4 Reasons You Should Never Sign A 1-Year Contract With An Inbound Marketing Agency

4 Reasons You Should Never Sign A 1-Year Contract With An Inbound Marketing Agency

You’ve done a considerable amount of research and found a team at an inbound marketing agency that seems to know what they’re doing. (The agency is even a certified HubSpot Partner!) They’ve told you it can take several months or more to see results from inbound marketing (and from what you’ve learned about inbound, they’re right), so they’ve drawn up a one-year contract for their services. Everything seems to be in order, so you’re ready to move forward with the agreement.

But wait just a minute.

While it seems like there are several elements in place here for a healthy relationship with this inbound marketing agency, there is one part of this scenario that should trip an alarm—the one-year contract.

The thing is, year-long contracts aren’t uncommon for agencies across the industry. But at Nectafy, we’re just not convinced signing a year-long agreement with an agency you’ve never worked with before is the way to go. And we have several substantial reasons for that. Make sure you take them into consideration before signing on the dotted line!

4 Reasons You Should Never Sign A 1-Year Contract With An Inbound Marketing Agency

Reason #1: “HubSpot Partner” doesn’t always mean “inbound marketing expert.” And if you find that out the hard way, a year is going to feel like a really long time.

You may have had some great conversations with an inbound agency’s team, but you can’t really begin to know their level of expertise until you start working with them—just because they have a HubSpot partnership certificate doesn’t mean they know how to do inbound marketing well.

Being a HubSpot Partner is something you should look for in the agency you choose—after all, an inbound marketing agency that doesn’t know or work closely with HubSpot can’t be one that is immersed in the industry! But don’t settle for just any HubSpot Partner.

While the Partner program process does require training and certification in inbound marketing, HubSpot’s software, and Partner Inbound Success, those certifications are fairly easy to obtain, and they’re just the beginning—they don’t prove that an agency has the experience or the resources it needs to be the best partner for you.

So how do you differentiate between HubSpot Partners and choose the right one for your organization? Check out this article to learn all the right questions to ask:

Read More: 48 Questions To Ask All Those Inbound Marketing Agencies That Talk The Same

Reason #2: Inbound expertise aside, committing to a year of a working relationship you’re unfamiliar with is a leap of faith.

Beyond the skills and talents of the marketing team you’re working with, you also have to take the working relationship into consideration. Whether they’re producing great results or not, if you don’t like the people you’re working with or the relationship side of things isn’t going well, you don’t want to be stuck in a year-long contract or worse—end up in a legal battle.

Signing any contract comes with risk, but it’s even more of a leap of faith to sign one for an entire year. And if you commit to the wrong people, that’s a year you’re wasting (when you could be working with another agency better suited for you).

Reason #3: Sometimes it does take a year to start seeing steady growth trends with inbound marketing, but that doesn’t mean your contract needs to reflect that.

Success in inbound marketing does take time. But in most cases, if an agency knows what it’s doing, a company will start to see steady traffic and lead growth by about six months in. (Even if you’re starting from scratch with a new website, a good inbound agency will be able to get you off the ground by then.)

You can get a good idea of an agency’s expertise after just three months. That’s why when we begin a relationship with a new client, we typically start with a three-month campaign—this includes one month of strategy work (keyword research, buyer personas, content planning, etc.) followed by two months of content creation and inbound implementation. This gets our clients off to a great start! Then, at the end of the three-month campaign, they get to decide whether or not they want to continue working with us.

While three months may not be much time to produce jaw-dropping results, here’s an example of what we’ve been able to do for a few of our clients in that time. The charts below show the organic visits to the clients’ sites over a three-month time span. In each case, this was just the beginning of the steady growth we’ve seen!

Client A

4 Reasons You Should Never Sign A 1-Year Contract With An Inbound Marketing Agency

Client B

4 Reasons You Should Never Sign A 1-Year Contract With An Inbound Marketing Agency

Client C

4 Reasons You Should Never Sign A 1-Year Contract With An Inbound Marketing Agency

We also documented our own inbound marketing journey (with HubSpot) for the first year. Check out what our results were after three months:

Read More: After 3 Months Of HubSpot, I’ve Had Enough

Reason #4: A year-long contract period doesn’t give an agency as much incentive to put their nose to the grindstone as a shorter contract period does.

We were able to generate the results above for our clients after just three months because we worked… hard. Whether it’s three, four, or six months, if the agency you’ve hired is on a shorter timeline, they have less time to prove their worth, which means they’re going to be pushing themselves to show you what they can do.

“So I should never, ever sign a one-year contract with an inbound agency?”

OK, OK… of course there’s an exception to every rule.

When it comes down to it, there’s one thing that surpasses any of the reasons listed above—trust. And once you’ve established that trust, it’s absolutely fine to sign a year-long contract with an agency! (In fact, we just signed a one-year contract with a company we’ve worked with for around 18 months now.)

The important thing is to make sure the agency is the partner you want with the expertise you need—and that they’ll work hard to generate the best possible results for you. If you don’t feel confident about those things yet, opt for the shorter contract so you can find out.

What do you think about year-long contracts for inbound services? Let me know in a comment! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
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  • Great post. We got rid of the one year agreement a long time ago. Best move ever. I may have missed it but you may also want to fire the client, and that’s a really good reason too. Business is earned every day on both sides, and if you find you don’t like each other, that’s ok. Usually the fear of selling or laziness prompts a false sense of security locking someone in for a year. While a one year agreement isn’t usually the way to go, establishing a one year budget should be mandatory even if you only have three months in a contract.

    • tiffanynectafy

      I agree, Joseph—one-year contracts aren’t really a great idea for either end! And that’s a great point about budgets, too. Thanks for reading!

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