Choosing the wrong B2B marketing agency can be a nightmare. Read actionable tips on what to look for when vetting B2B marketing agencies to partner with in 2020. Read the top 10 considerations when vetting any B2B marketing agency to ensure they are the right fit to drive revenue growth for you company.
Most B2B buyers are already 57% through the buyers journey before talking with any sales team member. (Accenture)
This article is a must-read for any B2B company looking to hire a B2B marketing agency that gives you actionable tips and insights so you can avoid the costly mistake of hiring the wrong B2B marketing agency.
More importantly, this article will help you refine your strategic approach towards finding the best b2b digital marketing companies that are most suited to help your B2B company grow your leads, sales and ultimately scale revenue faster.
Leaving B2B Marketing To Professionals
The secret weapon of B2B industry leaders is finding a local B2B marketing agency that can help with not only the strategic planning but also the tactical execution of an adequately planned B2B marketing strategy.
Creating a strategy will require industry-specific expertise, while properly executing it will require the right tools and experience. That is hardly something you can do yourself, at least if you want significant traffic, lead and sales boost.
63% of marketers believe their biggest challenge is generating traffic and leads (HubSpot)
This is why more agile brands are focusing on keeping brand marketing and strategy in-house and outsource the tactical execution of lead generation, customer acquisition and client engagement to the best B2B marketing agencies who specialize in their particular niche industry.
That will ensure you spend your in-house resources only on the most essential and fragile parts of the brand marketing while leaving all the heavy lifting and grunt work to third-party agencies who have the right tools, personnel and expertise to execute them with best results. That is the most optimized method, leading to the best ROI.
Consequences of choosing the wrong agency
Hiring the wrong B2B agency can wreak havoc not only on your marketing ROI and have significant negative consequences on your revenue growth. There are hundreds of local B2B service providers for any given service, such as accounting, legal, marketing, advertising, public relations, software, and SaaS platforms.
These B2B professional services are more commoditized because they do not directly contribute to revenue generation, which is why choosing the right full service b2b marketing agency or b2b ad agency is vital to your ability to meet your revenue growth goals in 2020.
The digital marketing agency you choose will stand between you and your customers. Because your business is B2B, it is of vital importance that you do things the right way, as you will have only one chance to make the first impression.
And let's face it, the B2B world is much less forgiving (but more lucrative) than B2C, especially if you operate locally. Make a wrong impression and you might damage your brand reputation, which can ruin things with your potential local business partners for good. That's why it is essential to leave B2B marketing to professionals, and also to make sure you made the right choice the first time you do it.
However, because the digital world is booming, more and more agencies enter the marketing field almost every day. It is becoming increasingly difficult to separate the real ones from the fake, unless you know what to look for.
That doesn't mean you should decide not to hire an agency, on the contrary. It only means you should double-check everything before you commit. The ten reasons to hire an agency you can find bellow will tell you more about that.
Staying Agile Is The Name Of The Game
The bigger conversation that B2B marketers are having relates to choosing a more agile inbound marketing methodologies. As such, the rise of inbound b2b marketing agencies stems from growing desire to leverage content marketing throughout each stage of the buyer's journey. That is opposed to continuing to use the traditional outbound marketing paradigm that tends to be more intrusive. Even if the MQL to SQL handoff to your sales team is frictionless, the experience will be far from ideal and pleasant, which can influence customer satisfaction. This is where leveraging the right lead generation tools, at the right time can greatly improve your lead to conversion rates.
Many factors contribute to making the decision and choosing the right B2B marketing agency for your business needs. These include industry expertise, agency structure, size of the team, approach to client success, skill sets, and service offerings.
It used to be different, more simpler and aggressive marketing worked. But, the customers are smarter than ever, and they have seen it all. Now, instead of bold promises and magic one-line sales pitches, you need to offer real value and build brand trust. This takes time and patience, but if done right will result in increased sales, every single time.
While this might seem like it only works B2C, B2B is the same. Yes, you are addressing companies, but their owners/employees are reading through your messages or site content, and it is again a human-to-human interaction. Sure, they want your services to benefit their company, but they will still use their best human judgment and life experience when deciding whether or not to hire you.
But, because they are business people, your marketing needs to be on a much higher level, simply because their company is probably doing marketing too, and they know all the tricks of the trade.
Sales Funnels Are Becoming Obsolete - Enter Flywheel
The days of hiring a web dev shop, or a creative / branding agency or even a top of the funnel SEO company is long gone. Given the shift in buying behavior we are now seeing in most B2B industries, the vital paradigm shift in sales operations needs to occur by turning away from the old-school funnel towards a more customer-centric flywheel approach.
Using a flywheel empowers sales teams to focus on how we capture, store, and allocate energy, as quantified in website traffic and qualified leads, new customers, and retention of existing customers.
