Before hiring us, our prospects always ask the following question: Which is the best Inbound Marketing agency? What they want is someone who can give them an excellent service and get more out of the investment they will make in their Inbound project.
Choosing the best Inbound Marketing agency for their business is a decision that can't be taken lightly, since the investment they will make on it will be a significant one. If the agency manages to work well with their company, it will not only change the commercial direction of the company, but it will affect their business culture as well.
What they should be looking for is a partner and not a provider. Therefore, they must make this decision in the same way they would when choosing a partner. The latter must provide something that you lack and there should be affinity, compatibility or, as we commonly say, there must be chemistry between the two of you.
There must be congruence between the skills that the agency has and the company's teams, along with the needs of the client.
There are many factors that can make a difference between a successful Inbound strategy and implementation, or one that fails. This success depends on both parties. A very important part is the agency and the other is the effort made by the company's teams. For this reason, the compatibility between the teams and the agency should be considered as the main element.
10 Compatibility Elements That the Agency and the Company Must Share:
1) Insource Vs Outsource Content
Inbound Marketing strategies have content as a key element. You have to produce considerable amounts of content. One of the most difficult decisions to take is: Who does it? Your company or the agency? Most of the Inbound Marketing agencies usually offer to make the contents for you yet, the more content an agency makes, the more the company has to pay for this service. If this content is produced by your own company, then the costs of the agency decrease.
Now, not all companies feel comfortable with their teams becoming content generators. Although having your employees generating content has many advantages, it isn't an easy task to achieve. It is for this reason that many companies who choose this option fail during the implementation stage. DataBranding helps its clients go from an Outsourcing scheme to an Insourcing one by teaching the company's teams how to implement the Inbound strategy. This usually takes one year of consulting and workshops
2) Monthly Fee VS Consultancy on Demand
Most agencies work under a monthly fee scheme. They offer a series of services for which they get paid month after month. The benefit of choosing this method is that you will see a constant and progressive growth of your company's sales thanks to the agency's experience.
On the other hand, not all clients can afford paying a monthly fee, so they choose to implement their own Inbound Marketing strategy and only pay for basic training and consultancy.
We offer both schemes at DataBranding:
- A monthly fee with which we help our clients make their own contents. It can cost from 3 to 7 thousand dollars a month.
- For those clients who can't pay a monthly fee, we can make an initial consultancy and a basic training plan, which costs from 4 to 5 thousand dollars. We also recommend these clients to take at least 2 additional update workshops a year.
3) Size of the Inbound Agency Vs Size of the Company
The size of an agency should match the needs of your company. If your company is a big company (say it has a complicated structure, is geographically located in several areas and has several brands or sub-brands) it may be convenient for you to work with an agency that has a big staff so that it can provide good quality service to every area of your company.
If this is your case, choose an agency whose clients have hired the Professional and Enterprise HubSpot plans, since these plans are designed for such big companies. If you work with a small agency, you probably haven't worked with this tools. There are of course some small companies that have used these plans' tools as well.
Size also matters when it comes to personalized attention. It is not the same to be an agency's very important client than to be one more of an agency's bunch of clients. I saw this a lot when I worked with advertising agencies who were industry giants. They worked with a model based on volume and had huge clients with millionaire budgets so, if a customer canceled its monthly fee, it did not mean such a big impact for the company and everyone was treated as one of the bunch. This of course, was not the case with all of them, but I indeed was sometimes surprised by the cold and careless service that they provided.
4) Inbound Experience with the Company's Industry
There are many benefits of working with an agency that is already familiar with your industry. The learning curve of what your company should do becomes much shorter. This will make the Inbound Marketing strategy work much faster and in a more effective way than if you worked with an agency who is only beginning to understand your industry's problems and your competition's as well. If the agency you hire knows your industry, you both can speak the same language and understand each other better.
