1. How will an inbound marketing agency collaborate with my brand?
2. What experience does your agency bring to the table?
3. What does your process look like for preparing an inbound marketing campaign?
4. How do I track the success of our initiatives?
5. Do you use SMART or CLEAR goals to measure the success of inbound marketing?
Partnering with an inbound marketing agency is an excellent way to increase your brand awareness, drive sales, and maintain a successful social media presence. Whether your brand is first starting out with an inbound marketing agency or you are seeking a new agency to work with, you want to be sure you find the agency that will maximize the benefits of an inbound campaign and work well with your team at the same time.
There are lots of agencies to choose from (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). The problem is that most of these agencies are all very similar. They offer the same services and promise the same results. So how do you know which one to choose? Your job is to find the one that works best for you and is going to bring the most value to your business. Knowing which questions to ask the agency will play a huge role in making the right choice.
Communication is the most important aspect of launching a successful inbound marketing campaign. Both you and your agency need to be fully aware of what strategies are needed, what the goals of the strategies are, and how well the campaign is doing. Your brand may not be participating in the day-to-day activities of the campaign, but you still need to set expectations and know what your agency is doing to reach your milestones.
You want to ensure you hire an agency that will not only maintain the core values of your campaign, but also offer suggestions and guidance for improvement.
You will also want to know how often the agency will communicate with you, who will be working on your campaign, and what resources and information the team needs from you. To ensure that your campaign meets your strategic goals, you will be required to devote some time to collaboration, so it is important to set expectations early as to how quickly your agency team will respond to requests, what type of collaboration tools they utilize (e.g., HubSpot, Basecamp, Teamwork, Google Docs) and who your point person will be for the duration of your campaign.
While this is a very broad question, some version of it is essential to finding an agency that is a good match for your company. There are many factors that can go into the experience an agency, including industries they have worked with, whether the brands they represent are B2B or B2C brands, successful campaigns they have managed, and for which metrics they have a proven track record. Getting to know the agency and what they do will give you a better idea as to whether their skill set matches what you are seeking from an inbound agency.
Let’s focus for a moment on the industry portion of the question. It is important to ask which industries a prospective agency has worked with in the past. You will find that some firms choose to focus on a select market. Either way, you need to ensure that the firm you ultimately choose to work with has at least some knowledge of your industry. This will give them a huge head start when it comes to identifying key personas and crafting a winning strategy that will help meet your marketing goals. Don’t be afraid to ask for references or proof of success. These successes will be a part of any agency portfolio so they should have no problem providing that information to you.
In addition to sharing the metrics you want to focus on in your campaign, you want to speak with the agency about how results will be tracked and communicated to your brand. Will you get daily, weekly, or monthly updates on whether your traffic, for example, has shown an increase? This ties back into communication, and will also give your brand an idea of when you can expect to start seeing results.
Among the variety of agencies, each firm may go through a different process in terms of developing a campaign. Agencies should be able to go through every detail of the process for you. They will explain how they create a meaningful strategy and explain how it will target your audience. Details are very important when reviewing the process of an inbound campaign. Simplistic answers such as being “more active” on social media or drafting more blog posts are too general. You should be able to see specific, measurable goals from the start. In the answer to this question, an agency should be able to tell you what they do, why they do it, and how they will implement it.
Getting an idea of the process is a great way to give you an idea of what information the firm will need from you and when. In addition, knowing the process helps you to know when to hold the firm accountable if need be.
When you begin your search for an inbound marketing agency, you might become overwhelmed. Before you even attempt to look into agencies, create a list of what you expect from them. Perform as much preliminary research as you can on agencies you think will match your needs. Narrow down your selections and begin reaching out for assessments. Most inbound agencies will offer a free consultation, so you can get a better idea of what it would look like to work with them. Take advantage of these consultations and review the assessments from your firms of choice. Make the best decision for your business.
A marketing methodology is only worth its impact
Setting marketing objectives is one of the most effective inbound strategies to ensure your business reaches its full potential. The goals that you set and strive for provide a way to organize your efforts, see your progress, and easily, nimbly adjust what you're doing to ultimately improve and grow your business. This goal-setting strategy has worked for business professionals for decades because it makes it easy to set goals that will actually help you to achieve results.
By definition, a SMART goal is:
Timely (or Time-Bound)
SMART goals let you break things down and give you the opportunity to change courses when you need to. But SMART goals are not the only option, some call this process "CLEAR goals" and as you might have guessed, is also an acronym. It stands for:
The idea is that CLEAR goals are more easily adhered to in the fast-moving environment of modern business. The idea of CLEAR goals is not all that different from SMART goals, but there are some key differences that may make them a good choice for digital marketing.
In particular, the idea that goals should be collaborative and emotional puts a new spin on identifying the most important goals for your business strategy.
Inbound marketing is all about collaboration. Whether you have an internal team working together to create content and landing page, or have a relationship with an inbound marketing agency, you need people on your side. Making your goals collaborative means ensuring that the way in which the goal is structured encourages teamwork and communications. In the same vein, setting goals that are emotional can also encourage your team. Even the most dedicated employees can end up "checked out" if they are not challenged by work that is meaningful to them. Try creating goals that both boost your business and are genuinely interesting to your employees. When everyone has a vested, emotional interest in a goal, it will be that much easier to work towards it.
Finally, the idea that goals should be Appreciable and Refinable are entirely aligned with the flexibility of digital marketing, making it an effective inbound strategy. An appreciable goal is one that can be built upon. Starting with one small goal that can serve as a foundation for greater achievements is a great way to think about progress and growth. Further, inbound marketing is all about refinability. From landing pages to tweets, an inbound marketer should always be looking at ways to A/B test, tweak, and improve his or her methods. Giving yourself and your team the ability to change and shift goals that are no longer working is absolutely essential, whether you choose to subscribe to SMART or CLEAR goals.
Overall, there is certainly still room in the inbound marketing lexicon for SMART goal setting, and if that is already working well for you, then, by all means, you should continue to use it. However, if you have found that your goals are lacking or that your team is not always invested in the goals you have set, it may be worth considering the CLEAR goal framework.
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