The essential digital marketing channels integrated into successful marketing plans are inbound marketing, lead generation, marketing automation, growth-driven design, and website development.
The appropriate B2B marketing agency relationships are usually formed with the help of online portals that connect various business service providers with other businesses in need of those services, or through word-of-mouth referrals.
Focusing On B2B Marketing Industry Experts
B2B transactions typically produce higher profits than B2C operations. The best b2b marketing agencies value propositions usually center on high-volume exchanges of services or goods. For example, a company that manufactures boat engines could connect with another company that builds boats.
Most likely, the company that builds boats will order more engines than an individual consumer would. In this way, businesses connect with each other, and both parties benefit. Business-to-business marketing establishes long-term relationships between companies, making product promotion less difficult.
In reality, the more reputable full-service b2b marketing agency simplify the full-funnel approach and implement the process of creating and optimizing your online acquisition funnel to measure the impact of your marketing efforts and marketing ROI. Some of the most profitable B2B relationships are formed between businesses and professional marketing agencies.
10 reasons to hire a local B2B marketing agency
Involving a B2B marketing agency can be the turning point that changes the future of your business. Aside from helping to refine your value proposition, most often Veteran B2B marketing agencies can provide revenue impact and candid insights into gaps your company may have in your lead generation, customer acquisition and client engagement efforts.
Furthermore, they can not only identify problems but also advise on an appropriate B2B marketing strategy for overcoming these obstacles and execute on those tactical components. But, you need to know how to choose, and the 10 points you can find below will help with that.
1. Right Agency Niche
The right B2B marketing agency will evaluate your particular industry trends and marketing efforts of your competitors. This is vital to ensure the agency's efforts in scaling your lead generation, customer acquisition and client engagement arm your company with a competitive edge within your industry.
Ideally, the agency is quick to brainstorm with your internal stakeholders within your sales and marketing operations to find areas that can be refined or automated. If they have the necessary experience within your industry, they will already have ideas you can immediately apply to your business, seeing results instantaneously.
As shown in the chart above, from a marketing ROI perspective, hire niche experts. As you can imagine, the worst thing your company can do is hire the master of none agencies that offer all services to all industries.
If your company is an industrial manufacturer, then the wise move is to only work with a niche manufacturing marketing agency.
Likewise, if you are a HubSpot customer, then you should only hire a certified HubSpot partner agency.
As shown in the chart above, from a marketing ROI perspective, hire niche experts.
Hiring a niche B2B agency can jump-start your niche marketing program by partnering with pertinent experts in your companies particular industry. It will create a steady stream of qualified prospects for your sales team.
2. Quality Leads
It isn’t enough to just reach out to people; you need to know they have a vested interest in what you offer. This is where partnering with one of the top B2B marketing agencies has a huge impact.
Knowing the difference between MQL vs SQL and when to hand off leads to your sales team is vital and another way the right B2B marketing agency can help. It’s significant that a B2B marketing agency brings you not just leads, but qualified leads; these are people who are interested in what’s being offered.
The only question that remains is who they will buy it from. That could be you or a competitor. What are you going to do that will encourage them to buy from you?
Thankfully, that can be handled through the appropriate B2B marketing strategies and swift actions put in motion by your B2B marketing agency. Your role is going to be ensuring your business is ready to handle the incoming orders and customer calls.
When the agency does its job right, it’s going to be ongoing growth for you, not peaks and valleys. And because you will let pros do the marketing, you will have much more time and peace of mind to focus on what you do best.
3. Growth Potential
Your B2B marketing company or SaaS platform has the potential to double revenues through working with the appropriate SaaS marketing strategy that is ideal for your own company growth goals. The purchase process used by B2B companies has changed in the past few years.
Has your B2B company adapted to the new ways that B2B companies choose SaaS platforms and B2B vendors? If not, then perhaps this is why your B2B company or SaaS platform is not delivering double-digit revenue growth so far this year. This is where growth hacking strategies can provide actionable tips to discuss internally with stakeholders to see which aligns with your revenue growth objectives.
Perhaps you have an in-house team doing some email marketing automation, SEO, social media posts, and even some downloadable content offers. The bigger question is: Are they doing this for each stage of the buyer’s journey? Are these efforts speaking to specific buyer’s personas?
If you’re not sure, it’s time to rethink your approach with the goal of increasing your marketing ROI to more effectively move leads from top to bottom of your sales funnel into paying customers. The best way to do that is by hiring the right B2B marketing agency.
They monitor trends, making sure only the latest and the most effective tactics are included into your sales journey. That will lead to consistent growth, as the marketing system gets "updated" with new ideas on a regular basis. That is something you can't expect from your in-house marketing team, or from freelancers you hire as needed.
