This post originally appeared on neilpatel.com
Research from Demand Metric shows content marketing costs 62 percent less but produces three times as many leads as traditional marketing. This is no surprise when you realize 70 percent of people would prefer to learn about a company through an article rather than advertising.
Content marketing can generate huge amounts of traffic, leads, and sales for your business. If you’re a company looking to get started with content marketing, this can be tough.
The 8 Best Content Marketing Companies of 2020
What kind of content do your customers want from you? Is that the same kind of content that creates revenue for your business? Today we’ll take a look at the best content marketing companies in the industry.
1. NP Digital – Best for Immediate and Consistent Revenue Growth
NP Digital is my content marketing company. Working with Mike Kamo, we created NP Digital to serve the millions of people who needed help with their content marketing.
No matter which business I was working on — Kissmetrics, CrazyEgg, Quicksprout — there were always a ton of people reaching out to me, people who needed help with their advertising and content marketing campaigns. Long time readers on my site know that I focused on revenue.
Rankings are important, but many marketers still focus obsessively on keywords and content that doesn’t lead to revenue. I’ve always focused on helping readers build a business that generates traffic, leads, and, most importantly, revenue.
Another thing that’s different about NP Digital is the fact that we don’t separate technical SEO from content marketing. SEO — technical, on-page, off-page, local, etc. it’s always a package deal with content marketing. This means the content we create for our clients automatically performs well with Google, there’s no extra work required.
NP Digital is my way of helping everyone achieve the revenue and growth they deserve in their business.
NP Digital’s client list includes:
- Thomson Reuters foundation
- American Greetings
2. Seer Interactive – Best for Big Data Search and Content
Wil Reynolds founded Seer interactive, which got its start as a search engine optimization company. What makes Seer one of the best content marketing companies on our list is its focus and emphasis on big data.
Using a combination of in-house and third-party tools, they’ve built a massive data warehouse using an unbelievable amount of data to identify new, hidden, and unexpected customer trends. For example, Seer Interactive can instantly look across 20 million keywords, analyzing data from a variety of different angles. It created a big query environment with 202 million SERP data records.
If you’re in a competitive or cutthroat industry (e.g., finance, banking, or mortgages), this data is what you need to stay ahead of your competitors.
With Seer Interactive, their approach is SEO heavy. That should be an important priority for every company, whether you’re big or small, but not every company is ready for Big Data.
Seer Interactive’s client list includes:
- American Greetings
- Harvard University
- BBVA Compass
- University of Pennsylvania
3. Distilled – Best for Technical SEO
Distilled was founded by Will Critchlow and Duncan Morris in 2005.
From the beginning, Distilled has always been focused on technical SEO, focusing on the development aspects of content marketing. While other content marketing companies position themselves around big data, conversion optimization, or revenue generation, distilled builds their marketing around technical SEO.
They host a two-day event called SearchLove each year; their conference brings together some of the world’s leading thinkers on the latest in search, analytics, content creation, optimizing your website, paid promotions, and more.
They’ve been industry leaders in the online marketing and content creation space since 2005. Their content marketing services have branched out a bit to include digital PR and training courses, but their specialty is still the same.
Distilled’s client list includes:
- Red Bull
- Rasmussen College
- Simply Business
- Cewe Photoworld
4. Fractl – Best for In-Depth, Research-Heavy Content
Fractl is a research-heavy, data-driven content marketing company. As the screenshot above shows, they’re focused on rapid, organic growth that’s driven by content marketing, data journalism, digital PR, and search engine optimization.
Research makes Fractl unique.
They’re always researching industry-related topics, and they share their understanding of the art and science behind newsworthy content. They share their research in top publications, leading market resources, scientific journals, and authoritative conferences around the world.
Their research has been published in MarketingProfs, TNW, The Economist, Time, the Harvard Business Review, the New York Times, Pub Con, and many other publications and journals.
If you’re in a research-heavy industry and you’re looking for a high growth content marketing company, Fractl is a good choice. They’re one of the few content marketing companies that have a division dedicated to client growth.
Fractl’s client list includes:
5. Column Five – Best for Data and Content Visualization
Budget: $10,000 +
Column Five describes itself as a creative content agency. They’re primarily focused on the visual side of content marketing — storytelling, design, data visualization, interactive motion graphics, even exhibition design.
