Can you do inbound marketing in-house? The real question is less "should you use an agency?" and more "do you need one?"
As the world becomes increasingly connected, inbound marketing is being taken up by more and more businesses of all sizes looking to grow in repeatable, predictable ways.
Engaging today's customers with highly personalised messaging is proven to have significantly higher results than traditional outbound or ‘push’ marketing. According to research conducted by marketing automation platform HubSpot, It can also reduce wastage and therefore costs by up to 62%.
The question is does your marketing team have the skills, the time, and the desire to achieve this?
When considering whether to bring in help from outside it’s worth considering these five key questions.
1. Do you have the expertise to plan, implement, and monitor a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy?
Your in-house marketing team knows your business from the inside out. They are well positioned to promote your company. You can see them and talk to them about their activities every day, face to face.
But could your team develop and execute a fully functioning inbound marketing strategy? Do you have a team of inbound marketing experts, designers, copywriters, editors, web developers, digital strategists, social media managers, and data analysts? If you hire for these roles specifically, do you have the budget and the time it takes to manage an in-house team?
"The right agency will have access to all the skills and technology you need to make your inbound campaign a success. Such an agency will acclimatise to your world and bring valuable external experience and a fresh perspective to the table."
Make sure that any agency you approach understands your unique value proposition and objectives well enough to build a campaign around them. Will they communicate regularly? How can you be sure they know what they are doing?
Whether you go in-house or use an agency, it's important to be patient. HubSpot found that 83.9% of their inbound marketing clients saw an increase in leads and 49.7% saw an increase in sales within seven months. Lead nurturing is important; it isn't an overnight process.
2. Do you have the capacity to scale your inbound strategy in-house?
If you use your team to scale as your business and priorities change, do you have the flexibility to move staff onto inbound to support growth plans, and to do the opposite, when you need that capacity elsewhere? A successful inbound strategy requires focus and dedicated resource, but in most businesses, spare capacity is like gold dust.
"According to SparksHR.com, 63% of enterprise and 35% of SMBs are understaffed yet 70% plan to keep their staffing levels the same."
An agency can allocate a team to manage your project. Seek assurance that they won’t swap and change staff and always ensure you have a dedicated point of contact who gets to know your business and your customers as time passes. Look for an agency with a staff turnover equal to or less than the industry average of seven percent.
3. Are you overspending on your inbound marketing activity?
Agency costs can range greatly. In-house marketing means you can manage your costs yourself, with complete control over your staffing and resourcing. Of course, putting together a one-month inbound marketing campaign will require over 40 nonstop hours of work. Consider also the specialist marketing software and applications you’ll need to invest in, as well as ongoing staff training and management.
Partnering with an agency that specialises in delivery and can hit the ground running can be far more cost effective. Some particularly helpful agencies (!) will even help you build a business case for inbound, supporting you from day one. Make sure you know your agency agreement inside out.
See how our pricing plans match up.
4. Do you have the speed and agility to implement tasks to deadline?
Consider how long it takes to identify the right candidates for new inbound roles and embed new team members into the business. What is the value of that time? Have competitors taken advantage of this? To get the right internal resource in place is typically a 3-6 month timescale.
You could have an external agency team up and running within weeks. They’re ready and waiting to take on your inbound project, and they have the skills and tools at hand.
Con: Agencies will want to spend time with you to understand your proposition and goals. See this as a positive — if they understand you they’ll deliver better results so invest a little time up-front.
5. Have you considered the fastest route to ROI and how you will reach it?
Every business reports differently. You know how your internal processes best, so it might be easier for you to report on inbound ROMI yourself using a dashboard you're already familiar with.
Reporting takes time, never mind the performance analysis that goes into it. Would it be easier to view a live dashboard and reports that have been specifically designed to report on the metrics important for your business?
An agency can bring substantial learning, best practice, and expertise into your business from the outside. This gives you the advantage of creating campaigns that are right first time. Using a specialised inbound marketing agency will also grant you access to the latest technology and a large team of experts, ensuring you generate increased results faster.
Reporting systems need to be in place regardless of in-house or agency. Make sure you understand how your agency will report ROI to you, and how often this will be.
Can you do inbound marketing in-house?
Aligning your sales and marketing processes with the needs of your buyers is a transformative step, but it's absolutely crucial if you want to drive repeatable, predictable, scalable business growth.
To help you set up the foundations of an inbound marketing campaign internally, we've assembled an ebook to walk you through the key steps. Download it now by simply clicking the image below.