Among many other elements, the onsite experience is far too often overlooked as a huge contributing factor to the success of your content marketing program. Great content alone won’t convert leads. Your site experience needs to be great as well.
Unfortunately, not all marketers are handed beautifully designed content marketing sites and blogs and need to bring in an agency to help redesign. This type of project is a huge investment of time and money, so approaching it properly and choosing the right agency partner is important. Although needs will vary for every company and program, below is a guide to use when evaluating agencies for your content marketing redesign project.
Cost: First and foremost, depending on your company, cost may be the biggest determining factor for the agency you choose. There’s no use evaluating champagne agencies on beer budgets, so be realistic and upfront about what you can afford to spend. Getting an itemized breakdown of proposals will help you understand where you can cut corners if necessary.
Timeline: Building a new site always takes longer than you think. This is another element that is best to be clear and upfront about. Are you working against a tight deadline? Does the agency have bandwidth to take on your project? Are you willing to pay more to accelerate?
CMS: Although many content marketing sites are built on WordPress, there are a ton of other content management systems (CMS) that may be a better fit for your company. Does the agency you’re looking at have experience building sites on that type of CMS? Would they be able to help you choose one? Do they have a development team within the agency?
Content marketing portfolio: There are many great agencies out there, many of them specialize for various types of sites, such as eCommerce, B2C, B2B, directories, etc. Because blogs and editorial websites require very different backends, it’s important to see if their portfolio shows experience in creating these types of sites.
Lead generation integration: If a key objective for your content marketing program is to drive conversions and leads, you’ll want to make sure your site is built to optimize for these conversions. Ask if the agency has designed for lead-generation features, such as forms, pop ups and banner ads in the past.
Scope: Again, this will vary greatly based on your internal resources and the need of the project. Can they cover all aspects of the project you need? Do they have experience doing all of these aspects? Some things to specifically ask about could include: providing design concepts, migrating existing content to the new site and fixing discovered bugs or issues after deployment.
SEO: This should be a top priority for every content marketing program and so your site should be built with this at the forefront of the strategy. Ensure they know how to build your site incorporating SEO best practices. This should be a given, but it doesn’t hurt to double check.
Measurement configuration: Knowing how you want to measure the success of your content marketing is one thing, but setting up technical configurations to do so is another. If you’re able to provide them with a list of metrics you want to measure, can they help you make sure everything is set up to be tracked appropriately in your systems?
Audience analysis: The content you create is made for your customers and prospects in mind, so your site design should be no different. Notice how they describe their approach for coming up with design concepts. Do they dig in to understand your content strategy and audience first before jumping into design?
Quality assurance: A scenario that probably happens more often than not: An agency delivers the client a final product that looks great, but has a ton of back-end issues with spaghetti code and bugs. These issues, however, are only really discovered once the client tries to make any tweaks or enhancements. Will the agency be available post-project for these types of issues? Does their agreement stipulate that coding will be done according to industry standards, and that the work is customized for your needs?
Success metrics: Success of this project should be based on more than delivering a functioning site. What other factors do they consider when measuring their performance? Does the site need to meet a certain load time? What else will they be accountable for?
Consultative: Depending on what you’re looking for, you may want an agency that consults you through the design process and delivers creative concepts. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you may have an internal design team with a strong point of view and just need help with build and execution. Understand these expectations upfront. Do they expect you to tell them what to do? Or do you expect them to come to you with best practices and creative concepts?
UX practices: In addition to creating a site that is optimized for lead generation, how does the agency think about other important UX configurations to help surface relevant content to your readers? How do they think about structural hierarchies? Do they have ideas around grouping series or content on common topics?
Innovative thinking: Although there are common design and UX best practices for content marketing sites, will the agency come to you with ideas that are forward thinking? Will they enable your site to stand out and give it a long shelf life? You may find yourself choosing between an amazing looking site with complicated build or a lackluster site and a straight-forward build. There are pros and cons to each, just decide on what matters most to your program.
Mobile: Any digital marketing today needs to be optimized for mobile. This should be a given, but confirm that they think about designing for mobile-first. What can you see in terms of how well they do responsive design from some example sites they’ve built?