Running an agency is an exercise in managing multiple priorities.
You’ve got demanding clients, tight deadlines and a network of staff members and freelancers or content vendors to manage, all while keeping your competitive edge so the next “new kid on the block” agency doesn’t steal your best customers.
One of the best ways to maximize efficiency and stay nimble is to outsource content creation, especially if content isn’t your primary service. SEO agencies are particularly adept at finding ways to supplement limited in-house resources, but it makes sense from a financial perspective for a lot of agencies to partner with third-party specialists.
Here’s the issue: When your content partner fails to keep up with rising volume and starts to blow deadlines, you’re left holding the bag, and the consequences can be monumental.
Late Deliveries and the Domino Effect
One potential pitfall of late content is that it causes everything else to run late. Delays aren’t isolated, and they induce additional setbacks with increasingly troublesome results.
For Markelle Harden, a content strategist with Knowmad Digital Marketing, delays equal lost revenue. “If we are adding a new section to a website to expand a brand’s reach in the search engines or improve conversions from returning visitors, a delay in the content can lead to fewer website visitors, fewer interactions with the existing website and, as a result, fewer conversions.”
Like the butterfly effect, even a small lag on the content end of things could mean a client sees sinking engagement numbers and rapidly plummeting sales.
Missed Deadlines Mean Missed Opportunities
Some content is time-sensitive and failing to deliver on schedule starts a tidal wave of epic proportions. Amanda Sutton of CATALYST Communications Choreography knows this reality all too well. “As a PR pro, missed deadlines are our worst nightmare. [They] could have very immediate implications, such as missing the jump on an important news breaking story due to an unapproved media release… missing content deadlines could also have less devastating but still negative ramifications on your marketing.”
Delivering sales copy late could scuttle plans for a holiday-themed product release and delayed employee bios could leave a client without updated marketing collateral to distribute at their annual industry meetup. “Usually,” continues Sutton, “the point of each piece of content is to elicit action or reaction in the audience, so communication pros need to take into account the reception of each individual message, the tone and the exact timing that will make the biggest impact.”
Harden agrees. “Many businesses have ‘high-value’ market times when website traffic is more valuable than any other time of the year (accountants, home improvement or service companies, niche manufacturing, etc.). It’s important to submit content orders ahead of these high-value times.”
Cue the Employee Confusion
If the content you’re waiting on is for internal use, such as a company newsletter or series of emails talking up the new insurance benefits, you face a different list of potential pitfalls.
“Mismanaged or delayed communications could have an impact on employee engagement, interdepartmental procedures, etc.,” says Sutton. Depending on the goal of the content, Sutton suggests even a small error could lead to drops in event sign ups or meeting attendance, lead to lackluster feedback or survey participation and lead to overall confusion as content gaps throw off your whole company-wide dialogue.
As Sutton reminds us, “In marketing and communications management, timing is everything.”
Loss of Client Trust
For agencies whose bread and butter is customer satisfaction (and that applies to most agencies), late content on the contractor’s side means frustration and even anger on the client side. People hire you because they believe you can get the job done when you say it will be done. If that doesn’t happen, it matters little who’s truly at fault.
Once that confidence is shattered, it’s hard to get it back. With consumer trust at an all-time low, the only way to compete is to offer the best customer service available. Being late isn’t hospitable and it won’t lead to loyalty.
What Can Agencies Do?
If you’re feeling the effects of missed deadlines by your content vendor or freelancers, know that there are ways to right the ship. It may take a bit of time at the outset, but the end result will make it all worthwhile.
There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Information
As an agency account manager, it’s your job to suss out content requirements with clients and then pass all of that along to the writers. In doing so (or trying to), I’m sure that you’ve faced the prospect of unresponsive clients who want their content and want it now but don’t have the time to talk to you about it, and you’ve probably also dealt with your fair share of clients who don’t understand how much and what information you’ll need.
If you’re asking a writer to write a city page for Joe’s Plumbing in Dallas, it’s going to be difficult for them to nail it unless they know whether the company’s value proposition is that they’re the cheapest in town, they have highly specialized professionals or they’ve been family owned and operated for three generations, so they know all the idiosyncrasies of the houses in town.
Before ordering content, have your clients fill out client briefs that you can pass along to the writers so they have all the information they need. Make sure you include everything from voice/tone to target audience, how the company name should be presented and any industry terms to use/avoid. This will help keep revision requests at bay and your content swimming along to an on-time delivery.
Incorporate an Editing Layer
Revisions happen. Sometimes the writer doesn’t completely capture your vision, or perhaps you love the general direction but need to tweak a few sentences to better match the end client’s voice. In other cases, the issue may be that your content partner excels at HVAC and plumbing content but can’t seem to deliver the same high-end results when presented with health or legal topics.
Editing is essential, and basic tweaks are all part of the content creation process. But when orders continue to bounce back and forth, it’s easy to run up against a deadline — and watch in vain as it whizzes by.
If you find yourself polishing subpar content in-house because your content partner dropped the ball, it’s important to find a more efficient way to get from project brief to a brilliant end product, and that starts with good editors.
Feedback, Feedback, Feedback
When you receive the content you ordered, you most likely give it a read, make necessary changes, send it to your client and call it a day. Unfortunately, you’ve missed a crucial step — providing feedback.
Sure, it’s probably faster just to make changes on your own instead of explaining the issues to the writers and then waiting for revisions, but if they can’t see the types of changes you’re making to the content, you’re going to get caught in a continual loop of revision requests and edits that can lead to missed deadlines.
After delivering edited content to your clients, take the time to send the marked up copy to your content partner. This will help them to improve over time, leading to fewer revision requests, less editing time on your part and no more missed deadlines.
Choose the Right Content Partner
It takes time to assemble a group of freelancers or evaluate content vendors, but if things aren’t working out once you’ve made a decision, you need to take action — and that could mean starting the search all over again.
Continued delivery of subpar or late content could be that the writers you chose just aren’t skilled at the type of content you’re producing or knowledgeable in the industries you serve, and it’s also possible that they just don’t have the bandwidth to deliver the amount of content you order in the timeframe you need.
Starting over again is extremely time-consuming and potentially disruptive to your business, so take your time when evaluating content partners to be sure you’ve settled on the right solution in the first place.
Efficiency Courtesy of Our Three-Part Process
At Crowd Content, we use a three-step process that guarantees consistent quality from client to client.
- Writing: First your order goes to one of our highly vetted native English-speaking writers whose areas of expertise vary from real estate and home improvement to travel nursing recruitment and in-patient rehab facilities. They’ll take a look at your project brief (if applicable) and specific order instructions, and then create content that ticks all the boxes.
- Editing: After your freelance writer works their magic, the order passes to one of our eagle-eyed editors who will scour it from intro to conclusion looking for grammar and spelling errors, cohesion, word choice and other important elements.
- Quality Assurance: Finally, the content passes through our QA team, where members do a final sweep to spot any issues. QA also looks for any possible conflicts between the content and your project brief. If you want serial commas or prefer to avoid the word “awesome,” this is where we catch any slip-ups.
Whether you’re looking for an individual writer to complete weekly blogs or need an entire writing, editing and quality assurance team to figure out how to create local city pages Google will love, Crowd Content can help — and we take deadlines seriously.
For more information on how you can harness the power of content creation and make your marketing strategy sing, scale quickly with our Agency Content Solutions. We manage the entire process so you can get back to running your business.