Should I hire an Inbound Marketing Agency? It’s a question that comes up naturally as businesses discover the inbound process. Inbound marketing is a complex and intensive marketing methodology that offers a strong ROI when implemented, but can be difficult to navigate when starting out. While a number of businesses old and new opt to utilize the inbound methodology in house, many others prefer to employ an inbound agency. As an inbound agency ourselves, we admit to holding an amount of bias in this area, however, we believe that the points can be viewed objectively in spite of this.
Understanding the Complexity of Inbound and Success
To take on an inbound marketing approach, you must first understand what it takes to run a successful inbound marketing campaign. An inbound marketing campaign is comprised of multiple bits and pieces working together to accomplish a specific goal. That goal may vary by campaign, but should still utilize the same fundamental resources and tools.
Being fundamentally content focused, people confuse inbound marketing with content marketing, or with operating a blog and running social accounts. In reality, inbound marketing is much more complex. Inbound marketing utilizes content, but is also reliant on a strategy to target that content and use tools like forms, landing pages, and offers to gather the proper information from visitors and prospects in order to convert them.
The success of inbound content, however, is dependent on other aspects. For example, comprehensive knowledge of your persona’s buyer’s journey, or knowledge and understanding of lead qualification for your business are both important to inbound success. Without these factors, your content could fail to attract the desired audience, or you may be able to attract the audience, but fail to convert and qualify them properly due to asking the wrong questions. Items like content creation are also heavily dependent on the processes you have in place, as is your lead generation. Without processes and consistency, you could fail to build a strong foundation, which in turn could impact the success of any ongoing inbound campaigns you choose to operate.
What does this mean for your inbound endeavors? Potentially nothing. Or potentially everything. A number of businesses are able to adopt and enact inbound with great success. Others try, and end up using an agency, or abandoning inbound altogether. The most important factor in your outcome is the level to which you understand and appreciate how complex inbound marketing is, and the amount of time, process, and resources involved in making it successful.
Taking the Inbound Agency Approach
If you choose to take the agency route when implementing your marketing endeavors, there’s a number of things to consider and remember. These are the highlights we came up with:
- Bringing an agency onboard to run your inbound marketing means having a team of experts to help guide and execute your inbound strategy, oftentimes meaning less error and higher efficiency.
- Hiring a team rather than an individual means having the best of the best to generate and implement your content, including designers, writers, and strategists.
- Utilizing an agency allows you to focus on other factors of your business and free up time on your expertise rather than learning and processing something new.
- By using a team of experts, you ensure that all knowledge in the field is current and up to date, as are the tools being used.
- Agencies have the perception of being more expensive than in-house marketers. In reality, if you require the hiring of a team to implement your marketing strategy, it might be comparable in cost as well. However, agency retainers tend to cause sticker-shock.
- When working with an agency, possible communication gaps may exist, both in content, as an agency will need time to develop knowledge in your field, and in communicating needs or execution, as they are not in the office with you.
- Negotiating project scope can be a challenge, as agencies have to balance your work with the work of other clients. This means that when a project is underestimated in hours or the needs evolve, issues may arise with how to fix the issue. This can potentially impact the project and/or your costs.
- Agencies require kick-off time to educate themselves on your industry, learn about your company, and ensure that your marketing system is in place. This can mean a delay in seeing results.
Taking Inbound In-House
It can be tempting to take inbound marketing in-house, but as with an agency, there are a number of factors that are positive and negative with this approach.
- In-house marketing communication is much simpler and quicker, meaning you won’t have to onboard an agency or worry about passing along the right info. Instead the team working on the marketing is local and aware.
- Using a marketing manager or even a small in-house team means being able to more easily align your marketing strategy with other business efforts.
- An in-house team may be able to implement strategy more quickly and efficiently because there’s not a learning curve to overcome.
- Your team has sole control over strategy, and therefore control over the related decisions, successes, or failures.
- Inbound marketing takes time to learn, and even more time to perfect. This can be difficult for a team starting out.
- Paying a salaried staff may cost as much if not more than a monthly inbound retainer.
- If key staff members leave, a lot of training is lost, and replacements may not have the same learned depth of knowledge.
- Your staff won’t have the same skill depth as professionals to produce top content and design.
- An in-house team may also be spread too thin, especially starting out. Without a full team on board, your in-house department will likely wear multiple hats and roles they may not have skill or expertise in.
The Deciding Factor
If things are looking pretty even to you right about now, that’s because they are. For some companies the choice between using an in-house team v. an agency is simple enough based on their needs. For others, it’s too early to determine which will work best for their company. The best thing to do when choosing? Keep in mind your goals, timeline, budget, and plans for scalability to determine which options will meet and continue to support your business.