This is the biggest list of questions to ask when hiring an inbound marketing agency you'll find.
As I'm sure you know, not all inbound marketing agencies are made equal.
If you've ever worked with a less than desirable agency- you (unfortunately) know what I mean. This is a complete list of questions to ask when interviewing and deciding whether or not to hire an inbound marketing agency.
From Hubspot expertise to focus areas to billing and everything in between- this list of questions has you covered.
You'll want to work with an agency with the HubSpot experience your business needs.
Newer agencies can be great, but they may not know how to deal with an extensive or older database.
When in doubt: choose an agency that has been a partner for longer than you've had your HubSpot subscription.
While Hubspot is great, the inbound marketing agency you hire must have a well-rounded skill set in various tools and platforms.
This question goes beyond the traditional inbound marketing and inbound marketing software certifications. (We all have those).
Look for agencies that count Hubspot Trainer Certifications, Content Marketing Certifications, and Contextual Marketing Certifications among their ranks.
The best inbound marketing agencies will have direct experience working with HubSpot.
Asking this question will showcase whether the agency has an existing working relationship with contacts within HubSpot.
Sometimes you just need a one-off project. But if you're looking for a long-term relationship, make sure the agency has a wide -range of experience and results for various services.
A well-rounded agency should have experience in multiple areas like content marketing, SEO, PPC, social media, graphic design, and front-end development.
Does industry experience matter? It depends. PMG, for example, has worked in various industries over the last 20 years but has developed some sweet spots that help us hyper-focus on your industry (concerning both marketing and the industry in general).
This question is critical for understanding whether the agency has proven results for your industry.
Each industry vertical has its unique marketing and sales best practices. Make sure you choose an agency that can get results specific to your vertical.
All inbound marketing agencies have a case study or two they can point to.
But take a look at the case studies or white papers that align with your challenges or pain points for a deeper look at how the agency is uniquely positioned to help your business.
From Salesforce to NetSuite to Wistia and the apps in between, this is a great question to ask to ensure the agency you hire can play nicely with the infrastructure your team already has.
Hiring an inbound marketing agency means hiring an extension of your team.
Look at sites like glassdoor.com or LinkedIn to gauge employee satisfaction and engagement.
These sites can help gauge whether employees are happy, well developed professionally, and have the tenure your business needs.
Employee happiness and turnover are critical considerations when choosing a partner.
It's extremely difficult to have a successful partnership if your primary point of contact changes every six months.
Although all agencies undoubtedly aim for 100%, that's not entirely realistic. Look for a real, honest answer from your agency contact.
13. What would your clients say about working with you?
This is a great question, but if you want to go beyond a Google review- see question 14.
14. Can I talk to an existing client candidly?
Reviews are great, but how do their clients feel about working with them? Is it hard to get them on the phone?
Do they have fun working together? How quickly did they see results?
These conversations can be much more valuable than a testimonial.
Every agency manages client relationships differently. Understanding how your relationship will be managed is critical.
You'll want to ensure your primary point of contact has the know-how and experience to keep things moving.
But it's also essential to understand how onboarding, billing, and retainers are handled.
The right answer to this question will, of course, depend on what your needs are. But at a minimum, one can expect to have a Marketing and/or Content Strategist and an Account Manager.
More extensive engagements may have dedicated a PPC specialist, developer, graphic designer, marketing project manager, and more.
Does the agency expect to have a team in place long-term? Or will you see different faces?
No one wants to be the practice company for a brand-new marketer.
Make sure your team has the experience level you need to get the most from your investment.
It's perfectly reasonable to ask to meet with your intended Account Manager before signing on the dotted line!
Is the agency fun, flexible, and committed to providing outstanding client outcomes? (This may or not be PMG's core values). The answer to this question can provide details you may not have uncovered in previous interactions.
This question is critical. Do you expect a weekly check-in call? Or would you prefer a monthly meeting?
Do you want the agency to present results regularly to your C-Suite? Or would you instead check in over email on demand?
Setting these expectations early is key to a successful relationship.
Onboarding is part of the process as both sides are learning and working with each for the first time.
But its important to understand how long the onboarding process will take before your agency team gets fully up to speed.
What does the onboarding process look like? How does the agency prepare during this time? What goes into their onboarding process specifically?
Be wary of hiring an inbound marketing agency that declares they can start providing leads for you right away.
While, of course, that's our goal, inbound marketing takes time. And any agency worth their salt will tell you it takes around six months to begin seeing tangible results.
Does the agency have an employee development program? What industry webinars and conferences do they attend?
Digital marketing changes rapidly, so it's essential to choose an agency that's focused on growth.
Is your outsourced marketing company outsourcing their marketing?
A smaller project, like keyword research or a paid ads viability assessment, is a great way to gauge an agency's experience and working style and provides an excellent foundation for your engagement moving forward.
Be wary of agencies that try to push you into a monthly retainer or commitment before you're ready.
The best agencies will allow you to try them out with a smaller project. While a lot of momentum can be made with retainer-based billing, it shouldn't be required for you to work together.
One of the best parts of outsourcing your marketing efforts to an agency is that it provides flexibility.
Ensure that the agency you hire doesn't lock you into cozy contracts that take an expert to untangle yourself from.
A classic question that can't be overlooked.
While the above questions are helpful when choosing and hiring an inbound marketing agency, perhaps the most crucial consideration is your chemistry with them.
You are making a considerable business investment.
It's crucial that investment feels like the right thing to do.
Did you connect with your new team? Did the others on your team enjoy meeting them? Listen to your gut on this one!
No two marketing engagements are the same. Did the agency contacts you interacted with touch on your unique pain points and challenges? Did they present tangible, viable solutions to solve those pain points?
Nobody wants to feel like they're at a used car dealership. Again, listen to your gut on this one.
A great inbound marketing agency should be both professional AND fun, listen to your unique needs, and ultimately work as an extension of your company. Would you hire them to work for you?
This is potentially the most important question on this list. When you hire an inbound marketing agency- you're hiring a team of marketing professionals.
Can you trust them to know when an idea simply won't work? Can you trust them to bring you new, innovative ideas to the table?
Want to narrow down your search?
We compiled a list of the all-time best inbound marketing agency partners this year to help you get started.
Or, if you’re ready to start now, book a meeting with PMG Principle Susan LaPlante-Dube.
Want to take this checklist with you to go? We built an interactive, printable PDF version of this checklist so you can take notes as you interview.
Just fill out the form for instant access.
Taylor Rennick is an experienced marketing professional, specializing in digital content creation and strategy, email marketing, and website optimization. Taylor has helped several clients increase their online conversion rates, leading to double-digit revenue growth in several markets.