Let me set the stage by saying in the internet marketing / SEO industry (and the web design/development) it is very much the case that it is a "You Get What You Pay For". As business owners and marketers we are programmed to seek out the best priced products and services. So at first glance, the less expensive proposal may look like the best option, however, this is rarely the case.
When it comes to the growth and health of your business in the future, shopping based on price is probably the worst way to choose an agency. Instead, you should be looking at the value the agency provides for your business and how this value will get you closer to your business goals.
How Much Does an Inbound Marketing Agency Cost?
As far as actual monthly cost, every client's quote is different depending on the goals that particular client would like to achieve. Additionally, some clients have certain in-house capabilities such as blogging or content production, which in this case, the pricing would be lower because they would be producing the content on their own.
If you're like most business owners or marketers, there's a good chance that you receive many spam emails each day claiming to get you to the top of Google for $300. Unfortunately, this creates a false perception that internet marketing is a cheap to do. Be extremely weary of any low priced, too cheap to be true offers because most likely they are using spammy techniques that can now even hurt your website or even get it pulled off Google.
Depending on the involvement of your company in the production side of your Inbound Marketing strategy, the general pricing can start as low as $1500 per month and go up into the five or six figures for enterprise level companies. It really varies based on the size of the company, the goals of the company and the capacity of that company to do the production in-house.
How Long are Inbound Marketing Agreements?
Most Inbound Marketing agencies work on a retainer basis. This allows them to have the flexibility to put in more work into the project when needed and keeps things consistent from month to month for both them and the client.
Most Inbound Marketing retainers have either a 1 to 2 years minimum. This is because of the nature of how an Inbound Marketing strategy works. Inbound Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It is common for it to take 9 months before starting to see a strong ROI from your Inbound Marketing efforts, however, once you reach this threshold, your leads and business growth will continue to skyrocket exponentially over time. By requiring a 1 or 2 year commitment, it will ensure your strategy will have time to develop and grow.
How to Compare Two Agency Quotes?
Most business owners or marketers will talk to multiple agencies to find the best fit for their business and their goals. There are a few points to keep in mind when comparing quotes from multiple agencies:
- Do either of the proposals have a "modern" strategy for internet marketing, or are they stuck in the "old-school" SEO tactics which no longer help or in some cases hurt your business? If you're not sure what the difference is between old- and new-school techniques, I would strongly recommend watching the videos contained in this blog: "Critical Info You Need to Know About SEO in 2012"
- Which proposal focuses on content production? Modern SEO and internet marketing techniques are focused around content production such as blogs, guest blogging, ebook offers, etc. in a way to organically generate links. For a successful internet marketing campaign in 2012, this should be the focus of the strategy. If one of the proposals does not have content as a focus, there's a good chance they are not up to date with the latest internet marketing techniques.
- Do they give a guarantee? In this case, having a guarantee in respect to the number of leads, inbound links, visitors or search engine positioning is a bad thing. With how dynamic the web is and how things can change literally overnight, there is no real way to guarantee any of these statistics and experienced agencies understand this. If they have a 60 or 90 day guarantee, this should be a red flag that they are over promising and there's a good chance they won't be able to deliver.
- Lastly, when comparing different agencies, there are some other key things to look for in relations to their experience, their certifications, etc. You can learn about all the critical things to look for in our free ebook: "The Ultimate Guide to Hiring an Inbound Marketing Agency"
A successful Inbound Marketing strategy requires a great deal of discovery, strategy and hard production work. It should not be something that is rushed or done with poor quality otherwise you're wasting your time and money. Think of it as an investment in the growth of your business for the long term. There is no simple "quick fix" strategy that will prove successful over time. Choosing a premium, expert agency may cost a bit more, however, it can mean the different between a successful explosion of leads or marketing disaster. Do your research, take your time and invest wisely.