Finding a growth marketing agency is no easy feat. Maybe you’ve worked with an agency before that hasn’t delivered the results you wanted, or maybe this is your first time looking into marketing agencies, but you don’t know where to start, what you need, or how it’ll impact your company’s wallet.
The Needle in the Haystack
With so many growth agency varieties out there, finding the one that suits your exact needs AND isn’t a pain to work with can seem overwhelming. When you search “growth marketing agency” on Google, there are nearly 600 million results – finding the right one definitely qualifies as finding a needle in a haystack.
Well, you can take a deep breath! You’ve made it to the ultimate guide that will teach you everything you need to know about hiring and working with a growth marketing agency that’s right for you.
Growth marketing agencies are a subcategory of general marketing agencies that focus on, to put it simply, helping businesses accomplish long-term growth. These agencies develop a growth strategy that combines marketing, sales, technology, and more to scale a business and see measurable results.
An effective growth marketing agency can majorly impact a business, so it can really be a service worth investing in...as long as you choose wisely. In this guide, you’ll take a deep dive into all things growth marketing: You’ll find out how to hire the agency that’s best for you and how to best work with them to help your business reach new heights.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about choosing and using a growth marketing agency.
I. Growth Marketing 101
What is Growth Marketing?
Growth marketing is a popular marketing methodology that focuses on:
- Setting and achieving long-term growth goals
- Gathering and leveraging data to achieve goals
- Monitoring lead performance through each stage of the funnel
- A/B testing and iteration
- Impacting the bottom line in a measurable way
The confluence of innovative digital marketing and sales funnel optimization, growth marketing is rooted in reality and pragmatism rather than textbook marketing theories.
Growth marketers take responsibility for the entirety of the customer lifecycle through a data-driven, analytical approach to all marketing efforts; for them, data is king.
That means whether you’re someone just at the beginning of your buyer’s journey or a loyal advocate for a brand, growth marketers will develop KPI-oriented campaigns to target and nurture you at every stage. They’re all about a long-term, strategic approach to raising the bottom line.
What is Growth Hacking and How Does it Differ from Growth Marketing?
Growth marketing is generally viewed as a long-term strategy developed and improved through iteration and experimentation throughout the funnel. While it also drives short-term results, it is a systemic process that requires a long-term commitment to fully benefit a company.
Growth hacking, on the other hand, is a tactical, short-term approach to marketing. It seeks to drive revenue right now through quickfire, high-impact campaigns that have a single goal and don’t always fit into any larger strategy.
Growth hacks rarely produce sustainable results, but they are always beneficial when carefully incorporated into a more extensive growth marketing strategy.
Why Is Growth Marketing Important for B2B?
The business landscape across industries has only become more competitive in recent years.
For B2B organizations, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, old-fashioned marketing isn’t cutting it anymore. Spending entire marketing budgets on one-and-done TV campaign spots that might not impact sales is something that most companies can’t afford or justify.
Instead, they need to invest in long-term, measurable strategies that leverage multiple-marketing channels to engage customers at each stage of the funnel. Growth marketing does exactly that by becoming a well-oiled machine that raises the bottom line.
What are the Benefits of Growth Marketing?
Growth marketing and growth marketing agencies can completely transform a business. The methods are scalable, data-backed, and goal-oriented and can take a strategy-less business to a new level.
The experimental nature of growth marketing allows for multi-channel iteration, so businesses can optimize their message for each audience, reach them on their platform of choice, and maximize the impact of their marketing dollars
Growth marketing’s focus on data analysis is another major benefit to businesses. Executives can get a full view of the return on investment (ROI) of campaigns and compare data over time to understand their strategic and tactical strengths and weaknesses.
With the help of the right agency and its experts, businesses can:
- Scale at the right pace
- Drive consistent revenue
- Align goals with strategy
- Understand their audience
- Achieve results within their budget
- Position themselves for long-term success
II. Growth Marketing Agencies: The Basics
What’s a Growth Marketing Agency?
