo freelancer or a larger agency, know that even “fully” outsourcing your content marketing is rarely hands-off. If you’re handling strategy planning internally, individual freelancers will need instructions and guidance. Agency contracts, on the other hand, may need to be monitored to ensure you get the results you’ve paid for.
John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing shares the practical implication of these needs:
“If, however, you want to outsource anything in an effective manner you’ve got to do the work to create systems, processes and routines that ensure a high quality collaboration experience and a high quality end product.”
The types of systems, processes and routines you’ll need to build depend on the way you’ll outsource your content marketing. Keep in mind that, in many cases, you’ll be outsourcing to a remote worker or team you won’t be able to check up on in person.
There are plenty of online project management systems – such as Basecamp, Trello and Asana – that can be used to coordinate across regions and time zones. However, one of the best things you can do to keep your remote teams on track is to set clear expectations and hold your outsourced workers accountable.
4. Outline Clear Expectations
Wagepoint’s “Epic Guide to Employee Management” offers the following suggestion:
“Ensure that every employee under you is clear on what is expected of them and their role in the workplace. Whatever actions or behaviors you want to see in the employee need to be made known to them. Take the time to talk with the employee and go over what’s important to you, as well as the organization, and how the employee can help achieve the team’s goals.”
These recommendations hold true whether you’re handling some or all of your content marketing needs in-house with paid employees, or whether you’re outsourcing your projects to a freelancer or agency.
Make sure all the members of your team know what’s expected of them. Then, hold them accountable for the results you’ve requested. Yes, it’s slightly more effort than fully outsourcing your content marketing campaigns, but it will ensure you get the maximum value out of both the arrangements you create and the money you invest in them.
This is an archived post from the FreshBooks Blog and was originally published in April 2017.
about the author
Sujan is a leading expert in digital marketing. He is a hard working & high energy individual fueled by his passion to help people and solve problems. He is the co-founder of Web Profits, a growth marketing agency, and a partner in a handful of software companies including Mailshake, Narrow.io, Quuu, and Linktexting.com. Between his consulting practice and his software companies, Sujan’s goal is to help entrepreneurs and marketers scale their businesses.