Right now, marketing’s key buzzword is content. Whether it’s print, online, mobile, or app, brands are flocking towards content as their key marketing medium. But if you’re new to the content business, or looking for an alternative to your current content producer, there can be a bewildering choice of agencies.

The key to choosing the best content agency comes down to a combination of five criteria, each one vital to the success of any content campaign and ongoing strategy. Those criteria are:

1. Depth of talent
Whether they are large or small companies, great content agencies know the value of talent and recruit from the same pool as the world’s best consumer magazines. Editorial teams and account handlers will often have a background in newsstand publications and their websites, so will have a thorough grounding in how to engage and entertain the reader, as well as achieving maximum effectiveness for the budget available.

2. Passion for content
Great content agencies deal with content, day-in, day-out. What drives them is the constant variety of sectors, themes and subjects, and a desire to produce an editorial solution that solves a marketing challenge more effectively than any other media. This motivation comes from a deep-rooted journalistic enthusiasm for the story, leading the reader on an editorial journey that rewards both parties.

3. Channel-agnostic
There are many agencies that deal in content for a single channel – publications, websites, mobile, social media, search – but a good agency believes that content is the most important element to any successful campaign, not the platform. So while good agencies offer the full range of platforms for content delivery, they should only recommend the ones that are most appropriate for your campaign. And since the content will be produced under one roof, all platforms will be seamlessly integrated, leading to greater effectiveness.

4. Access to industry research
All good agencies have access to research studies and reports that are widely regarded as industry standards. As well as the CMA Advantage Study, which takes in 24,000 interviews across 81 titles, there are many other vital studies into the sector, such as the role of digital in content marketing, the increasing value of the industry, and the likelihood of a target taking action after consuming branded content. All this research adds weight to the content argument and helps to constantly refine content strategy.

5. Proven effectiveness
Any agency with a happy client base understand that fantastic content can simply be a lot of wasted energy without effective measurement, and put just as much effort into gathering data and reaction to their content as they do creating it. This information not only helps the marketing director to justify and push forward their content plans, but allows the agency to hone their recommendations on strategy. Working with the client, these recommendations can form the basis of a content strategy that can transform brand perception and success.

Sam Upton