Do You Need An Inbound Marketing Agency?
What is inbound marketing and is it the same as content marketing? If you have ever asked yourself that question, you’ve likely also asked if you should do inbound marketing yourself using your internal team, or should you hire a qualified inbound marketing agency to do it for you.
Before we get into it, I should let you know that VPDM Digital, my boutique agency, fully believes in all aspects, strategies, and tactics involved with inbound content marketing, search engine marketing and optimization, as social media marketing strategy.
We’re an inbound marketing agency that regularly creates, executes, and manages content marketing campaigns using optimized content, optimized search, and of course optimized social media tactics, for our clients, and it works!
If you’re a business owner, CEO, CMO, or marketing director, and you’re reading this, you’ve most likely been considering refreshing your digital marketing strategy and wondering where you should start.
You’ve also likely considered hiring a reputable, and affordable, agency to consult with or to handle it all for you. With all the changes in old SEO versus new SEO, hundreds of search algorithm updates, and the much talked about declining organic reach on Facebook, your brain must hurt trying to digest all this technical information.
Luckily, we have an article we found via HubSpot, one of the masters in inbound marketing software and strategy, that helps explain what exactly what is inbound marketing, what an effective inbound marketing campaign requires, as well as identifying the pros and cons of deciding to do the inbound marketing yourself, or to hiring a specialized agency to do it for you.
What Is Inbound Content Marketing?
According to HubSpot and various other sources, “Inbound marketing is the practice of using content to attract quality visitors to your website, convert those visitors into leads, and turn those leads into happy customers.” Sounds pretty logical right?
It’s also fairly simple, believe it or not, as long as you understand the fundamentals of creating quality optimized content, that is being engaged with and shared over social media platforms.
With Inbound marketing, your goal is to create quality content, like blog articles, videos, slideshare decks, and ebooks), that your audience and potential customers will love and share, or love and convert to a new customer.
To do this effectively, you need to create relevant content that speaks to your customers pain points and short and long term goals, and clearly shows that you offer the best possible solution.
The beauty of this approach is it is clear soft sell. You’re providing relevant information for people who need your product or service. You’re optimizing the content so it can be found via search results for relevant keywords, which actually makes things more helpful for your end user. You’re also sharing the content on your social media platforms, to your targeted and qualified fans and followers.
This is one of the main benefits of Inbound marketing. It’s less intrusive than other types of digital content marketing and it is useful and relevant to your targeted customers.
What Tools Do I Use For Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is not just publishing random blog articles. There is absolutely no strategy in publishing a blog article, that is not properly optimized for search, and then start sharing that blog, via social media, at random time’s that are convenient for you. That is a total waste of time and money.
Inbound marketing uses your website and the content created for your site’s pages, your lead generation forms and email marketing, and your social media platforms. Remember though: your website all this content needs to be properly optimized for search engines – like VPDM’s strategy of content + search + social.
The other part of inbound marketing involves delivering the content to targeted customers at the right time. Your customers are in different areas of the buying cycle. The content you create and deliver should be very specific for each time of customer (persona) at each time in the buying cycle.
Inbound marketing is made up of many moving parts that must work together. It’s the cohesion of these parts in a solid and well researched strategy, that can bring you success and ROI with your new inbound marketing strategy.
- Optimized Blog Publishing
- Calls-to-action Buttons (CTA’s)
- Optimized Landing Pages
- Offers (ebooks, white papers, case studies, etc.)
- Email Marketing & Nurturing
- Optimized Social Media Marketing and Engagement
- Digital PR
- Social Media Advertising
- CPC Advertising (Google AdWords)
If you’re looking for an effective way to grow your business using digital strategies, inbound content marketing is for you. Since today’s consumer hold all the cards, digital marketing shops and business owners need to acknowledge and adapt to that shift in power.
The Inbound Marketing Fundamentals
As mentioned, Inbound marketing can be a simple concept to grasp. Everything you need to know can pretty much be found online. However, creating and executing inbound marketing strategy requires some fundamental knowledge. I’ll list 4 key elements here:
1. Understanding Your Customer
It’s essential for inbound marketers to have a complete understanding of their audience and their behaviour. You need to know who’d making the buying decisions and who’d doing the researching, as they are both in different places in the buying cycle. This is the best way to be able to create useful and relevant content that will convert.
