Goals are critical to any element of marketing, but goal setting is doubly important when viewed through the lens of inbound marketing. The reason is simple. The promise of inbound marketing threatens to eclipse many of the tried-and-true outbound marketing tactics that teams have employed for decades. It's a game-changer, especially when you hand over the marketing reigns to an someone else. Therefore, we'd like to further explore the importance of goal setting with your inbound agency.
First and foremost, goal setting with your inbound agency is critical from a self-preservation perspective. Think about it. You, as a marketing manager freely admit that your team is ill equipped to handle the transition towards a more inbound-oriented posture. You lack the resources to, for example, write white papers or use Instagram as a marketing channel. And that's perfectly fine. At the end of the day, client companies should focus on what they do best — engaging directly with leads and customers. The other stuff can be outsourced.
However, like any outsourcing arrangement, there needs to be a clear definition of roles and goal setting and measurement. And this is where the self-preservation component comes into play. When your CFO e-mails you and says, "Can we meet later today to discuss this marketing agency we're working with?" you need to walk into that meeting with cold, hard facts. You need to show your boss that your decision was a wise one and that the agency has added to your firm's bottom line. (You also need to have a good answer handy when he says, "What is Instagram marketing?") Money talks, and without revenue-facing metrics, your upcoming performance review may be slightly underwhelming. No one wants that.
Then there's the intuitive notion that, performance reviews aside, keeping tabs on your inbound agency is good for your company. As a responsible financial steward, you need to ensure that your money is being well spent. But how, exactly, can you make this a reality? Well, by setting the right goals, you'll quickly identify areas for cost savings, cost avoidance, and new business opportunities.
Let's take a simple example of how goal setting can avoid costs. Without clear goal setting you may find that your team is engaged in redundant or overlapping work. A team member may, for example, be marketing content on Facebook or other social networks. There's just one problem (well, two actually.) One, that's a role that's been delegated to your agency, and two, your team member, for all their great effort, isn't doing a particularly good job at it anyway. Your team member should be doing something else.
Lastly, goal setting not only is a way to frame your agency's ability to deliver on promises, but it also — as cynical as it may sound — informs any talks you have with other agencies. Let's say you establish an inbound marketing goal of "Boosting Facebook engagement by 85% within two weeks" or "Publishing three blogs a week for three months." If the agency fails to deliver, you obviously have a justifiable "out" of the relationship. But if other agencies come knocking, you can ask them if they can exceed these goals, perhaps even at a lower cost.
So what do you think? What are other compelling reasons for goal setting with your inbound agency? What specific goals or metrics most effectively capture the health of your inbound relationship? What metrics resonate most with your boss?