Every Thursday morning, HubSpot hosts an office hour for marketing agencies and consultants . We discuss best practices for positioning, selling, and ultimately delivering inbound marketing service packages. Recently, we discussed what the "life cycle" of an inbound client looks like and what agencies who effectively manage ongoing, long-term relationships with clients have in common. If you're a consultant or an agency yourself (or if you're looking to hire one for your business), here is our list of common traits of effective inbound marketing agencies:
1. They Establish the Big Picture
What business problem did your agency get hired to solve? Increase online visibility and traffic? Grow revenue through better online lead generation ? There are a lot of moving parts in inbound marketing. Search engine optimization, social media, and content marketing, just to name a few. Your contract, aimed at solving your client's business need, likely includes many of them. A good agency will minimize the noise a client hears about the different tactics and frame all activity in the language of the BIG business problem they've been brought on to solve.
2. They Set Clear Expectations
To expand upon our first point, making frequent references to overall goals will help your team focus. But don't forget to properly set expectations with clients. Do more than just tell them how long different things will take. Help them understand why . If they know what the desired outcomes are contingent on and are bought into it, they'll support your initiatives and provide resources necessary to achieve them.
3. They Involve Their Customers
Your clients are more likely to support and champion initiatives they understand. Keep them as involved as possible in the work being done, and make sure they understand inbound marketing. Tap their brain power for whitepapers and blogs, and then show them the mechanics of how their content will be used. Let them have a hand in the success you're driving toward.
4. They Have a Network That Helps Them Serve All Client Needs
Your agency should be a one-stop shop for all things inbound. Custom design work, a CRM integration…nothing should be left out. These things might be outside your firm's expertise, but they don't have to be. Find external contractors that can help contribute to skill sets you don't already carry in-house.
5. They Know the Software They Use Inside and Out
Online marketing runs on software. A marketing agency who knows the ins and outs of the products they're using to manage an online strategy (as well as the best practices required to support those tools) is an essential piece of the puzzle. Stay in touch with your software. Know about product updates.
6. They Are Constantly Learning
The companies that provide the software you're using might offer workshops about how to use their products more effectively. Attend them. Your client might have training manuals about the products and services you're helping to promote. Read them. You never know when something you read will trigger that key insight you've been searching for. Likewise, be a sponge for all things inbound marketing. For example, new social media platforms you hear about (and they seem to pop up every day), might provide previously unknown opportunities for your clients. These could mean bigger successes for them, and yes, bigger margins for you.
7. They Use Their Site to Set a Great Inbound Example
The best inbound marketing agencies are able to use themselves as a case study. You are the expert. Have a website that reflects that status. Having an active blog that drives traffic and incorporates content offers that generate leads will allow you to cite yourself as an example when advocating for different parts of an internet marketing strategy . It is a powerful statement.
If you represent an agency, does your company exhibit these traits? If you've worked with an agency to enhance your online marketing efforts, what made them great? What are some other traits of successful and effective online marketing agencies?
If you're an agency or a consultant, don't miss your chance to join us for upcoming office hours , held every Thursday at 11 AM ET.