Do you know the difference between a website design agency and an inbound marketing agency? They both build highly functional websites, they both offer on-site SEO, and they both have teams of highly talented designers, but that’s where the similarities end.

Difference in Goals

A website design agency hands over a shiny new site when done and that’s where the work ends. Yes, they might help you with future changes, but for the most part they give you a new site and it’s up to you to drive traffic and make the site perform. The Field of Dreams terminology of “If you build it, they will come,” does NOT hold true for websites.

For an inbound marketing agency, the website is only the first part of a bigger strategy. That strategy is designed to bring leads to your website and actively works to convert those leads into customers. This is a powerful and proven strategy, but not one that happens overnight. You have to be committed to it for results to happen.

Difference in Strategy

Website design agencies can create online ads, maybe even run pay-per-click and banner campaigns for you. This is great, but it doesn’t have a solid strategy behind it. When you stop paying for the ads, the traffic stops coming in. There’s no foundation.

Inbound agencies offer a different approach, one that includes the creation of a more dynamic website experience that attracts targeted traffic. Inbound marketing is a proven methodology that focuses on attracting people into your sales funnel, walking them through the buyer’s journey and nurturing them until they become a customer. The content created to accomplish this goal will live forever and continue to bring you traffic for years to come.

Business Centric vs. Customer Centric

Website design agencies do amazing work. They have talented coders and designers working hard to make a site look pretty. If you want colors changed they can do it. If you want things moved around they are happy to comply. Website design agencies want to make sure the site looks amazing for you.

An inbound agency will design your website, but it does so with a different goal in mind. It builds websites for your customers, not for you. That can sometimes be hard to swallow as a business. Businesses want their sites to look great for branding purposes, give people information about services and direct them to a sales or contact page. Pretty standard stuff. An Inbound built site works a little differently.

An inbound designed website works more as an educational and problem-solving service. The inbound team will create purposeful content designed to help answer specific questions and problems your target buyers might have. This blog content will function as a powerful magnet attracting people to your site. But the Inbound strategy doesn’t stop there.

Difference in Cost

Websites can run the table when it comes to cost. Some could cost just a few hundred dollars, others tens of thousands. The one constant is that when the job is done, so is the service for the most part. They give you a fantastic (hopefully fantastic) website and it’s your job to make it a productive lead generation tool.

Inbound agencies work with you. They are dedicated to creating targeted buyer personas, compelling messages, a custom plan for executing all the inbound marketing tactics with a schedule, budgets, and a defined set of expectations. It’s an on-going relationship that gets stronger as both sides learn from each other. This type of strategy usually has an upfront cost for site design and a monthly retainer for on-going content development.


If you are looking for a single tactic like a website or a banner advertising campaign, then a website design agency might be the right choice for your needs.

If you are looking to create more leads with an on-going content strategy, where your site acts as a dynamic ever changing hub of information. Then an inbound marketing agency is the better choice for you.

Important to remember: there are some generalizations in this post. This was done to make a point. Not all website design agencies are created equal and not all inbound marketing firms work like we do.