2. Inbound Marketing Workflow
Creating, publishing, and promoting content needs a strategy with a defined process and workflow. In order to effectively run an inbound content marketing campaign, plan your research, your writing, or re-writing, proofing, optimizing, publishing and promotion in a way that you can scale and master that process to max out on your conversion rate optimization.
It’s important that you understand that inbound marketing is more of a marathon and not a sprint. It’s actually more ongoing than a marathon. Being consistent is key because it helps you build your arsenal of quality content, that can certainly be repurposed over time. From an SEO and search perspective, Google absolutely loves when websites publish useful and relevant content that gets shared on social media. This can only help with your search engine rankings and website relevancy factors.
So if you’re consistently creating content, you also need to remember that the content you create must always be very useful to your customers. This is what gives your content the most value to your readers, and by default, by Google and other search engines.
Read the rest here.
The Pros and Cons
At this point, you’re probably wondering about the cost comparison as well as other factors of doing inbound marketing yourself, or hiring a company to do it for you. To help you with along with those thoughts, let’s go through a few pros and cons for each option.
DIY Inbound Marketing
- Control. You have it all. It’s all you when it comes to creating your company’s “digital tone/voice”, “digital style”, and its online aesthetic. You add your own expertise where ever you feel is best.
- You oversee your in-house team of content writers and designers and execute your digital marketing in real time.
- Since there is a shorter communication process, you’re able to make decisions and execute changes much quicker.
- You are always in the know of all aspects of your inbound content strategy since you build it yourself and you’re able to tweak on the go if for some reason one element isn’t working as well as you feel it should.
- There is a large learning curve that takes a long time to master and understand. There are a lot of moving parts that demand different levels of attention. Trial and error will be your friend.
- You can only take things so far as you’re likely limited on your knowledge of inbound marketing and the new strategies and tactics that come out on the regular.
- As with any business owner, your priority is on running the business. It’s likely that your content marketing will suffer as you have so many other ‘operational’ things that demand your attention daily.
- It will take you much longer to get the results you’re hoping to achieve.
Hiring a Specialized Inbound Marketing Agency
- You have a dedicated and experienced team, who specialize in content creation, SEO, and social media working for you.
- Since your agency has a ton of experience, they can get your campaign up and running much more quickly than you’re able to, and the campaign content will be fully optimized for search and social.
- You can spend more time on your expertise – running your business – and be confident that your digital marketing needs are being taken care of my digital professionals.
- You delegate. The agency executes.
- It can be a significant monthly expense.
- While you’d be sure to hire a respected and trustworthy digital agency, you’re still putting the voice of your company in the hands of an outsider.
- Some control will be lost, especially with smaller items.
- There is a risk of the relationship not working out and therefore you end up waiting some time and money.
For a quick recap of these points and to read the rest of the HubSpot article go here.
I hope this article and its references helped you get a little closer to making the decision to do your inbound marketing yourself or to hire a qualified agency to do it for you. At the end of the day, you have a much better idea of what approach would suit you best and which will help you meet your goals faster.
I can tell you that content creation will be the toughest part. I have many stories of past clients who had all good intentions of creating and photographing content, writing blog articles using the created content, and publishing it on social media. The problem they all faced was time and knowledge.
Each business owner is way too busy doing their specialty, which is running their business. When it came to time to optimizing the content for search (SEO), choosing when the best time of them to post content, on each specific social platform, and how often, was also challenging based on the fact that they didn’t understand the platforms best practices for posting content. Let alone the fact that SEO is constantly changing and is not something static. In fact it’s very fluid and things change in SEO almost daily.
My suggestion would be for you to try managing your inbound marketing yourself for a trial period, 1-3 months. Learn about what it takes and where you’re challenged. Maybe you only need some help with the SEO and optimizing your content. Maybe it’s the strategy you need help with. Either way, trial and error is your friend.
If your needs are more immediate and you’re looking to recharge your marketing strategy, and are convinced that inbound marketing is the way to go, please feel free to contact me for a consultation or a website marketing and SEO audit. We can diagnose any issues and provide an action plan with steps on how to fix it.
You’ll be on your way to a fully optimized and solid inbound content marketing strategy in no time!
Were you faced with this decision recently?
What are your thoughts on inbound marketing yourself vests having an agency do it for you?