Many companies don’t know where to begin as they look for a growth marketing agency. There are lots of options out there, and deciding what agency type you want (or if a growth agency is the right choice in the first place) can seem daunting.
Growth marketing agencies fall under the larger umbrella of marketing agencies, and while all growth agencies are marketing agencies, not all marketing agencies are growth marketing agencies.
For example, branding agencies, design agencies, web agencies, and marketing research firms are all types of marketing agencies that are NOT growth marketing agencies. The services they provide do not directly drive lead generation and net new customers for their clients.
How Does a Growth Marketing Agency Operate?
Growth marketing agencies focus on helping companies scale in size and revenue. They’re not limited to typical marketing activities, like content creation or ads. Instead, these agencies like to align with sales to implement growth strategies that get everyone on the same page and create a seamless funnel that drives lead generation and more business.
Agencies usually have:
- An account management team, including account directors, account managers, and account coordinators. This is the team that, as a client, you’ll work the most closely with. These marketing generalists will work on your overall growth marketing strategy and be your day-to-day points of contact. Before engaging with an agency, make sure you understand how your account team is structured and pay special attention to the account director and their background.
- Specialist teams, such as copywriters, designers, ad specialists, SEO specialists, and more, to execute full-stack campaigns. The specialists have deep expertise in their domains and will be the ones running most of your campaigns. In a growth marketing agency, they work together to closely align all the pieces of your marketing strategy and maximize impact.
During and after each campaign, agencies will report and analyze performance and iterate accordingly. At ProperExpression, we track the KPIs that matter most to our client’s success closely and get alerted if any of them fall behind so that we can quickly adjust our campaigns and help them hit their goals month after month.
If you’re looking for a marketing agency that combines creativity with a practical understanding of finance and data, a growth marketing agency is for you.
How Much Does Hiring a Growth Marketing Agency Cost for B2B?
The cost of hiring a growth marketing agency varies depending on what services you hire them for. Businesses can hire an agency to do just one thing (content creation, for example), work on multiple channels, or fully take over their marketing operations. The internet agrees that hiring a marketing agency costs, on average, between $2,500 and $12,500 a month (and based on our experience, the internet seems to be right).
When looking at pricing, consider two things:
- How much would it cost you to hire the same team in-house? (Spoiler alert: most companies can’t afford to hire an entire team with the same level of expertise they will find in agencies)
- What is the ROI you expect from the engagement?
Though pricing varies, growth marketing is almost always a long-term investment that can prove its ROI through different attributional models. If you’re looking to execute high-impact, multi-channel marketing campaigns, you will need the level of expertise (and alignment) provided by a growth marketing agency.
What Strategies Do Growth Marketing Agencies Use?
The most common growth marketing strategies are listed below:
- Personalized email marketing campaigns: This is a perfect fit for businesses with an established audience looking to convert existing leads into opportunities and sales.
- Content creation (blogs, white papers, and other assets): Content is the backbone of any successful marketing strategy. It’s used across all channels for lead generation and nurturing. If you’re not producing content internally, your agency will likely want to produce content to support campaigns.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is the perfect way to attract qualified traffic to your site right when they are looking for the services and products you provide.
- Social media marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and other platform): Like email marketing, social media marketing is a perfect way to nurture your existing audience, but it is also a great way to attract more potential buyers to your brand, especially for B2C and Direct-To-Consumer brands.
- Sales and Marketing alignment: A good B2B growth marketing agency will oversee inbound leads all the way to the sale. Your agency will know and understand every step of your sales process, and have suggestions to remove any bottlenecks in your funnel (this is what we do with all of our B2B clients!)
- Webinar hosting: Webinars are one of the most successful tools to nurture an audience that is somewhat familiar with the problems your company is solving and move them to either buy your product or enter a sales conversation.
- Video marketing: If an image is worth a thousand words, videos are worth a million. Videos enable businesses to communicate their message more clearly and make them more accessible. It is also a growing ranking factor in SEO
- Digital advertising: Digital advertising refers to any type of advertising happening online and is a great way to meet your audience where they’re at. It includes paid search (most commonly Google Ads), paid social (including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, SnapChat, etc.), retargeting, display advertising and less commonly, media buying. (If you’d like more information about the difference between Paid Search and Paid Social, we wrote a blog about that!)
