The Benefits and Drawbacks of Outsourcing IMAs

By Scott Anderson Miller

Educating yourself by performing some self-diagnosis as part of an inbound marketing assessment (IMA) is generally recommended. Doing so moves your engagement point further along with prospective consultants and helps you make an informed decision as to which IMA provider best suits your needs.

Here are some benefits to hiring a pro to perform your IMA:

  • A professional IMA provides an independent, objective analysis.

  • Outsourcing saves you time so you can assess more quickly and go to market with your recommended initiatives earlier.

  • Sometimes an IMA will support what you know to be true but your message is falling upon deaf ears. In other words, it can serve as an independent proof that positive change needs to occur.

  • A true pro provides a written document or playbook, which can be immediately shared, and referenced in the future.

  • Reputable marketing firms and consultants provide sound, factual data to enable collective data-driven decision-making.

Unfortunately, even when you invest money in an IMA there are possible pitfalls. Here are some pitfalls to outsourcing your IMA:

  • Hiring a pro costs money. Many times it’s an investment of thousands of dollars.

  • Usually, the IMA is only the first of a two-step strategic plan and, guess what? Someone has to write the inbound strategic plan, too! Unless you write the strategic plan yourself, that’s an additional investment.

  • All IMAs are not created equally. Research your options and choose a provider you feel comfortably matches your needs in a professional manner.

  • Some individuals in your company (maybe even you!) value action over planning. That is dangerous! By not immediately “doing” your inbound initiatives you could be derailed by these people before you even get started.

Self-diagnosis is a good start to understanding which marketing efforts are contributing to your online success. For smaller companies, an in-house assessment may be all you need; however, such assessments are self-limiting by definition. For a more sophisticated approach to measuring your online marketing efforts and how you can best connect with prospective customers, it may make sense to hire a consultant or marketing firm to perform your inbound marketing assessment.

If you choose to outsource your IMA, make sure you understand up front what your report will cover and how much it will cost. The pricing and associated deliverables vary greatly. My marketing firms have performed IMAs that range from basic $1,500 conversion-chain analyses to $60,000 full-blown enterprise assessments.

Chances are, you can outsource your IMA for between $2,000 and $10,000. Plenty of inbound marketing firms and consultants perform IMAs. Many IMAs are a snapshot of what is happening and not how to fix the problems identified. That’s okay, because at this point you’re trying to identify and frame problems, not solve them. Later, you’ll write a strategic inbound plan based on your IMA discoveries — to connect the “why” of your inbound marketing with the “what” and the “how.”

At the least, your paid professional assessor should identify the following:

  • Online goals

  • Current inbound attraction efforts

  • Base keywords for search engine optimization (SEO)

  • Current search engine marketing (SEM) metrics

  • Current remarketing efforts

  • Conversions

It’s fair to expect a paid inbound marketing assessment to include a broader measurement than a website grader. The best IMAs view your website as a hub that connects your online marketing efforts and will report findings based on the dynamic interaction between those efforts and your hub.

A proper inbound marketing assessment is holistic in nature, measuring the purchase path that connects people with your product or service — the Customer Conversion Chain. A professional inbound marketing assessment should reflect the complexity of your prospects’ purchase path by measuring each link, or conversion point in this process. The IMA may report data simply for clarity, but the underlying complexity of interactions require a look at each input and factor that affects your desired outcome. As such, your paid professional IMA should identify where your online marketing efforts are paying off as well as where you’re falling short. After performing your IMA, you will have actionable improvements that can directly affect your inbound marketing’s ability to attract and convert.

So now is the time for action. Take the first steps in elevating your inbound marketing by gauging your baseline metrics through a website grader and IMA.