You’re looking to choose a content marketing consultant for your business? Use this guide to inform your vetting process. Use these questions as you evaluate the consultant’s website, proposals and proposed content campaigns so that you can achieve your business objectives.
1) Will they develop a buyer persona specific to your business objectives?
Until you know who you are marketing to (i.e. the buyer persona), no content marketing program can be successful. An effective content marketing consultant will ask you questions like:
- What blog posts does your target audience read?
- What social media profiles and channels do they follow? There may be opportunities for influencer marketing.
- What marketing channels are currently working effectively to attract your target audience?
- For business audiences, what LinkedIn people and companies do they follow?
- For business audiences, what are the business objectives that matter (e.g. get more quality leads into the sales funnel)?
For additional insights on developing a buyer persona to guide your marketing effort, I recommend HubSpot’s excellent resource: How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business. HubSpot is a leader in the content marketing game so it is well worth checking out their blog from time to time.
2) What is their approach to creating a content marketing strategy for your business?
Also known as content strategy, a content marketing strategy includes several critical elements. It starts with your business objectives (e.g. revenue goals, products to emphasize and other needs that the business owner may have). Think of content marketing strategy as the overall approach to using content to grow your organic traffic and get more customers through quality content.
The content strategy should also include measurable items such as conversion rate. For example, will a certain ultimate guide generate a dozen leads per month. After the strategy is developed, ask the consultant to bring it to life by creating a detailed content marketing plan.
Example content marketing plan to achieve your business objectives:
- Update buyer persona profiles based on recent sales calls and a survey of your target audience.
- Create fresh content (e.g. blog posts, status updates for LinkedIn) to increase organic traffic.
- Update existing content with new data, images and insights so that it continues to bring in quality leads.
- Promote your existing content using search engine optimization techniques.
- Increase traffic further by using pay per click marketing channels and social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
- Measure progress towards achieving your business goals. This measurement process will help you to decide when to change the existing strategy, increase promotion efforts or stick with your current approach.
After you see the plan, you will see what level of marketing effort is required to achieve your organic traffic goal. As an entrepreneur, you should also ask how much time you will need to invest in the process. I recommend that the entrepreneur or business owner spend at least a few hours per month reviewing the content marketing plan and providing input for strategic content.
3) How will they use search engine optimization (SEO) to reach your target audience?
Content marketing consultant and SEO are closely linked together. If your content marketing consultant is uncomfortable using Google Analytics, that’s a flag! To be fair, the marketing department in a Fortune 500 companies may use different analytics tools to measure the success of content on various social media platforms. For a small marketing team or a single marketing expert, Google Analytics is all you need.
Further, a good content marketing consultant should have access to one or more SEO software tools. I currently use UberSuggest. Other good options include Ahrefs and SEMrush. The logical starting point for search engine optimization is to examine how your existing audience finds you through organic search. Use Google Search Console – a free tool like Google Analytics – to ground your digital marketing results in reality.
4) Do they use content marketing in their consulting business?
There are many marketing channels that a content marketing consultant might use to attract clients. They might drive organic traffic from Facebook and then drive traffic to a landing page. Some have good results with cold calling and sending emails which are excellent ways to generate quick results.
Ultimately, a good content marketing consultant should practice content marketing in their own business. That means publishing fresh content regularly to help their target audience (e.g. business owners, a marketing team interested in outsourcing or others who need help with digital marketing).
That’s why I’ve committed to publishing in-depth fresh content to this website. Some of my most popular articles include “How to Create a B2B SaaS Marketing Plan in 6 Steps” and “How To Increase Your SaaS Conversion Rate: 7 Practical Ideas.”
5) How will their proposed marketing campaign drive organic traffic?
Putting resources into creating blog posts, LinkedIn status updates and search engine optimization is all designed to achieve growth for the business owner. While there are various ways to measure the value of a content marketing project, increases in organic traffic is an excellent metric to use. Some consultants may also use pay per click digital marketing to drive traffic to your blog content. If you have the budget, using pay per click traffic is an excellent way to make faster progress toward achieving your business goals.
Once you start to see consistent growth in your organic traffic from your existing content, the job is not done. That’s why email marketing is next on the list.
6) Do they have a plan to use email marketing to fulfill your marketing needs?
A marketing campaign that creates quality content that attracts site visitors that match your buyer persona is on the way to success. However, a good content marketing consultants don’t stop there. They should also provide guidance on email marketing and perhaps write your email campaign for you.
