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Starting Inbound Marketing In-House or with an Agency

Chris Kelley
August 6, 2019

In a recent survey, more than half of marketers said blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. All kinds of businesses in all kinds of industries are starting blogs, investing in content marketing resources, and paying for content-related advertisements. Why? Because 47% of buyers viewed three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep, and 70% of people would rather learn about new products through content than traditional advertising.

Inbound marketing is paving the way for success in B2B industries, especially in industries like manufacturing that have long sales cycles where buyers do a lot of research before making a purchase.

Free Guide: The Essential Guide to B2B Marketing for Manufacturers

But while blogs, eBooks, and other marketing content you or your marketing agency creates is perhaps the most visible component of your inbound marketing campaign, simply posting a few blogs or social posts each month does not an inbound marketing strategy make. The ultimate purpose of an inbound marketing approach is to be a predictable and sustainable method to attract more qualified visitors to your website and present data you can use to understand how effectively your content converts those visitors into leads and customers. After all, managing your online communications efficiently and effectively throughout your customer’s experience could mean the difference between celebrating growth and handing out pink slips.

That’s why inbound marketing is not merely a collection of marketing tactics. Instead, inbound ties these marketing actions to your business goals. Of course, there are certain tasks and projects common in any inbound marketing program – blogs written, eBooks designed, and websites developed. But the scale, and ultimately the success of your inbound marketing campaign will be determined by the degree to which these tasks are expected to achieve your business objectives, like generating a certain number of new leads, rather than simply the completion of a project.

Here’s one way to look at it. You spend thousands to hire a website developer to build your new company website. But a year later, you’re frustrated that your new site still hasn’t produced many good sales leads. Looking back, was your objective simply to redesign your website with a certain number of pages and some fancy features? Or was your goal for the new site to generate a specific number of visitors and leads, based on your revenue goal? Stated more simply, did you buy a project or a plan?

Typical inbound marketing tactics

So, you’re on board with the concept of inbound marketing to attract and convert more website visitors into leads and help grow your company? That’s great! Whether you decide to assign this new initiative to your internal marketing department, or partner with a marketing agency that specializes in inbound methods, here are some typical inbound marketing activities that they’ll likely focus on:

Market research and buyer persona development

Gain an understanding of your competition and your place in the marketplace. Understand the needs of your ideal customers; what questions to they have, and what motivates them to buy.

Ongoing marketing strategy and planning

Develop a calendar for your content publishing and devise campaigns for your target buyer personas to find it.

Lead generation campaigns

Write blogs and create other premium content that your buyer personas will trade for their name and email address and become a lead in your system. 

Website updates, social media, and SEO

Monitor your website analytics data to determine which pages are best at attracting visitors and converting leads. Monitor social media for mentions of your industry or brand and optimize your website pages to improve search engine rankings for relevant keywords.

Marketing Automation Software management

Inbound marketing requires software including a content management system (CMS) to maintain your website, customer relationship management (CRM) sales software to manage and track visitor and contact engagement, and analytics to measure and report on the data in a meaningful way.

What to Expect when Partnering with an Inbound Marketing Agency

Partnering with a qualified marketing agency can be a valuable option especially for small internal marketing teams that want to add the experience of a team with specialized skills and a proven track record, without the overhead of hiring full-time employees. Like having a personal trainer to help you get the most from your gym workout, an agency also provides accountability with a dedicated point of content to drive your plan and report on your results.

Unlike for project work, hiring a marketing agency for help with inbound marketing will be an ongoing partnership lasting many months, designed to achieve specific business goals, rather than a series of individual projects. Therefore, an inbound marketing contract is usually structured as an ongoing retainer, not as fee for services. This provides several advantages, such as:

  • Predicable budget
  • Frequent communication through ongoing touchpoints
  • Ties marketing objectives directly to business goals

Of course, a marketing agency will execute many tasks and projects in the course of their inbound marketing work for your company. But ultimately, compensation is based on the agency’s expectation to achieve key objectives, like number of new leads, that are determined and agreed to in advance, rather than for simply completing a project, like writing blogs or building a website.

In today’s digital world, running a content marketing strategy with marketing automation software that connects your contact database, sales software, and customer service process is critical to understanding how your marketing efforts lead to customers and produce revenue.

Read the Essential Guide to B2B Marketing for Manufacturers

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