7 essentials Marketing Managers need to consider when choosing the right Marketing Agency to help build and execute their Marketing Strategy

by Marije Schreur, on Dec 23, 2020 4:31:53 PM

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Customer behaviours are evolving faster than ever, and there has never been a more urgent need for marketing teams to move rapidly - and in the right direction - in an effort to continue meeting changing needs not only now, but also in the future. For many teams, this means working with a marketing agency partner to help them scale, help them remain on the right track, and help them stay one step ahead of the competition.

Agency partners can be highly effective, with HubSpot estimating that many marketing agencies can generate between 300 - 800 sales opportunities per month… but these sorts of results are only realistic when you select the right partner for your business and have appropriate attribution models and reporting systems in place. 

So how do you pick the right partner? As you may have already discovered, not every agency is the right fit. Perhaps you’ve worked with an agency previously and failed to see the type of results you were hoping for, or perhaps you’ve worked with an agency that drove you in a different direction to what you had discussed with the board. 

A mistake many marketers are making today is that they’re focusing on compelling case studies and huge portfolios, but these aren’t as important as you may think. The thing with the inbound methodology is that it’s highly personal. There are lots more aspects to consider and seven of the most important are listed below:

1. Level of Support Offered

An agency to help build your marketing strategy doesn’t have to be an agency that actually executes every aspect of it. This is something that many marketers seem to overlook. Every organisation has its own team, with their own experience, and their own vision of success, and while some teams may be looking for a comprehensive build and execution partner to take over all aspects of inbound, others may simply be looking for a push in the right direction, or even just a bit of support. Understanding what you want from an agency partner is key to making the right choice, allowing you to identify an agency that offers the right level of support for you.

2. Agency Expertise

There’s no point partnering with an agency specialising in marketing technology if you’ve already got a strong tech-minded team in-house. Just like there’s no point bringing in an outsourced content specialist if your team is already creating compelling, engaging content built around the pillar and cluster model

It’s worth taking some time to conduct a skills gap analysis, and find a partner that can help you fill these gaps. Many are already starting to do this, with a Forrester report showing that 46% choose partners to bridge technical skills gaps, and 44% to bridge creative gaps. An important question to ask potential partners is ‘what area of inbound do you specialise in?’, and ‘what areas of inbound do you outsource to independent experts?’

3. Cultural Fit

Cultural fit between agency and organisation is critical. When there is a good match, new models can flourish,” says Gartner Analyst Chris Ross. It’s important to get to know each potential partner before making a decision to ensure that their goals align with your goals, and that you share a similar vision for success. 

For example, if you’re a very goal oriented team keen to develop strategies that have a real impact at organisational level, a partner interested in designing ‘quick fix’ solutions may not be the best fit. A good question to ask is ‘how have you helped other companies facing similar challenges to our own?’This can help to give you a good idea of fit. 

4. Communication

Good communication between business and agency is always essential. However, in a post-COVID world especially, it is even more vital. Many organisations all around the world have introduced new remote working policies as a direct result of the pandemic, and some - if not all - of your team may now be working from home on either a full or part time basis. How agencies communicate and collaborate with dispersed teams is something that you should be taking into account. McKinsey notes that ‘while agency and partner ecosystems have consistently included remote partnerships, COVID-19’s impact on work from home is forcing a new normal on distance collaboration’. 

5. Local Knowledge

One of the fundamental aspects of inbound marketing is developing strategies that engage with your target audience to such a degree that they’re naturally drawn into the funnel. An increasing number of marketers are beginning to understand the vital importance of speaking the language of their audience in achieving this. If you’re looking to transition from global campaigns to local marketing - or from regional efforts to widespread approaches - it’s critical that your partner has knowledge of your region. With copy/paste translation services failing to take into account cultural differences, your partner must have the right knowledge to not just translate, but transcreate. 

6. Use of Tools & Technology

What tools and technology do potential partners incorporate into their strategies, and are these tools the right fit for you? Many agency partners will have specific platforms that they use, and there are a number of good options out there. 

There are two questions that you should be asking here. The first is whether a tool will do all you need it to. There are some tools, like HubSpot, that offer comprehensive inbound capabilities, while others are focused on specific aspects of inbound. The problem is that using too many of these individually-focused tools can result in multi-system chaos. The second question is whether the agency uses these tools for their own marketing efforts. 

7. Transparency

More and more marketers are looking for complete transparency from their partners, particularly when it comes to pricing. According to a report by Wordstream, most agencies charge additional fees - on top of their standard pricing structures - for extra services. For example, 49% charge extra for campaign creation, while 20% charge extra for audits and analysis. Without having a firm and clear overview of costs, it can be all the more challenging to have partner budgets approved by the board. Businesses that value transparency in their own work should be looking for a marketing partner that also values transparency, and offers a clear pricing structure with no surprises.

Topics:Inbound MarketingMarketing Strategy

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