15 Questions to Ask an Inbound Marketing Agency During an Assessment

by Chad Carpenter

Inbound-MarketingAs businesses seek to incorporate an inbound marketing strategy, they often find they don’t have the internal resources it takes to plan, implement and manage it. This is a common challenge.

Because of this, businesses will seek to enlist an inbound marketing agency to not only educate the marketing and sales teams on the core inbound processes and techniques but also to develop and execute a strategy that will build brand awareness, increase lead generation, nurture leads and increase customer retention.

Inbound agencies practice what they preach, and most will offer a complimentary consultation orinbound-marketing assessment to provide
some third-party objectivity and professional insight to assist you in growing your business.

During this assessment, it is a perfect time for you to not only identify gaps in your marketing strategy but to also ask questions to help you evaluate if the agency is the best fit for your inbound marketing needs.

Related Content: 10 Free Tools to Peep on Your Competitor's Inbound Marketing Efforts

Inbound Marketing Assessment Questions to Ask the Agency

How familiar are you with my industry?
This is a great start to your conversation as you want the agency to not only have the resources to work with your industry, but the scope of knowledge to work with specialty or niche audiences. Given that inbound marketing is content based, having access to knowledgeable writers is essential.

What is your experience in B2B, B2C or Both?
There are different marketing tactics for B2B and B2C, so it is important that the agency has experience with your type of audience. At the end of the day, it is Human to Human, marketing to businesses that have longer sales cycles versus marketing to consumers which is more volume based could be vastly different.

Can you tell me about the resources on your team?
There are many steps between developing the strategy to the execution and it takes a range of resources to keep the inbound marketing wheel turning. These resources should include a variety of writers with knowledge of your industry, as well as developers, graphic designers, web designers, content marketers, and inbound marketing strategists.

Can you tell me the results you have seen with your clients?
This is always a fair question. The agency should be able to provide you documentation showing results of existing or previous clients and may have a case study as well.

What component of inbound marketing do you consider your greatest strength?
I have been on both sides of many inbound marketing assessments—as a Marketing Director and Inbound Marketer at an agency—and I can tell you that most of these assessments focus on the beginning of the buying cycle as far as attracting and converting leads. You want an agency that can build inbound programs that cover the entire buying cycle--from lead to close.

What is your experience in aligning marketing and sales teams?
This is a useful question when you have a sales team with whom you need to coordinate your inbound marketing efforts. You want an agency that has the knowledge, resources, and experience to align both sides. This requires understanding what a truly qualified lead will be as defined by sales so that marketing isn’t sending leads that are not fully nurtured to a truly qualified lead. It also means including sales in the development of the inbound process.

How much time will I need to devote to our inbound progam?
Any successful inbound strategy takes dedication and collaboration, so your participation is required to varying degress. During the assessment, the agency will already be discovering many of the factors and can give you an overview of time expectations. You should also be given insight into the agency’s process and the scope of the project.

Do you execute and implement the strategy you create for us?
Depending on your own internal team and resources, as well as your budget, you may or may not require assistance in executing the strategy based on discussions in the inbound assessment. However, you want to ask what the agency provides before you sign-on. If you DO need help with the execution and they only provide strategy and automation technology, you aren’t going to have the help you need to execute and implement.

Do you have experience with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), much like content marketing, is a part of the foundation of any inbound program. Without knowledge of technical SEO, the likelihood of an inbound program being successful is very slim.

How do you measure Return on Investment (ROI) for clients?
You’d be surprised to learn that there are agencies that do not measure ROI. There are some agencies that measure basic numbers, but no number is more important than your ROI increasing your bottom line. For instance, an agency can show that traffic has increased on your site, but that traffic doesn’t mean much if it hasn’t helped to drive leads and customers. You want an agency that will plan and set goals with timelines, but one that also utilizes closed loop reporting so you have a path to analyze, measure and realize ROI with your inbound strategy.

What analytic tools do you use to measure performance?
This is great follow up question regarding ROI measurement. When it comes to lead generation efforts, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. To analyze and evaluate all aspects of user behavior that is happening on your site and other digital channels, a top-notch agency will utilize analytics tools, i.e., Hubspot, Google Analytics, etc., and provide detailed analysis that covers each and every phase in the leads-to-sales process. The adjustments that can be made to improve the user experience on your website require special care and attention and quality analytics tools provide the intel to do this with powerful results.

What types of inbound programs do you offer?
You want to work with an agency that provides services that include all the moving parts an inbound marketing program entails. Programs can vary by how aggressive the program is, how targeted the program is, and any additional services such as sales enablement, sales alignment or paid advertising. 

What is your client retention rate?
Whether the agency has hundreds of clients shouldn’t be your sole concern. What is important is whether or not the agency has a high client turnover rate. While 0% may seem ideal, there isn’t a number that's necessarily considered the industry standard for a turnover rate. The most important part of this question is how any agency approaches their answer and are prepared to discuss it honestly.

Based on this assessment, what would be your recommended course of action?
A qualified inbound marketing agency will be able to tell you what gaps need to be filled, and along with the steps and strategies that fill those gaps. A more specific and formal strategy will be part of the onboarding process in the event that you work with the agency.

What aspect of inbound do you feel is most important for us to focus on?
The agency should be able to formulate some recommended courses of action based on an insightful interpretation of the available data and discussions during the assessment. It is important to understand the techniques and strategies the agency prefers to make sure it’s a good match for you. A strong agency will be able to quickly recognize the areas of your inbound marketing that need the most attention. 

Related Content: 5 Lesser-Known Tips for More Effective Inbound Marketing

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