Inbound marketing can be an extremely effective way to build up your brand and is one of the most modern marketing concepts today. However, it takes a lot of time and effort to create and maintain an effective inbound marketing strategy, which is why many businesses choose to work with an inbound marketing agency. The following are five essential questions that you should ask when comparing inbound marketing agencies:
1. What is your inbound marketing process?
You'll want to understand what kind of inbound marketing plan the agency will set up for your company and what kind of strategies they will use to execute that plan. A good agency will implement a strategy that yields long-term results, while a poor one will focus only on short-term rewards. You should be able to tell what they focus on by how they describe their inbound marketing process, the time line they put in place, and how quickly they indicate you will see results. Anyone promising you solid results in under 3 months is either selling very hard or doesn't understand inbound marketing.
2. How will you customize our inbound marketing strategy?
There are a lot of inbound marketing agencies out there that just do the same thing for every client. Inbound marketing is not "one-size-fits-all". The steps you want to take vary greatly based on your industry, your budget, your target audience, and all the other details that make your business different from your peers and competitors. Make sure the agency speaks about your company like it's a unicorn and that they explain how they'll meet your specific needs.
3. How long has your oldest client been with you?
If an agency's clients have only been with them for a year or two, and the agency has been active for much longer than that, it's a bad sign. It could be any number of things that result in poor client retention, including a client being unhappy with account management, the inbound marketing agency's inability to overcome the marketing challenges small businesses face, the expense of having an inbound marketing agency while leads and sales don't generate revenue, and more. The rate of client attrition can be an indication of the effectiveness of the inbound marketing agency. It's not a factor that can be looked at in isolation, it might just be a red flag.
4. What metrics do you use?
An agency that doesn't use metrics is unable to judge the performance of your inbound marketing strategy. Look for an agency that uses a variety of metrics across all the channels they use as part of their plan - social, email, etc. Goals should follow the SMART framework - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
5. Who will we be working with?
Make sure the agency is prepared to dedicate a team of in-house marketers to your business who will work closely with your company. Marketing is done best when someone understands your product or service and can put themselves in the shoes of the consumer. This allows them to analyze the marketing approach from the buyer's perspective and decide whether or not the tactics will be successful. This is difficult to do when someone doesn't understand your business or your buyer.
Hiring the right inbound marketing agency can make all the difference in your marketing efforts, so be sure to ask these five questions to find an agency that fits your company's specific needs.