3 Things You MUST Know Before Hiring an Inbound Marketing Agency

by Dustin J. Hall | MIN READ
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digital marketing agencyYou're looking to hire a new digital or inbound marketing agency and are excited about all the good stuff they can bring -- more traffic, more leads and more revenue! You've also spent a lot of time researching each agency, trying to determine which one will deliver the best results for your business. But can they really help you? It's certainly possible, but not if you don't know a few critical pieces of info about your own business first.

Ultimately, the results you gain from the agency -- and the speed of those results -- will depend on how well you know them.

Know Your Numbers

The numbers you want to pay closest attention to are the ones most closely related to your marketing generated revenue and overall sales/marketing performance. These are numbers any business owner or executive will know without requiring any in-depth knowledge of marketing. A reputable digital or inbound marketing agency will also rely on these numbers in order to set proper benchmarks and to even determine whether or not they can help you.

First, the basics...

  • Monthly Website Traffic
  • Monthly Marketing Generated Leads (online only)
  • Monthly Marketing Generated Customers (online only)
  • Visitor to Lead Conversion Rate
  • Lead to Customer Conversion

If you don't know these numbers off the top of your head, that's okay. The prospective agency will likely be able to find these out for you during any initial marketing audit or consultation.

Next, the nitty gritty...

  • Average Lifetime Value (LTV) of Your Customers
    • Be sure to include all numbers for both recurring & one-time purchases.
  • Marketing Cost of Customer Acquisition (COCA)
    • This will include your fully loaded annual salaries of the marketing team, annual marketing expenses for all programs and the number of customers you've acquired from marketing.

At the end of the day, these numbers will help both your business and the agency determine the value of their services. If you've narrowed down your choices in agencies, it's important to share these numbers with them and not feel as though "hiding" them serves as any strategic negotiating advantage...because it doesn't. In order for any outsourced agency to be effective, you must share and communicate these numbers with them as you would your own staff. 

Tip: You can find more useful metrics in this eBook.

Know Your Processes

More specifically, know your marketing and sales processes. Having intimate knowledge of these processes will help the agency determine how their services can best fit within your organization and produce optimal results. Here are some questions to help get you started.

Your sales process...

  • How long is your sales cycle?
  • How adept is your sales team at closing?
  • What CRM software does your sales team use and how?
  • How/When do your sales reps typically follow up with leads?
  • How/When do your sales reps leverage marketing collateral?

Marketing process...

  • How do you currently capture leads online?
  • How do you currently nurture your leads further down the sales funnel?
  • What does the marketing to sales hand-off look like?
  • How consistent are your current campaigns and programs?
  • How do you currently listen to the market for direction?

There has always been an unnecessary rift between sales & marketing teams. The more the agency knows about your sales processes, the more they can help the sales team and form a successful bond with them. Likewise, once you hire an agency, you'll want to educate your sales team on what the agency will be doing (if the agency doesn't do that for you) and facilitate open communication between the two teams.

Related: How Company Culture Impacts Inbound Marketing Performance

Know Your Goals

When it comes to any kind of marketing agency, having clear, actionable goals will mean the difference between successful or unsuccessful engagement with them. Hubspot does a great job of defining these goals as SMART goals, which we'll outline below.

  • Specific - instead of simply saying "more," make it a real number complete with deadlines.
  • Measurable - track everything and avoid insignificant metrics like engagement or influence.
  • Attainable - keep things within reasonable reach.
  • Realistic - keep in mind your true capabilities and challenges. 
  • Timebound - "someday" doesn't cut it. Set a proper deadline and stick to it.

Good example: "We want to increase our online marketing generated leads by 15% before Q4 of this year."
Bad example: "We want double the amount of revenue from our website."


Knowing these 3 things above will help your company do more than just hire a great agency...they will help you get better, faster and more quantifiable results. Any new agency you speak with will also be grateful that you truly understand your own business and are serious about growth.


Originally published July 22, 2014. Updated February 7, 2017.