4. Brand Messaging
You may think your business is doing well, but it could be doing even better. The lead-generation efforts of an experienced local inbound marketing agency can make all the difference between losing money and experiencing your company achieve profitable customer activations.
This is where the right B2B marketing agency can transform your sales and marketing operations from a local or regional player within your particular industry into an industry leader on a national level by creating a predictable and repeatable process for your sales team to execute on.
By creating a brand voice, and sending the brand message through every part of the sales process, you will make your company "a name" in the industry. Most companies stop thinking about their brand values and the message they send as soon as they finish the "About Us" page on their website, and pay a freelance designer do draw them a logo.
That is a huge mistake, as your brand messaging is the critical factor in making future customers relate to you. Without it, you are just another greedy company standing in line to get their money. Yes, if you have good products and services, they will sell, but backing them up with a strong brand message will boost conversions and customer retention. You will turn customers into fans willing to promote your services to their friends and close ones. All that because they have a brand they can trust.
If you want businesses to be talking about how your company or SaaS platform improves their overarching ROI or increases operational efficiencies, then implementing inbound marketing into your B2B marketing strategy will increase qualified lead conversions and reduce the length of your sales cycle.
Not only does this sales funnel optimization continually keep your sales funnel full, but it also passes qualified leads to your sales team later in the sales cycle to improve the efficiency of your sales team members.
5. Lead Generation Expertise
Any reputable B2B marketing agency strives to help your company gain market share, to keep prospects engaged, and ultimately to help achieve revenue growth. It doesn’t just offer your company generalized B2B and SaaS marketing strategies to attract new customers. Instead, it branches out and diversifies.
In digital marketing, traffic alone doesn't mean a lot. Sure, if you increase the number of eyes on your site, it will probably lead to a slight sales spike. But, it is a much better idea to focus on generating quality leads that are much more likely to end up as customers than it is to focus solely on seeing growth in your traffic graph.
While most agencies are capable of growing traffic, generating quality leads is a much more sophisticated process, and it takes experience. That's because increasing traffic is more focused on search engine algorithms, while lead generation is more about real humans and gently manipulating their behavior. Lead generation, nurturing and conversion is what separates good agencies from the best ones.
The problem is that this is hard to judge in advance. Your best approach is to hire an agency that has proven experience within your niche, backed up by case studies and testimonials. That won't mean you will get exactly the same results, there are no guarantees in marketing. But it will be a good sign that they know what they are doing.
6. Time Allocation
B2B marketing is not as easy as it looks. There are many different creative elements that go into a winning strategy, including copywriting, graphic design, and computer programming. It’s challenging to be good at any one of these creative disciplines and nearly impossible to be a master of all of them.
Plus, the needs change, and sometimes your in-house copywriters have more work than they can handle, while other times they sit around bored, doing nothing useful. That's why it is a much better idea to leave everything to third-party professionals.
SaaS marketing agencies, in particular, are stacked with B2B lead-generation professionals who specialize in not just lead generation, but more importantly, customer acquisition and client engagement.
Regardless of the lifecycle, you need experts in your particular industry that ha experience producing quality content offers for each stage of your buyer’s journey. This is vital to help your B2B sales team increase lead conversion rates, reduce sales cycles, reduce customer acquisition costs and increase customer lifetime value.
Although this might be the first big marketing campaign for you, it is a different story for the agency. They already either have an in-house team of experts that will help with each task, or they know exactly which third-party to call and hire.
You can expect the whole B2B marketing campaign to be made and executed in much less time than it would take you, and with superior results. When you account for the time costs, you will soon realize how hiring a marketing agency is a very cost-effective solution. Ultimately, leveraging best b2b agencies give you a team of resources for less than the cost of one single employee.
7. Agency Internal Transparency
Not all agencies are equal. Some are remote agencies, and others have huge offices. Some pitch themselves as masters of all things B2B digital marketing, while others focus on specific verticals or approaches, such as inbound marketing.
With the right local B2B marketing agency working hard for your B2B company, you still get complete access to all of your data and insights—with total transparency and with no hidden fees. Daily access to closed-loop reporting helps you dive into the effectiveness of day-to-day strategy and implementation.
This provides an objective bird’s-eye view into measuring ROI of marketing tactics and execution approach to more effectively deploy persona-driven marketing content offers that fuel profitable lead conversions.
No matter how sophisticated the tools and tactics are, and how complicated marketing terms we use, it all comes to human-to-human interactions and building trust. You hire an agency, but the actual people do the work, and you communicate them. That's why it is essential to keep everything transparent. You want to be able to relax and trust that the agency you hired will do a good job.
So, before you hire, make sure you have a face-to-face conversation, or at least a video call. Seeing how the person interacts will not only tell you how much they know about B2B marketing but how decent, polite, and professional they are. Use your best judgment, and don't just fall on claims and case studies you see on their site, nothing can fake a human interaction and decency.
