Are you ready to expand your marketing department? Or perhaps you realize that asking your reduced staff to do more with less has quickly led to overwhelm and reduced key performance indicators.
For companies with any kind of real estate in the digital landscape, an effective inbound marketing strategy is a must-have; the challenge is often implementation. A good inbound marketing consultant can save the day, if you find the right one.
With all the choices available, that can be a daunting task, especially since the price ranges can vary widely. The key is knowing which questions to ask.
If you’re just starting your search, especially if you’ve never worked with an inbound marketing consultant outside of an internal content strategist, this section is for you.
Responsibilities can vary depending on the consultant’s area of expertise and whether you’re hiring an individual or an entire team with the consultant at the helm. (We’ll discuss this later in the post.)
In general, an inbound marketing consultant oversees inbound marketing efforts: content, SEO, demand generation, graphic design and web development. The consultant may be hands-on with some of these responsibilities or may call upon the expertise of colleagues for some or all of the production.
As your main point of contact, she will help you develop inbound marketing strategies, design campaigns with key stakeholders and big-picture goals in mind, ensure timely execution on all campaign deliverables, help you understand the KPIs being used to track and measure success of each campaign and work with you to adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.
Your existing marketing team, whether it’s a team of one or many, are the experts in your industry and your companies’ products or services, so why choose an outside individual or agency rather than simply increasing headcount?
Inbound marketing consultants are generalists within a specialization – inbound marketing – and because they’ve worked with numerous clients over a period of years, they can add a breadth of experience to your existing marketing team. Furthermore, as the landscape of inbound marketing evolves, it's crucial to be aware of strategies that may no longer serve you. Check out our post on 5 obsolete inbound marketing strategies to ensure you're not investing time in outdated techniques.
Ideally, the marketing strategist or consultant will be an extension of your team who provides an objective, big-picture perspective and builds capacity for your marketing department. It's also essential to understand how inbound marketing methodologies have transformed over time to cater to the evolving digital landscape. For a deep dive into this, take a look at our guide on the evolution of inbound marketing methodology.
First, identify whether the individual or agency has experience in B2B or B2C inbound marketing, or a combination of the two. For example, while Kuno has experience in both types of businesses, the larger percentage of our business is in B2B inbound marketing. This includes content creation, website design, demand generation, video production, graphic design and SEO.
Next, find out how much experience the marketing strategist has, both overall as well as in your field. If you are in a highly specialized space with a new or unique product, ask for experience in a comparable sector or industry.
We’ve worked with a wide variety of clients in our more than 20 years in business, so even if we take on a client in a new field, we’ve likely worked with clients in similar industries, lowering the learning curve for our team.
Our inbound marketing consultants are seasoned marketing professionals, but so is the rest of our staff. B2B marketing requires a level of business acumen that takes significant experience to develop, so we hire professionals from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives that together create a highly talented, resourceful team.
While we use a variety of technologies to help clients gain new leads and close new deals, as a HubSpot Diamond Partner, we use HubSpot as our primary platform for tracking and measuring KPIs and delivering regular reporting. We’ve also been on the forefront of Google Analytics 4, and can help organizations navigate this new era in data measurement and analysis.
Our clients contact us because they’re looking for the expertise of an entire team as opposed to an individual consultant.
At Kuno, we assign an inbound marketing consultant or marketing strategist to each client, but instead of one person trying to do and be everything, our inbound marketing strategist heads up a skilled team of specialists and is the go-to contact for the client.
All agencies have different approaches to staffing and fee structures, so you’ll need to ask the right questions to ensure you get the best fit for your company.
Some agencies don’t have any staff writers because they outsource all content to freelancers. If the inbound marketing consultant doesn’t have a good eye for content, you may end up with a substandard product. With the advent of Artificial Intelligence, some agencies are relying solely on AI platforms versus hiring in-house or even freelance content writers and designers.
At Kuno, your inbound marketing consultant assigned to your account will lead a team that could include an in-house graphic designer, content writer, web developer, demand generation strategist and others, depending on the types of services you require.
Although the inbound marketing consultant will be your primary point of contact, the other members of your team may be present at meetings and be available via email or Zoom if you have questions or need to go over complex information not normally covered in routine team meetings.
Fee structures can vary and often depend on the services the agency provides as well as your specific business needs. Here are a few common fee structures you will likely see in your research:
Project-Based Fee: You’ll be charged a one-time fee for a specific project or campaign. The agency bases the fee on many factors, such as the project's complexity and expected deliverables. At Kuno, we often use this structure for short-term clients requesting website development and HubSpot onboarding for example.
Monthly Retainer: The agency will charge you a fixed fee for a set range of services. This structure might be used for clients who require ongoing support in the same areas, such as social media management, SEO and regular blog posts.
Hourly Rate: The agency will charge you an hourly rate, which is calculated based on the actual amount of hours their team spent working on specific tasks or projects. This structure works best for projects that vary in length and scope.
Performance-Based Fee: This is rare, but some agencies charge fees based on the results, such as a percentage of generated sales or leads.
Percentage of Ad Spend: An agency might use this structure when managing paid advertising campaigns. The fee will most likely be a percentage of your ad spend.
Commission-Based Fee: Commonly seen in affiliate marketing, some agencies receive commissions based on sales generated as a result of their marketing strategies.
Some agencies may offer a combination of these fee structures and often customize them based on your specific needs. Having a clear sense of the fee structure before making your decision – and before contracts are even drafted – is an important part of the agency vetting process.
Before you start working with an agency, you will sign a Statement of Work (SOW) that outlines what services the agency is providing, how much these services will cost, and when the contract begins and ends.
Case Scenario: You believe your website isn’t getting enough traffic and decide it probably needs a face lift. You reach out to an agency with your concerns and a request for a quote. The agency will review your existing site from a variety of angles, including content, SEO, design and user experience. They find that you’re missing important keywords, your content isn’t optimized and your design is outdated.
They may recommend initially adding a graphic designer, web designer, content writer and SEO analyst to the team.
A SOW – and the agency that creates it – should be flexible enough to allow your company to refine its marketing strategy along and make small tweaks to the deliverables without a huge (or any) increase in price. It should also be firm enough to allow for a baseline of expected deliverables.
If you request something out of scope, your inbound marketing strategist should let you know the cost of adding that item to the SOW.
While some companies outsource their entire marketing department to an agency, most of our clients partner with us as an extension to their current marketing team.
Deciding which responsibilities should belong to your internal team and which items you want to outsource often comes down to the current capacity and skills of your team.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
If your marketing department is small, you may have a marketing director who serves as the main point of contact for the agency and an internal social media strategist to create posts, respond to comments and drive the conversation between your company and its customers.
The agency, on the other hand, might handle the more technical aspects, such as web and graphic design, SEO-rich web content and more.
If you do your research, you’ll probably identify a few agencies that have the knowledge, experience or capabilities of filling the inbound marketing needs for your company. Most likely, you’ll have a wide variety of quotes to go along with that research.
While you should certainly ask the agency what makes it stand out from the others, ask for references and testimonials from current or past clients and look for the differentiators there as well.
At Kuno, the differentiator has always been our people. It gets even better. Our fees won’t break your budget. Partnering with a talented inbound marketing team at a price you can afford is the sweet spot of hiring the right inbound marketing consultant.