At Emphasize we often look to other examples in our industry to ensure we are never falling behind on developments and best practices. Recently we’ve been looking into what makes a successful inbound marketing company “tick”, and making sure we’re meeting all the criteria. We’re doing this because we know that the stronger we are able to build our own message and methods, the more we are able to offer our clients.
In this two-part series we’ll explore 10 Factors of Effective Inbound Marketing Companies that indicate an ability to effectively present products to the market and a dedication to consistent improvement and evolution.
1. Offers Services That Matter
Any inbound marketing agency worth their salt should be able to offer Four Core Services:
- Traffic Generation – There are a lot of ways to get people to your website, and your inbound marketing agency should be aware of all of them. If you’re not hearing terms like Search Engine Optimization (or SEO), blogging and social media in your meetings, then you likely will not receive as much value for your marketing campaign as you could.
- Content Management – There should be a word expert available who can rework your content to not only make it more recognizable to search engines, but also make it more readable and more effective at providing information that is meaningful to your audience.
- Skilled at Lead Nurturing – The inbound marketing company you are considering should have an arsenal of varied techniques available that they know are successful at discovering leads and then converting them to customers.
- Analyze It – You are paying for a service and so you should know how it’s performing. Your inbound marketing company should provide you with regular (usually monthly) reports on the progress of your site’s performance, what campaigns have been implemented, how many leads are being converted, and pinpoint what is working. They should also take note of what may not be working, and let you know how they plan too fix it.
All of these parts then need to work together as well as your website does. Watch how your inbound marketing company’s employees communicate with each other. Does it seem like a place where people work together in a collaborative manner? An insular marketing company is a sign of an inability to change, which is a major drawback in any business.
2. Is Able to Present a Clear Plan
This is simple. Not only should your potential future inbound marketing company be able to show you a clear plan for your “build”, they should also be able to provide options that suit you. Some prefer to be more involved in their marketing processes, others prefer to let their employees handle the details. And some want to get their website up and campaigns going as quickly as possible while others prefer to take it slow and invest more time in each step.
The inbound marketing company you are interviewing should also be able to tell you what they’ll need from you to get going, and how your information will be managed. Make sure you’re clear…are you going to be completely rebuilding your site, or just repurposing some of the content for SEO? Who will be in charge of the social media? Will you be able to look pages before publication? In what order will goals be accomplished?
Once you have these particulars hammered out, have a look at your own impending workload, and do your best to clear some time for inbound work. There may be a bit of a learning curve involved, and so be prepared to delegate some of your regular duties for a while until you are used to the process.
3. Presents Realistic Goals
Now that you’re familiar with the methods of your marketing campaign, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. What do you eventually stand to gain? A good inbound marketing company will be able to present you with projections for growth that factor in the size of your business and any challenges your industry may be facing. Ask for an example of how this data will be presented to you. And easy-to-understand chart is better than a complicated spreadsheet…you’re busy running your company!
4. Provides “Proof in the Pudding”
If your inbound marketing company isn’t using the tools they are touting themselves, then there’s a problem somewhere. Check out their website…it should stand as an excellent example of the best that inbound marketing can provide. Look for testimonials and outside affirmations, and watch their other customers’ sites to see if the agency blogs as often as they promise and how they are using their social media sites. And finally, not only have your potential inbound agency show you some of their best case studies, also inquire about their own progress using inbound marketing. An inbound agency that can show initiative in its own progression and that has been recognized be their peers in the industry is a good bet for your choice.
5. Displays an Ability to Get to the Point
Finally, you need to ask yourself…do they GET me? Does this agency understand my needs, and, more importantly, are they willing to work with me to get there?
Even though your inbound company is the expert, so to speak, nobody knows your business better than you do. If it doesn’t feel like you will be able to work in partnership with your prospective agency, perhaps you should move on to another option. The best inbound marketing relationships are built on trust and communication.
Next week we will continue with more details on how to choose an effective inbound marketing agency.