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Guide to Hiring an Inbound Marketing Agency: 5 Agencies to Avoid

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    You probably know by now that shifting from outbound to inbound marketing can create a huge return on investment for your company. If you’re here, doubtless you’ve already started trying to apply inbound strategies to your business. Often though, as many of our clients would tell you, the task can get daunting when trying to do everything in-house.

    When starting out, questions you might be asking yourself include:

    • “How on earth am I supposed to write 5 blog posts per week on top of everything else I have to do?”
    • “What are my competitors doing and how can I keep track?”
    • “Why should I get my business on Google+ or Twitter?”
    • “Why doesn’t my company show up on the first page of search engine results?”
    inbound marketing can be confusing when undertaking it solo

    Image source: Vic

    All valid questions, and if they’ve crossed your mind, you might benefit from hiring an inbound marketing agency to make sure your marketing budget is spent on what will give you a return for your buck. Inbound marketing isn’t something that should be taken lightly or done here and there, once in a while, when there’s time. It should be an integral part of your strategy. And yeah, that can be effort intensive, and it takes time and practice to learn to do it right and get it to work.

    Handing over your inbound marketing to an expert agency will help you gain insights into the latest inbound developments and how you can keep up. You’ll get faster return on investment and save costs. And best of all, you’ll get fully integrated inbound marketing campaigns that deliver the results you want.

    A good inbound marketing agency will help you with:

    • Search engine optimization to help you get found online;
    • Social media marketing management to help you connect with your customers in ways that are meaningful to them;
    • Email marketing campaigns that actually reach your audience;
    • Conversion rate optimization to make sure your efforts pay off;
    • Getting up to date information on your competitors;
    • Applying current industry best practices.

    But then, you’ll only get all that if you hire a good inbound marketing agency. Because not all inbound marketing agencies are created equal. It’s important to know what to look for. The Guide to Hiring an Inbound Marketing Agency is designed to walk you through exactly that. Equally important though is knowing what to avoid in an agency. The rest of this blog post is designed to walk you through exactly that.

    5 types of agencies you don’t want to hire

    1. Buzzword flingers

    buzzword flingers don't make good inbound marketing agencies

    Image source: Zach Inglis

    Be wary of agencies who encourage you to do the latest hip thing in inbound marketing without explaining what tangible results the proposed techniques will deliver or how they will fit in with your company’s goals. Or agencies who throw around a bunch of buzzword-stuffed, meaningless phrases like “streamlining the messaging of your campaign to ensure alignment of branding and engagement” or any number of these buzzwords without ever talking about what actually matters to you: new and qualified leads, new customers, sales dollars, costs, savings.

    In other words, avoid going through what Brian Signorelli did when he was a small business owner looking for inbound marketing services from an agency. In short, he asked for new leads, and the agency suggested a social media presence and some press releases. A good inbound marketing agency would tell you that’s not the right way to generate leads.

    2. Pollyannas

    pollyannas don't make good inbound marketing agencies

    Image source: linniekin

    Agencies who will sugar coat everything instead of being honest with you when things are bad, as in Lucia Davis’s example, are not agencies you should be working with. Always seeing the bright side of every campaign might be good for the morale but it could be disastrous for your campaigns and your marketing efforts. Think about it: what will you spend more time improving? Something you tell yourself is good or something you know is bad? Yeah, that last campaign probably could have been worse. But a good inbound marketing agency isn’t afraid to say that something could be better and deliver better.

    3. Agencies with all the wrong goals

    hire inbound marketing agencies with the same goals as you

    Image source: Raymond Brown

    If you explain to your agency your goals and targets and they continuously send you performance reports on a different set of goals, you should probably fire the agency and look for a new one. Make sure the agency’s team members understand your KPIs and how you define and measure them. Make sure they understand what you mean when you explain your targets or you might get a bad surprise a few weeks and more than a few dollars down the road.

    4. Agencies who don’t track

    Hire inbound marketing agencies who track their efforts

    Image source: Simon Cunningham

    Agencies who don’t track their efforts won’t be able to tell you what they’ve actually done for you. You won’t know what you’re actually spending your money on and you won’t know what tangible results you’re getting out of it. An inbound marketing agency who tells you they have no way to track their efforts is not competent enough to be working with you. Good marketing tracks its own efforts and continuously works to improve metrics numbers.

    5. Yes men

    yes men do not make good inbound marketing partners

    Image source: Be-Younger.com

    Companies who will say yes to everything you want, no matter what, might sound like a blessing but they’re not. A good agency will find out your company goals and will help you implement the strategies that drive those goals. If you say you want to increase social media presence, a good agency will recognize that that shouldn’t be a goal in itself and will ask you why. Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Or is your goal to increase conversion rate but you heard about this awesome Twitter campaign and now you want to implement one because they’re all the rage right now? If you’re in the latter boat, a good agency won’t just say yes. A good agency will explain why that’s not the best strategy and will help you meet your goal of increasing conversion rate with strategies that are designed with that in view.


    So now that you know what to avoid, do you want to know what to look for? Check out the Guide to Hiring an Inbound Marketing Agency, written by Karen Yu, and spend your marketing dollars wisely.