Growing a Stalling Content Marketing Agency
We’ve talked to Mark from Contentellect about how to grow a stalling content marketing agency. Read on to find out how Mark is planning to significantly increase the monthly recurring revenue.
The tech stack of Contentellect
As a content agency, Mark and his team rely on a few content focused tools such as
Fraze to create briefs with the help of AI,
SurferSEO to optimize content, and
Google Docs for writing + collaboration
From the SEO perspective, they use Ahrefs, Majestic and sometimes Semrush as well as an in-house tool called KeyClusters. The latter allows Contentellect to create topical clusters, which makes it easy to create the right pages and interlink them.
According to Mark, Contentellect has been fortunate in terms of client acquisition. They used to target software companies who wanted their blogs managed via cold emailing. They’ve expanded their strategy and get a lot of inbound leads through word-of-mouth referrals these days.
Thanks to their optimized blog posts, organic traffic has also increased, leading to qualified inbound leads. On the other hand, social is not a big part of their core strategy at this time, and Contentellect haven’t done any paid ads at all so far.
A new strategy that has been going on over the past 12 months is to target agencies directly to offer white-label services. The main advantage is that there’s no hard selling involved because the agencies become the sales power.
Setting your content marketing agency apart
In a crowded space, Contentellect knows their competition well. On one hand of the spectrum are freelancers on platforms such as Fiverr and UpWork. On the other hand, there are specialist content writing agencies. Mark knows that standing out is a challenge, and he didn’t want to differentiate themselves through pricing, which is “a race to the bottom.”
Although affordable, Contentellect focuses on quality and a personal experience with their clients. Every client gets to work with a writer and assigned account manager. The latter learns about the client’s business, the tone of voice, their blog, products and services. Account managers create all briefs, proofread, edit, and publish content. Basically, the account manager works directly with their client, almost like an in-house person–just that they’re outsourced.
The result is not only a great client experience, but the content is also of high quality due to the personal relationship between the manager and client.
Employing native English speakers from South Africa
Mark is originally from Cape Town, South Africa. Prior to launching Contentellect, he was running a number of content & affiliate websites. He’s always outsourced to South Africa, so it was a natural decision. The main benefit to outsourcing to South Africa is that you get native English speakers, as opposed to countries that are usually used in such situations, such as the Philippines.
Compared to native English writers from the U.S. or the U.K., South African writers are also more affordable, which increases the value Contentellect can deliver with their content.
Coming across SPP via a competitor
Thinking about how Mark stumbled across SPP, he remembers that he saw the “Powered by SPP” backlink on a competitor’s client portal. He first started using Service Provider Pro with his virtual assistance agency, Tasket. He loved how slick and easy it was to get set up, but also how good the client experience was.
At Contentellect, Mark was using a custom-built checkout at first, integrated with Braintree for payments. Taking over the agency, he knew he wanted to transition over to SPP. The main idea was to streamline the client experience, and make sure that the branding was on point, and to be able to make changes on the fly.
“I can just do everything myself. It’s just drag and drop. It’s very user friendly.”
Another important aspect is the ease of creating new services or making adjustments without the need of a developer. With their legacy solution, Mark had to involve developers for every little change.
Merging two businesses into one
Mark mentioned already that he launched a VA service, and until recently, it was running as a single business. He decided to merge Tasket with Contentellect (both the teams and the clients). In his opinion, it simply made sense because the clients of both businesses overlapped. Contentellect was mostly a content writing business, while Tasket was serving clients who were looking for social media management and link building. Both of these services might be of interest to Contentellect clients as well.
After the merge, Mark decided to drop the VA and social media services to focus on link building and outreach instead, which is more inline with the core content marketing business.