After various rounds of evaluation of your internal goals, you have realized you need to push your marketing efforts more. You have identified the gaps in your marketing strategy and want to outsource your inbound marketing to an expert team. But finding the right inbound marketing agency can be tricky.
In the last decade, inbound marketing has gained a lot of popularity as more and more companies are realizing that they all need to publish high quality content that connects with their audience and builds trust.
Just the technology is not enough.
While HubSpot offers a solid foundation to build a cohesive system and set you up for scale, effective implementation is key. You need a team that understands the platform deeply, knows industry-wide best practices, and will essentially bring a method to madness and help you see ROI from your investment. This could be ensuring seamless migration and interconnectivity between all your martech tools, setting up the right dashboards so you have a finger on the pulse at all times, or focusing on the larger inbound strategy to drive results. Or a combination of all three.
This is where HubSpot partner agencies come in! While HubSpot’s partner program and its tier structure make it easy to shortlist the right potential partners for you, you need to go in a little deeper to make sure you have the right set of folks for the next stage of your growth.
The HubSpot tiers do an excellent job reflecting an agency’s expertise and performance. However, it’s critical to ensure that the agency you choose has a culture and process that fits well with your business’ growth goals and expectations out of the engagement.
Here, we offer you a list of questions you should ask agency partners before finalizing one.
1. Who will be working on our account?
It’s not unheard of for agencies to have a senior employee handle the sales process and then a junior member running point on the engagement. While depending on designations to gauge credibility and expertise is not a tactic that should be endorsed, you must know the person or team that’s going to work on your project.
Ask to meet the people who will be leading the engagement with your company. This can help you check working chemistry, build a rapport and hit the ground running when the engagement begins. Also, make sure you understand who to get in touch with in case things go south. Finally, get answers to specific questions like – How long will it take to resolve any issues? How can I contact the agency’s leadership to get a quick response?
2. What will the day-to-day look like?
Asking this question can help you determine the kind of service you can expect and how things will go down the line. The primary goal is to ensure transparency and set right expectations at both ends. Will they follow a process that your team can adjust with? Do they have a setup that can support your needs? Figuring out all of this upfront can help you make your decision significantly easier.
While you can iron out wrinkles over time, ensuring there is no early miscommunication can help you get the best out of your investment. Also, this gives you an opportunity to ensure that the engagement will run at a pace that your team is comfortable with and estimate a finish line for the project.
3. When can we expect to see results?
This is a tough question. To be honest, success is dependent on both you and your agency – and there’s a reason most marketers are cagey about committing to specific targets, especially if they’re not doing direct ads.
So, don’t expect direct numbers – but look for how they answer this question, and their confidence about this engagement. During your vetting process, you also need to check if your potential partner’s track record with similar projects. Look for partners who work with set methodologies and processes. Experimenting to see what works and what does not is something that an inexperienced team can do just as well – and frankly, you deserve better.
4. Do you use inbound for your own company?
There is only one correct answer to this. If your agency is not using inbound for their own business, it can become difficult for them to understand the challenges and resolve them. In fact, the agency should be keen on showing their work with inbound. It’s almost certain that they would be using an automation platform like HubSpot. If you can get insights into their lead management processes, workflows, pipeline structuring, and social channels, it can help make your decision significantly straightforward.
Moreover, an agency that has carved an effective inbound strategy for itself is bound to have an edge over others. They can leverage their own experience to anticipate obstacles and help your business avoid them.
5. What kind of strategic input can we expect from you?
While it is highly desirable to partner with an agency that produces results right from the first week, it’s essential that you think long-term as well. It may be tempting to have the inbound engine running as quickly as possible. However, skipping the big picture conversation in the beginning will prove to be very expensive later.
Partner with an agency that begins with understanding your processes, industry, competition, buyer personas, and journeys before implementing a new plan. Do they ask for a product demo or any other literature to get to know you better? Do they care about how you differentiate your offerings from your competitors? Do they know what objections you hear in sales calls? These are all good signs that your partner is thinking deeply about how to create a meaningful plan for you.
Laying down a solid structure before building your inbound process is key to ensuring long-term growth. Work with an agency that works with this model.
6. How do you ensure our expectations are being met?
Finally, it’s essential to know beforehand whether or not the agency has a set feedback mechanism in place. While emails, surveys, and weekly calls may be planned, you must look for an agency keen on doing the extra bit to ensure they exceed your expectations.
Ask them how they facilitate a constant feedback flow. Is the leadership team involved in the feedback loop? Do they attend calls? Does the agency have an NPS system in place?
Ideally, you should partner with an agency that does not just report on the completion of deliverables but also factors in client happiness into the process. The level of the agency’s preparedness to deal with issues becomes highly critical to the project’s success and your company’s growth. Discussing these plans in the beginning can help you ensure that you get the desired level of service.
Partnering with an agency is a significant commitment – one that can shape your business for a long time. A good agency knows that – so while you’re evaluating them for fit, they should also be evaluating you. This is a good sign – that means the agency cares about the work it does – and who they do it with.
This is why we, at ContentNinja, often do a paid pilot to ensure fit before we commit to a large retainer so both parties can date a bit before putting a ring on it.
If any of this resonates with you, why not set up a discovery call and get to know us more? Find a time on our calendar today!