Growth is a natural goal for any business, but not all roads lead to winning strategies for accomplishing this.
Data shows that nearly 50% of all businesses fail by their fifth year, and even more, don’t make it past their 10th year. While many others stay in business, they remain status quo … not experiencing any substantial growth or progress toward meeting their goals.
A business can have all the right goals in place, but without the right strategy to develop qualified leads for its sales team. Today, a modern-day approach to lead generation is essential. Without one, business owners struggle to get a prospect’s attention thanks to a highly competitive online market.
Inbound marketing has quickly become a tested and proven methodology for doing business, boosting sales and ultimately, growing your business. Inbound marketing drives qualified leads to your company and keeps them interested in your brand and product until they are ready to buy. But is inbound marketing right for your business?
Before exploring whether an inbound marketing agency can help you grow your business, we recommend a little introspection.
State Of Your Business
To determine whether an inbound marketing agency can help you grow your business and generate leads, it’s important to ask yourself these questions:
- Do your products or services require a level of education before a purchase is made?
- Do you have a sales cycle that is longer than just a few minutes?
- Do your prospects spend time researching your industry and businesses like yours before making a purchase?
- Do your prospects spend time on other industry sites, or association and trade sponsored sites?
- Are your salespeople telling you that they are having difficulty connecting with prospects?
- Are your competitors’ websites ranking higher than yours in Google, Yahoo and Bing?
- Are your customers saying to you, “I didn’t know you had that service or product?”
- Are you finding that traditional advertising like print, trade shows, yellow pages and direct mail are showing diminished returns?
- Are your prospects spending time on social media outlets? Is the price of your average order above $500?
- Do you want a steady stream of leads over a period of time?
If you answered YES to MOST of these questions:
Inbound marketing is a good fit for your business.
If you answered NO to SEVERAL of these questions:
This does not mean inbound marketing is a bad fit for your business. It may mean that you need to look at the questions more deeply, since you may have answered based on how well you think a strategy is working rather than basing your answer on data.
If you answered NO to ALL of these questions:
Inbound marketing is likely not right for your business. Some industries won’t likely benefit from inbound sales, including ones with short sales cycles or ones that have a small average price per order.
Why Inbound Marketing Services Work
Now that you’ve evaluated the state of your business to see whether inbound marketing could help you generate leads, let’s learn more about inbound marketing and why it WORKS.
It’s very important to keep in mind that inbound marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.
Inbound marketing focuses on the development of quality content that pulls people toward your company and the products or services that you offer. Inbound marketing allows the consumer to become acquainted with your company on their terms, not yours.
Why is this important? Buyer behavior has changed. Nearly 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process. (Source: Salesforce)
Gone are the days of cold calling, direct mail advertisements and any type of marketing efforts that send out blanket appeals to mass audiences (known as outbound marketing). Most buyers do their own online research in the early parts of the buyer process BEFORE ever speaking with a company representative, making these outdated marketing approaches far less effective ss for generating leads.
On the other hand, inbound marketing lets you market to your ideal customer (also known as your buyer persona). The more targeted information you can provide to potential customers to help solve challenges they have or provide a solution to a problem, the better chance you have of establishing a level of trust, confidence and sale.
The goal of your marketing strategy should be to attract, engage and delight prospective customers. They have a problem, and your goal should be to solve any pain points that they may be experiencing.
Does inbound methodology work? A study by 99Firms found that:
- Inbound leads cost on average 61% less than outbound leads
- Inbound leads deliver 10 times more effective lead conversions than outbound leads
As a business owner, investing your money wisely is important. The same principle should be applied to your marketing strategy to ensure you get the most out of your investment.
The Need For An Inbound Marketing Agency
Studies show that businesses with a solid marketing plan are more likely to be successful in their efforts. A solid plan will help you generate leads, build awareness with your target audience, develop relationships with your customers and ultimately boost profitability.