- Marketing automation: Some people think that marketing automation consists of scheduling emails in advance to save time. These people couldn’t be more wrong. Marketing automation, a core piece of growth marketing, including tracking and categorizing leads to report on KPIs, setting up automated bottom of the funnel campaigns based on engagement, and much, much, more! Lead scoring: Lead scoring, a vital facet of marketing automation, assigns numerical values to contacts based on engagement (website visits, content downloads, etc.), demographics (job titles, seniority, department in B2B, and gender, age, etc. in B2C), and firmographics (company size, industry).
- Conversion rate optimization (CRO) of website pages and content: CRO isn’t talked about enough, but it’s one of the most important pieces of growth marketing. Often based on session recording through tools like Hot Jar, Crazy Egg, or Lucky Orange, CRO consist of studying how visitors interact with your web pages and drive conversions by adding relevant content, offers, and credibility triggers on the page
How Do B2B Growth Marketing Agencies Measure Success?
Growth marketing agencies don’t just execute and drive results; they prove it. A fundament of growth marketing is measuring success to prove its ROI.
Good agencies will start by measuring early KPIs, including new revenue generated, new opportunities opened, and relevant conversion rates.
As their work continues, they’ll add more niche campaign- and channel-specific reporting dashboards so you can see how multi-channel efforts are performing over time.
Eventually, your marketing agency should have a robust array of reporting and analysis tools that make it easy to interpret campaign results.
Your agency should constantly update you on the progress of campaigns (at least 2-4 times per month) and make metrics readily available and understandable to you. You should be able to check dashboards and reports on your own to conduct your own analysis and prove ROI to the C-suite.
Some of the most common KPIs marketing agencies should be tracking are:
- Demo/Meeting Requests (in B2B)
- Opportunities & Win Rates (in B2B)
For more on measuring success, check out our “Set the Right KPIs” section.
Examples of Growth Marketing Agency Success
Looking for concrete proof that hiring a B2B growth marketing agency can help you hit all your KPIs and impact the bottom line? You can check out our growth marketing case studies, which are full of success stories about how companies in the B2B SaaS, healthcare, and e-commerce spaces drove revenue and achieved their growth marketing goals with the help of an agency.
III. How to Find the Right Growth Marketing Agency
That’s why you’re here! To find the right growth marketing agency, you have to know what you’re looking for and what they should do for you.
What goals do you want your agency to help you accomplish? What KPIs are you hoping to meet? What expectations should you have when it comes to agencies?
By asking the right questions and doing the right research, you’ll find the best growth agency that fits your needs in no time.
Here’s a list of practical steps you can take to find the growth marketing agency that fits your needs:
Practical Steps for Finding the Right Agency
- Determine what subset of marketing agency you’re looking for
- Ask your network AND go to Google to research
- Once you find an agency, go to their website. Their own marketing will reveal a lot
- Next, it’s about asking the potential agency the right questions:
- What KPIs do they usually report on?
- Will they need access to your sales team? (That’s a trick question. If they say no, you run!)
- Will they need access to sales data?
- What’s their longest-standing client, and what do they do for that client?
- What makes them different and better than other agencies? (If they say “our people,” don’t accept that! What makes a good agency is the structure they have in place to deliver excellent results consistently across clients. The involvement of leadership in the success of each client also matters. Good people are a minimum expectation.)
- Who is going to be running your account? What’s their background? (Your salesperson might be great, but they also might not be the one running your account.) Ask to meet who this person is!
- Why do they do what they do? It’s a classic interview question for a reason. You want to hire people who care, because your account will get the attention it deserves.
- What's their typical process for developing growth strategies that contribute to both short-term and long-term growth?
