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5 Things an Inbound Agency Doesn’t Want You To Ask

Ryan Parlee

By Ryan Parlee

There’s a lot of beauty in the world. Trees, flowers, blue skies, clouds—pretty much everything besides wasps. No one likes those.

When you look hard, there’s beauty in everything. And the real beauty of inbound lies in what you don’t have to pay attention to. All the unimportant stuff is in the background, and the quantifiable data about how your marketing dollars are actually performing are front and center. It’s a powerful tool, and it gives you more time to consider the big-picture stuff.

The real power behind how we execute inbound strategies at Flying Hippo is knowing what to track, when to track, what those number mean and even more importantly, what to do about those numbers once they start pouring in. Hours and hours and hours of time go into being inbound certified and knowing how to apply that to HubSpot for our clients. Only after you’ve invested in the skill set and gotten your hands dirty can you become really good at it — and our hands are pretty dirty.

So I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret:

There are many inbound agencies out there who talk a big game but can’t deliver the strategy and execution that you’re going to need to hit your goals.

They’ll talk your ear off about all the things they can do, but when it comes time to perform, they’ll fall short. So how do you know if an agency has chops?

Here are five questions to help determine if an inbound agency is all talk:

How do you report and how often?

Top-performing agencies provide regular progress reports to their clients. That’s no secret.

But it’s important to know what those reports look like and whether or not you (the client) can personalize those reports with statistics aligned with your personal strategy. Ask the agency if they can give you a sample report. Are they extensive enough? Do they forecast upcoming success? If not, hit the road.

What do I get for my investment?

You can usually tell if an agency knows their stuff if they can give you some predictors of performance based on the tactics and components you want to invest in. If you talk to them about altering your investment in inbound and they don’t communicate a possible change in program performance, run the other direction!

Perhaps more importantly, they should be asking YOU questions: ones that relate to your business and revenue goals. How else could an agency plan and recommend what tactics to use to get you there?

Projecting a program’s performance is just a guess, even if it is an educated one. In our experience, projections are like pastries—they get stale. An agency should be good at pivoting and resetting goals based on actual data when it starts coming in.

The caveat here is that every engagement is different. Performance can (and should) vary differently based on competition, client behavior, speed of approval and deployment of content, etc. The important thing is working with an agency that is able to reset expectations and set new goals based on actual data.

What if it doesn’t work?

Any agency worth its salt won’t be bothered by this question. At times, strategies miss the mark. The key isn’t whether you fall down, it’s how fast you can pick yourself up and recover. Does the agency have an action plan with their strategic tactics? Have them explain what happens when their projections miss the mark.

What’s your record?

While much of inbound is preparing for and looking forward, there’s a lot of power in looking at an agency’s past. Are they able to give you some numbers on their track record as it relates to hitting goals and projections for other clients? How often to they exceed or fall short of monthly goals? It’s not about failing—it’s about how they recover.

It’s not sexy, but I get most excited about slow and steady growth. It’s the benchmark sign of an intentional, organic and sustainable inbound marketing strategy. As the client, what ought to get your engine revved up should be what your marketing and sales efforts will look like a year from now, not what happens next month.

With inbound marketing and a rockstar agency at your side, you have the tools to create a predictable and sustainable mechanism that produces quantifiable results month over month. Find an agency who “gets it, ” follow their lead and the results will come.

Find out how Flying Hippo and inbound marketing can rock your brand!

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