Jan 2, 2014 11:05:00 PM
Whether or not you need an inbound marketing agency isn’t all that difficult to ascertain – but it does mean a hard look in the mirror and some serious honesty surrounding whether or not you or your business can successfully manage the various components without hiring an agency.
What follows is a breakdown of some of the tasks and responsibilities involved in inbound marketing, along with a few questions to help your frame the amount of work and expertise involved.
1. Defining Goals & Setting Strategies
What does your business want to accomplish – and do you know how to get there?
Chances are good that you know what you want your end result to be – more inbound sales, greater awareness, stronger customer loyalty. But drawing up a roadmap to get there isn’t so simple, and “fake it ‘til you make it” is an expensive and time-wasting proposition.
Part of this stage is researching customers, understanding their needs, pain points and interests in order to understand the message you should be sending.
It also means evaluating the channels at your disposal – paid, owned and earned media channels – and defining how you will align them in order to get that message to the right audience.
If you or your staff have the time and expertise to drill down into the data and pull out these insights, this process is one you could perhaps handle internally.
Still, you may benefit more from the guidance of an experienced inbound marketing agency who has done it before, knows the metrics and how to measure them and understands how to leverage the channels and resources at your disposal to their best effect. Collaboration between agencies and businesses often yields the best results; a mix of insight and experience that makes strategies stronger and goals more realistic and measurable.
2. Creating Content to Meet Your Goals
Inbound marketing and quality content go hand-in-hand, so the big question quickly becomes whether or not you have the right kind of staff on hand to create the kind of content that stands out and accomplishes what it is meant to.
There are no shortage of roles that need to be filled: writing, design and development will all fall to your business to either handle or outsource. Outsourcing is a viable option, but it does create a need for quality assurance and management of those doing the work.
Time is also an enormous factor. Writing, editing, designing and so on can all be laborious tasks for those who take them on, especially if they’re already trying to manage other business tasks at the same time. The result is often rushed and mediocre content.
An experience inbound marketing agency will already have these resources at their disposal and processes for ideation, creation and quality assurance. When you hire an inbound marketing agency, you gain access to their network of creatives, greatly increasing your capacity to produce more – and far better – content.
3. Promoting Content
Never mind creating content; getting the word out about what you’ve created is a job all on its own! Do you have the time and capacity to manage the different owned, earned and paid media channels? Can you stay abreast of the updates in social media, SEO and paid advertising that can benefit your campaign?
It’s important to account for the fact that SOMEONE in your organization will need to be pulling the levers to draw attention to your content, a job that requires time, effort and careful analysis if you want to avoid wasted spend.
Again, agencies have seen an immense variety of potential obstacles and outcomes on account of having worked for so many clients. They can bring this expertise to your campaign, letting you focus on what you do best.
4. Testing and Analyzing Outcomes
How is your content performing? Do you know how to measure that? Which landing page is generating better results? What topics or themes have generated the most interest, highest quality leads or strongest sales numbers?
If you want your efforts to improve and evolve over time, you’ll need to have the expertise to analyze what’s transpired and the insight to know how to apply that knowledge. You’ll also need to invest in the right software and the time required to train your staff to use that software properly.
An inbound marketing agency will be well-versed in turning data into actionable information, presenting you with options and ideas you may not have discovered on your own while trying to juggle so many other tasks. They can devote time and attention to analysis that few businesses can afford on their own, gleaning insights that a passing glance could not have revealed.
Maximize Your Budget; Improve Your Results
The fact is, you can do inbound marketing without an inbound marketing agency’s help – and some have found great success taking that road. Those who have will be the first to attest that it took them a great deal of time, effort and passion for marketing to succeed, resources not every business has at their disposal or wants to develop in house. It’s costly to do, and there will be a lot of mistakes, learning and refining along the way – all at the expense of your spend.
By tapping into the skills and experience of an agency, you’ll see greater returns in a shorter amount of time, without sacrificing your own time and effort trying to get things moving.
A partnership with a inbound marketing agency may seem daunting at first, but it’s less intimidating when you remember that an agency is on your side, working to make you money – not drain your budget.
If you're still skeptical about whether or not you need an agency to run your inbound campaign, keep in mind that their success will be your success – and that’s a win/win relationship you stand to benefit from.
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