Managing an inbound marketing strategy is no simple affair, even if the principles underlying the practice are fairly easy to comprehend.
Maybe it’s obvious to state, but to do inbound marketing right, you’ need to have the right people.
For many companies and institutions, the most cost-effective way to implement inbound marketing is to partner with an inbound marketing agency for part or all of the process. Agencies can conduct research, write personas, generate content, manage optimized social media profiles, watch the numbers, score and nurture leads and more.
But just because you’ve decided to engage an agency doesn’t mean you can leave all of the inbound thinking to someone else. What they do and how they do it will have an enormous impact upon how people—present students, faculty, prospective students and their parents—view your institution. Choose wisely!
Here are some considerations you must make when building your inbound team:
- Does the prospective agency really “get” you?
Before you hire an agency, you must make sure they know what you stand for and your distinct culture. A good way to know if they understand who you are is if they ask a lot of questions. They’ll also practice reflexive listening, they’ll express what you’ve tried to express and they will know what problems you are facing.
- Do they practice what they preach?
If they are going to be running your inbound marketing campaign, they better be practicing it themselves. Poke around on their website and social media platforms. Do they appear as savvy as they promise to be? Are they earning their way into people’s attention instead of buying their way in? Or is their website just another 24/7 billboard? It makes a big difference!
- Are they clued into the admissions funnel?
In a sense, the inbound process is similar no matter what you happen to be marketing. But there are distinct features of the higher education recruitment process that do make it different. For this reason, whatever agency you may partner with must have an intimate understanding of higher education and the college decision-making process. Without that, there’s little chance that you’ll be satisfied working together.
- Do they make themselves clear?
One reason you hire an agency in the first place is that it’s hard to know and do everything inbound quickly without help. If they can’t give you a clear and concise explanation of what inbound is and what they’ll do, step away.
- Who does what and when?
These are things you’ll want to be clear about early on. Will you produce content or will they? Are you paying them for big ideas, the nitty gritty or both?
- Will they provide data reporting and results?
It’s getting a lot easier to measure results, and with inbound marketing, the return on investment is measurable. Make sure your agency is providing you with key performance indicators (KPIs), a clear scope of service so that you can hold them accountable.
- Have you seen their past performance?
Any reputable agency will be more than happy to show you their work, and to connect you with former and current clients. If they are the right agency, they will be able to show you the work they have done with institutions similar to yours.
If at any time you aren’t seeing a return on your investment with an outside marketing firm, it’s time to evaluate if they are in fact the right fit or if you need to take your business elsewhere. Setting those parameters for results in the beginning will definitely help you out if you reach a point where it is time to part ways.
These tips will help you find a marketing agency that is a great fit for your institution. Remember, you will also need an internal point person, likely a marketing manager who is already leading the charge for inbound marketing.
Now go! It’s time to start building your inbound marketing team.
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