[ insights into choosing an agency vs keeping things in-house ]
Maybe you’ve been doing inbound for a while and feel your campaigns aren’t bringing in the results you hoped for, or maybe you want to get started with inbound.
Either way you have an important choice to make: keep inbound in-house or hire a specialised inbound agency?
We should first start by addressing the elephant in the agency: what an inbound marketing agency is, what it does and more importantly, what it can do for you. That way you can make an informed decision.
Maybe you’ve even noticed that:
- Your site is not getting enough organic traffic.
- People coming to your site aren’t converting into leads.
- Your site isn’t ranking for relevant keywords.
- Email campaigns aren’t generating enough ROI.
A marketing agency will ensure you get the best digital marketing support suited to your needs, using the inbound methodology to help you strengthen your digital efforts. More specifically, it helps attract and educate potential leads online and nurture them through the buying cycle until they are ready to become customers. Inbound marketing agencies use their knowledge in these areas to get effective results:
- Marketing strategy development.
- Social media.
- Email marketing.
- Web development.
How can an inbound agency help you?
An inbound marketing agency will provide you with:
1. Access to resources and a skilled team of content creators
To accomplish your digital marketing goals it takes a team of social media marketers, copywriters, SEO specialists, web developers, graphic designers who work together like a well-oiled machine using their skills and training to deliver the best results.
Quality content is what drives inbound marketing, it’s what makes the difference in your online presence. With an increase in website traffic you’ll be able to capture leads and convert them into sales opportunities.
Effective inbound marketing has to produce large volumes of valuable content, to provide useful information to potential prospects.
An inbound agency will have a team of experts skilled in writing compelling and engaging blog posts, SEO, website development, video production, social media managing.
Agencies have their own processes and will implement them faster. Giving you:
2. Defined goals and measured ROI
An important part of a successful marketing strategy is goal setting. Most agencies should include their goal setting, expectations and their process in reporting these goals as an important element of the contract.
With focus from the start on specific goals and reporting back to you, an agency will provide a clear look at your ROI and the marketing tools they use.
3. Expertise and faster results
An agency is familiar with the inbound methodology simply because they’ve done it many times before with other clients and gotten the desired results. They have experience with different marketing tools and tactics, having worked with them before, therefore knowing what works and what doesn’t, what practises and tactics to use and won’t waste time trying out other solutions. If they are specialised in your industry niche, they already know what works better for your type of business, understand your audience and the buying journey so they won’t waste time trying tactics with no results.
Because of their experience and practice it will take an agency a lot less time to meet the end goals than it would take your in-house team to do so. Expect results like:
- Increased organic traffic.
- Improved online visibility.
- More qualified leads.
- Higher conversion rates.
- More revenue.
4. Control over budget and scalability
In matters of budgets, if you’re working directly with an agency they’ll make sure every team member delivers his or her share of the project without having to go over the financial limit discussed.
If, for example, you were to hire outside contractors to fill every role, content, design, automation, you’ll be sure to go over your budget.
On the other hand, with an agency you’ll have the flexibility to increase the workload without hiring other people.
5. Time for other projects
With an inbound agency taking over the marketing aspects of your business, your team can focus on the workload at hand and other tasks that might arise. Because it also takes time for your team to learn and specialize in inbound, with an agency you’ve got this covered, they are skilled in marketing and save you and your team considerable time.
If you want to implement a successful inbound marketing strategy you have to be knowledgeable in the methodology, to be able to produce consistent and valuable content, and be active on the digital platforms that serve you best, in order to maximize your results (so you have to know what those platforms are in the first place).
- In short, working with an agency will save you money thanks to better management and no excess staff.
- An agency will save you time by assigning a single contact and managing aspects.
- An agency will provide you with a better understanding of ROI along with costs and tracked results.
Now that you’ve seen the advantages of choosing an agency, let’s dig a little deeper into what it would take for you to do it all in house.
What if I kept inbound in-house?
Additional training, expenses, and overtime for your team
If your team is new to inbound marketing they’ll have to familiarize themselves with the inbound methodology, develop new content creation, automation and web design skills as quickly as possible.
Since this is challenging to do on their own, both from a time and energy standpoint, you might have to bring in someone else with marketing experience to show them the ropes, or hire a marketing professional to relieve your team from wasting valuable company time and money by trying to do it themselves.
