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6 min read

How To Pick an Inbound Marketing Company

How To Pick an Inbound Marketing Company

There's a pretty big gap between using inbound marketing and being successful with it. 


Choosing the right inbound marketing company can help you close that gap and get you on your way to growing your business.


While some businesses build an in-house team to handle the strategies, SEO (search engine optimization), content creation, email marketing, distribution, social media marketing and promotion, strategy and metrics of an inbound marketing strategy, it can be expensive. For some small businesses, the cost can be out of the question. 


A stacked marketing team can cost you upwards of $450,000 for salaries and benefits. Hiring a marketing agency can make much more sense, especially for small- to medium-sized businesses with smaller profit margins and a lack of upfront capital. 


Not only will you pay less, you’ll gain more experience, efficiency and effectiveness.


Yet not all marketing agencies are created equal, and it’s critical to know what to look for in inbound marketing services to ensure this step you’re taking is worth the investment of time and money. We’ve put together some important questions to ask yourself before you sign with a marketing agency to ensure you’re making the right choice for your business.



Are They Willing To Invest In You Upfront?




Good inbound marketing companies take the time to speak with you upfront and learn your business objectives long before you talk shop. They know this “get-to-how to pick an inbound marketing companyknow-you” period is the first step toward an effective, long-term relationship. The inbound methodology doesn't work if you or your agency treat it like a sprint to the finish line, so it's wise to invest the time upfront to determine if the relationship can be successful in the long term.


A top inbound marketing agency knows that to build an effective inbound strategy, they need to have an in-depth understanding of what your business does and what your key offerings are. Without this, they won't be able to create a sophisticated strategy that brings people into your sales funnel and engages your audience in a genuine way. 


A good partner will also give you an honest assessment as to whether they are a good fit based on your goals. If they feel they can't add value, they will take themselves out of the running. 


Avoid companies that pressure you to sign the bottom line despite your concerns about their ability to deliver what you want. 



Does the agency have a strong track record of satisfied customers?



Pick an inbound marketing agency that has numerous success stories from happy clients. Most agencies have a section on their website where you can read case studies, success stories, and testimonials. If you can't find it, ask if they have some offline. If they can't provide you with something like this, proceed with caution (if at all). 


Even better: See if they will put you in touch with their previous customers. There's nothing better than hearing straight from the horse's mouth that the agency did a great job building the strategy, executing it efficiently, and generating leads for that business.



Can they provide a written proposal with clear value props?




Ask agencies to give you a written proposal prior that lays out their service offerings, prices and expected results. This is a great way to test their transparency. If they aren't willing to provide you with at least rudimentary documentation to educate you about their products and services - beware. 


If a company doesn't have something like this prepared, it could be a sign that:


  1. It is hiding something (high costs, services that aren't included, unappealing terms, etc.).
  2. It provides a little bit of everything - in other words, it doesn't specialize in anything, and you might end up with a strategy that's just OK with results to match.
  3. It is too new to the game and hasn't figured out its business yet.


A degree of flexibility is a great asset in a marketing partner. However, you want to pick an inbound marketing company that has already laid the groundwork. You want to spend money on a partner that knows what it does well, how it does it, and what the results should look like.



Are they making unbelievable promises?



Promises to get you ranked on Page One of Google or Bing for competitive keywords within 30 - 60 days should be a red flag for you. Sure, you want an agency that delivers results and can provide an approximate idea of what they'll do for you based on your goals and budget.


However, they should understand that organic strategies, by nature, are somewhat unpredictable. They're one part art, one part science. The results depend on myriad factors - your willingness to take their advice, the rapidity with which the work is done and the conditions of the marketplace, among others. 


Lofty promises suggest they either don't know this or are trying to sell you the dream. 


hiring an inbound marketing agency



Are they in a hurry?



There's nothing worse than being pressured into making a big decision. Good agencies won't be in a hurry to get you to sign on the bottom line. They know that this is an important partnership and that there's a lot of money on the line - for both of you.


