A once-a-month blog, lonely Twitter feed or on-again/off-again email blast does not an inbound marketing campaign make. Though inbound is the premier strategy for reaching people in the digital marketplace, it’s easy for a novice to get lost in the weeds among the best practices and daily tasks.
And though it may be tempting to leverage the skills already at work in your company, that computer expert down the hall is not necessarily your next marketing maven. No matter what magic he spins on your site, a web designer or developer is no more an inbound marketing consultant than an accountant is.
And beyond the skill set is the simple matter of time. Done right, inbound can unearth new audiences and convert the best visitors into qualified leads. But that process takes time – for research, blogging, follow-up and the many other small but necessary tasks.
So the time has come …to hire an inbound marketing consultant.
Naturally, you wouldn’t write a check to just anyone who hangs out an “Inbound Expert” shingle. You want to find someone who has the chops to deliver some ROI.
What qualities should you expect?
Want to test the expertise of your would-be consultant in five seconds or less? Just say “HubSpot.” If the response is a blank stare, be wary. At the very least, your inbound marketing consultant should be a graduate of HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing University and confirmed as an Inbound Marketing Certified Professional – the current industry standard for this discipline. Ideally, your candidate has examples of real-world experience building digital business as well!
Inbound is all about building relationships, so your consultant should have an active network of colleagues, peers and followers, online and off, that you may leverage into your own marketing campaigns. Ask to see her social media pages and note what and whom she’s following (and who is following her). Memberships in marketing associations certainly are a plus, as are academic connections.
A certified inbound marketing consultant should know more than you about his chosen specialty – but that shouldn’t make him a know-it-all. A “my way or the highway” approach may just not work. Instead, your consultant is an extension of your workforce, and should be comfortable working collaboratively with team members who may not share his online background, but who do know your customers best.
What services should you expect?
Getting a good SERP (search engine results page) is the goal of any SEO strategy, and the outcome depends a lot on getting the right keywords into your website and other online content. Your inbound marketing consultant’s skill at Google Analytics or other SEO tool will go a long way in helping your content jump to the top of the results page, where it belongs. And that research extends beyond your website – your consultant should be able to report what keywords your competitors are using, too.
Few of us have the time to write daily blogs, draft customer-facing email, shoot videos, design infographics or edit whitepapers – so your inbound marketing consultant should have the resources to get you the content that matters to your target audience. Ask your prospective consultant about his or her background in creating content for your industry.
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are de rigueur among marketers, but they’re not the only social networks out there. Your consultant knows what social networks to employ, what content belongs there, and how to assess response and reaction.
CTA and Landing Page Optimization
The call-to-action and the landing page play vital roles in converting visitors to leads. An ineffective CTA won’t get clicks. A too-complicated landing page won’t hold attention. Your inbound marketing consultant should be able to conduct A/B testing to determine what CTAs and landing page content works best for your site.
Once the visitor has committed some contact information to your site, your consultant steps in to help you qualify that lead. Each lead is studied for behavior– how these visitors found your site, for example, or how long they linger on particular pages. The “hottest” leads are then identified and nurtured via offers of more exclusive or premium content tied to their needs. Those leads who continue through the nurturing funnel are then passed to your sales force for personal contact.
Analysis and Reporting
Your consultant has put in a lot of work – is it paying off? Expect consistent analysis and reporting on ROI, including website visits, lead-to-customer conversion rates, benchmarks of KPI, and the performance of your content.