Developing that marketing plan isn’t as simple as jotting down a few ideas on paper, however. A marketing plan should:
- Include a situational analysis that provides an assessment of your current situation
- Define your target market
- Understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
- Establish objectives that are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound)
- Include supporting strategies and tactics
- Take in account a marketing budget
- Be a work in progress and evolve as your business goals do
You can read more about each of these steps in our article, Everything You Need To Know About Inbound Marketing.
It’s important to remember that developing a marketing plan is just one step toward improving your lead generation. Lead generation is something that has to be constantly maintained in order for a business to survive. It’s the lifeline for a business and must be continually maintained and refined.
An experienced inbound marketing agency can not only help you develop an effective marketing plan, but it will also put this tailored approach into action - and evolve your approach as your business goals change.
An inbound marketing agency will:
- Identify whether an inbound marketing strategy is right for your business
- Help identify key performance indicators (KPIs) you should be tracking
- Develop which dedicated resources are necessary to implement this strategy
Depending on your tailored marketing plan, an inbound agency may utilize several inbound strategies and tools including:
- Graphic design work
- Keyword search for search engine optimization
- Market research
- Mobile marketing integration
- Content marketing
- Targeted email creation
- Web development and website design
- Social media marketing
- Metrics and data analysis
- Video production
By now you may be wondering whether you can afford an inbound marketing agency considering you’ll receive a customized plan that includes modern strategies, services and tools. Or, you may be wondering how in the world you’ll find the time to implement this detailed, strategic plan.
The answer may surprise you. An inbound marketing agency will save you time and money.
Click the image to view the full infographic.
To launch a winning marketing strategy in today’s competitive digital world, you will need to wear several hats if you plan on handling all marketing efforts yourself. You’ll suddenly go from being a business owner to being a copywriter, graphic design artist, keyword strategist, website developer and designer, mobile marketing expert, software expert, social media specialist, metrics data analyst and more.
If you’d rather keep all of your marketing efforts in-house, it’s important to keep in mind the true costs associated with hiring staff. In addition to annual base salary, you’ll need to account for additional expenses like payroll taxes, health insurance contributions, retirement plan matches, and vacation and sick days. For every specialization listed above, you’ll need at least one employee to handle those responsibilities. Few employees are trained in multiple marketing disciplines, and if they are, you’ll pay a hefty salary to get a high-quality employee.
You can see a more detailed cost analysis in our article, 3 Reasons To Hire A Marketing Agency In Today’s World, but the best digital marketing agencies are built with professionals who specialize in each of these disciplines, providing you with an expert marketing team and tools that deliver the best results.
You will also save money in upfront purchases and annual subscriptions to programs you need to put your marketing plan into action, such as graphics programs, business metrics software and pay-per-click management apps. The cost of these programs can range from $1,000 to $5,000 per month.
How To Find An Inbound Marketing Agency
If you’ve determined an inbound marketing agency is right for your business, the next step is to find the best company that meets your needs.
Your inbound marketing agency should:
- Have extensive experience in inbound marketing rather than only one type of marketing such as web design
- Can provide measurable results from working with other small business clients
- Have longtime clients that have experienced growth over the years
- Be willing to answer your questions and give you the attention you deserve
- Ask you specific questions about your business, showing that the plan it develops is tailored to meet your needs
- Be willing to provide samples such as email marketing campaigns, blog posts, social media profiles and websites it has worked on
- Makes realistic promises to generate quality leads - not specific revenue promises or how you’ll place in a Google search six months from now
Another key indicator in the best inbound marketing companies? An agency should use the same inbound marketing processes on itself as it promises to do for you.
Still not sure whether an inbound marketing agency is right for your business? Our article, What Is Inbound Marketing?, further explores this modern-day technique to generating leads and why it has become the most effective method of doing business online.
Bill is the CEO and Founder of InTouch Marketing. Bill drives the vision and direction of InTouch except when England's playing in a soccer tournament, because everything stops!