When your business enters into a retainer agreement with an inbound marketing agency, your expectation is that the agency will help you grow by providing new ideas, fresh campaigns, and dedicated experts to manage your marketing strategies.
Sometimes, however, even the best relationships can fizzle out and it's time to move on. Here are five signs that point to B2B inbound marketing retainers that aren't working.
1. Not Enough Transparency
The best inbound marketers know that a documented plan is the only place to start, and that ongoing success relies on collecting and analyzing lots of data. Your inbound marketing strategies should be built around your goals. Before any campaign is launched, you should be able to see a documented strategy built around one goal, complete with which metrics will be used to measure success and clear deadlines.
More than half of all B2B content marketers say measuring ROI is one of their top challenges. Your agency should be updating you regularly as far as costs and performance of your campaigns — and those reports should make it easy to prove ROI. Anything less should be a red flag.
2. Failure to Meet Goals
Not every campaign is going to be a huge success, but consistently missing the mark is a big sign that it's time to move on. You'll know your B2B inbound marketing retainer is in good hands if your goals are being met, and if occasionally missed goals are working as opportunities to build stronger plans in the future.
Along with meeting goals, you also want to be sure that your success rate is improving over time. As your campaigns have time to work, your agency should be making small changes to increase their effectiveness. While you'll still probably see ups and downs over short time frames, the overall long-term trend should be upward. If it starts to stagnate or drop, it might be time for some fresh eyes.
3. Missing Partnership
When a retainer agreement is at its best, the company and the agency are working together toward marketing goals. You don't want an agency that's going to blindly follow your orders, and you don't want to ignore the process and be the follower yourself.
Your agency partnership should be built first on trust, but understanding and working together are essential. Your agency should know your business well enough to get all the small details right and have a passion for driving results. They should also value your insight and ideas and keep you in the loop at all times.
4. Poor Communication
Executing an inbound marketing strategy relies on open communication between the agency and the company. If you're experiencing unproductive conversations or a delay in response to calls and emails, then communications are breaking down. Other warning signs include shuffling points of contact at the agency and missed deadlines with no explanation.
Instead, you should look for an agency that offers a single point of contact who is managing your account. Your calls and questions should be answered in a reasonable amount of time, and any problems should be proactively managed by the agency rather than you seeking an explanation when they fall short.
5. You've Outgrown Your Agency
For growing companies, partnering with an agency that offers standalone, specialized services can feel like a perfect match. However, there will come a time when the agency has done its job, and you might find that your future is demanding a bit more than they can deliver. This isn't necessarily a point against the agency, but it does signal that it's time to branch out.
For example, perhaps you’ve relied on an agency that was primarily focused on SEO to grow your customer base. But if now you're ready to expand your marketing to include a more complex website, more inbound channels, or combine the efforts of your growing sales department with your marketing efforts, the agency might not have the staff and expertise to keep up.
When It's Time to Change
Your inbound marketing agency is central to your company's success. After all, if you're not continually attracting new business, you cannot succeed in the long run. If you're noticing these signs of B2B marketing retainers not working, and your agency isn't listening to your concerns, it's time to move on.