There are a few things definitely worth considering when hiring an online marketing company– such as why you shouldn’t really be going with a company that presents a “one-size-fits-all” approach, and why you should want to hire one offering a wide range of custom SEO services and tailor-made strategies. To say that you should avoid the “one-size-fits-all” plan is something of an understatement.
6 Traits to Look for When Considering an Online Marketing Agency
Are you ready for a dynamic website redesign? Perhaps you’re first getting your feet wet in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing? At the very least, you need to be looking for a very specific kind of online marketing organization. Why do we say this…and what do we mean by it? Almost everyone today claims to be able to design a website; after all, there are endless opinions about the subject that can be found just by Googling “how to build a website”. However, there are a select few – and we know this from experience – that can create sites that not only look fantastic but are easy to use and boast a real, measurable impact on a revenue stream.
THAT’S the difference between build-at-home part-time website constructors and professional organizations such as Multiverse Media Group. Your website is your most valuable marketing asset in 2015 and moving forward, and as such it should be treated as if it’s your number one salesperson that connects with customers 24/7, 365 days a year. Want to make sure your marketing dollars are going to see a solid return? You need to hire a professional online marketing agency.
This is not always as easy as we’re probably making it sound, though – when looking to hire one of these companies, you should be seeking the following critical traits. If they pass this “test,” You can almost always trust that your marketing collateral is in good hands.
1. Are They “Results-Oriented”?
Any website can sit like the proverbial poster girl– that is, any website can easily be just another pretty face – but what it’s supposed to really do is answer potential customers’ questions, generate leads and help close sales. Period.
When evaluating and comparing online marketing agencies, you’re looking for the performance records behind these companies and what kinds of results they’ve produced for others. This is accomplished by:
- Reading through case studies
- Reading blogs for stories about past designs
- Contacting references to have a conversation over the phone or via email
Another mistake we often see when observing potential clients that are considering various agencies is that they don’t talk directly with them: During an initial meeting or phone call is the opportunity to ask the agency’s rep questions about past results, achievements and what they put in place to reach those goals. Asking for specific examples and certifiable stats is not out of place here, either; you can ask questions or use prompts such as:
- “Tell me about a successful lead generation campaign you were most proud of…”
- “What was the statistical increase in leads…five times? Seven times? Ten times?”
- “How many of these leads were converted to sales?”
It’s also vital to investigate how these organizations track and report results…so it would not be unusual for you to ask:
- “Do you use analytics platforms such as Google Analytics?”
- “Do you integrate CRM tools?”
- “What other software or tools are at your company’s disposal to track web results?”
- “What KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) do you track?”
- “How frequently do you send reports…and can I see what a sample report looks like?”
2. Are They “Transparent?”
When we speak of “transparency” in online marketing, we’re referring to the way in which the client has an honest, up-front relationship with the agency he or she is hiring. It is imperative to achieve this synergy with any company you’re going to work with right out of the gate – even before you engage their services, an online marketing firm should be nothing but upfront about the whole process. What exactly are they going to do for you? What strategies are going to be implemented? How exactly are they going to implement them? All the details you need or want should be provided for you from the get-go.
Four major elements should be considered when asking questions of the potential agency handling your marketing campaign:
What are the steps for each phase of the project? How do they handle communication between their account executives and clients? Will there exist an ongoing time commitment (i.e. phone calls for status updates, meetings et al)?
What members of the marketing team will be involved in this particular project? Do they possess the appropriate credentials?
Is all the work going to be performed in-house, and does the agency utilize freelancers? Do they partner with other vendors, such as photographers? And who are any of the other individuals who may be involved in the project? Do they, too, possess noteworthy credentials?
Because money certainly doesn’t grow on trees for you – or for most of us, for that matter – it is vital to understand how the project will be priced and billed; will there be additional costs such as for web hosting fees?
3. Do They Manage Their Time Effectively?
A project plan is a marketing executive’s best friend…and we know this, again, from sheer experience. With a clear timeline in place, the management of expectations, goals/deadlines to work towards and accountability of both client and online marketing team are realized. Consider:
- Asking for a project timeline and plan IN WRITING
- Asking a representative from the firm you’re working with how they handle “bumps in the road”…and how flexible their schedules are.
