Many companies outsource their content marketing to keep their SEO strategies competitive, but they often run into the same stumbling blocks that can be resolved.

There’s no question that content marketing is a challenge, but it’s one businesses have to tackle strategically to be successful online – and that often means outsourcing. The CMO Council’s 2014 State of Marketing report revealed that 63 percent of marketers who partner with outside agencies to get the job done find the outcome good, if not extremely valuable.

However, the report uncovered three common (and avoidable) challenges they face that can erode relationships over time and leave marketers high and dry, in search of a new partner:

1. Lack of business results

Despite the fact that 57 percent of marketers agree quality content creation is the most effective SEO tactic and 49 percent say SEO marketing is more effective in 2014 than 2013, companies still report they’re not seeing enough return on their investments.

Time and measurement may partly be to blame. Content marketing and SEO results don’t happen overnight, and companies need to have the analytics skills to measure the impact of their efforts. But that’s where skilled strategist come in – they track results and show marketers where their strategies have gained traction, how they’ve built traffic and where they’re driving conversions.

2. Not enough value-added thinking

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2014 B2B Trends report, 47 percent of marketers admit the reason they outsource is they struggle to produce engaging content, so it’s understandable that they’re looking to agencies for creative strategies to spice up content production.

47 percent of marketers admit the reason they outsource is they struggle to produce engaging content

The hitch here could be that marketers are reluctant to pass off the reins to outsourced talent, because the same survey found that only 8 percent outsource their content planning and strategy. Rather, they let agencies do the heavy lifting (64 percent outsource writing, 54 percent outsource design and 30 percent outsource distribution), but don’t solicit external feedback because they worry agencies don’t understand their brand identities and business goals.

3. Uninspired strategy

It’s true that boring strategies will leave companies eating their competitors’ dust, and with companies using 13 different content marketing tactics, the bar is set high. With videos, infographics and engaging written content circulating the web, marketers have to consider first if they have the budget to back up their goal of being ‘inspiring,’ and second if they’re willing to step out of their comfort zones.

Brands taking a less formal approach to marketing boast 31 percent higher revenue growth than their competitors. 

Most B2B firms lock themselves into a relatively confined space that allows for creativity only as long as it can be construed as professional correspondence. However, there are brands like Dell, Microsoft and 3M that speak to consumers on a personal level to drive demand and secure professional partnerships. A report by Siegel and Gale found brands using this casual approach boast 31 percent higher revenue growth than their competitors. The point is: You have to be willing to stretch the bounds to have an inspired strategy in the first place.

There are plenty of reasons why a marketing relationship can sour and justifications for calling it quits, but marketers should also consider whether there are results to be gained by working through the partnership.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.