If you’re hiring a content agency in the next 3 weeks, do this first

Content Marketing
June 20, 2023

In the current digital era, content marketing has become a crucial strategy for businesses aiming to reach their target audience and spur growth. However, consistently creating high-quality content can be a time- and resource-intensive challenge. This is where content agencies come into play. According to SEMrush’s The State of Content Marketing 2022 Global Report, 49% of marketing teams surveyed said they outsource some content creation tasks to an external agency.  

These specialized agencies possess the know-how to create compelling content that engages your audience and yields quantifiable outcomes. However, it's crucial to give your decision significant thought in order to discover the ideal content agency that aligns with your goals and provides the desired outcomes.

Step 1: Set your needs


Content marketing objectives

It's essential to establish your precise marketing goals at the outset of your collaboration with a content agency in order to assure success. Each objective requires a unique content strategy tailored to achieve the desired outcomes. While B2B brands may have a variety of goals, the following are some typical ones:

  • Lead Generation: If the primary objective is lead generation, the content agency can assist in creating high-converting content for lead generation campaigns. This may involve creating compelling landing pages, downloadable materials like eBooks or guides, engaging webinars, and blog posts that address the problems and requirements of potential leads. The quantity of leads collected, the lead conversion rate, and the return on investment (ROI) in lead generation are some key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be used to gauge lead generating success.
  • Website Traffic Increase: If the focus is increasing website traffic, the content agency can help develop a content strategy centered around search engine optimization (SEO), keyword research, and native distribution. This entails creating high-quality, relevant content that answers the target audience’s search queries and ranks favorably in search engine results. Unique visitors, keyword ranks, and average time on site are a few KPIs that may be used to gauge the success of boosting website traffic.
  • Brand Awareness Enhancement: If the primary objective is to enhance brand awareness, the content agency can help develop a strategy for creating content that reflects the brand's values and personality. This may include visually appealing content such as videos and graphics and engagement on relevant social media platforms for the target audience. Also, the agency can utilize content at scale to create a diverse range of engaging and visually appealing content pieces that resonate with the target audience. By leveraging content at scale, the agency can ensure a consistent presence across various platforms and channels, increasing the brand's visibility and reach. KPIs to measure success in brand awareness enhancement may include social media post reach, brand mentions, increased brand search traffic, and engagement metrics such as likes, comments, and shares.
  • Thought Leadership Establishment: If the goal is to establish thought leadership in the industry, the content agency can assist in creating educational and value-added content. This may involve publishing opinion articles, participating in conferences and webinars as a subject matter expert, and collaborating with influencers or thought leaders relevant to the industry. KPIs to measure success in thought leadership may include the number of relevant media appearances, follower and subscriber growth, and engagement and comments from industry experts on the content.

Target audience:

Content marketing target audience

Understanding the nuances of your target audience and their buying journey will significantly influence the type of content you create and the channels you utilize to reach them. Whether you are a B2B or B2C company, understanding the customer's path to purchase is crucial in shaping your content and selecting appropriate channels for reaching them.

For B2B companies, it is vital to identify the target markets, industries, accounts, and key decision-makers within the target organizations. This involves creating detailed buyer personas that encompass demographic information, job titles, responsibilities, pain points, motivations, and preferred communication channels. In the B2B space, the customer journey tends to be more complex and prolonged, involving multiple stakeholders and touchpoints. To gain valuable insights and define your ideal customer profile, you can use tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Clearbit, or InsideView.

On the other hand, B2C companies need to understand the desires, preferences, and behavior patterns of their target consumers. Buyer personas become even more crucial in this case, capturing information such as demographics, interests, hobbies, lifestyle choices, and preferred social media platforms. The B2C customer journey typically involves a shorter decision-making process, with a stronger emphasis on emotion and impulse. Therefore, content must be designed to captivate attention quickly and create an emotional connection with the consumer. Tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Audience Insights, or surveys can provide valuable data to define and refine your audience segments.

The major takeaway from this is that before approaching agencies, you need to be certain who your target audience is. If you’re thinking “the agency will build the buyer persona for me”, we have some bad news. There are 3 reasons agencies shouldn’t define your buyer persona:

  1. You and your team know what sells, what doesn’t, and who is most likely to buy. The agency doesn’t and will rely on you to tell them. There will be information that is lost in translation. 
  2. Although the agency may be skilled at developing and implementing marketing plans, it's possible that they don't have the same level of understanding and expertise with your particular sector, target market, and unique selling propositions as you and your team do.
  3. Your business is unique, with its own goals, values, and positioning in the market. While agencies may have experience working with various industries and target audiences, they might not fully grasp the intricacies of your specific business.

