Choosing the right inbound marketing agency isn’t something an organization should take lightly, as there are a lot of really great options out there (especially when it comes to HubSpot partners). However, not all agencies are created equal—and even ones who are equally effective might not be the right fit for your business.
Most marketing agencies will be on top of their game, claiming to have mastered digital marketing services. The claim may be valid, but beware, there's a fine line between trendy and truthful. Website design, email marketing, and social media campaigns are all fundamental services of inbound marketing agencies; however, they're just simply marketing tactics. To effectively implement inbound marketing, you need an agency with a comprehensive, strategic program in place.
Strategic Inbound Marketing Services
An inbound marketing program is multifaceted. Success depends on how well the agency integrates and executes certain inbound marketing services, such as:
- Inbound marketing strategy development
- Target persona research
- Content mapping
- Sales and marketing alignment
- Content writing and design
- Video production
- Organic and paid social media
- Digital advertising
- Integration with CRM systems
- Sales enablement
While inbound marketing services are certainly a priority, several other signs indicate if an agency is fit for you. Below are five questions you can ask that will help you uncover the experience, knowledge, and overall culture of an agency.
1. What type of results can I expect, and when?
The key insight to uncover with this question is to see if an agency is trying to sell you the world. They shouldn’t be making ROI promises that feel too good to be true. Rather they should be able to talk intelligently about KPIs that will be measured and what kind of results are realistic for your business and category.
Inbound marketing works, and it can drive legitimate ROI and create new revenue streams for all types of industries. But it isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Bonus points if an agency offers client references that you can talk to and a variety of case studies and/or client work examples.
2. How do you get your content? What is the process for this?
Content, such as blog posts and eBooks, are the gas that runs any successful inbound marketing strategy. If you plan to receive any content as part of your partnership, be sure to learn more about the type of content they’ll be providing. You can ask for examples but also ask about the process.
- Are they providing realistic timelines and being clear about the expectations?
- Do they clearly lay out their process?
- Do they have in-house content experts that will be touching all of your content?
How do they ensure there is no duplicate or plagiarized content?
Based on our experience of reviewing, writing, editing, posting, and promoting thousands of pieces of content, we have a pretty good idea of what separates wheat from chaff.
3. What are some things your most successful clients are doing? And what is preventing others from getting the results they could?
This question provides an opportunity to really share with a potential partner what they are expected to do (or not do) in order to get results. Not all clients are created equal, and we can learn a lot from the ones that are having success and those that drop the ball on their end.
Looking at an agency's previous and current work also provides more insight into how well they build and service their inbound marketing program partnerships.
4. What is the typical ROI for my type of business and industry?
This is a great opportunity for the agency to share any expertise in your industry. Real examples and honest conversations about ROI should be happening long before you sign a contract, so be sure they're able to share not only results and expectations for similar businesses but also companies that have similar needs and goals. An agency with established relationships with companies similar to yours will be able to hit the ground running when it comes to your inbound marketing program.
However, we personally don’t believe that an agency needs to have experience in your specific industry in order to be a good fit. Oftentimes, it’s more about understanding your general business model (B2C, B2B, multi-channel selling, ecommerce, etc.) that is what is really key here. Don’t get bogged down by them having direct experience with your exact industry.
5. What will our day-to-day partnership look like? Who will I be working with?
In other words, what kind of service can you expect from this agency?
- Do they plan to project manage along with consulting?
- What kinds of tools or software do they use?
- What are their systems?
- Who will be your primary point people?
- How quickly will they return your emails?
There aren't always right or wrong answers to these questions, but the goal is transparency. Do they seem to have an organized infrastructure that will support your needs? This is also an opportunity to dig deeper into their company culture. If an agency’s core values don't mesh with yours, chances are a working relationship won’t be a fit either.
When looking to hire an inbound marketing agency, it’s not just about the numbers. While price matters, what really matters is that you fit together and that your two companies can work cohesively toward the same goal.
Hiring the right inbound marketing agency for your business can make a world of difference, so we understand—and expect—that companies who are truly invested in long-term partnerships and real results will want to do their due diligence.