4. Do They Follow Their Own Advice?
This may sound a bit silly, but we can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen it happen with competitors’ services: Potential clients look to hire a marketing agency that’s dead-set on selling them social media marketing campaigns, yet according to their own profiles their Facebook page hasn’t been updated in six months and their last Tweet was from 2009. What are we trying to say here? If the firm’s own marketing leaves something to be desired, think about what they are actually delivering to clients…
Thus, we suggest examining the agency’s online presence and marketing initiatives by focusing on:
- Whether the company regularly updates their own website
- If the company maintains a blog or news section (you know we sure do at Multiverse!)
- If the agency’s “About Us” section reflects recent awards or new team members
- A “gut check” – does their website feel/look current and trustworthy?
- Whether or not they’re familiar with current trends and technologies (i.e. can they help you transform your website into a mobile-friendly online portal?)
- If they can tell you about their own experiences including internal marketing initiatives launched, results derived and how their business was impacted
5. Do They Enlighten and Empower You?
Because there exists a plethora of nuances to the web of Internet marketing (pun intended) in addition to the myths, misconceptions, data and jargon to sift through, it’s easy to understand why business owners get so frustrated…and why elements such as SEO sometimes end up getting a bad reputation. Indeed, when selecting an online marketing agency to work with, you want to definitely avoid what we call the “smoke and mirrors” approach – that is, you’re ideally looking for an agency that not only takes the time to explain concepts like vanity metrics, but also provides advice and guidance with regard to metrics your business should track instead.
Additionally, your marketing agency reps shouldn’t throw jargon at you while being vague when answering your questions…they should not inundate you with data, expecting you to sort through everything while drawing conclusions. This is what we mean by “they should enlighten and empower you”…your marketing company should be your teacher, trusted advisor and partners that deliver ideas TO YOU. Knowledge is power, so you want to work with an online marketing firm that enlightens and empowers you.
Discover if they:
- Explain technical references and other jargon
- Explain their own rationale when making recommendations
- Walk you through reports and data-rich statistics and explain what these numbers really mean
- Are available for “extra help;” are they accessible via phone or email?
- Give you cryptic answers…or provide thoughtful, detailed responses
6. Do They “Get You”?
The success of your online marketing project depends on your agency’s gaining a complete understanding of your business and its unique challenges and goals. Thus, you should never receive a “cookie cutter” style pitch or proposal; you must partner with an organization that is inquisitive and “gets in your head.”
To this end, try to get answers to these questions:
- Have the agency’s reps been asking to meet with you or arranging phone calls for more in-depth chats about your project’s needs?
- Do the reps you’re working with ask for your input? Do they simply push the agency’s agenda?
- Are the account execs focused on their own portfolios…or on your company’s objectives and goals (where they should be)?
- Do the reps make recommendations that seem tailored to your specific concerns?
- Is it beginning to feel as though your company’s name could be a stand in for ANY of the companies in your rep’s portfolio?
Some of the More Common SEO Services
We know something about Search Engine Optimization…so we’re confident when we say the right SEO campaign can produce LASTING RESULTS. From increased website traffic to generated sales and business growth, Search Engine Optimization is one of the most powerfully strategic approaches for sustained success. By implementing the most effective search engine marketing strategies, professional companies can improve the organic search engine rank of your business. Why is this important? So that leading search engines – think Google – display YOUR business on the FIRST PAGE of a query, reflecting valuable keywords and search terms.
We said it before, and we’ll keep saying it: Your online success is directly related to your online visibility today…irrespective of how powerful your message, product or service is. If no one can FIND you, how can you sustain and increase your online visibility? The bottom line here is, if your company isn’t ranking on the FIRST page of a search query, you’re losing leads, sales and profits.
On-page SEO refers to the optimization of elements on a website that impact search engine rankings, such as content, robot text, tags and internal link-building. Here are some of the more common SEO services marketing agencies offer today to make this magic possible:
- Reviewing and analyzing current web materials (blogs, social media activity etc.)
- Researching relevant keywords
- Creating web content that ranks
- Building backlinks
- Writing press releases
- Creating web 2.0 properties such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter
- Conducting local search marketing
- Delivering custom reporting
- Handling technical SEO approaches