Don’t forget to take into account the resources needed to test the best marketing technology stack. An agency has that covered and can advise you in your journey.
It might seem like a more financially profitable option to keep your in-house team in charge of the operation but you’ll see right away the challenges they’ll be faced with when you’ll be forced to spend substantial amounts on training, courses, or workshops so that they can keep up.
With an agency you’ll be getting the manpower, the experienced professionals you need who also know how to get the job done effectively.
Because you have to invest considerable time to create quality content and use it on the right platforms to get results. This involves dedication and consistency, so when you think about the volume of work, the many hours your team has to put in and the tasks that have to be finished on time, partnering with an agency takes the load off your team. Consider all of this, discuss the workload and services needed with the agency you want to choose and agree on a budget.
It’s faster to communicate in-house, but it’s not always more efficient
- The communication process might take longer with an agency, because you’ll have to set a point of contact and handle all communication through them. Ask them who your primary point person will be.
- It would be helpful to align your sales team for inbound to work, and it would be more effective to have the message come from an external expert decision maker like a CEO, than from your marketing team.
- A lot of marketing departments may hire freelancers and outside hires and that could come with a downside. They’ll have to manage various individuals who work separately from remote locations, to ensure the projects are finished on time, on budget and on point.
- A full- service agency covers all those types of management details for you. They assign a single point of contact who is aware of the status details of the project and who makes sure all the pieces come together as discussed.
- You might lose control over the process and as we’ve mentioned above, because you’ll have to constantly communicate with the agency for updates and new developments.
You spend more time on tactics and perfecting your teams’ skills
Results won’t happen overnight. So you have to be prepared to wait a number of months before results really start showing (HubSpot suggests around 6 – 7 months on average). An inbound agency will tell you this and show you how they can offer the best solutions in the shortest amount of time through optimization based on real time data.
There are some things to take into consideration when choosing to work with an agency and you might be wondering if you can do it all yourself.
It’s important that you know from the start what you’re looking for from the inbound marketing agency, it could be a temporary collaboration or a long-term partnership so you have to determine what best meets your needs. If you approach the agency as a long-term partner, one you can trust and depend on, you establish a working relationship that fuels the best results for both parties involved.
You have to make sure you’re all set before investing in an inbound marketing agency.
How do you choose from the many inbound agencies out there?
Well, it’s not an easy feat but it gets easier if you ask the right questions.
- Do you want to work with an agency that will implement the inbound marketing methodology under your supervision, meaning you will have to guide them every step of the way, which you might not be able to do because it’s time consuming and you have other responsibilities you have to focus on.
- Or are you more inclined to an agency that sells you a strategy and uses their expertise and experience to implement a plan that ultimately drives the best results for your company out of inbound marketing.
Do your research to find a good fit
Not only is it understandable, it’s also recommended you find out everything you need to know about the inbound agency you want to partner with.
Research them just as they will research and understand your needs, your projects and your brand.
They have to be able to give you a roadmap of what your collaboration will look like before signing a contract and provide you with information about their past clients, their success stories and even the stories that might not have been all that effective.
Transparency is key in choosing an agency. You have to trust that agency and you wouldn’t believe them if they told you they never developed a campaign that didn’t perform well.
The inbound agency has to understand your expectations and be able to deliver on those expectations every month or week or as frequently as previously discussed.
You’ll also have to ask them if their team is able to manage everything from content creation to SEO, social media, ad campaigns, design and automation. Ask if they have previous experience with inbound internally and will share it with you.
You should find out how familiar they are with your business or how your product works, and if not how long that would take.
It would be useful to know the agency’s culture, processes and mindset and if they too prefer a partnership or not. It might not be smooth sailing all the time and with that in mind you are going to want someone who can put in the effort, be transparent and communicate along the way.
In case you’re planning to work with a platform like HubSpot, an agency that’s already a HubSpot partner knows the ins and outs of the platform, making the transition and process a lot faster and easier.
You can also look up their online presence to see how they land in the digital space and if they practice what they preach.
Lastly, if they can provide you with honest, transparent answers for every one of your questions and their core values align with yours you just might’ve found yourself a good fit. What matters most in a partnership like this one is that your companies work toward the same goals in a welcoming and open environment.
We’re always eager to lend a digital helping hand so schedule a free discovery call with us, here at Stoica, and let’s discuss more.