Marketing Agencies We Admired in 2023
Born in the digital age, “Inbound Marketing” is nearing its 20th birthday. HubSpot Co-founder Brian Halligan coined the term in 2005 because the internet has forever changed buyers’ journeys.
As recently as 2008, influential marketers were using inbound marketing to describe drawing in customers instead of outbound mass marketing.
As recently as 2008, influential marketers were using inbound marketing to describe drawing in customers instead of outbound mass marketing.
In his article “Dawn of the Inbound Marketing Agency,” Paul Roetzer explained how wired PR firms, digital PR firms, and Internet PR firms will redefine the industry and give birth to a new category of agency — the inbound marketing agency.
While every inbound marketing agency is slightly different, they have one thing in common: a focus on helping businesses attract customers by creating helpful content. So, what do today’s inbound marketing agencies look like? And what work are they doing in the current marketing landscape? Let’s explore!
What do inbound marketing agencies do?
- PPC ads
- Content marketing
- Web design and development
- Case studies and use cases
- Social media marketing
- Podcast and video production
- Email marketing
- Marketing automation
- Online events
- Influencer marketing
Inbound marketing agencies help businesses position themselves as experts with helpful content that makes it easy for customers to find them.
By tailoring content to buyer needs, companies using inbound strategies can harness the power of the know-like-trust factor to generate sales over time.
Most inbound strategies fall under three main categories: attract, engage, and delight.
So, what strategies do inbound marketing agencies perform? It depends largely on the company and the audience and industries they serve. While not every agency offers the same services, here’s an outline of some top strategies used by today’s agencies.
While PPC ads may sound like an outbound strategy because they are hyper-targeted and typically based on specific search patterns or behaviors, they are an inbound strategy.
Many inbound marketing agencies recommend using them to drive traffic to free or low-cost resources and generate leads.
Content marketing is a cornerstone of inbound marketing strategies. It refers to creating a wide variety of content — video, audio, blog, and social media — that isn’t super promotional but delivers valuable information to attract potential customers and create interest in your products or services.
Some inbound marketing agencies also put other types of content — like case studies, use cases, and one-pagers — under the content marketing umbrella.
Web Design and Development
HubSpot’s CMS Hub makes it easy to build websites. However, top inbound marketing agencies also have design and development skills to push your new site over the top. Since your site is an important part of your inbound funnel, optimizing it for conversion is essential.
Case Studies and Use Cases
These types of content show results and illustrate the potential outcome or transformation your prospects may experience working with you. Where case studies refer to specific client projects, use cases speak to possible client outcomes.
Both goals are to build trust with potential customers so they speak up, saying, “I want that, too!”
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing isn’t just about pushing content out to customers. It’s also about engaging with them. The best digital marketing and inbound agencies help with strategies for generating leads through social media content, boosting conversions, and creating an excellent customer experience.
Because so many inbound marketing strategies rely on delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time, audience research and persona development are critical.
By getting granular about who your audience is, their problems, and how they view your solution, you can get insights into the type of content and messaging that will help them make buying decisions.
Podcast and Video Production
While audio and video content also fall under content marketing, many inbound marketing agencies consider them a separate service because they require different types of production than written content.
Due to their very nature, podcasts and videos help prospects build the know, like, and trust factor faster than written content alone, even if you’re repurposing your content.
Your email list is a potential goldmine for your business. While you don’t have 100% control over who opens or clicks, people have asked to be on your list, which means they want to hear from you.Your email list is a potential goldmine for your business. While you don’t have 100% control over who opens or clicks, people have asked to be on your list, which means they want to hear from you.
By using this opportunity to deliver helpful, relevant content to them, email marketing makes it easier to convert lookers into buyers.
Marketing automation is all about automating repetitive tasks and using audience segmentation to deliver highly personalized content to your audience.
Many inbound marketing agencies, including HubSpot partners, specialize in helping businesses with marketing automation, including email marketing, email drip sequences, lead scoring, SMS messaging, and CRM updates. With dozens of tools available, it’s all about finding the right software for your needs.
Virtual events are one of the most effective strategies for inbound marketing. Why? They give you a way to deliver value to clients or prospects while growing your email list at the same time.
Inbound marketing agencies can help you develop an event and nurture strategy to convert prospects and strengthen relationships with your growing customer base.
People have always bought things that other people like. It’s a no brainer when you think about it. We’re more likely to buy something a friend recommends than a random product. It’s why Oprah’s favorite things always sell out.
And influencer marketing keeps growing as Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms turn it into bigger business every year. Not every agency focuses on influencer marketing. However, some of today’s most successful agencies help their clients connect with influencers who can help their products go viral.
Wondering about chatbots? Anytime you go to a site that has automated messaging, you’re interacting with a chatbot. They’re smart programs that streamline customer communications and help you build relationships. So if you’ve tried to return a product on Amazon, contacted Zoom’s customer service, or used the little chat window to ask questions about a business, you’ve interacted with a chatbot.