IV. What to Ask of Your Growth Marketing Agency
To make sure you’re on the same page as your growth marketing agency, start by setting minimum expectations. Any marketing agency you work with should be offering a minimum. If an agency can’t give you the time and energy your projects need, then keep looking! Take a look at this handy checklist to see what you should be getting out of your agency:
- A senior point of contact (POC): Although you likely won’t communicate with this person daily, you should have access to a higher-up in the agency in case there’s a more serious concern. You want a captain on the ship, someone who can lead the strategy on your account.
- A day-to-day POC: This is your point person, who you can shoot an email or message to and get back a response within the day.
- A regular project management meeting: periodic meetings will not only help you get to know your agency but will also ensure that you’re aware of any important updates and questions on various projects.
- Regular goals & KPIs review: goals and KPIs are the backbones of any successful lead generation campaign, and they have the tendency to change. Make sure your agency is setting the right ones for you, not them.
- Clear channels of communication: your agency should establish from the get-go how to best contact them and how quickly they respond so you never have to wonder how to get in touch. They should also provide a project dashboard, so you have full visibility on project timelines and progress.
V. Ensuring Long-Term Success with Your Growth Marketing Agency
Ready for a scary statistic? It’s not uncommon for agencies to have a 40% churn rate. That means the likelihood of you firing your agency this year is VERY high. This has multiple downsides:
- You’ll have to justify firing the agency. If you’re the one who hired them, it might not look all that good.
- You’ll have to find and ramp up a new agency. That means a lot of wasted time.
- Worst case scenario, you keep an agency that’s not performing because you don’t want to deal with onboarding a new one. That’s not a solution! At some point, someone will realize that the company is sinking money into something that doesn’t work.
How can you avoid this nightmarish scenario? It starts with hiring the right agency (see above), and the next critical step is setting the right framework to work with your agency, and here’s how:
A) Set the Right KPIs
Undoubtedly, setting the right key performance indicators (KPIs) is one of the most important steps you can take to optimize the ROI of your engagement with your growth marketing agency.
Want to get results, reach goals, and advance your career? The right KPIs will get you there. What do we mean by “the right KPIs”?
That means paying attention to what actually matters, like revenue and discovery calls. Remember that leads, clicks, and impressions won't necessarily help with growth if they’re not going anywhere.
Full-service marketing agencies can help with this, as they’re better positioned to impact critical bottom-of-the-funnel metrics because they have more channels at their disposal. They can test out more than one channel and recommend the one(s) that works best.
Full-service agencies won’t be shy about reporting poor performance on one channel because they can recommend alternative channels. That’s a bit trickier for a specialized agency. For example, let’s say you have an emerging market with really low search volumes, but you hired a specialized SEO agency.
Naturally, they’ll want to do everything they can to keep you spending money and resources on SEO, rather than killing that channel and recommending that you invest in something with more immediate returns instead. This is something to keep an eye on.
Whether you’re using a specialized or full-service agency, without a clear understanding of your goals and KPIs, your agency is set to miss the mark. Setting smart KPIs from the outset is critical for you and your agency to succeed.
If you’re looking for some good KPIs to start with, here are a few:
Great KPIs to Start With
- New revenue generated
- New opportunities opened
- The RIGHT KIND of conversion rates (meaning conversions that bring qualified, sales-ready leads)
1) KPIs Red Flags
- Your agency reports on “leads” and not on discovery calls booked, opportunities created, or revenue generated/influenced.
- Your agency doesn’t regularly meet with leadership and show impact on revenue.
2) How to fix it
- Give your agency access to bottom line data. This will help them see the return on investment (ROI) of prior campaigns and understand how they should be making an impact. If this is not something that is available to you, consider investing in a tool like HubSpot, which can cleanly lay out reports and data.
B) Set Clear Priorities
When it comes to running a successful business, prioritization is everything. That also applies to how you interact with your agency.
Something your marketing agency will likely never outright talk about, but it’s a given: you’re one of many clients. Your agency has a certain number of hours and resources dedicated to your account.
In the long run, if you ask for too much or try to widen the scope of work to impossible lengths, the work itself will suffer.
If you don’t set priorities, your marketers might end up working on things that don’t have as much impact on your goals, which will only hurt you. If your agency doesn’t clearly help you reach your company’s goals, your budget might be cut or, at the very least, it’ll be a poor reflection of you. Having the right priorities will prevent that.