Just as they will be comfortable spending the time and energy getting to know you upfront, they will also understand that you are making an investment in them. They should give you time to get to know them, learn their process, and determine if it's a fit for the long haul. 


Most inbound agencies don't make money on short relationships, so it's in their best interest to find clients who will be happy with the results and want to stick around. 


If they are applying pressure and giving you limited-time offers, they probably aren't an inbound marketing company you're going to work with in the long term.



How do they measure success and track progress?



Effective measurement and tracking are fundamental components of any successful inbound marketing strategy. It's not just about executing campaigns; it's about understanding what works, what doesn't, and how to continuously improve. 


When evaluating potential inbound marketing agencies, it's crucial to inquire about their approach to analytics and measurement. Start by asking the agency which key performance indicators (KPIs) they prioritize when assessing the success of their inbound campaigns. These KPIs may vary depending on your specific goals and objectives, but common metrics include website traffic, lead generation, conversion rates, engagement levels and return on investment (ROI). 


A reputable agency should be able to articulate how each of these metrics contributes to your overall business objectives and demonstrate a clear understanding of which metrics matter most for your industry and target audience.


In addition to identifying the right KPIs, understand how often the agency provides reports and updates on campaign performance. Timely and transparent reporting is critical for keeping you informed about progress, identifying areas for improvement and ensuring alignment with your goals. Ask the agency about their reporting frequency, format and level of detail to ensure it meets your needs and expectations.



What level of ongoing support and communication can you expect?



Clear communication and ongoing support are vital components of a successful partnership with an inbound marketing agency. When considering potential agencies,how to pick an inbound marketing company it's essential to understand the level of support and communication you can expect throughout your engagement.


Start by asking the agency about their communication channels and preferred methods of contact. Whether it's email, phone calls, video conferences or project management platforms, ensure that the agency's communication preferences align with your own. Inquire about their availability for questions or concerns as well, and whether they have dedicated account managers or points of contact responsible for addressing client needs.


Beyond communication channels, ask about the frequency of updates you can expect regarding campaign progress and performance. Regular updates keep you informed about the status of your marketing initiatives, allow for timely feedback and foster transparency in the partnership. Clarify whether the agency provides scheduled progress reports, ad-hoc updates, or both, and determine how often you can expect to receive communication.


In addition to regular updates, ask about the agency's process for addressing feedback and making adjustments to strategies as needed. Effective feedback mechanisms ensure that your input is heard, valued and incorporated into campaign optimization efforts. Ask how the agency collects feedback, who is responsible for implementing changes, and how quickly adjustments can be made in response to evolving business needs or market conditions.


By understanding the level of ongoing support and communication you can expect from an inbound marketing agency, you can ensure that your partnership is built on a solid foundation of collaboration, transparency and mutual trust.

How does the agency stay on top of industry trends?



In today's rapidly changing digital marketing landscape, partnering with an agency that remains on top of industry trends and best practices is important to staying competitive. 


When evaluating potential agencies, delve into their strategies for staying updated on the latest developments and inbound marketing tactics. Inquire about their commitment to professional development initiatives such as ongoing training programs, certifications and memberships in industry organizations. Agencies that prioritize investing in the skill development of their team members demonstrate a dedication to delivering cutting-edge solutions and maintaining a competitive edge in the market.



Do they provide value throughout the sales process?



A good agency will be helpful during the vetting process and provide value, even without a signed contract. It's an indication that they truly understand inbound strategies and the value of educating prospects throughout the sales cycle. 


It's also a sign that they're confident their services are worth the investment. They don't see a well-informed customer as a threat to their business model. They know an educated customer is better than an uneducated one, hands down. 


These days, inbound marketing agencies are a dime a dozen and it's not always obvious which are worth your investment. You need to find a partner that's trustworthy, knowledgeable, professional and successful. 


Although this list is just a starting point, it should give you an idea of what questions to bring to the table as you weigh your options and find an agency that can take your inbound marketing to the next level. 


To learn more about how to find and deploy the right partner for your team, check out The Business Owner's Guide to Hiring An Inbound Marketing Agency



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