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Content agency guide to selling strategy services
Content agency guide to selling strategy services

 

For agencies who sell content strategy services, the big challenge of going SaaS comes from defining all your internal and external processes. Breaking down services and defining packs that were once all covered in a general content strategy retainer can be a headache. Here, we’ve put together a practical guide of what you should include in your new content strategy services packs.

Define what you’ve got

Start with a content/SEO audit and optimisation

The content/SEO audit is a staple for content agencies. It’s also the logical starting point to address flaws in the client’s current content and SEO plan.

You don’t have to be an SEO agency to do an SEO audit. Much of SEO is about correctly formatted content, well-organised pages and a good user experience.

1. Data dive

First, you’ll need to crawl your site and make a spreadsheet of the content (here’s some good advice for content marketing SEO). Screaming Frog is a great tool for this step. Even the free version produces overviews on the SEO health of any given website. Google itself has some powerful (and free!) tools that should form the bedrock of your SEO structure. Start with Google keyword planner to give you strategy some structure. Make sure your keywords of choice have reasonable volumes and realistic competition. Google’s structured data testing tool will help you optimise rich text snippets so Google can comprehensively understand all the data on your website. Page speed insight will give you just that - an insight into loading times of your website, a big component of user experience. The full suite of free Google tools should be your first port of call, as they often out-performing even paid tools.

2. Automation

As always in a SaaS agency, the aim of the game is to automate as much of the audit process as possible and free up your time for more strategic use. Once you have a spreadsheet of your website data in front of you, start by answering these questions:

  • Is the page structure as efficient as it could be? Can you merge, change or add pages to make the site structure clearer?;

  • Which pages need to updating?;

  • Which pages need copywriting/editing?;

  • List content in a variety of hierarchies, from page visits, conversions, bounce rate, etc. to see where the strengths/weaknesses are;

  • Assess where the content marketing and SEO opportunities are;

  • Determine which pages are ranking for which keywords and if this aligns with the content strategy.

3. SEO/content audit

A content audit follows a similar process. It requires you to make a laundry list of all the content you have, how well it aligns with the content strategy, and where the gaps are.

It’s important to note that as a purveyor of content strategy services, it benefits you to be thorough and critical when assessing content. After all, you’ll be the one who’s charged with fixing it.

Depending on the amount of time you have to roll out the content audit and distribution, you can define marks to hit at integral points. These should include:

  • A basic SEO audit (here’s an example of a polished SEO audit);

  • A comprehensive, iterative content audit;

  • Content recommendations.

4. Tie it together in a template

There are great template resources and tools out there, so you won’t have to put in a lot of strategy brainstorming to figure out the process and layout. Moz have a comprehensive step-by-step process; Coschedule offers templates and advice; Big Blue Digital have a direct download link to an example and template audit spreadsheet which we highly recommend.

Persona Research and Development - Who’s your target?

Persona development is an aspect of content strategy that you can’t, in large part, automate. It requires in-depth strategic analysis. Though while you can’t automate the process, you can use templates to make it as easy as possible.

1. Look at analytics

To link your target personas with customers, remember to include information about how they interact with your agency. The more specific the persona information, the easier it will be to match real customers to personas. Collect data like the time of day they visit your site, the amount of money they want to spend, their pain points. Find characteristics that are specific to their interactions with the agency (all other information is icing on the cake).

2. Pull out the consistencies

Once you have your data, There’s a broad range of free and paid tools that let you easily pull together your persona findings.

  • HubSpot will quickly walk you through a free persona development questionnaire to get you started;

  • Xtensio has a broad range of templates for persona development and comparison, all available through their free plan. Their paid plans allows you to custom brand your own reports;

  • User Forge allows you to build highly customised personas and easily compare and group them. It’s free and easy to use. Ideal if you’re tracking and developing personas for many clients at once.

3. Templates

All your findings can be beautifully presented in a premade template. Check out Hubspot’s succinct run-through of what to include in your persona marketing research report and how to lay it out.

Content marketing strategy

The content marketing strategy is the cornerstone of any content agency. Realistically, no content client should be able to onboard without it. It’s the game plan by which you measure KPIs and, therefore, success. A comprehensive content marketing strategy should include:

  • A detailed 12-month comms strategy;

  • Long term aims beyond the initial 12 months;

  • An SEO strategy, goals and plans;

  • A skeleton plan of content briefs for the coming year;

  • An outline of scope and budget, so the client is aware of upcoming costs.

Throughout this process, It’s important to remind the client of CMI’s Robert Rose and his timeless advice - don’t build your content house on rented land. That is, a 12-month content plan is a fruitless investment unless you control the platform on which it’s built.

Again, you can't automate the content marketing strategy to any high degree, but you can help it along with templates.

  • Here, here and here are links to editorial templates to help you plan your content approach. Hubspot also have a solid template if you’re willing to give over your details;

  • You can find a great example content brief template here. We recommend using it to inform your own branded brief to prop up your 12-month content schedule;

  • Thankfully, other people have done the hard yards to put together an SEO checklist for content. Keep it in the barrel for later, when it comes to content execution.

It’s important to remember the scope of a content marketing strategy subscription encompasses the strategy alone. Don't include execution and distribution in the content marketing strategy pack. They're an optional, extra pack. If you’re interested in the practicalities of distribution and execution, check out our guides.   

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