If you hadn’t guessed it by now, here at Bluleadz, we’re all pretty big fans of inbound marketing.
Traditional marketing methods are intrusive, unengaging, and difficult to measure. But, with inbound, you can target your ideal customers and refine your messaging to attract, engage, and delight your visitors.
Unlike traditional marketing, inbound marketing puts the power in the hands of the consumers. It’s a process that’s less intrusive to your customers while reaching them where they are in their buying journey.
But, when it comes to taking the leap and hopping on the inbound train, you have to ask the question: “Should I run our inbound marketing efforts ourselves, or should we hire an inbound marketing agency to do it for us?”
What Is an Inbound Marketing Agency?
An inbound marketing agency is a group of individuals that become an extension of your own team to help you drive revenue for your business.
They’re an outsourced team that helps you every step of the way, creating extensive, measurable strategies to generate new leads and close more deals.
To be honest, there are pros AND cons to using an inbound marketing agency. Before you decide whether or not to use an agency, it’s important to consider both the benefits and the drawbacks of doing so.
Pros of Using an Inbound Agency
When it comes to tackling your goals and growing your business, an inbound agency will be your biggest advocate. They want you to succeed, because it helps them succeed. Plus, using a specialized inbound marketing agency often has a few key perks.
You Have Direct Access to an Experienced Team.
In most cases, the inbound marketing agency you use should have a sizable team of experts. These individuals know the ins and outs of using inbound marketing methods, and can give you loads of advice for tweaking your efforts for maximum effect.
Many inbound marketing agencies do more than just provide marketing advice – they offer various design and writing services to complement your marketing.
From writing blog posts to designing ebooks and whitepapers, using inbound agencies can save you a ton of time and effort on your marketing.
You Can Reduce the Workload for Your Staff.
Managing all of the elements required for a comprehensive inbound marketing campaign can be a huge time sink for your staff.
Between managing your social media channel, researching and writing blogs, editing website content, creating and tracking email workflows, setting up landing pages for your content offers, tracking results, and all the other tasks needed for inbound, you might need to have a team of people with special skills to handle everything.
Ideally, using an inbound marketing agency should be able to do all the above things to help you generate leads, increasing sales opportunities for your business.
An Agency Means Less Wasted Time.
“To manage, we must measure.” Everyone knows the quote, but everyone also has at least one story about jumping into a business project that didn’t follow this crucial truth. When all is said and done, a marketing campaign has to produce bottom-line results.
An agency knows how to get a campaign on track and when to admit that it won’t work as planned. They know what strategies should be at top of mind for your business, and they’ll even know exactly how to execute them to deliver results.
The Deliverables Your Agency Provides Makes Your Business More Scalable.
New products, services, geographies – it all takes more resources. Most internal marketing teams aren’t ready to turn on a dime if a new project comes up or an existing one needs a new spin.
With an agency, you have huge flexibility in how much capacity you call on at any one time. If you need support for something new, your agency can step in right away.
You Can Expect Faster Results.
No matter what your marketing plan or goals, an agency is the way to get there faster. If your agency has been in the game for a while, they’re sure to bring with best practices and proven results from past clients.
Since they’ve already experienced “lessons learned” firsthand, you don’t have to spend months or years reinventing the wheel. Any good agency can get you started on the road to your objectives within just a week or two, inching you closer and closer to crushing your marketing goals.
An Agency Monitors and Proves ROI For Your Business.
How do you know if you’re getting where you want to go? In the marketing world, the answer is analytics and reporting.
Agencies live or die based on the results they can deliver each month or quarter, so you can expect them to show you exactly what you’ve gotten for your money. And, if they underperform, they’re completely accountable – unlike employees who often slide by.
Cons of Using an Inbound Agency
We won’t lie to you – choosing to hire an inbound agency is not a light choice to make, and there are many potential drawbacks to doing so.
They’re Not Always the Cheapest.
If you do a little digging, you’ll probably find that there aren’t many inbound agencies that are willing to work with you on a low-low budget.
Most inbound companies structure their plans on a three-tier system – if you aren’t willing to pay for their most basic services, you might as well keep looking.
However, beyond the price tag, you should consider services you are getting in return for the amount you put in. Be sure they align with your needs and fit into a budget you can afford.
Communications Can Lag.
With any external team, there’s likely to be some kind of communication lag. This problem is often worse when the agency is based in a different time zone/country than your own, which can make it harder to set up conference calls and meetings with them.
This could end up delaying the implementation of some items for your inbound marketing goals.
On the other end, communication needs to be consistent if you’re looking for optimal results. This means you should also be ready for when your agency reaches out to you for approval of a strategy, article, video, or any element of your campaign.
