If you are planning to book an inbound marketing consultation it’s important to know what to expect, so that you can get the most out of it and make a decision about whether the agency you meet is the right fit – and whether an agency is a good fit at all.
This guide aims to properly prepare you by examining why you should have a consultation in the first place, potential benefits, the questions you should ask and those that you should be asked, as well as red flags and the tactics an inbound marketing agency should be suggesting to you as part of a campaign.
So let’s get straight into it…
Why book an inbound marketing consultation?
Inbound marketing can be a really effective way of attracting strangers to your website, engaging them with suitable content and turning them into return customers by delighting them.
It’s also a great method for re-engaging existing customers, and delivering a great service that will (hopefully) keep them coming back for more. So an inbound marketing consultation is a vital step towards implementing inbound in your business. If you haven’t used inbound marketing before – or if you could do with some help to set up a campaign – it’s well worth talking to specialists.
This is a chance to ask any questions you have about inbound marketing and how it can help your business specifically. And it’s a chance to think about whether you want to outsource your inbound efforts to a marketing agency, or whether you want to do it in-house. A consultation is there to educate you, to help you make a decision about whether inbound could help your enterprise, and also whether the consultant you meet is a good fit.
An inbound marketing consultant should explain to you:
- The inbound marketing methodology
- The stages of the buyer’s journey
- The benefits of inbound marketing
- What a campaign looks like and the tactics involved
- How long it should take to set up a campaign
- The results that you might expect and how reporting works
What does a consultation cost?
Many inbound marketers offer a free consultation. They are trying to sell you their services after all, so it’s worth their while spending a little time with you. It’s a chance for you both to learn more about each other and decide whether you could have a mutually beneficial relationship.
However, if you need a more in-depth analysis agencies will often charge for their time. You can expect to find rates vary between £75 to £250 per hour. More general marketing freelancers can be found a little cheaper with rates from £50 per hour, though this may reflect a reduced level of experience and knowledge as opposed to a team who have experts in disciplines such as technical SEO, marketing automation, social media, etc.
Benefits of an inbound marketing consultation
As we’ve said, the main advantage of an inbound marketing consultation is education. You may feel that inbound could help your business but you’re not an expert, so speaking to one makes a lot of sense. Whether or not you decide to employ the agency or marketer you meet with, it will give you the chance to learn more about implementing inbound marketing and how best to do this for your particular business.
A consultant won’t create a campaign for you to take away at a consultation, but they should be able to suggest inbound marketing tactics to suit your needs and give you a rough outline of a campaign that might work for you.
Inbound marketing consultation questions
If you are going to educate yourself and discover whether an inbound consultant is the right choice for your business, you need to ask them questions. It’s also important that they ask you questions so that they can get a clear picture of your needs and make suitable suggestions.
What you should ask
To ensure you get the most from your consultation, you should ask a consultant as many of the following questions as possible:
- Do you offer the services we need? The four core inbound services are:
- Generating traffic using blogging, social and SEO
- Developing content to attract and manage lead generation efforts
- Targeted lead nurturing campaigns to convert leads into customers
- Measuring, tracking, analysing and tweaking the process to improve results
- Do you specialise in a certain area, eg SEO or social media?
- Do you specialise in particular industries?
- What tactics do you use to achieve results?
- What is the most critical aspect of inbound for our goals? (At the first consultation don’t expect a detailed plan but an overview of the kind of campaign they would suggest)
- Who will be responsible for the different components of my campaign?
- How do you analyse, report and track metrics and tweak campaigns to improve results – and how often?
- What is the timeline for your strategy?
- How much will my team be involved in the strategy? Will you provide education and training? How much time will this take up for my team?
- Do you handle everything in-house, do you outsource anything?
- What will you need from us to get started?
- What software do you use – will we need to use it and will you provide training?
- How often will you be in contact?
What your consultant should ask
A good inbound marketing consultant will want to quickly build a picture of your business and your needs. You may not be able to answer all of the below but they should ask questions such as:
- What are your business goals?
- What are your marketing priorities?
- What are your specific needs?
- What triggered you to contact an agency?
- What experiences have you had with marketing agencies?
- What results are you hoping for?
- What is your biggest marketing challenge?
- What’s preventing you from overcoming that challenge?
- What internal resources do you have to apply to your problem?
- Who are your top competitors? What are they doing that you want to do?
- What is your average customer acquisition cost?
- What’s the average lifetime value of a customer?
- What’s your marketing ROI?
- What is your marketing team’s relationship like with your sales team?
- If marketing doesn’t improve what will this cost your business?
- What keeps you up at night?
Part of an inbound marketing consultation is deciding whether you like and trust the agency you are speaking to. With that in mind here are some red flags to be aware of:
- Promises of huge ROI or results such as getting onto page one of Google in a short space of time
- Difficulty clearly explaining their process, the lack of a clear strategy, and how it can help your specific business
- They don’t write or speak about inbound marketing
- They only talk generally about their work
- They don’t ask in-depth questions
What should an inbound campaign include?
As we have said, at an inbound marketing consultation you can expect to get an overview of what your campaign should look like, rather than a detailed plan. But what should your overview look like? What campaign features should you expect a consultant to suggest?
Here are a few tactics that a consultant should definitely mention:
An overall inbound marketing strategy
A clear, if not detailed approach, based on the goals and circumstances of your business.
The creation of buyer personas
Without buyer personas you don’t really know who you’re selling to, so every inbound campaign should involve the research and crafting of personas. If persona creation is absent, at the very least they should be commenting on your target audience.
Initially a website audit and then ongoing technical SEO work should ensure your site is properly optimised to help you get found on search engine results pages. In turn, this should help to increase the amount of organic traffic you receive, as well as the number of conversions.
Great content is central to inbound marketing, and is vital to get visitors to engage with your website and become leads.
Calls to action (CTAs)
CTAs induce users to share information or get in touch with you, again bringing them into your sales funnel.
Often offering free content or service trials, landing pages are another way to engage users and get them to share their information.
Lead nurturing programmes
This means developing relationships with users at every stage of the buyer’s journey, and giving them the information and answers they need to help them solve their problems.
New, useful, relevant content is at the heart of all successful inbound marketing campaigns.
The outreach and promotion of your top-notch content is also vital to help people find it and you.
That may seem like quite a lot for a campaign overview, but we still haven’t mentioned things like social media, PPC, CRM integration and a number of other tactics that are used widely in successful inbound strategies. Your campaign will depend on your problems and goals, but an inbound marketing consultant should be able to speak confidently about all of the methods above.
If you want to learn more about inbound feel free to take a look at some of our other inbound blog posts. You might also find these inbound marketing examples useful, to see how it should be done. Or if if you want to ask us something just give us a shout over on Twitter and we’ll be happy to talk.