More and more businesses are now investing in inbound and content marketing. However, implementing an effective strategy requires a long-term commitment.
When your company is focused on its core competencies, it can be difficult to find the time and resources needed to make an impact. That’s where working with an inbound and content marketing agency can help – but how do you choose?
Before selecting an agency to work with, we should consider the subtle difference between inbound and content marketing.
The term inbound was coined by HubSpot in 2006. They say: “By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.”
Content marketing tends to be more open to interpretation. The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) says it is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience - and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.
If you think they sound similar, it’s because they are – but, generally, content marketing is widely acknowledged to be an integral subset of an inbound marketing strategy. And that means we need to hire an agency that can cover all of these bases.
1. Do they offer the right services?
This is one of the first things to consider: does the agency have the capabilities to deliver the ROI you’re looking for?
In order to help you implement a successful marketing strategy, an agency should offer four core services. These are:
- Traffic generation
- Lead generation
- Lead nurturing
- Analysis and measurement
At each stage it will be necessary to create educational and informative content. But if an agency can only fulfil one, two or three of these categories, then they are unlikely to be equipped to help you form a cohesive strategy that will produce tangible results.
2. Can they present a clearly-defined delivery process?
Having established that an agency can deliver what you require, it’s well worth finding out exactly how they plan to do this in practice. This requires them to really understand your business and the problems you are solving for your customers.
They should be able to work in partnership with you to develop the right strategy, tactics and campaigns for your company. They may, for example, create a timeline outlining how they plan to progress month-by-month and the resources they’re likely to need along the way.
3. Do they maintain a website optimised for inbound?
A good inbound and content marketing agency should, of course, practice what they preach. They should be their own best case study.
Why not take an in-depth look at their website and gather the evidence for yourself. Perhaps they’ve told you to blog weekly - do they do the same? Or maybe you’ve been advised to ramp up your LinkedIn activity – is your agency clearly visible on the professional networking platform? And do they have call to action (CTA) buttons and premium content offers available on their own site?
4. Do they present compelling case studies?
Case studies serve as proof that an agency has helped other clients to achieve success – making it more likely that they will be able to do the same for you. And an agency that is determined to deliver ROI for you will be eager to give up the goods.
When you’re presented with case studies look at whether they really prove that the agency can fulfil the four core services. The accomplishments that they are showcasing should align with your own business goals.
5. Will they teach and train your internal team?
Hiring an agency doesn’t mean relinquishing all control over your marketing efforts. It takes a lot of time and effort to create valuable content, produce lead nurturing campaigns and analyse the results, which is why outsourcing can provide a worthwhile solution.
But your own industry expertise is invaluable and any inbound and content marketing agency worth their salt will be keen to train members of your company on how to do things like blog and use social media. They will want to nurture a relationship with you, in order to achieve the best possible results
6. Do they place an emphasis on measurement?
Analyse, analyse, analyse: it’s a good mantra to remember for inbound marketing. You have clearly-defined goals, which means that a data-driven approach is the key to success.
Your agency should be tracking and interpreting each stage of your marketing – and reacting and adapting accordingly. For example, if 10 people download your latest eBook, your agency should be looking for ways to turn these leads into customers - perhaps by sending them a follow-up email with another content offer.
Hiring an inbound and content marketing agency can bring numerous benefits to your business. With so many options out there, it's important to keep an eye out for certain defining factors that will assure you that you are making the right choice for your company.
For more information and tips on what to look for in an inbound and content marketing agency, download your free eBook by clicking on the link below.