If production has to slam to a stop every few days for a complicated sign-off process, you simply won’t get the full benefits.
They’ll Probably Need Some Time to Learn About Your Industry.
The more specialized or esoteric the knowledge needed for your industry, the harder it’s going to be for any external team of marketers without a background in your industry to learn the ropes.
So, when it comes to hiring a new agency to help with generating traffic, leads, and business, it’s typical to see some sort of slow period from first signing to the first campaign.
This is because the team will have to learn more about your company, the buyer personas you’re targeting, and the biggest challenges your businesses face. Then, there can also be a short time in which the agency must assess these and come up with a strong enough strategy to start digging into when they’re ready.
You Lose Some Level of Control.
For those who love to delegate, an agency relationship is perfect – you can be more efficient and focused while leaving the tough stuff in expert hands.
However, if you like to do everything yourself, then you may find yourself frustrated by the constraints of an agency. Maintaining this balance means committing to communicate with your agency partners and building trust on both sides.
You Probably Aren’t the Only Client Your Account Managers Has to Respond To.
In most marketing agencies, it’s pretty standard for each team or team member to work on multiple clients at once (otherwise, the agency’s costs would be astronomical).
This means they may have to perform a balancing act – putting off the needs of one client to fulfill the needs of another.
If your agency hasn’t quite mastered the art client management and communication, it can be easy to run behind on campaigns and progress toward quarterly goals – which won’t make you very happy, we presume.
Your Processes Have to Be Aligned For Optimal Results.
So, you’ve heard tons and tons about the value of inbound marketing ... but your marketing and sales processes are still focused on old-fashioned outbound approaches.
It’s no problem: Most of the time, your agency wants to help you out with all of that. But ... there has be a taste for change. If your organization is full of holdouts, they may well undermine your inbound marketing results.
Results Won’t Happen Tomorrow.
Yes, you’re paying money to put your trust in an outsourced team, and yes, an inbound marketing agency will be able to deliver faster and better results – but it will still take time to get there.
You WILL see ROI, but results are incremental and build up through consistency. Each week should represent a step forward, but it may take up to a year for all of your efforts to work together and bear fruit. Which is still better than a year spent not marketing!
Choosing the Right Agency For You: 3 Things You Should Do
1. Be Sure to Ask the Right Questions.
If you are looking for an agency to do business with, you'll want to weigh your options and consider more than one.
That way, you can easily compare their offerings and decide which agency could provide more value and better results. One way to do this is to ask the right questions. Beyond how much experience they have, you should dig a little more to understand each agency at a deeper level.
2. Consider the Price – and Your Contract Options.
When shopping around for an inbound agency, money should be one of the first things to keep in mind.
How much are you willing to spend to yield the results you want? Unless you think long and hard about your budget and limits, you won't know what direction to start looking, and it'll only bring you disappointment in your search.
Beyond the price tag, you need to decide if you want to make the financial commitment to a year-long contract with an agency, or if you should seek to find a company that will work month-to-month contracts with you, just in case you aren't satisfied with the results you are getting.
3. Identify Your Biggest Priorities.
Let your largest initiatives guide your search for the right agency. Look for companies that have extensive experience working with other clients in the areas you want to improve, and find out how they compare to your other options.
Ask agencies to provide you with relevant case studies that show how they can benefit your business just like they did with someone else. This can make all the difference in your final decision.
Tips for Building a Better Relationship With Your Agency
So, you found the perfect agency, and you've just closed the deal. Congrats! Amazing results are up ahead.
But, before you get started, take a step back, and thinking beyond what the agency can do for you, you have you think of what you should do for the agency.
Here are two useful tips to follow when you finally find an inbound agency.
Delegate a Point of Contact.
If you don't want communication to be an issue in your relationship, delegate a point of contact for your business that your account managers should go to for information, approvals, and weekly check-ins.
Typically, your company delegate would be someone working in your marketing department, such as your marketing manager or director. However, if you're business is a little smaller or just getting off the ground, select someone who understands your pain points, personas, and goals.
Be Open to New Ideas or Approaches.
If you've been living in the world thinking there is only one way to do something, you're sadly very wrong.
Agencies are here to provide you with new ideas and ways to bring your business results and, ultimately, more business.
So, don't walk in close-minded thinking that you're only going to do what you think is right. If your agency is experienced enough in your industry, they'll probably have a few proven tricks or tips to yielding the results you desire.
All in all, the decision whether or not to hire and outsource your marketing efforts from an inbound marketing agency is not an easy one. Weigh these pros and cons and consider how you wish to grow your business: If the time is right, be sure to ask the right questions and find the right agency for you.
When you find "the one," you won't regret it. Let the results speak for themselves!