Posted at Jan 27, 2020 5:24:20 PM by THAT Agency | Share
Choosing an inbound marketing agency is a big decision -- one that you, as a business owner or chief marketing officer, cannot afford to take lightly. Outsourcing your inbound marketing to experts can save you and your team precious time and headache. However, outsourcing that work to amateurs can have quite the opposite effect. How do you know what to look for in an inbound agency partner? Read on.
4 things to look for in an inbound agency partner
The biggest question for both you and any potential agency is whether or not you’re a good fit for each other. Assess your needs to see how they align with the agency's capabilities. For example, how much of a commitment do you need from your agency partner? Are you only looking for inbound marketing services, or are you also looking for traditional digital marketing services?
There are no right or wrong answers, but these are important questions to ask. The agency you choose should be able to match what you need, whether it be strictly inbound or a mix of inbound and other digital marketing strategies such as SEO, PPC, or email marketing.
If you’re just getting started with inbound marketing, maybe you just need a little help setting up the foundation for a good inbound strategy, such as regularly posting blog articles, sending out helpful and relevant emails, or actively engaging in social media posts.
This is all well and good, but what if you need more? Can the agency provide you with the more advanced aspects of inbound marketing? Check and see if the agency’s employees have certifications for inbound marketing. Are they equipped to deliver the services you need? To make sure you get what you need, be upfront with the agency. See how developed its employees' inbound skills are and how they’d specifically help your business.
2. A Proven Track Record
Make sure the agency utilizes inbound marketing for itself and its clients.
Have you ever heard the expression, “Never trust a skinny chef”? Well, the same thing goes for an inbound marketing agency. [Click here to tweet this.]
If an agency team is not confident in its ability to perform inbound marketing in its own industry, then the team will be even less confident trying to perform it in yours.
How do you know if an agency applies inbound marketing to its own business? Look for an up-to-date and active blog with regular posts featuring enticing calls-to-action to download free lead magnets. Be sure to check out the agency's presence on social media, too, to see how the agency interacts with its own audience.
Also look at how the agency has performed for its other clients. Does the agency's website have an online portfolio showcasing its work? If an agency has been successful in its clients' inbound marketing efforts, it will be proud to share those accomplishments.
These are all great ways to get a sneak peek at how a potential agency might implement an inbound marketing strategy for your business.
3. probing questions
Given the agency can implement a sound inbound marketing strategy for itself, you want to look for anagency that is dedicated to strategically improving the particular situation you’re in. Yes, inbound is a methodology -- but it isn't a one-size-fits-all approach.
Listen carefully to the questions the agency asks of you. In tailoring an inbound strategy to meet your business' unique needs, an agency partner should ask probing questions like:
What differentiates your brand, products, and services from your competitors'?
Who is your target audience? What motivates them? What engages them?
What specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals do you wish you accomplish through inbound marketing?
That last question is especially important. Even if the situation you’re in isn’t a bad one, there is always room for improvement. The good news is, inbound marketing is all about achieving goals. Therefore, the inbound agency partner you choose should keep your goals in mind when deciding how to implement a strategy for your business.
Watch the video below for tips on setting SMART marketing goals.
Doing so requires the measurement of key performance indicators (KPIs) so you can understand what is, and isn’t, working. If the agency you’re looking at isn't transparent about measuring and sharing performance data, abandon ship.
4. Lead Nurturing
Good inbound marketing consists of posting regularly and incentivizing leads to share their contact information with you in exchange for premium content (a.k.a., free lead magnets). Great inbound marketing uses those posts and premium content pieces to not only acquire, but also nurture those leads.
While different products and services can have different buyers' journeys, research from the Marketing Lead Management Report indicates that, on average, leads receive ten marketing touches from the time they enter the top of funnel until they are closed or won customers.
Thus, a lead nurturing strategy is a vital component of what to look for in an inbound agency partner. In other words, does the agency's inbound strategy involve more than just a blog?
Yes, a blog is a great way to create a online presence with which leads can connect, but a blog is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to inbound.
Executing a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy requires understanding where your target audience is online, and meeting them there. This means strategically utilizing different digital marketing channels to get the attention of the right people at the right time with the right information (in the right context).
In Conclusion: What to Look for in an Inbound Agency Partner
As for how to choose an inbound agency, it only makes sense that such an important decision requires careful consideration. You need to make sure that any agency partner is a great fit for your business and for the goals you want to achieve. There needs to be a mutual understanding of where you are, where you’d like to be, and how the both of you are going to get there.
To further assist you in your inbound marketing agency selection process, check out this free scorecard available for download now. It can provide you with an apples-to-apples comparison of the different agencies you're considering:
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.