Whether you want to launch a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy or you have already adopted inbound marketing and want to take it to the next level, there are a number of key considerations that will help you determine if you should hire an agency to help.
In making this strategic decision it is important to consider the capabilities of your in-house team, their capacity to take on new work, and how you will scale your strategy to drive continuously improved results.
These three factors will help you determine if your in-house team has the chops to execute a results-driven strategy. If doubts persist, it is time to reach out to an experienced inbound marketing agency.
1) Evaluate Your Internal Capabilities
The decision on whether to go internal or external must begin with an assessment of the capabilities of your in-house team. Many small and medium sized businesses lack a focused marketing department with the experience and skillset required for the demands of inbound marketing.
To be successful with inbound marketing you need to have access to a variety of skills and capabilities. These skills include copywriting, search engine optimization, social media, paid search, frontend and backend web development, conversion focused web design, analytical marketing and thorough knowledge of inbound marketing software platforms.
From a leadership point of view, your inbound marketing strategy should to be directed by someone who has a thorough understanding of inbound marketing methodology and that is very in-tune with your business growth goals.
As explained in the anatomy of an ideal inbound marketer, it is nearly impossible to find the capabilities required in any one person. In reality, in-house teams are typically structured on the abilities of two or three key marketing positions.
The costs associated with recruiting, hiring and retaining an experienced inbound marketer, designer or developer could easily exceed $100,000 per team member. Depending on where you’re starting from with your team’s capabilities, directing the equivalent budget towards an external inbound marketing agency may be a more cost effective strategy.
Signs you might need an inbound agency’s skills and experience:
- Your internal team doesn’t have all of the necessary core skills
- Your leadership team doesn’t have a full understanding of inbound marketing
- You need help designing a conversion focused website
- You need help aligning marketing targets with business growth goals
2) Consider Your Teams Capacity
Organizations that are new to inbound marketing often underestimate the amount of work that is required to get a strategy off the ground and running. As you construct a plan to adopt inbound marketing, you should be aware of the amount of time it will take to develop, launch and grow a comprehensive strategy. It is imperative that you consider your team’s capacity to take on new work in the context of their current responsibilities.
Very often, a series of initiatives centered on strategic planning, content development and website improvements must occur before an inbound marketing strategy is launched. Buyer personas need to be researched and defined; content in the form of initial blog posts and whitepapers must be written; conversion paths must be defined; calls-to-action need to be integrated across your website and email workflows need to be set up to nurture inbound leads. Together, these tasks demand a knowledgeable team, weeks of effort, and a dedicated operating budget.
Once your strategy has been launched, there is a significant volume of on-going work required to gain traction and begin to consistently attract more traffic, leads and customers. To execute even a basic inbound marketing strategy you can expect to spend no less than 50 hours per month producing content, creating landing pages and continuously testing and optimizing your efforts.
In highly competitive industries, it is quite common for inbound marketing strategies to require upwards of 150-200 hours of work per month to reach aggressive lead generation and customer acquisition targets. These words of warning should not deter companies from initiating inbound marketing strategies, but instead stress the importance of setting realistic expectations for continued success.
Signs that you need some extra help to launch and grow your strategy:
- You need to launch a results-driven strategy quickly
- You don’t have the skills or capacity to effectively staff your strategy
- You are facing the challenge of hiring and scaling an in-house team
3) Think About How You Will Scale Your Results Over Time
While some organizations utilize inbound marketing as a way to complement existing sales and marketing strategies, other businesses rely on inbound marketing to be a key driver of growth. Regardless of your dependence on inbound marketing, the way in which you formulate your initial strategy and structure your team will impact your ability to scale your results in the future.
When you are evaluating how you will launch your inbound marketing strategy it is important to consider both your immediate requirements and how you will continuously grow your results in the future. As your strategy begins to gain traction and drive business results, what will be your next step? How will you harness the power of inbound marketing to assure continued growth?
Organizations that launch an inbound strategy staffed solely by in-house personnel often end up hiring an inbound marketing agency in the end. As the internal team hits their workload capacity and targets become unattainable, the benefits of a dedicated inbound agency become clear. Companies with in-house inbound marketing teams are sometimes challenged to preemptively attract, hire and retain top marketing talent, and due to their talent shortfall the results of their efforts plateau.
To overcome this situation some companies choose to outsource an increasing portion of their strategy to an agency as they require additional skills and expertise to grow. This option provides the benefit of more flexible and immediate scalability and while providing direct access to a broad range of skills and current industry knowledge that may not reside in the internal team.
Signs that hiring an agency would help you scale more efficiently:
- You have some internal capacity and relevant skills but you acknowledge that you will need additional expertise to help you launch and grow
- Your inbound marketing results have slowed and you need to take it to the next level
- Your limited budget won’t allow you to hire for all of the positions required to be successful with inbound marketing
The decision of whether to keep inbound marketing in-house or to hire an agency can be difficult. Comparing the demands of inbound marketing against your teams capabilities, capacity and ability to scale, may well provide you with the answer.
If you want to confidently invest in an inbound marketing strategy that will produce results month after month, year after year, you must be certain that your team has the talent, time and ability to see it through. If you are unsure whether or not your team has the chops, then it may be wise to reach out to an experienced inbound marketing agency to discuss your situation further.
Originally published Nov 3, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017