When an agency already knows your industry, it can make use of past experiences in order to:
- Prevent them from making the same mistakes again
- Adapt well-known successful experiences to your company's strategy
5) Inbound Strategy Experience
Inbound Marketing methodology is bringing such good results that many advertising agencies (of all sizes!) are starting to use it. If you are considering working with an agency that has lots of experience in advertising but not on Inbound Marketing per se, I recommend you think it twice. Ask your agency how long have they been doing Inbound Marketing, since this kind of marketing strategies is very specific and has its their own issues, which only time and experience can teach an agency how to work with.
6) Inbound Marketing Cases of Success on the Agency's Records
There is nothing better than an agency who can share the stories of success that it's had with other clients. Knowing about the strategies that they previously carried out for other companies and about the results that they have had with them, can be the best proof that an agency has to show that it can generate a return on the investment that the company makes.
7) Closeness to the Company
We usually look for businesses that are close to us. This habit comes from the idea of having a supplier nearby, in case we happen to "need something". What we are really looking for, is an agency's availability to give us a service as soon as possible.
It is at this moment when we can decide to have an on-line appointment or a face-to-face meeting. Technology is increasingly making the on-line option easier for everyone. However, we still consider that some parts of the process, such as the startup, training and workshops, must be done face-to-face. So, if the agency that you like the most is not located in your geographical area, you will have to consider some transportation costs and travel expenses.
We, at DataBranding, have clients that are located in several geographical areas and it hasn't been an obstacle for us to work together at all. For those clients who require or like face-to-face meetings, we offer our services in Guadalajara and in Mexico City. This has been a very comfortable option for those companies who are located in both cities, since it has allowed us to work with the teams from both cities. This should be another aspect to consider if your company is located in several different cities.
There are times when we've been more available on-line than face-to-face within the same city. Take Mexico City as an example. Driving from one end of the city to the other might take up to 3 hours.
Long story short, choosing a company based on its geographical closeness depends on the kind and frequency of meetings that you will like to hold (and on how willing you are to drive around for each meeting).
8) The Inbound Agency's Philosophy and Values
You should always assess the compatibility between the agency's staff, values and philosophy with your company's. They have to be at least somewhat similar. This is a hundred percent chemistry test.
If you are both compatible, it will turn into a win-win relationship in the long term. On the other hand, if you are not, one of the parts won't want to work with its counterpart, regardless of the success and positive results of that the strategy might anyhow bring.
9) Services They Provide
As we mentioned before, an Inbound Marketing strategy requires producing a lot of content. So the services provided by the agency have to match the needs of your company and the structure of your teams.
The traditional services provided by an Inbound Marketing agency are:
- Inbound strategy
- Blogs services
- Video services
- Social Networking
- Web design
- CRM integration
- Development of premium content, such as: e-books, infographics, webinars, conferences, podcasts, etc...
DataBranding specializes in applying the Inbound strategy with a strong emphasis in:
Audiovisual production is also one of our biggest strengths, since our company was at the beginning, a movie and commercial video producer.
10) HubSpot Certifications
This may be one of the most important aspects when choosing an Inbound Marketing agency. Hubspot offers a series of certifications in order to ensure that an agency knows the methodology, its platform, and how to serve customers well.
Before being certified as a HubSpot agency, all agencies must go through 2 levels of certification which demonstrate their expertise in:
- Inbound methodology
- HubSpot tools
HubSpot's Certification Levels are the Following:
- Inbound Certification- Open certification to everyone that teaches the basics of the Inbound Marketing and Sales methodology.
- HubSpot Certification- This certification teaches how to use HubSpot's tools in order to implement an Inbound strategy. One must pass a theoretical-practical test in order to receive the certification.
- Partner Certification- This certification is for HubSpot members only and it ensures that the agency is capable of providing Inbound services with a successful strategy for the clients.
- Contextual Marketing Certification- This certification is designed to develop a complete Inbound site. It is a part of Inbound's advanced techniques to contextualize and personalize a site by user segmentation. It has a theoretical exam and a practical one.
