My fiancé and I recently purchased a home together and are in the early stages of some much-needed home remodeling. We have a laundry list of updates to make, including things like updating the ‘60s-style bathrooms and getting a new roof. But taking care of something like a new roof is simple—I just hire a roofer. That’s easy, because I know exactly what a roofer does all day, every day.
But finding a great inbound marketing agency isn’t that simple. And there a few reasons for that:
- Anyone can call themselves an inbound marketing agency! All you have to do to “become” an agency is buy a domain and throw up a website! There are certifications you can get, but no real requirements.
- “Inbound marketing” is a fairly new catchall phrase that encompasses everything from social media, to email marketing, to SEO and much more—so you may not even fully understand what the company you’re looking at does.
- Not all inbound marketing agencies cover the same services. Roofers roof—inbound marketing agencies offer many different marketing-related services.
If you want to identify a great agency, you’ll want to first look at what they offer. Below, you’ll find 31 inbound marketing services that any agency worth its salt should be able to provide you with.
A Complete List Of 31 Inbound Marketing Services
- Tactical/strategy meeting(s): These are often weekly meetings used to discuss strategy, current projects, timelines, monthly results, and test results (A/B tests, conversion tests, keyword rankings, etc.). This keeps you and the agency on the same page.
- Sales guide creation: The sales guide is a process manual for your sales team. It describes what to do when a new lead comes in, how to access that information, and how to approach every type of lead. For example, it may discuss how to determine what pages they’ve visited on the site, what city they live in, which white papers they’ve downloaded, etc.
- Marketing qualified lead (MQL) analysis: Analyzing your MQLs can provide you with data-backed answers to the following questions:
- Which offers bring in the most MQLs?
- What keywords bring in the most MQLs?
- What workflows do the best job of converting people to MQLs?
- Content calendar planning: A common inbound marketing service is planning out all the content—including blog posts, offers, and web pages—that should be created over the next several months (or quarter). The calendar should include all keyword and persona research and an analysis of what is currently working.
- Lead scoring optimization: Lead scoring is used to filter out “junk” leads and surface the high-quality leads. An optimization of your lead scoring would start with the following questions:
- Does the email domain make an impact on the quality of a lead (e.g., discount all leads with a Yahoo email address)?
- Which countries bring in the best leads?
- What pages on the site do the best leads visit?
- Keyword analysis: Reporting on keyword rankings takes the following into consideration:
- Which terms are rising and falling? Why?
- Which ones are close to ranking that should be targeted with new content to increase rankings?
- What related keywords could we optimize for?
- Keyword optimization on blog/website: If you’ve written a number of articles over the years but haven’t seen an increase in traffic, leads, or customers, you may consider a blog optimization project. To optimize your blog or website, you’d want to add calls-to-action (CTAs) to capture leads, add relevant keywords, and interlink between similar topics to pass on authority for a particular keyword.
- New web page creation: If you have recently added a new product or service, you may want to hire an inbound agency to wireframe the web page layout, write the content, and design the page to match your existing website.
- New website creation: There is a lot that goes into the creation of an inbound-driven website. A great agency shouldn’t just create a website that looks appealing—it should create a website with a sole focus of converting visitors to leads. But we believe a website can have both brains and beauty—so look for an agency that can make your vision come to life while keeping business goals at the forefront.
- Web page rewrite: When the topic of a web page needs to remain the same, but the content isn’t doing a good job of capturing the attention of the audience and converting leads, you may want to consider a web page rewrite.
Blog & Downloadable Content
- Rewrite or add to an existing blog post: If the content within your blog posts is solid but doesn’t read clearly (or isn’t search engine optimized), an inbound firm can take over this task.
12/13. Writing standard-length blog posts and long-form blog posts: At Nectafy, we consider a standard-length article between 500 and 800 words and a long-form article between 1,000 and 1,600 words—but this varies depending on the agency. The agency will head up interviewing a subject matter expert in your organization, writing and editing the article, sending it to you for review, and publishing it to your website.
- Ebook, white paper, or slide deck creation: To create these resources, the agency will go through a process similar to that of blog post creation—but creating an inbound marketing “offer” (as they’re called) is more involved. It typically involves:
- Creating a detailed outline.