As-is stage:

Current marketing initiatives

To kickstart your search for a content agency, begin by evaluating your current marketing efforts and identifying the channels that have proven most effective in reaching your audience. Take stock of your existing assets, such as blog posts, videos, or social media posts, and assess their performance. This analysis not only provides insights into the type of content that has resonated with your audience but also reveals areas where the content agency can build upon existing successes.

Consider which content formats align with your objectives and resonate best with your target audience, and assess how often you need to produce content, considering the nature of your industry, the chosen content format, and the resources at your disposal.

If your company is starting from scratch without any developed marketing efforts or existing content, that's perfectly fine. A content agency can work with you right from the starting point, assisting in defining your goals, identifying your target audience, and creating a comprehensive content strategy.


Content marketing budget

Setting a realistic budget is essential to narrow down your options and find a content agency that aligns with your financial capabilities. While content marketing can be a cost-effective strategy, it's crucial to deploy resources wisely in order to get the intended outcomes. Communicate your budget constraints to the content agency during the selection process, allowing them to propose strategies that work within your financial framework.

Step 2: Research content agencies

Research content agencies

When it comes to finding the right content agency for your business, conducting thorough research is essential. Here are some steps to help you navigate through the research phase:

1. Online Reviews and Ratings: Begin your search by reading online reviews and ratings of various content agencies. Websites such as Clutch, UpCity, and Vendry provide platforms for clients to share their experiences and opinions. Look for agencies that consistently receive positive feedback and have a strong reputation for delivering high-quality content.

2. Portfolio Comparison: Reviewing the portfolios of potential content agencies is another crucial step. Take the time to explore the samples of their work to assess their style, quality, and range of expertise.

3. Gathering Recommendations and Referrals: Seeking recommendations and referrals from industry peers, colleagues, or professional networks can be valuable during your research process. Ask for suggestions from individuals who have worked with content agencies before or who have expertise in the marketing and content creation space.

4. Industry Experience: Ensure that the content agency you choose has experience in your industry or related fields. Industry-specific knowledge is invaluable when it comes to understanding your target audience, competitive landscape, and industry trends. Moreover, when researching content agencies, you can also look for those that have a comprehensive methodology of work designed to cater to companies from various industries. Castleberry, for example, stands out by combining data-driven insights with the involvement of industry experts in the content creation process.

Finding the right content agency is not just about their skills and expertise, but also about their ability to align with your brand's values and goals.

Step 3: Requesting proposals and conducting interviews 

This stage allows you to gather more information about the agencies, assess their capabilities, and make an informed decision. Here's a breakdown of what to consider during this phase:

1. Outlining Expectations and Requirements: Before requesting proposals, clearly outline your expectations, objectives, and specific requirements for the content agency. 

2. Setting up Interviews or Meetings: Set up interviews or meetings with selected agencies to get a better sense of their expertise and approach. During the interviews, ask relevant questions to assess the agency's experience, strategies, and fit with your business. Here are ten sample questions that you can consider:

a. How do you approach content strategy development, and how do you ensure it aligns with our business goals?

b. Can you provide examples of successful campaigns you have executed for clients in a similar industry?

c. How do you conduct audience research and ensure that the content resonates with our target audience?

d. What metrics and KPIs do you use to measure the success of content marketing campaigns?

e. How do you stay up to date with industry trends and ensure your strategies are current?

f. Can you explain your process for content creation and how you maintain brand consistency?

g. Do you employ artificial intelligence (AI) in your content creation process? If so, how is it utilized?

h. How do you handle content promotion and distribution across different channels?

i. Can you provide references or testimonials from clients you have worked with?

j. How do you approach content optimization for search engines and ensure our content ranks well?

3. Requesting Detailed Proposals: When requesting proposals, ask for comprehensive information that includes pricing, timelines, and a breakdown of the services offered. A detailed proposal will enable you to compare different agencies effectively. Ensure that the proposals address your specific requirements and demonstrate a clear understanding of your business.

