As a business owner or manager, you’ve likely heard the phrase “inbound marketing,” and you know it’s good for growth. You’ve been told it’s more effective than traditional outbound methods, but how do you know where to start? And, more importantly, how do you find the time to start? The entire process can quickly become frustrating for the already-overworked entrepreneur.
To combat some of this frustration, many businesses choose to outsource their inbound marketing work. Attempting it yourself - especially if you’re new to the concept - often results in a less than ideal ROI. But working with an agency allows for fresh, creative content and effective distribution that truly engages the consumers you’re trying to reach.
If you decide to outsource your inbound marketing, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are five tips for successfully working with an agency.
Be Clear About Strategy
Before you sign a contract with any marketing agency, you should first determine who will be in charge of coming up with your marketing strategy. Do you have an existing outbound strategy that you’d like to intertwine with your inbound campaign, or do you prefer to start from scratch?
If the former is true of your business, then make sure to clue your agency partner in on your outbound efforts before getting started, so that it can be worked into the new inbound strategy. If, however, you want to leave all the strategizing up to an agency, you’ll need to set aside extra time and resources that may be necessary to meet your specific goals.
Expect to Allow for Trial and Error
With all inbound marketing, there is a time termed the “engagement period.” During this time, experts working on your campaigns—such as writers and graphic designers - develop and test various content and distribution ideas to determine which ones work best with your target audience.
This engagement period is crucial to the long-term success of your campaign. By design, inbound marketing requires a good bit of trial and error. Outside agencies need a chance to get to know your niche and the culture of your business in order to craft marketing strategies that drive up ROI.
Learn the Agency’s Work Process
Working with an agency is similar to building individual relationships - it calls for learning the habits of one another. In the case of marketing outsourcing, it’s important to remember that there may be more than one person working on your project. Learn how specialists like writers, designers, and videographers generate, present, research, and refine ideas. This gives you a picture of what to expect throughout the process.
Document Your Brand Specifics
Every business has an identity, known as its “brand.” Whether your goal is to incorporate your company’s existing brand or to create a completely new one, there should always be documentation of the specifics.
These specifics can include things like logo use, colors, and fonts, or the values you want to portray. For example, if you run a health food store, then you wouldn’t want unhealthy recipes shared as part of a social media campaign. Guidelines addressing issues such as these should not only be discussed but should also be written so that they can be referenced as needed.
Determine How to Evaluate Progress
More often than not, business owners have unrealistic expectations of success from inbound marketing. It’s important when working with an agency to discuss your goals and what it will take to reasonably meet said goals.
Once that is determined, agree on specific metrics to regularly track and review together. These could include:
- Website traffic;
- Sales numbers;
- Conversions from specific content tools or digital assets;
- Newsletter growth.
Planning how you’ll measure success before implementing inbound marketing prevents frustration and confusion down the road.
With the five tips mentioned here, you can have a successful, profitable working relationship with an inbound marketing agency. Practice these steps and watch your business grow.
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