When deciding to implement an inbound marketing strategy, many companies face a dilemma whether to outsource the services or do the work in-house.
On the one hand, outsourcing to an agency means relying on skills and expertise of professionals, on the other hand, there is always a fear of dependency on a third party who does not have the same stakes as you in your brand.
I believe that the pros of outsourcing outweigh the cons. Inbound marketing requires a lot of experience and a high volume of work. The learning curve is long, and at least for the first year, the right agency can get you on the track to inbound success.
Eventually it sums down to the professionals you choose to join you on your marketing journey. A qualified agency, working together with your in-house team, could help you maximize your online marketing and achieve your business goals, in scopes that could be very difficult to deal with, without an external professional advantage.
Read this post to find out what you should be looking for when outsourcing inbound marketing services to an agency.
TLDR: Always evaluate what added value the agency can provide over an internal employee.
1. What do you expect to acheive from Inbound Marketing
The entire Inbound Marketing methodology includes four stages:
Make sure that you are working with an agency who is able to help you identify what stages you need to create or strenghten. For instance, there is not need to hire an agency who are top lead nurturing pros, specializing in converting visitors to leads, when you have good conversion rates and are dealing with a problem of attracting strangers and turning them to visitors.
2. Does the agency do inbound marketing for their own marketing?
Does the cobbler walk barefoot?
Your agency needs to be able to provide professional insights based on constant in-depth learning and experience. If your agency doens't do their own marketing well - that's something to worry about.
- Do they have a blog to which they publish constantly?
- Do they create content offers? (eBooks, whitepapers, infographics, etc)
- Do they use forms and CTAs to advance prospects down the buyers journey?
- Do they send personalized emails
- What is the quality of their content?
- Are they active on social media?
- Do they participate in discussions in forums and blogs?
- Do they speak in industry events?
3. What are the agencies' qualifications?
Review Linkedin profiles and research the personnel online.
4. Who are the agencies clients?
Note that some inbound marketing clients prefer to remain under an NDA. However, any respectable inbound marketing agency will be able to provide at least one satisfied client that you can speak with.
5. Do they have any special achievements?
- Are they tiered partners (look for partner agency badges such as Hubspot partner agency, Google partner agency and so on)
- Did they win any industry competition
- Did they create any notable publications (published books, wellknown articles, etc)
6. Evaluate costs
Make sure there are no additional costs that you are not aware of and may encounter with time. Be very clear on what fees include and what's expected of your team.
Your agency should keep you informed at all stages. Make sure you are aligned regarding the KPIs that are important for your success, and that you are conducting weekly meetings with your agency in order to evaluate where you stand with respect to the performance of your inbound marketing.
8. Workloads and deadlines
Part of the reason you will be outsourcing your inbound services is the inability to deal with the workload in-house. Your agency should solve this hurdle. Make sure your expectations are adjusted and that the agency is aware that their job is to successfully navigate your company through the inbound waters.
9. What tools does the agency use
Different inbound marketing tools are relevant for different stages of the inbound methodology. Make sure your agency is hands on, regarding the relevant tools that are the best fit for your company.
As you can see in the above image, different tools provide soluitons for different stages of the inbound methodology.
The agency you hire should be able to deal with large scopes of work, and be goal oriented. If an agency is rushing to close a contract with you – that is a bad sign. A professional agency will evaluate your goals, set clear KPIs together with you, and then work as your partners towards bringing your company to those goals, constantly evaluating and optimizing. A professional agency will tell you if your goals are not realistic, and will not proceed to working together if they do not believe they can help you reach your goals. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable and time bound. In time, you may want to shift all services in-house. That's perfectly fine, just make sure you are clear on what that entails, and that you are confident in the level of knowledge you have acquired from your agency partners.
If you found this useful, and you're curious to learn more and find out how to step up your marketing I invite you to download our How-To guide for creating an inbound marketing strategy.