So you’ve decided to outsource your content to a content marketing agency. You’ve narrowed it down to a few likely candidates, and they’re all whispering sweet nothings into your ear.

We know your niche, Acme Agency whispers.

Our prices fit your budget, Bravo Agency claims.

We have the best content writers around! says Charlie Agency.

Who do you choose? Here are some things to look for when you’re deciding on a content marketing agency.

It’s Actually a Content Marketing Agency

There are a lot of PR companies getting into the content marketing game. That’s not a bad thing, if the PR agency does a substantial amount of content marketing work. However, some PR agencies call themselves content marketing agencies but only do a little content marketing on the side. If you’re going with a PR agency, make sure they have experience with the type of content you want – or they outsource the content writing to freelancers who can make it happen.

It Has Niche Experience

I’m not saying your content marketing agency has to know all the ins and outs of WidgetWare ERP. But if Acme Agency specializes in B2C technology, it probably doesn’t know the B2B technology market well enough to strategize and create content for your company. Make sure the agency has worked in your niche and has the portfolio to back up their claims. Customer references are even better.

It’s Not the Cheapest Agency

Whoa, there! Am I telling you to go with the content marketing agency with the highest rates? No, no I’m not. I’m telling you that any agency that charges the least is going to give you exactly what you pay for. Yes, you should go with an agency that fits your company’s budget, but you should also do your due diligence and ask for customer references before signing any contracts. And when you talk to those customers, don’t be afraid to dig deep to find out if they were satisfied with the work.

It Fosters Relationships with Its Writers

Good content marketing agencies foster long-term relationships with its freelance writers. If the agency uses in-house staff, it treats its writers well. Ask how the agency assigns writers (and, for that matter, project managers and designers) to different clients and projects. Ask if you’ll be working with the same writers, or if they rotate through in-house or freelance writers regularly. Ideally, you’ll have the same writer or writers, along with project managers, working on your account for the long haul. They’ll get to know your business and the mechanics of WidgetWare. You’ll get to talk with them on the phone to provide information that will be turned into white papers, blog posts, and case studies. If your content marketing agency can’t do that, you might want to turn elsewhere.

It Knows Marketing Technology

Content marketing is more than just white papers, blog posts, and case studies. It involves emails, social media, metrics tracking, and more. Your content marketing agency should know and be able to articulate how it will use technology stacks for your content marketing, including email technology, social listening, and sales enablement.

It Knows How to Set Goals

If no one at the content marketing agency talks about KPIs, or talks about KPIs in terms of metrics that can’t be tracked, run away. Know that some metrics, like the number of downloads of an asset, don’t translate to sales, and take the goals your agency wants to set with a grain of salt. That said, the agency should be able to guide you in goal-setting so that your content marketing goals are realistic and achievable.