- Growth Driven Design Certification- This certification is not yet open to everyone and you must receive an invitation to take it. The intention is to certify the agencies so that they can offer the service of progressive improvement and optimization of a site, month after month, in a constant way.
What is a HubSpot Certified Agency?
Why is it Important for an Inbound Agency to be HubSpot Certified?
We have come across many agencies that claim to do Inbound Marketing when they actually don't know what Inbound Marketing really means. They use it as a trendy marketing word and believe that they are carrying out an Inbound strategy when they are actually just:
- Confusing it with digital marketing
- Confusing it with content marketing
- Carrying out a strategy that considers only one of its elements, such as social networks.
HubSpot Was the Company That Came up With the Inbound Marketing Concept
HubSpot is a company that provides a marketing automation platform that helps to:
- Make and publish content
- Mesure this content's effectiveness
- Connect the statistical part with the history of the prospects
All of the above, so that the sales teams can close deals more effectively.
This platform was developed with the methodology explored by its founders, Brian Halligan and Darmesh Sha. It was built with the collaboration of a community of marketers, advertisers, content developers and programmers that they have been creating.
If the agency that you are considering to hire is not a part of this community, then they are probably not doing Inbound Marketing or Inbound sales at all.
Tips to find certified agencies
HubSpot has a directory of certified agencies that are part of its database. Visit this page and feel free to filter the list by country, certifications and client's evaluations based on reviews. This list does not include all the agencies since an agency needs to be a partner or at least a silver agency to make it to this list, which is based on the number of accounts that the agency has with Hubspot.
Keep in mind that the fact that an agency might not have many stars on its client's evaluation or might not have any reviews at all, it does not necessarily mean that they provide bad service.
HubSpot Levels of Agencies
HubSpot launched a program to encourage partner agencies so that they could stand out from the rest. This program classifies the agencies by the volume of sales that they have brought to HubSpot and by the level of usage and service that the agency provides to the client.
This is calculated according to the license that the client has hired. HubSpot currently offers 3 licenses:
- Basic Costs $ 200.00 per month
- Professional Costs $ 800.00 per month
- Enterprise Costs $ 2,400.00 per month
If an agency has 12 clients with the basic license, it would be equivalent to one that has only 1 Enterprise client.
In addition, they also consider other factors, such as:
- How much have they put into licenses during the last year
- The time of retention of accounts
- The use of HubSpot's tools
- The success of inbound marketing accounts
This is why for an agency to level up, it should have placed more sales per year, used the tool a lot on each account, and achieved successful strategies, which can be measured with the number of the website visitors and the contacts that are generated, in proportion to the size of the site. This algorithm is called the Monthly Recurring Revenue or MRR.
Until now, the levels that their evaluation program has are:
- Silver- MRR of $2,500.00 dls (in licenses)
- Gold- MRR of $4,500.00 dls
- Platinum- MRR of $15,500.00
- Diamond- MRR of $50,000.00
Last but not least, I would like to highlight that not everyone needs an agency. There are many cases of successful Inbound strategies that have been carried out by solopreneursor by small, medium and big companies. Many HubSpot clients only use the platform and its educational resources and have managed to achieve great results. Yet, hiring an agency will help making the learning curve become shorter and can also be the perfect guide for a company to make of this strategy, a much easier process.
Question to Ask to an Inbound Marketing Agency
Now that you have more information on how to evaluate an Inbound Marketing agency, you just might as well end up asking this 5 questions:
- Could you show me which is your implementation process of an Inbound Marketing strategy?
- Which support can I expect to receive from your teams when hiring your services?
- How long have you been a HubSpot member?
- How many clients have you placed in the HubSpot platform?
- Which are your results?
So now you know, the best Inbound Marketing agency is the one that best adapts to you specific needs, has a business cultural affinity with your company and matches your budget.
Learn more about DataBranding and how we can help you with your Inbound Marketing strategy here: