A managed services provider can boost your content marketing strategy by delivering high-quality content on a reliable schedule. But how do you choose the right provider for your unique needs?
Getting help from a managed services provider allows you to focus on what you do best. It’s a scalable solution that results in a steady stream of fresh content you can use to build your online presence at a fraction of what an in-house team costs.
The right provider can help avoid headaches in both content creation and management. Here are ten things to consider when looking for the right fit.
Cost is an obvious practical consideration. Almost 60% of businesses outsource to cut expenses. Third-party providers have the potential to significantly reduce costs, especially since in-house content creation can cost as much as $35,000 a year.
To make an informed cost-conscious decision:
- Conduct a cost analysis – how much in-house content creation would cost in a given quarter.
- Break it down by content – how much is spent on blog articles, videos, social media posts, and other content.
- Check if the quality/price ratio offered by your vendor of choice is better and for which medium.
- Choose metrics by which you will track ROI for the services provided by your new vendor.
Pure cost is not always the main factor in this decision. For example, a managed services provider with a balanced team of specialists can offer higher ROI at an initially bigger onboarding cost. So spending more in the short-term may lead to a better profit over time.
2. Availability and support
A good managed services provider should be an extension of your business. It’s crucial to have communication channels in place so you can reach out to your vendor at any time for support, questions, concerns, or feedback.
Here are a few things to consider:
- How can you contact the provider?
- How long does it take to get a response?
- Do you always talk to the same person?
- Is there good internal communication if more than one person handles your account?
- Do you feel that the provider listens to your concerns?
- Do you get frequent updates?
3. Contract terms
You can recognize quality vendors by their detailed contract terms. Bonus points if you can negotiate some aspects of the contract!
Here are some items the contract should outline:
- The scope of the services offered.
- How performance will be measured.
- The contract length.
- Options for renewal or cancellation.
- How to add or remove services.
- Pricing and payment terms.
- How disputes will be handled.
- Provisions if you or the vendor breach the terms of the contract.
4. Billing structure
Some vendors offer tiered structures with different levels of service. Others prefer to agree on a fixed fee in advance, and you can find providers who use a la carte pricing.
Each structure has its pros and cons. A tiered model means you might pay for things you don’t need, while a fixed fee model will require longer negotiations upfront. Find a billing structure that works for you and your cash flow.
You should also consider when payments will be due, and whether the vendor offers discounts for higher volumes or early payment.
5. Experience and specific industry experience
You need to be able to rely on a managed services provider to deliver high-quality content that supports goals like establishing yourself as a thought leader. Industry experience matters because it can help a vendor understand the unique challenges you’re facing and keep up with trends that are specific to your field.
Ask for credentials. Find out more about the background of the people who will create and edit your content to make sure they have sufficient expertise.
6. Variety of services
Managing a long list of vendors can be time-consuming. You can streamline this process by looking for partners who offer a wider range of services. An experienced managed services provider should offer:
- Content strategy and editorial calendars.
- Reliable and consistent content delivered on schedule.
- Editing services for existing and new content.
- SEO assistance with content marketing discoverability.
- Social media posting and management.
- Analytics insights and suggestions.
Look for a variety of services and think about how different offerings will support your goals. Besides, trusting the same organization for different tasks like identifying topics, writing, editing, and publishing content will lead to a more consistent and streamlined process. For instance, by 2023, the number of global social media users is anticipated to reach over 3.4 billion, so a provider who can blend content marketing with social media will give you an advantage.
7. Ability to innovate
Innovation helps you stay relevant in increasingly more competitive fields. Keep up with the latest SEO practices and content management systems. You also need to meet your audience’s expectations when it comes to being on their favorite platforms and using their preferred means of communication.
Chatbots, custom messages, adaptive content, design trends – take advantage of as much of it as applicable for your niche. Can your managed services provider help you adopt new tools and new content formats, or can they innovate in another manner?
Do some reputation research on your own to make an informed decision. Vendors make claims, but it’s up to you to verify them with the following methods:
- Look for online reviews from current and former clients.
- Check social media pages. Search for comments from clients asking for help. Did the provider answer these questions quickly?
- Ask for some references (from clients in your industry if possible).
- Use LinkedIn to see if anyone you know has connected with the provider.
- Read reviews from employees to learn about the vendor’s culture and whether employees are engaged at work.
9. Regular and transparent reporting
You need to hold your business partners accountable. It’s something you should discuss when you establish the contract terms. Figure out how you will measure performance and how the provider will report on their performance.
A great managed services provider will share reports regularly. They should be transparent and offer solutions when they fall short of the benchmarks. You can use different KPIs to assess performance in areas like unique visits, engagement, and conversions.
10. Your success is their priority
How does the provider see their role? What kind of core values do they have?
You can get more out of a vendor if you pick an organization that prioritizes your success. A provider who cares about your growth will take the time to understand your long-term goals and offer solutions tailored to your needs. They will conduct frequent check-ins and make additional recommendations to keep improving results over time.
Finding the right managed services provider
You can establish a successful partnership if you look for a provider who values your success, communicates well, and crosses off the other items listed above.
Tempesta Media is a managed services provider dedicated to helping you reach your goals with writing, editing, and research services combined with a platform designed to improve the way you manage your content marketing process.
Picking the wrong provider can be a costly mistake. Check out our 100 mistakes e-book to learn more about other common pitfalls to avoid when optimizing your content marketing program.