There are many reasons you might consider hiring an inbound marketing agency. Inbound marketing is an extremely effective way to drive organic traffic, nurture leads, and improve conversions, all while establishing you as a thought leader in your industry.
Inbound marketing is widely considered one of the most cost-effective ways to market, so it’s well worth the investment – provided you choose the right agency to partner with.
At Nituno, before we became an inbound marketing agency, we worked in startups and saw the results of poorly chosen marketing agencies firsthand. In this article, we’re taking that knowledge and expertise, and sharing exactly what you need to know when hiring an inbound marketing agency.
Inbound Marketing Agency: Overview
In outbound marketing, such as via email sequences and social media, the marketer reaches ‘out’ to potential customers. In pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, the marketer will run campaigns with ads on Google or other channels, targeting your buyer persona’s demographics. So far, so straightforward.
The strategy behind inbound marketing is a little different. Inbound marketing centers around thought leadership. You need to build credibility by providing high-value content to a targeted audience. Inbound presents you as a knowledgeable, authoritative member of your industry’s community. It draws potential leads to your website by answering their pressing questions.
This results in potential customers discovering you organically. While not everyone who reads your blogs will be currently qualified to buy your product, providing them with quality information builds trust and brand awareness. This puts you on top of their mind when they’re ready to buy.
Inbound vs PPC
This can be contrasted with PPC advertising. PPC for B2B is generally considered to be effective at targeting customers in the final decision phase of the marketing funnel. This means those who already know what they want and are looking for a solution today. However, the impact is lessened on those still in the awareness and consideration phases. Put another way, paid is great for the bottom of the funnel but not the top.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, allows you to target buyers at the top of the funnel. This means buyers who have a problem but aren’t yet looking for (or aware of) a solution.
Inbound Can Be Slow
However, as it’s an organic process, inbound marketing is not fast. It typically takes 6-8 months to fully see the results of an inbound campaign. And it requires steady infusions of content to be effective. The best marketing agencies will use a mix of outbound and paid to help drive faster SEO ranking (and, therefore, inbound results).
Look for Honesty in a Marketing Agency
When hiring an inbound marketing agency, look for one that acknowledges this and sets realistic, measurable goals. If a marketing agency is promising results that seem too good to be true without a clear strategy, they probably are. At best, they might be naive about the speed of the industry. However, at worst they may be using ‘black hat SEO’ techniques like keyword stuffing and cloaking. These unethical practices not only go against SEO guidelines nut they will hurt your performance in the long run.
So what can agencies do to counter the slow-burn delay of inbound marketing? Diversify their efforts. Marketing agencies like Nituno will combine PPC and outbound marketing techniques with their content, to drive sales both quickly and consistently over time.
When hiring an inbound marketing agency, look for one that acknowledges the difficulties as well as the benefits of inbound marketing, and is eager to tackle the challenges that may arise.
Hiring an Inbound Marketing Agency: What to Look For
SEO underpins the success of inbound marketing. Look for an agency that demonstrates excellent SEO. They should be able to talk knowledgeably about things like how to make a site more crawlable and indexable, the importance of meta descriptions, and how to increase load speed. (For a longer piece on how to determine if your candidate’s SEO is up to scratch, click here).
Practicing What They Preach
Look for hard evidence of your selected agency’s success, through customer testimonials and reviews. Do the other clients in their portfolio share similar goals to yours, and are they succeeding?
Related to this – make sure the agency themselves is ticking their own boxes. Do they rank first when you search their name? Is their website optimized properly? Do they themselves use inbound marketing techniques, and use them well? You’re unlikely to inspire a stronger level of investment in any agency than they’re willing to invest in themselves, so this is crucial.
Great Communication Skills
Obviously, fluency and strong writing skills are essential for marketers (so much so that we’ve given them their own point!), but here we mean the ability to collaborate effectively with your company. Are they engaged with your vision for the company and proactive about how to fulfill its potential? Do they respond promptly when contacted? Do they accept feedback constructively?
Clear and Compelling Writing
This is where you’re going to be converting leads, so it’s essential to get right. Look for writers who can not only hook the reader in without giving a hard sell but also describe complex concepts clearly and succinctly. There needs to be a balance of engaging word choice and practical, high-value information – and a keen prioritization of SEO in mind.
Engagement and Desire to Keep Improving
Marketing is a challenging industry, that requires its workers to be agile and attuned to new trends and changes in the market. Great marketing agencies thrive on new challenges and understand that effective marketing can never take vacations. The best marketing insights often come via controlled experimentation. Your chosen agency should be hungry for more and consistently looking for ways to improve its offering.
Hiring an Inbound Marketing Agency: Knowing Your Needs
Whatever marketing agency you decide on, it greatly benefits you to clarify your needs and expectations before signing a contract. Your goals should guide your choice of agency, and also help align your agency with your existing teams. For instance, if you know you need content, you may then also request your marketing agency to do your keyword research and formulate a content plan. But do you just need a content plan, or do you also need support formulating a strategy to deploy your content most effectively? How much analytical support and consulting do you envision your agency providing?
A truly great marketing agency will be happy to scale its services depending on your requirements, so don’t be afraid to communicate what you’re envisioning. Not sure exactly what level of support you need? Nituno offers a free website audit to get you started.
We’ve heard hiring the right inbound marketing agency compared to suddenly having twice the hours in the day, or a clone who works in tandem with you to ensure your company’s success. When you find an inbound marketing agency with the relevant experience and passion for your success, you can focus fully on building your business to its fullest potential.
At Nituno, we are committed to helping our clients turbocharge their growth and continually improve. We’re a Hubspot and SEMrush-certified inbound marketing agency with more than 30 years of combined experience in the industry. If you want to make the most of your inbound marketing, get in touch with us today.