Not all chatbots are equal, however. And that’s why it’s such a valuable strategy for inbound marketing agencies to offer and support. Done right, chatbots can help you create superfans.
Done wrong, it’s the pre-AI equivalent of jamming 0 on your phone’s keypad or shouting “representative” over and over at the robotic automated phone response.
16 Top Inbound Marketing Agencies
- Ready North
- SmartBug Media
- Media Junction
- Impulse Creative
- Lean Labs
- Stream Creative
- Hive Strategy
- New Breed
- Origin 63
- Highbrid Media
- Gravity Global
- Aptitude 8
Now that you know what inbound marketing looks like, you’re probably wondering about some inbound marketing agencies whose work we admire. Here are 17 that are doing great things!
1. Ready North
Initially founded in 2005 as PR 20/20, this inbound marketing agency was HubSpot’s first agency partner and the first to introduce Point Pricing. Founder Paul Roetzer, whose article we referenced above, recently launched a sister company, the Marketing AI Institute, with a mission of helping marketers use AI to gain a competitive advantage in their fields.
What we admire: Besides being a long-time HubSpot Partner, they’ve always pushed the envelope on what is possible. And with the new Marketing AI Institute, Roetzer and his team are clearly thought leaders in marketing.
11outof11 is an award-winning inbound agency out of Philadelphia. With Angela Pointon at the helm, they strive for an 11 out of 11 every time—also the agency’s name. It’s not just that they’re really good at marketing…
“What sets us apart is our insane project management capabilities. It’s one of those things clients don’t know to ask about, but if they’ve ever worked with an agency who is not focused on project management, they know it! Our clients appreciate our ability to plan ahead,” says Angela Pointon, president of 11outof11.
What we admire: Their name is brilliant, as is their approach to client management.
SmartBug is a growing agency named to the Inc. 5000 list seven years in a row. SmartBug is on the rise for a reason. They have dozens of case studies highlighting the massive results they help their clients get.
What we admire: Their whole vibe is fun, and they’ve been remote since before remote was cool.
With an impressive client roster, Media Junction is well-known for building gorgeous, highly functional sites for companies in the midmarket sector using HubSpot’s CMS Hub.
However, they’ve also worked with small businesses and enterprise organizations, building anything people need in HubSpot. Most importantly, everything they do, they do well, with incredible design and development capabilities, as shown on their recent website re-launch, as well as their portfolio.
“What sets Media Junction apart are our technical capabilities in HubSpot and our unrelenting dedication to being darn good humans,” says Dylan Wickliffe, vice president of growth at Media Junction.
What we admire: Everything about Media Junction screams competent, creative, and professional — and their website is at the next level.
Impulse Creative’s team calls itself wayfinders, helping companies prepare for their next growth phase by focusing on inbound results. Beyond that, they lean heavily into operations to help clients generate growth.
“As a services organization, we look at all the factors when helping our clients be successful. It’s never just a website, just a lead gen strategy, just a customer portal, or just a HubSpot implementation,” says Juli Durante, vice president of operations at the agency. “We want to know how each of these pieces fits within the strategic, operational whole.”
What we admire: Impulse’s operational focus sets them apart from their competition. However, we also love their thought leadership on generative AI, especially their pillars of disclosing, verifying, and informing so everyone can be successful.
6. Lean Labs
Their homepage makes a big promise — “Growth and profit, guaranteed.” At Lean Labs, it’s more than a promise. They have the stats and results to back it up, with case studies and testimonials that show how the magic happens.
What’s more, as the creators of Sprocket Rocket, Lean Labs is leading the charge to help companies build HubSpot websites without significant website design know-how.
What we admire: Lean Labs is bold and results-focused, and that stands out.
7. 9 Clouds
Businesses turn to 9 Clouds for help generating leads online while saving time and making the most of marketing dollars. What sets 9 Clouds apart is their focus on being a marketing ally, working with their clients’ teams. They help clients take advantage of upcoming trends, including voice search optimization, video growth, and a push toward quality content over high quantities.
“With so much content published every day, I think brands will focus on quality content published less often using more authentic storytelling and emphasizing who they are as a brand,” says Brittany Reith, marketing manager at 9 Clouds.
What we admire: Their focus on partnership and being an ally in their clients’ success.
Based in Milwaukee, WI, Stream Creative has made a name for itself as an exceptional inbound marketing agency for industrial and fire service manufacturing and cybersecurity.
Driven by data, processes, and growth while adding a dose of midwestern friendliness while specializing in all aspects of inbound marketing.
“We are real people who value a hard day’s work and collaborative relationships. We’re from the Midwest — it’s kind of our thing. Heck, even our shirts have blue collars. More than that, we’re creative thinkers and problem-solvers who make mixtapes about process, strategic writing, technology, and design trends,” says Jeff Coon, partner at Stream Creative.
