Inbound marketing takes time. It also takes a lot of domain knowledge. It can be hard for businesses to find the necessary time or internal resources to learn and/or implement search engine optimization and social media campaigns (to name a couple) for themselves. In these cases, businesses can reach out to a third-party agency to manage their inbound marketing efforts. Consider these 5 must-have characteristics when evaluating an agency partnership.
1. The Right Services
Hiring a firm to redesign your website won't get you more visitors. The two, seemingly connected, are two totally different agency skills sets. One is design-heavy; the other is content-heavy. To attract more traffic and leads, you need to hire a firm with traffic generation services like blogging and content creation, search engine optimization and link building, and social media campaign creation. Looking for more leads and customers? Then make sure you're vetting the premium content creation, landing page, and marketing automation chops of a prospective agency. Be certain an agency has the capabilities you need to meet your marketing goals.
2. A Clear Process
Content creation capabilities and social media case studies are great, but the real value of an agency's involvement will be in how they put the inbound pieces together into a comprehensive strategy. Inbound marketing agencies should be able to clearly lay out and explain the inbound methodology for prospective clients. Being able to clearly show you the order in which things need to happen and the amount of time and resources required at each step will indicate that the agency has delivered ROI to clients before. Thus, you will also be able to infer that it has the game plan to do it again for your company.
3. An Emphasis on Measurement
Words like "metrics," "benchmarks," and "analytics" should be peppered throughout your prospective agency's pitch. Progress made toward your goals should to be measured at every step of the way, and an inbound marketing agency worth its weight will be able to track all campaigns and report on performance regularly. You have goals. You are trying to meet those goals by hiring the agency. Therefore, it should be as focused as you are on charting success in an undeniable, data-driven way.
4. Strong Project Management Skills
Inbound marketing is fueled by the creation of remarkable content aimed at your ideal prospects. In order to be successful, good inbound agencies will need to get inside your head to build that content and learn about that dream lead. Do the agency you're considering have the process and communication skills to make you think they will make reasonable and realistic requests of other folks on your team? Also, have they set clear expectations around what each inbound component will require in terms of time and resources? Do you get the impression that they can manage campaigns with lots of moving parts? A good agency will make your life easier; not the opposite.
5. A Website Optimized for Inbound
Does the agency you're considering blog regularly? What is its own social media presence like? Are there optimized landing pages and premium content offers throughout its site? An effective inbound marketing agency should be its own best case study. Think twice about engaging with an inbound firm that doesn't make the services it sells a priority for its own business.
What other characteristics do you think are must-haves for an inbound marketing agency?
Originally published Nov 1, 2011 4:30:00 PM, updated February 01 2017