For example, the marketing expert you work with may propose an email campaign to grow sales for back to school season. In other cases, your email marketing campaign might focus on converting free trial users to paid accounts. Finally, if the business owner appears on a podcast or publishes a guest article, then spread the good news by creating an email campaign about that news.
7) How will they execute content creation?
When a business owner looks for a content marketing consultant, sometimes they imagine that they will only get blog posts and other content creation help. There’s no question that quality content plays a central role in growing your organic traffic. However, there are different ways to manage the content creation process.
How To Create Content Option 1: Strategy and Content Creation
Using their marketing experience, the consultant does everything. In this type of content marketing project, the consultant will determine your marketing goals, review your buyer persona and create content to attract customers. They can also help you to become a guest on a podcast as an added service.
How To Create Content Option 2: Content Marketing Program Design Only
In this situation, the consultant will leverage their marketing experience to design the content marketing program. This program may include backlink strategies to increase organic traffic, title ideas for a blog post, strategic content suggestions and other inbound marketing techniques. When you have this kind of inbound marketing plan to use as a starting point, you can ask your marketing team to create content or work with an external copywriter.
As a general rule, you should start with defining your content strategy before investing resources into content creation.
8) How will they use landing pages to convert site visitors to leads?
Would you be happy or angry if your website received another 100,000 website visitors next month? The correct answer is “I don’t know based on that information.” You need to know if those website visitors actually correspond to your target audience. Further, you need a process to convert online window shoppers to people who have raised their hand to receive additional email.
That’s where a landing page comes to play as an important content marketing tactic. At its most basic, a landing page offers something to your prospects in exchange for contact information. The subscriber receives something free (e.g. a quality report piece like a well designed PDF or a coupon code). The business owner receives permission to follow up with that prospect using an email campaign.
A landing page will not achieve unless it is integrated into a broader digital marketing plan. For example, how will you put the landing page in front of your buyer persona? You could use organic traffic and search engine optimization. As an alternative, you could focus your content marketing plan on podcast production. In either case, your marketing goal would be to create quality content and then direct people to your landing page for more information.
9) Do they have the courage to experiment with content strategy?
As a business owner, you probably want immediate results. You want the phone to ring right away. Sometimes, a content marketing consultant can make that happen with an email campaign. I’ve certainly made the phone ring for clients. Unfortunately, achieving results usually takes a marketing effort measured in weeks or months rather than days.
In many cases, a content marketing consultant needs to approach their work like a scientist. That means using different content creation techniques week by week. It means using a landing page to grow your email list. If you’re not sure why growing an email list is so important, I recommend you reading my previous post: Why Email Marketing Is Important To Your Digital Marketing Success.
Ultimately, the best content marketing consultant has a lot in common with Thomas Edison. The inventor was famous for trying many different versions of the light bulb idea finding a variation that succeed. While expertise can reduce a consultant’s learning curve, you should expect that it will take some trial and error before you start to attract more ideal customers.
10) Does the marketing expert use a consulting process?
Whether you choose to work with a marketing agency or a consultant, a consulting process is important for your success. A consulting process is a step by step master plan to combines clear direction from you as the client, your business goals and familiarity with the major digital marketing platforms like Google, search engines and social media. Before the consultants starts to make changes, they should spend some time seeking to understand your current approach to content and whether you have a strategic distribution plan.
When possible, many marketing experts will ask the business owner to speak directly with current customers. Such conversations are important to ground the buyer persona in reality. For example, let’s say the marketing expert is planning to create a series of five blog posts to help finance managers become more effective. As a starting point, it would be helpful to clarify the current needs and concerns of this buyer persona. With this research process, it is less likely that any blog posts you order will move you toward your business objectives.
Want To Work With Me To Build Your Content Marketing Strategy?
You want more qualified leads from Google. You’re putting hours of work into your marketing effort. You’re worried that you are going to miss achieving your business objectives. There’s a better way! Reach out with me to build a marketing plan that brings in leads month after month. Working with a consultant means that you don’t have to spend all day learning how to use marketing automation. Instead, you can have a discussion about your marketing goals, provide some clear direction on your buyer persona and then let the consultant handle the digital marketing details.
If you want to get in touch, fill in the contact form and we will discuss ways to achieve your marketing goals.