8. Agency Resources
Any reputable B2B marketing agency has lots of tools, chief among them sophisticated computer programs and apps. It wouldn’t be financially feasible for a small business to invest in the tools required to develop a profitable B2B inbound marketing strategy that aligns your sales and marketing teams.
But, even big businesses who can afford the tools should think twice about doing so. If you want to fully utilize the sophisticated programs, you need to have experts that will work on them non-stop. That means you need to invest time not only in training people but also in implementing all that into your system.
Plus, new and better tools to help marketers launch all the time, and it is very hard to separate the right ones from wrong. You would waste too much time looking for the right people and the right tools, and all that without guaranteed results. That is why it is much easier to hire third-party B2B marketing experts to do this for you on per-need, contract basis than to have dedicated people on your payroll.
While tools won't do the job themselves, not having them may leave you vulnerable to competitors that have made the marketing investment in the strategy. Make sure that your due diligence results in selecting the appropriate B2B marketing agencies with experience in your company’s unique industry.
9. Agency Experience
Agency professionals have been through the marketing battles before to attract and convert local B2B customers, working with companies just like yours. The larger and more established and reputable B2B marketing agencies know what works and, most important, what doesn’t, saving your company precious resources.
These B2B marketing professionals will have the foresight and wisdom needed to effectively plan and execute sales enablement strategies for improving customer journey mapping and optimizing buyer personas. Those are paramount before a single line of code is written, or prior to Photoshop being opened for UI/UX mock-up. You need first to know who the website sales messaging is trying to attract in order to create content that speaks to their particular pain points.
37% of companies have a documented content marketing strategy (Content Marketing Institute).
While the best b2b digital marketing companies think increased traffic is the only answer to their stagnant sales pipeline. In reality, the problem is how mapping out how to convert more website visitors into marketing qualified leads, not just how to attract more visitors. Focusing on getting better leads will keep your company’s sales funnel full of quality prospects that align with your targeted ideal buyers.
10. Agency Fees & Expenses
An Economical Solution
Website design agencies and creative/branding agencies are more project-oriented, so they are more likely to provide flat-rate pricing for one-time projects. In most cases, partnering with a local digital marketing agency will save money and maximize your marketing ROI. Inbound marketing agencies offer sales, marketing, and website services, which operate on performance-driven retainers.
Agencies are like a "plug and play" solution as you only need to explain the goal and agree on the terms, and the rest is their worry. You don't have to worry about hiring people, creating and analyzing the process, B2B marketing agencies already have the personnel and an established system in place. Not only that it saves you money, but also an enormous amount of time which you can invest in making your services/products better, growing your business the right way.
In-house Marketing Is Rarely The Best Option
The conversation should always circle around the costs in terms of time and money. This can really start to add up if your company seeks to plan and execute an impactful inbound marketing campaign or account-based marketing campaign in-house. You would have to pay salaries for a strategist, marketer, designer, developer, copywriter which could easily cost $30k per month.
Unless your website and marketing efforts are attracting and converting more than $30k per month, that becomes a non-starter. Other B2B companies choose HubSpot consulting platforms where you pay a flat rate for unlimited tasks relating to tactical execution of marketing components such as a landing page, email, lead scoring, or workflow. This may sound appealing but unfortunately can leave you with the slow turn around times.
B2B marketing agencies are highly skilled in the various tactics used to increase lead conversions and optimize your sales funnel so that your sales reps can effectively refine their sales pipeline management to close more deals, in a predictable pattern over time.
Veteran B2B marketing agencies that have been around for a while understand the process of conducting market research within a certain niche, and they can help businesses develop products based on this research.
By having B2B marketing experts that have experience within your niche you ensure you get the most for your marketing investment. You will pay the expert to do the job, and you only care about the results. This is completely opposite to having employees in-house that work on salaries.
Yes, if you implement the system right, in-house marketing will produce better results. But, more often than not, it results in losses or thin profits, or in other words—wasted money. That's why it is a much better idea to hire third-party experts, especially if your business is still growing and you don't need in-house marketing personnel.
Reputable B2B marketing agencies are also beneficial to new businesses that are unfamiliar with appropriate pricing in the online marketplace. While most companies can drive eyeballs to your website, not every B2B digital marketing agency is skilled in nurturing leads into actual customers.
Top B2B marketing agencies provide businesses with the perfect opportunity to quickly and efficiently execute b2b marketing strategies. These professionals know exactly how to promote your products quickly and increase your profits.
Hiring a local B2B marketing agency is crucial if you market to industrial, manufacturing, or commercial organizations. You need a B2B marketing agency that is passionate about the industries you serve. One that can talk like an engineer. One that can break down your manufacturing process into something that’s easy for anyone to understand.