- Discussing the topic with one or more subject matter experts.
- Writing, editing, and reviewing the piece.,
- Designing the resource.
- Writing and designing the CTA and landing page.
- Wiring up and publishing all the elements necessary.
- Calculator and unique offer creation: A great inbound agency should be familiar with how to create unique types of interactive calculators, games, studies, state of industry reports, and the like. Take a look at this article for more unique inbound marketing content ideas.
- Workflow optimization: A workflow in HubSpot can be used as an email nurturing path. For example, when a visitor takes a certain action on your website, it triggers a series of emails to “nurture” the lead to help them become sales-ready. This inbound marketing service is used to analyze the effectiveness of your company’s current workflows by asking questions like, “What percentage of people who go through the workflow hit the goal?” Using this information, you (or the agency) can rewrite the emails in order to improve conversion.
- Email campaign or automated workflow creation: An inbound agency can also write a multiple-part email series that is sent to a designated email list or sent automatically based on an action the lead takes.
HubSpot & Reporting
- Monthly reporting: This report is typically given during a meeting. It should include data on monthly visits, leads, MQLs, and customers and the conversion rates between each phase. These stats would typically be broken out by source: organic, paid, social, email, and any others. The inbound agency should be able to walk you through this month compared to last month, this month compared to one year ago, etc.
- HubSpot audit: HubSpot can turn into a mess if multiple people are working within the software. In a HubSpot audit, an agency will check every automated piece of HubSpot and fix whatever is broken:
- Is this follow-up email missing a necessary link?
- Is there a thank you page missing?
- Has a workflow been turned off?
- Is the lead scoring tool missing anything important?
- HubSpot-naming update: Again, HubSpot can become messy if you have different people working in there regularly. Integrating a HubSpot file-naming scheme will fix this issue. For example, the internal name of each top of funnel landing page starts with “TOF,” all images are saved in appropriate folders, etc.
- PPC campaign management: An inbound agency can manage all of your pay-per-click efforts. They can help you stay on budget, write copy for ads and landing pages, report on cost per click, cost to acquire leads and customers, and finally, test and improve the results regularly.
- Press release creation: If you are bringing on a new hire, creating a new product, or coming out with a new study or report, you may want a press release written and distributed.
- Banner ad creation: If you need an online or physical banner advertisement created to promote something within your organization, your inbound agency can help you with that.
24/25. Call-to-action and landing page design: CTAs and landing pages go hand in hand; the former is used to capture the attention of the reader and entice them to download something, and the latter is to capture their information in exchange for what’s being offered. A clean and effective design is a big part of this process.
26/27. Offer cover design and offer layout and design: An inbound marketing offer is a downloadable piece of content, like an ebook, white paper, or slide deck. If you have an offer that has already been written but needs a cover design (or a full layout and design), this inbound marketing service would be helpful to you.
- Email newsletter design: We actually recommend sending emails that look like regular, everyday emails—without fancy formatting or design. To us, a “stripped down” email seems more personal. Even so, email newsletter design is a common inbound marketing service.
- Web page redesign: If you have a web page that has great content but an outdated look, you may want to consider a web page redesign.
- Social media management: This involves full or partial responsibility for scheduling and posting to various social media sites, interacting on social channels, reporting on results, and trying out new ideas and techniques to drive more social engagement.
- Facebook/Twitter ad campaigns: While this falls slightly outside the realm of inbound marketing, many agencies still offer Facebook and Twitter advertising campaigns as a service.
A Final Thought
As I mentioned earlier, anyone can do inbound. But doing inbound marketing well—and doing it so your company sees real results—is another thing entirely. If you find an inbound firm that doesn’t cover the majority of the services you see on this list but insists they help businesses in “attracting and converting leads,” look elsewhere. (Run, don’t walk, in a different direction!) There are many amazing inbound agencies that could help you out (like these five we wish weren’t so amazing).
And if you have any more specific questions about what an inbound agency does (or doesn’t) do, set up a 30-minute chat with Lance, our “Chief Nectafier.”