A survey of marketers suggests that high-quality, custom content and SEO expertise are among the most widely sought aspects of third-party agencies for those looking to outsource content marketing.

With 87 percent of companies looking to improve their online content marketing campaigns, many plan to turn to third-party custom content agencies. While there are countless factors to consider, the Content Marketing Institute’s 2012 Digital Content Marketing Survey found that businesses are most concerned about finding premium content writers.

High-quality, professional writing is cited as the most frequently in demand service among companies outsourcing their content marketing. Nearly half of respondents said they want to work with a provider that generates content of the highest caliber. From a prospect’s perspective, grammatical, spelling or factual errors negatively impact a brand’s reputation. Meanwhile, search engines’ focus on bringing the best content to users means that frequent errors may negatively impact organic or paid search campaigns. Google’s Matt Cutts has said sites with frequent content errors tend to have lower rankings.

With that in mind, 26 percent of respondents said they are looking for an agency with SEO expertise. Currently, nearly 90 percent of Americans begin purchase decisions with research on Google, Bing or another search engine. Generating content that helps organizations improve their ranking on SERPs is an increasingly common desire for these organizations.

Moreover, 30 percent want their agency to also offer in-house consulting and advising link to account managers page to ensure content achieves its desired goals. Consultancy seems to go hand in hand with customization, as 39 percent want a content marketing partner that will develop a strategy and create articles unique to their brand. Partners that develop strategic, targeted content an also make adjustments to content strategies over time, which is critical for to the success of marketing campaigns.

Proven records of success and truly original content were also mentioned as primary desires for content marketing partnerships.

Brafton recently reported that companies are looking to outsource other parts of their web marketing campaigns to third parties as well. Social media marketing is a similarly strong candidate for outsourcing, especially given the success of the channel when integrated with content marketing. As one study author said, “75 percent of [social marketing] work is in the research, monitoring and content creation – and that can be outsourced.”

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.