Luckily, a good marketing agency will be able to help you prioritize. Their experience and their knowledge and understanding of your company, industry and goals will enable them to make recommendations about what will have the most impact on your growth. They will also alert you about competing priorities and will be transparent about timelines, expected project completion, and expected impact.
1) Red Flags
- Your agency doesn’t help you prioritize projects and has no opinion about what should be done first.
- Your agency can’t back up recommendations for project orders and timelines with a logical argument.
- Your agency doesn’t work on your top priorities first.
2) How to fix it
- These red flags are tricky, and there’s no simple fix.
- The best thing you can do is have an open conversation with your account manager. Give them specific examples of how they’re not helping prioritize or respecting your priorities.
- If the problem persists, this particular agency might not be the right one for you.
C) Streamline Communications
You’ve heard it before: Communication is key. There are lots of ways to streamline communications with your agency, and a big one is meeting preparation. If you’re working with a full-service marketing agency, they probably do a whole lot for you, so you’ll want to cover a lot during your meetings.
By coming to meetings prepared with what you want to address on your side and a clear idea of the outcome you’ll want from the meeting, both you and your agency will accomplish more.
As for your agency, they should come in with a clear agenda with specific topics they want to cover with you. They should send the agenda in advance of the meeting so you can be fully prepared.
Providing Feedback 101
Another way to ensure helpful and consistent communication is through providing feedback and using email wisely. Anything that your agency produces for you is likely going to require rounds of feedback and edits – that's just a fact!
Your agency team likely works for 4 to 10 different clients at any given time. For iterations to happen quickly, it’s best to centralize feedback and send it in writing. That means making sure to gather all internal feedback before passing it on to your growth agency.
Here are some other helpful feedback tips that will increase speed and efficiency for you and your marketing agency:
- When possible, you should provide feedback on a document rather than in an email.
- For content and copy, ask your agency for a Word or Google Doc so you can easily provide comments and leave suggestions.
- For design elements, ask for something like an Invision doc so that it’s simple for you to provide feedback on specific visual elements.
- Keyword research should come in the form of an Excel or Google sheet so that you can comment on specific keywords based on search volume, position, and more.
- For ads, bullet points usually work best.
- For reports, using a reporting tool such as HubSpot Dashboard or a shared PowerPoint is best as you can provide feedback or ask specific questions directly on the report.
- Giving feedback in meetings is great for communicating general and high-level ideas. Still, anything related to positioning or smaller details might be more easily conveyed in writing using bullet points.
Of course, emails are still okay. But always make sure you CC the entire team that works with you and keep feedback centralized in a specific email to avoid confusion!
C1) Red Flags
- You don’t have regular meetings with your agency.
- Your growth agency doesn’t come prepared with an agenda.
- Your growth agency doesn’t regularly propose new ideas that will help them achieve your goals.
- You don’t have a dedicated point of contact at your agency and have to communicate separately with each specialist. This probably indicates that they do not have anyone on staff that has a great grasp on your account.
- There is no senior staff member on your agency team and issues don’t get escalated appropriately.
- Your growth agency takes several days to reply to your emails.
- You don’t know what your agency is working on or when projects will be delivered.
- You don’t know what’s required of your internal team to complete projects.
C2) How to fix them
- Ask for a regular meeting with your agency.
- Ask your agency to come prepared with an agenda.
- Get in touch with the agency leadership to ask for a senior team member oversight on your account.
- Require responsiveness.
- Ask for a project dashboard, like ClickUp, that’ll give you an overview of project tasks and timelines.
- Ask for centralized lists of to-dos, and recap of meetings in writing.
After all that, you’ve got everything you need to find the right agency for you, work with them in harmony, and set the strongest KPIs possible. Picking your growth marketing agency should be a breeze.
And by the way, if you want a full-service marketing agency that will check every box on your list and create growth strategies that will help you drive revenue through every channel, you found it! Book a call with our experts and business will be booming in no time.