As a marketing manager, you've known about inbound marketing and the results it can deliver to a company. Selling this relatively new marketing strategy to a traditional boss can be a difficult battle though. But it's difficult to argue with hard data, and the person in the big office said it's go time for an inbound marketing initiative. Now it's on your shoulders to find an inbound marketing agency that delivers the best results and is best suited for your company. Spending money for marketing has accelerated quickly in recent years as inbound marketing has become more mainstream. I've seen budgets for Pay-Per-Click (PPC), broadcasting, and public relations transferred into the inbound category with great success. In response, more and more inbound and content marketing agencies have popped up to try and take advantage of this trend. This makes finding a top-quality, results-driven, and proven inbound marketing agency more difficult. To make sure you find an agency that best fits your business' needs, here are five things to look for when researching options.
1. Do they use what they are selling?
There's nothing worse than seeing a company that sells something but doesn't use what they sell. For example, a social media marketing company with 200 Facebook likes is a major red flag tied to a land mine! Is the inbound agency actively and consistently blogging? Do they rank well for key inbound search phrases? Are they active on social media and have a nice following? If the answers to any of these questions are "no" then it's time to run for the hills.
2. Are they friendly?
This might sound like a not-so-important trait, but you're going to be interacting with these people on a weekly basis. Likeability and personality count for a lot when working with people. Make sure there is a connection and mutual respect. From the agency point-of-view, they have a lot of experience and know the ins-and-outs of the inbound world. It's not a bad thing if you get a little push-back from them at times. The goals of both you and the agency should be the same, growth of your business through inbound marketing, but methods might seem foreign to someone who is unfamiliar with them. That's why having a good relationship with them is important.
3. Are they proven?
With so many new inbound agencies out there, it's important now more than ever to vet them. Do they have a portfolio of satisfied clients? Do they have a good relationship with these customers? Take a look at their case studies and compare them to other agencies. It's also important to understand if they are capable of handling your business. If the agency is just a 2-3 person shop, are they really going to have the resources available to push your business forward?
4. Do they use reliable technology?
Inbound marketing is more than just writing content and posting it to a blog. It's about measuring results, segmenting audiences, distributing content, measuring traffic and converting that traffic to qualified leads. An effective agency must rely on powerful applications that can make all this happen smoothly and measure results. Their technology should be easy to use and allow for easy client access. Marketing transparency is essential when out-sourcing and versatile technology helps make that happen.
5. What's under the hood?
An inbound agency is just a collection of people (hopefully talented) that work to help companies grow. So the people, all the people, working at an agency should be at the top of their games. What's the phrase, the cream rises to the top? When you interview agencies, you might meet the owner, the sales director, and maybe a strategist. Be sure to find out who the other players are as well. Learn who will be writing your content and building your campaigns. Do they have a strong inbound marketing background? Remember, you're hiring not just a few people in an agency, you're hiring all of them.
There are obviously a lot of other things to look for when hiring an inbound marketing agency, but these five tips will help put you on a path to success. You must make sure they practice what they preach, have a friendly attitude, boast a proven track record of happy clients, have the technology that can make it all happen and are built with a talented and passionate team. Find an agency that possess these traits and you'll be on the right track to growing your business with inbound marketing.