What we admire: Yes, Stream Creative is no-nonsense and focuses on creating tailored strategies for customer needs, but they’re also real humans who are always looking ahead to upcoming trends.
Colorado-based Hive Strategy is about flawless execution in marketing to humans. They have an easy-to-use pricing calculator based on factors unique to each business, including size, goals, and priorities, so prospects can get an idea of what their retainer or marketing plan might cost and include.
With plenty of case studies available, it’s easy to see how their skillset translates into results. Plus, their branding is on point.
What we admire: In marketing, so many focus on the numbers (which is important), but we like Hive’s focus on helping organizations become more human.
10. New Breed
As an agency serving over 200 businesses with over 400 5-star customer reviews, New Breed is focused on inbound marketing for technology, consulting, and business services.
What we admire: New Breed brings operations, sales, and marketing together under a single roof.
Growgetter primarily focuses on helping clients turn up the heat with a focus on experience management, consumer insights, and customer experience.
With an eye to the future, Growgetter is paying close attention to the way the business world sees attribution modeling, especially as data privacy and cookie policies evolve, making it more critical for marketers to think out of the box in how they measure digital campaign success.
“We believe in using a data-driven approach to building efficient marketing engines that drive repeatable and measurable growth. This reliance on data allows us to experiment more and constantly unlock new growth opportunities,” says Jenn Mancusi, CEO and co-founder of Growgetter.io.
What we admire: Growgetter is thinking ahead of the curve with their experimentation and new ideas.
Pixated, a UK-based inbound agency, prides itself on being a performance marketing and web design specialist without all the agency fluff. Working with B2B and B2C companies, they serve diverse and eclectic clients, delivering high-quality digital experiences to enhance their brands and boost their ROIs from online channels.
“We are utterly performance-driven — with no time whatsoever for vanity metrics. We only take on clients we genuinely believe we can help and are in it for the long haul. And this philosophy works—because our clients trust us to deliver in the long term,” says Arham Khan, co-founder of Pixated.
What we admire: Pixated’s bold performance-driven approach and pricing means they have skin in the game.
13. Origin 63
Origin 63 specializes in HubSpot implementation and change management, primarily serving SaaS and manufacturing teams ready to consolidate their tech stack. In their experience, a successful HubSpot migration is 50% implementation and 50% adoption, so they’re on a mission to enable team adoption of their tailored HubSpot solutions.
“We are all talking about AI — HubSpot released half a dozen AI tools. But what agency owners need to be thinking about is not how their clients are going to use these tools, but how AI will help them to gain a competitive advantage,” says Samantha Anderson, CEO of Origin 63. “Moving forward, those who embrace AI in unique and innovative ways are going to build the space for their organization to do higher-level strategic work.”
What we admire: Origin 63’s devotion to ensuring operational excellence and adoption is critical for inbound marketing success.
14. Highbrid Media
Highbrid Media is a self-styled inbound marketing agency with a grassroots soul. With a focus on helping Highbrid climate change NGOs, higher education, and Goldman Sachs, 10,000 Small Business Graduates grow bigger and better businesses through a blend of CRM implementation, sales enablement, and customer training.
“We believe time is perhaps the most valuable resource on the planet, and our goal is to help HubSpot users preserve it. What sets us apart is we reclaim 30 minutes of time for each of our client’s users every week,” says Juan C. Perez, CEO of Highbrid Media.
What we admire: Highbrid Media is process-driven, focusing on helping people recover their most valuable resource — time.
15. Gravity Global
Formerly known as Mojo Media Labs — Gravity Global calls itself the world’s most awarded brand to demand marketing consultancy, having won 401 awards in 2022.
With a client list that reads as a who’s who of the Fortune 500, Gravity Global continues in Mojo Media’s impressive footsteps, with the ability to deliver fast setups and implementations, all while delivering results to clients.
What we admire: Gravity Global is doing big things for big companies, and we’re excited for their future.
16. Aptitude 8
It’s important to know that Aptitude 8 is not an inbound marketing agency because they focus exclusively on tech and implementation, not creative or marketing services.
A huge part of the conversation around inbound marketing should always relate to building a solid tech foundation and implementation. That’s why Aptitude 8 is a company we admire, even though they don’t focus at all on inbound marketing, and instead on optimizing CRM operations with HubSpot and AI.
What we admire: If your tech doesn’t work, your inbound marketing isn’t nearly as effective. And Aptitude 8 has a well-deserved reputation for making sure your CRM supports your efforts.
The Best Inbound Marketing Agencies Drive Growth
The bottom line is that inbound marketing agencies are essential for driving long-term growth, helping businesses create demand and inbound leads that make it easier to close sales. If you’re interested in exploring beyond the basics of inbound marketing, check out our guide to learn more.