As the world continues its shift to the Internet, companies are trying to figure out how to increase their online visibility. Unfortunately, many companies simply do not have the time and internal resources needed to master online (inbound) marketing practices like SEO, content creation, email and social media marketing. In the face of this dilemma, businesses wanting to implement ROI-charged tactics like blogging and social media are looking to outside agencies for help. These agencies use their deep online experience to help companies short on time and internal resources increase their online visibility and lead generation efforts.
Inbound marketing agencies come in all shapes and sizes. In order to determine the best fit, here are 5 values to consider before hiring an inbound marketing agency.
DELIVERS THE INBOUND SERVICES THAT MATTER THE MOST
Key Question: Do you offer Traffic Generation, Lead Generation, Leads-to-Customers and Analytical-Focused service packages?
Any prospective inbound marketing agency must show that they can integrate four core services into one cohesive strategy. First, the agency should be able to generate targeted online traffic with SEO, blogging, and social media sharing. Second, they need to be able to develop premium content that converts traffic into leads by attaching CTAs (calls-to-action) and landing pages capturing prospect data. Third, they should know how to craft targeted lead-nurturing campaigns that guide leads down the sales funnel. Finally, they must be able to measure and analyze website and social media data at every step.
Because they are so critical for online marketing success, any agency up for serious consideration should know how delver these four core services.
HAS A SOLID, PROVEN AND LOGICAL PLAN OF ATTACK
Key Question: Given your understanding of our situation, goals and challenges, what do you recommend we do first, second, third, etc?
A prospective inbound agency should be able to clearly define how they will employ the four core services on behalf of your company. Make sure their plan follows a logical progression. For example, if your business doesn’t have a strong web presence, then traffic generation services like SEO, blogging and social media should be priority one. If your website is not generating leads, your agency partner may need to create premium content offers with CTAs and landing pages.
You must have confidence that the inbound agency you hire is able to priorities that are relevant to your needs.
CAN CITE ITSELF AS A CASE STUDY
What have been the results of your own firm’s inbound efforts?
Make sure any prospective inbound agency under consideration practices what they preach: a solid inbound agency should be its own best case study. Is the agency blogging at least as frequently as they say I will have to? Are they creating premium content? If so, are they using CTA buttons and landing pages to attract and convert prospects? Are they measuring the results of their website and social media marketing efforts?
Just as you expect to hire a dentist with pearly whites, you want to hire an inbound marketing agency that walks the walk.
SHOWCASES A SPECIFIC AREA OF EXPERTIZE
Key Question: Which aspect of inbound marketing is your strongest capability, and how does the strategy you plan to implement capitalize on that in particular?
Does the prospective agency you are talking with have a specialty or area of strength? If yes, is their specialty tactic-specific, such as being expert at SEO, or service-specific, such as having a strong ability to create premium online content?
Whatever you do, make sure their areas of strength align with the online marketing challenges you’re facing and goals you’ve identified.
PLACES A PREMIUM ON MEASUREMENT
Key Question: How will you measure the success of the campaigns you are proposing?
For all of its other strengths, the Internet is an infinitely measureable place. Remember this when considering an inbound marketing agency. Each aspect of the inbound methodology can be tracked and measured. Your prospective agency should be eager to talk about “metrics,” “benchmarks,” and “analytics.”
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.
The inbound agency you hire should be as focused as you are on charting success in a data-driven way.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If your company is short on the time and manpower needed to increase your online marketing ROI, consider hiring an Internet marketing agency that specializes in the inbound methodology. Before doing so, however, make sure you’ve found an agency that understands your challenges and has the tools necessary to realize your business goals.