When you’re in the market to hire an inbound marketing agency, it can feel like you’ve entered a new and strange dating scene, looking to make the right match. As much as that thought may make you audibly groan, the reality is, there’s a little bit of matchmaking in finding the right technology and marketing company to meet your business needs. Sure, you don’t need an inbound marketing agency that likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. But, wouldn’t it be great to meet a nice inbound marketing agency who gets you? And we mean, really gets you?
Here’s a quick cheat sheet to help you find that right inbound marketing agency that you may just want to grow old with. We encourage you to use this checklist as you interview potential matches.
1. Do they ask about you (and really listen to what you have to say)?
Just like a good first date, you want an inbound marketing agency who takes the time to know about you. You, not the agency, should be doing much of the talking during your initial conversation – sharing your company goals, business needs, pain points, etc. An inbound marketing agency worth a second date is one that says things like, “Tell me more about … “ (fill in the blank with one of your business needs.) or “Expand on your …” (fill in the blank with one of your goals.) They should listen, take notes, and delve deeper into who you are before they ever start talking about themselves.
We know one inbound marketing agency that takes this whole asking/listening thing to the next level through a Discovery Workshop. The Discovery Workshop is an intensive, collaborative process which provides the tools, discussion, and analysis necessary to identify and align technology and marketing backlog items with their client’s goals and objectives. From their findings, this agency delivers a strategic marketing roadmap which initiates the workflow for future projects and campaigns and includes a prioritized project backlog and pinpointed budget. (Who’s this agency, you ask? Hmmm…well, their first name rhymes with ‘luna’ and their last name rhymes with ‘graphic.’)
2. Are they more than talk (and do they truly know inbound)?
After they’ve listened to your story, it’s your turn to listen to theirs. Listen carefully, as you want an agency that is built on substance, more than slick talk. The substance should cover their customer-driven process for doing work, as well as their proven, specific inbound tactics that do the following:
- Drive the right traffic to your website through pinpointed Inbound Strategies like SEO, social media, content marketing, and marketing automation, just to name a few.
- Build targeted landing pages and generate online leads with high value content.
- Convert leads into customers through focused lead-nurturing campaigns and lead-generating automated marketing.
- Analyze metrics every step of the way to measure results and fine-tune future work.
3. Do they know how to communicate (and will they on a regular basis)?
Nobody likes the feeling of waiting by the phone to hear back from your marketing agency; left to wonder if email campaigns are tracking, if social media is trending, and if analytics are being analyzed. In your search for finding your inbound marketing agency match, make sure that consistent 2-way communication is a non-negotiable. Remember, this is a partnership. You want to be in the loop, to give your feedback, and to have a say. Whether you and your agency agree to do this through regularly scheduled planning meetings, status updates, review sessions, and/or shared access to project management tools; transparency and openness is the key to this relationship.
4. Do they have a type (and a successful track record)?
Along your search, you may find that the inbound marketing agencies you are meeting fall into two categories: those who play the field and those who have a type. Each category pleading their case for why you should pick them. Your decision of whether to go with a generalist with a diverse portfolio of clients, or a specialist who focuses on one industry, is an important one, with pros and cons on each side. Regardless of which you choose, both generalists and specialists should demonstrate a history of strong results for their clients.
- Generalist: Offer a valuable, wide-range of experiences and resources from which to draw.
- Specialist: Having worked with other businesses in your vertical, their knowledge into your specific industry and market trends is strong.
- Generalist: May take a while to get up to speed with your business and your industry.
- Specialist: Possible conflicts of interest may arise with representation of both you and your competition.
5. Can they keep things fresh to drive results (and in the process, keep you happy)?
We’ve all seen business partnerships that go stale over time. Marketing opportunities are missed, new strategies are ignored, the client complains that it’s always the same old same old. Eventually the business, and the partnership, suffer. In your quest to find your inbound marketing agency match, heed these words. Agility is the name of the game. Your business will evolve. Inbound marketing strategies will evolve as well. An agency’s ability to understand, anticipate, and adjust to make smart decisions for your business is critical to driving the results you deserve. In fact, inbound marketing agencies that practice some form of an agile, iterative methodology (such as Scrum) have that kind of smart, turn-on-a-dime thinking built right into everything they do. An inbound marketing agency that thrives on agility is a keeper.
One Last Bit Of Matchmaking Advice
Hold up. Your search might be over.
Before you dip your fishing pole in the sea of inbound marketing agencies:
(We’ll score 5 Yes’s on your checklist. Plus, we’re kind of fun to hang out with.)