Step 4: Initial screening and qualification (optional)

Initial screening for content agencies

In some cases, it may be beneficial to conduct a pilot test as part of the initial screening and qualification process for content agencies. This approach allows you to assess the capabilities and suitability of potential agencies before committing to a long-term partnership. Here are some aspects you can evaluate from each agency, as soon as you receive the content from the pilot test:

  • Content quality: Assess content quality, relevance, and adherence to your brand guidelines and audience. Also, ensure that the content is optimized in terms of SEO, tone, sentiment, and readability. You can use tools such as Grammarly-to evaluate readability and grammar-, SEMrush-to evaluate the overall SEO effectiveness of the content-, and True Content-to determine the sentiment, tone and readability level in the content.
  • Communication and responsiveness: Evaluate the agency's communication and responsiveness during the content creation process. Assess how effectively they have understood your requirements and addressed any questions or concerns.
  • Content Creation Process and Workflow: Inquire about the agency's content creation process and workflow. Understanding their approach will help you gauge their methodology, organization, and efficiency.
  • Meeting Deadlines and Quality Assurance: Evaluate the agency's ability to meet deadlines and deliver high-quality content consistently. Inquire about their quality assurance processes, including proofreading, editing, and revisions.

By implementing a pilot test as part of the initial screening and qualification process, you can gain firsthand experience of each agency's content creation abilities and better assess their compatibility with your business. This comprehensive evaluation will help you select an agency that not only produces quality content but also offers the additional services and expertise necessary for a successful content marketing strategy, such as consultancy, content distribution, usage of content for campaigns, among others.

Step 5: Comparing proposals, making the final decision, and onboarding

When evaluating content agencies, prioritize agencies that offer customization and flexibility - an innovative agency will understand your unique business challenges, target audience, and industry landscape, adapting their strategies to your specific needs -, collaboration and communication - choose an agency that values your input, encourages regular communication, and fosters a true partnership -, data-driven decision making - demonstrating strong analytical capabilities and a commitment to leveraging data for continuous improvement -, and  lastly prioritize agencies that embrace agile and iterative approaches - willing to experiment and make adjustments to improve campaign performance and stay ahead in a dynamic market-.

Once you have selected an agency, it's important to move forward with the onboarding process to establish a seamless transition and a solid foundation for the partnership. During onboarding, consider the following:

  • Providing the agency with comprehensive background information about your brand, target audience, and any existing marketing assets. This ensures that the agency has all the necessary context to deliver content that aligns with your vision.
  • Defining clear roles and responsibilities for both your team and the agency. This clarity sets the stage for a smooth workflow and minimizes potential misunderstandings.
  • Establishing realistic timelines and milestones for content creation and delivery. Collaboratively agree on reasonable deadlines and ensure that the agency has a clear understanding of your content calendar and campaign schedules. 
  • Scheduling regular check-ins, status updates, and feedback sessions to address any questions or concerns promptly. Emphasize the importance of two-way communication to foster a strong working relationship and ensure that the agency is aware of any changes or updates in your business priorities.


In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, content marketing has become a non-negotiable aspect of successful business strategies. By hiring a content agency, you can tap into their expertise and resources to create compelling content that captivates your target audience and drives tangible results. 

Remember, the success of your content marketing efforts hinges on the expertise and collaboration of the content agency you choose. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can find the right agency that will help you elevate your content strategy, increase brand visibility, and achieve your marketing goals. 

Additional Tips for a Successful Partnership with a Content Agency

When embarking on a partnership with a content agency, there are a few additional tips to keep in mind to ensure a smooth and successful collaboration:

· Get everything in writing: To avoid any potential misunderstandings or disagreements down the line, make sure to document all the important aspects of your agreement.

· Set clear expectations: Effective communication is key to a successful partnership. Clearly communicate your goals, objectives, and expectations to the content agency.

· Be responsive: Throughout the content creation process, the agency may require your feedback and input. Be prompt and responsive in providing your thoughts and suggestions.

· Be patient: Creating high-quality content takes time and effort. It's important to set realistic expectations and understand that results may not be immediate.

· Foster open and transparent communication: Establish open lines of communication with the content agency. Encourage regular check-ins and progress updates.

· Provide constructive feedback: When reviewing the content provided by the agency, provide constructive feedback that helps guide their revisions and improvements.

In Castleberry Media we are commited to taking care of our planet, therefore, this content is responsible with the environment.

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