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How to Choose an Inbound Marketing Agency

By April 25, 2017May 12th, 2017Inbound Marketing, Lead Gen

This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation” blog series.

In less than a decade, inbound marketing has grown from a novelty for online businesses to a requirement for just about any business. That’s because the way people buy things has changed. Whether purchasing complex manufacturing equipment or the latest bestseller, just about everyone researches online to gather information and see others’ recommendations and ratings before contacting a supplier or making a purchase. Inbound marketing is the process of getting found for those buyers searching for the solutions you offer.

Can You Do Inbound Yourselves?

Inbound marketing isn’t easy. You have to have web content optimized for search, which often means adding web pages and microsites around the problems your business solves, as well as regularly blogging and posting on social media–publishing content and gaining a lot of likes and followers are part of how people find you and validate you. This means you have to have some dedicated resources to constantly publish, analyze, and refresh your content. When someone finds you and wants to learn more, you’ll need more specialized information based on where they are in the decision-making process–more content, in the form of downloadable documents for lead generation.

Do you have time to do this yourself? Do you have resources to hire an agency to do inbound marketing for you?

Agency Options

There are hundreds of inbound marketing agencies in the U.S. now, and most promise the same things–strategy and tactics that will increase your traffic, leads and sales. How do you know if an agency can help you? Here are a few questions to ask along with a quick disclosure: we are an inbound marketing agency but we recognize that we aren’t right for every business. We want every company that approaches us to be successful, and sometimes that means referring them to other agencies we admire that might be better suited to their business.

  1. Do you practice what you preach? First and foremost an inbound marketing agency should be successful at inbound marketing for themselves, and have the analytics and sales data to prove it.
  2. Do they know your industry? Industry experience can save valuable time by reducing the time a firm needs to spend getting educated. It is also more likely they have had success generating leads for your target audience and will be able to create authoritative content and campaigns.
  3. Does the agency know what to do or does it ask you what you want? Not that what you want isn’t important, but if you’re engaging an agency it should know more about inbound marketing than you do. You don’t want an order taker, you want an expert that will guide you to success.
  4. Do they jump into tactics before talking about strategy? Some agencies have taken a menu approach to inbound marketing–for $X dollars per month, you get four blogs and a white paper. That approach may or may not be effective. Look for an agency that asks about your business goals, your ideal customers, your most successful marketing efforts, your criteria for success, your current marketing benchmarks and key performance indicators.
  5. Does the firm ask to look at your current analytics? You can only improve your marketing if you know where you are starting. An inbound marketing firm should able to provide insights into how to reach your goals by looking at your current web traffic and sales patterns.
  6. Do they ask you about your sales process? Because buyer behavior has changed, sales typically gets involved with new leads late in the process. People don’t want to talk to sales until they’re ready. This means marketing has to be in tune with the sales team, agreeing on qualification criteria, setting service level agreements for how many leads will be delivered per month or quarter, and defining the sales to marketing handoff.

Get Up and Running

Inbound marketing is quickly becoming the standard form of online marketing and lead generation. Even other channels like advertising and PR are blended with inbound practices like driving people to landing pages and premium content offers for lead generation and qualification. If your company doesn’t have the resources to do inbound yourselves, a good agency can get you up and running fairly quickly. This can be crucial if your competitors have a head start and you need to stabilize and improve your traffic, leads and sales growth.

This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation” blog series.