They ranked #291 on the Inc. 500 2013 list of fastest-growing media companies in the United States. They are most known for their “child of the 90s” viral video on behalf of Internet Explorer.
As a content creation company, Column Five is focused primarily on content strategy, content creation, and content distribution. They rely on a simultaneous mix of organic and paid distribution channels to draw attention to client content.
Column Five client list includes:
- Pacific Life
- Cornell University
- The World Bank
- Charles Schwab
- Bill & Melinda Gates foundation
4. Single Grain – Best for Conversion-Driven Content Marketing
In 2014, entrepreneur and marketing guru Eric Siu bought a failing SEO agency — Single Grain — for $2. Using his marketing expertise and growth mentality, Eric nurtured and transformed Single Grain into the top digital marketing agency it is today.
Before purchasing Single Grain, Eric had helped spearhead an online education company’s growth when it only had a few months of cash left in the bank.
“A month into it, the CEO pulls me aside,” Siu recalls, “and he’s like, ‘Eric, you know, 48 people, their families, they’re riding on your shoulders right now, and if you can’t hit numbers in the next month, we’re gonna have to let you go.’”
Eric Sui and the Single Grain team are turnaround specialists. They know what it takes to turn a failing business into a successful one; they focus their attention on optimizing for conversions and rapid growth.
Single Grain client list includes:
- Random House
- Khan Academy
7. The Content Bureau – Best for B2B Content Marketing
The content Bureau bills itself as a premier B2B content marketing company. This agency is woman-owned, 100 percent virtual, and their team is 90 percent female. The Content Bureau focuses its attention on the technology, venture capital, and financial sectors, working almost exclusively with global corporations who rely on them year-round.
Many of their clients are long-term, stable clients who prefer their premium approach, exclusive attention, and veteran workforce; 80 percent of their team have been with The Content Bureau for 10+ years.
As an organization, they give their clients lots of handholding; they’re open and transparent with each of their clients, and they deliver amazing service with their extraordinary content.
The Content Bureau’s client list includes:
- American Express
- Royal Bank of Canada
8. Web Profits – Best for SaaS Content Marketing
Web Profits is the content marketing and advertising company that was co-founded by Sujan Patel and Alex Cleanthous. The company is focused exclusively on SaaS companies of all sizes, showing founders how to “10x demo bookings,” boost ARR and grow inbound leads dramatically.
Patel doesn’t think of Web Profits as an agency. He calls it a marketing “hit squad,” a team of SaaS specialists who understand your business inside and out. Their company focuses on only one industry; They’ve refined their process based on real-life, in-the-trenches experience.
What makes Web Profits so unique? Sujan Patel is the co-founder of Mailshake, his own SaaS business. He’s also the Managing Director of Ramp Ventures. He has an intimate understanding of what it takes to build a successful SaaS business from the ground up and is comfortable on both sides of the business. This makes the Web Profits team uniquely qualified to serve SaaS clients.
Web Profits client list includes:
4 Characteristics that Make a Great Content Marketing Company
Your content marketing depends on several factors to be successful. A good content marketing company will provide you with all of these, and they’ll have no problem demonstrating that they have the expertise they need to make your campaign a success.
Factor #1: A Stable Team of Content Creators
A healthy content marketing company will have a roster of regular and consistent writers on their team. Stable writers are skilled at writing, grammar, logical consistency, and storytelling. These writers can draw your readers in, creating content that moves people towards a specific goal or objective that you have in mind.
These writers don’t need a lot of babysitting, and they’re able to figure things out, to a certain extent, on their own. They’re dependable, and they’re able to match your brand voice.
Content mills produce poorly written filler content that’s mainly written for search engines. When you contact a content marketing company, you’ll want to ask them questions about how they run their business.
- How many writers do you have on staff?
- Are they freelance or W-2? Do you use a mix of both?
- How many of your writers are full time? Part-time?
- How do you manage your team of writers?
- How many years of experience does the average writer on your team have?
When you ask companies these questions listen to their answers carefully. Look for any inconsistencies or red flags. If you spot any red flags, bring them up immediately and ask for an answer.
Factor #2: Access to Publishers and Influencers
According to Derek Halpern, founder of Social Triggers, you should be spending 20 percent of your time on content creation and 80 percent of your time on content promotion. The content marketing companies you work with are no different. If you’re investing a significant amount of time and money on creating an amazing piece of content, you should be spending 4x as much time on promotion.
