Posted by Murray Sye
on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 @ 11:03 AM
Inbound marketing is hotter than ever.
And for good reason. A well executed inbound strategy is a proven method to reduce marketing costs and increase marketing ROI.
Yet how can you take your business with the budget you have and turn it into a finely-honed, inbound lead generation machine? And what's the best way to set up your team to successfully deliver on an inbound strategy?
The short answer – you partner with an agency to manage the responsibilities of your inbound marketing for you.
Hiring an inbound agency
WhiteSpace is one of hundreds of inbound agencies out there, ready to assist you with your inbound marketing. Their services run the gamut from acting as your external marketing department to implementing one or more parts of your inbound marketing plan. How you use them depends on the desired results you want and what it's worth to your organization to achieve those results.
When to use an inbound marketing agency
Here's a list of the circumstances where hiring an inbound agency will be a cost-effective approach. You don't need all these conditions to appear, but if you've got three or more of them, hey bring in the experts:
- You need to show desired results very quickly.
- You've got limited internal resources (staff).
- Your staff has minimal inbound marketing knowledge and skills.
- You don't have the bandwidth to make content creation a top priority.
- Pay-per-click (PPC) expense is a) costing more every day to achieve the same quantity of leads, or b) are having a lower close rate compared to other sources, and you lack the expertise in-house to figure out how to tweak your PPC efforts any further.
- You have limited experience with A/B testing to optimize lead generation campaigns to increase ROI.
- You lack analytics expertise to derive insight from data to inform optimization efforts.
- You need help setting up best practice systems, processes and policies for implementing inbound marketing.
- You need a service level agreement (SLA) with your Sales counterpart, but neither of you is skilled at creating them.
Take a look through these advantages and disadvantages and decide what makes the most sense for your organization.
- The bulk of the knowledge, skills and abilities gained stays with the agency – unless you also hire staff to learn with them.
- It will take time to bring the agency up to speed in your business. You can reduce that time if you choose a partner with experience in your industry or market/product category.
- This can require more budget than leveraging your existing team.
- They've got the tools, processes, staff and systems in place to jump-start your inbound marketing in far less time (usually within four weeks) than it would take for you to hire a new marketing specialist and get him/her up to speed (six months on average).
- You get a partner who has a vested interest in making your inbound marketing a success.
- Because inbound marketing is their bread and butter, they stay on top of the latest tools, technologies, strategies and techniques. Top agencies immediately begin experimenting and testing these to see how clients can best benefit from them.
- No more tracking man-hours against deliverables. A lot of inbound marketing agencies work on annual retainers, which are based on a number of set deliverables that you both agree upon. A good agency will work with you tailoring a program that best fits your 'current' budget with a goal to grow along with your business.
- There are no human resources headaches and expenses.
Roles and responsibilities
A top agency will insist on co-creating a plan – we call this an inbound marketing roadmap - that also defines who is responsible for what. Most agencies will spell out various processes, including triggers and timing. For instance, the plan will typically include which person from each firm is the main point of contact, who is responsible for which decisions (campaigns, offers, content, social media, design, photography etc.) and the turnaround time for each step.
What to expect
Top agencies usually assign a team to your business. The account manager, your main point of contact, leads a team that may include a project manager, copywriter and designer. Other creative resources – web developers, videographers, illustrators, app developers, public relations specialists etc. – are pulled in on an as needed basis. Your account manager is responsible for making sure the team delivers the results outlined in your plan and should be in frequent contact with you.
Each agency uses different tools when working with clients. As you begin to work together, they will work with you to make it easy fro you to use their tools. We use HubSpot, inbound marketing and sales software. Your agencies goal is to be both efficient and cost-effective so they are making the best use of your time and theirs.
Most agencies will go over a report with you once a month to show how much progress is being made in delivering results to you. If you're using HubSpot, you'll be able to see those results in real-time whenever you log into your HubSpot account. Your inbound agency will do more than just show you results, they will give you insights into what those results mean, and how they will impact your plan moving forward. This dialogue is extremely important and the best agencies insist on having that discussion every month.
As you evaluate the option of insourcing or outsourcing your inbound marketing for your organization, embrace the idea that there is no one size that fits all. You are unique. You may choose to combine one or more options to find the "fit" that's right for your business.
Written by Murray SyeMurray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
connect with Murray on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.