You want to make sure everyone in your target audience that needs to see the content you’ve created, sees it.
When you’re working with a content marketing company, they should already have a list of influencers and publishers in their address book. They should also have connections and relationships with the right people, so they’re reasonably sure they can drive traffic to your content.
Factor #3: Specialized Knowledge About your Industry
In an ideal world, your content marketing provider has a significant amount of experience in your space, or the ability to connect with experts who do. At a minimum, you’ll want to ensure that the content marketing company you choose can write credibly about the topics that are relevant to your business.
The more specialized the content, the more important these criteria are for your business.
Industries like healthcare, engineering, or finance require large amounts of specialized experience. It’s unrealistic to expect an inexperienced company to write credibly about a technical topic. On the other hand, there are some pros and cons that you’ll need to weigh for your business.
- Inexperienced Company Con: If you hire an inexperienced company, they’ll need more time to research and get up to speed. Content production will probably take more time than expected and will require more edits at first.
- Inexperienced Company Pro: they’ll bring new ideas that are perfect for beginners. Since they’re learning the space as they go, their writers will produce content that your audience also finds helpful.
- Experience Company Pro: If you hire an experienced company, they’ll produce content faster, and they’ll provide readers with a deeper level of insight that comes from years of experience.
Specialization requires specialists. The more technical your business, the more important it is to have a specialist on hand. Mainstream content can do very well with generalists.
Factor #4: Content Analysis and Measurement
You’ll need to see the numbers; your content marketing company should be able to provide you with a detailed breakdown. You should receive data outlining your performance; they should provide you with the KPIs, metrics, and sentiment surrounding your content.
You should be able to answer the following questions:
- Does this content move us closer to our campaign goals?
- Does this piece of content (e.g., blog post, whitepaper, ebook, infographic), lead to a conversion?
- How far are people reading into your content?
- Where in our flywheel are we losing customers?
- What do we need to change/optimize to improve our conversion rates?
- Which content marketing opportunities are we missing, and where?
Creating content isn’t enough. The content marketing company you choose should provide you with the actionable data you need to create profitable content for your business.
What To Expect From a Great Content Marketing Company
A great content marketing company should be able to provide you with a consistent and comprehensive set of deliverables. These deliverables ensure that your content marketing campaigns stay on track and that you’re able to achieve the consistent results you need.
Your content marketing provider should provide you with deliverables throughout the pre-launch, launch, and post-launch phases of your campaign.
- Content samples demonstrating your knowledge and expertise
- The information and materials (e.g., credentials, existing content) they need from you to get started
- A statement of work and a list of deliverables (e.g., 14, 2,500-word articles each mo., edits included)
- Their process (if they’re not working with you and yours)
- Projected campaign milestones, timelines, and calendars
- Your point-of-contact including their name, and contact information
- Hours of availability
- The best way to communicate (e.g., Slack, email, phone, chat, or text)
- Expectations from you
- Their process, policies, and procedures
- Analysis and reports including business goals, objectives, KPIs, metrics, strategy, tactics, and risks
- Content audits
- Consistent updates on your campaign performance
- Regular (weekly or monthly) calls to discuss performance
- Consistently updated due dates and delivery timelines
- Monthly debrief to discuss successes and failures
Here are some additional details you should also expect from your content marketing providers:
- Good boundaries (including the ability to say no)
- Prompt and clear feedback
- Accurate information on various parts of your campaign including financial, campaign, and performance data
Great content marketing companies asked more questions in the beginning. They provide you with the upfront information you need to vet their company and make an informed decision. Once you’ve decided to move forward, they ask you for all of the information and materials they’ll need to produce the results you want.
Content marketing produces more leads and revenue than traditional marketing methods. If you’re looking for a good content marketing company to help you get started, it can be tough. Use this list to identify the companies that are a good fit for your business.
With this post, you should have a pretty good idea of the questions to ask, what to expect, and how to select the right content marketing provider.
Invest the right amount of effort with the right company, and your content marketing will grow faster than you expect. It’s tough in the beginning, but it will take effort, push through, and keep creating really helpful content, even if it’s hard.
You’ll see consistent revenue growth once customers realize that you’re serious about helping them solve their problems. Content marketing is the best way to show them that you understand, and you can help.