When considering digital marketing firms, get to know them.
Strategizing and executing Internet marketing campaigns require specialized expertise and hours of effort. Unless your company has the knowledge, skills, tools and time to handle all of your digital marketing efforts, you’ll need the assistance of a digital marketing firm.
But how can you know whether you’re entering into a relationship with a partner who is not only capable of helping you reach your goals, but also a good fit with your company culture?
Both components are essential because:
You want to work with a firm that's adept at increasing traffic to your website and converting that traffic into leads and sales.
You want to choose a firm with which your team feels in sync. Experiencing a contentious relationship with your chosen Internet marketing company will drain your patience, deplete morale and delay — possibly even prevent — getting the best possible results.
When considering digital marketing firms, get to know them. Peruse their websites and look at their reviews to get a sense of what they can do and how well they have done it for other clients.
Also, ask them some direct questions to get the information you need for making an enlightened decision.
10 Questions to Ask Internet Marketing Agencies
1. What strategies will you use to improve our website’s visibility on Google?
In any SEO tactics that the agency uses, you’ll want to make sure they follow Google’s webmaster guidelines. If they don’t, they could provoke Google to impose penalties on your website. Also, find out what blogging strategies they use. This includes your business’s blog and any outreach protocols they’ve built that can facilitate getting your content published on other outlets relevant to your industry. Another critical point to cover is what blend of organic and paid strategies (such as PPC and paid search) do they use for improving SERP ranking and converting traffic to qualified leads and sales.
2. What is your collaborative process?
Ask them who you will be working with on a regular basis and how often you can expect to talk with them. Will there be one point of contact for your account, or will you find yourself directed to whoever happens to be available at any given time?
3. What experience and credentials does your team have?
Request information about their team members’ professional backgrounds and accreditations. For example, do they have employees on staff who have Google AdWords or Google Analytics certification?
4. How much do you know about my industry and type of business?
Digital marketing for B2C and B2B often demands different techniques and platforms. Likewise, how to best reach and engage target customers within different industries will vary. Marketing campaigns for products versus services require unique attention, as well. An agency that has experience in working with businesses similar to yours may have an edge in getting the results for which you're looking.
5. How long will it take before we see results from SEO?
It may require months, upward to a year, to begin seeing notable changes. If an Internet marketing firm says you can expect to see your site on the first page of Google in two weeks, run — don't walk — away from them. Promises like that will not only go unfulfilled, but they could also result in Google penalizing your website if your firm uses unscrupulous tactics to try to game the system. Why work with an agency that hurts your search engine ranking rather than helps it?
6. What information will you need from us?
To do its job effectively, an Internet marketing agency will need you to contribute information about the industry you operate in, your brand, your customers, your target audience, your products and services, and your expectations and goals.
7. What will our responsibilities be in executing campaigns?
What a digital marketing firm does and what you need to do will depend upon the breadth of services the agency provides, what you’re capable of handling in-house and what you’re willing to pay.
Will you or the Internet marketing company be responsible for:
Writing rough drafts
Publishing posts to your blog
Finding images to accompany blog posts and social media content
Monitoring and replying to comments on your blog
Monitoring and replying to comments and messages on social media
8. How will you track the success of our Internet marketing campaigns?
Ask the agency about the tools and metrics it will use to measure how well your marketing campaigns are performing. This should go beyond reporting on your number of website visitors, social media followers, social shares and likes, etc. Vanity metrics such as those rarely paint an accurate picture of a digital marketing strategy's effectiveness.
9. Can you show us some samples of your work?
For whatever services you intend to hire the agency, ask to see examples of what it has done — for example, website design, blog content, white papers, social media copy, email marketing copy, and so forth.
10. Can you share case studies relevant to our industry or type of business?
Also, ask if the firm can provide case studies or customer success stories that demonstrate how its strategies and tactics have helped its clients with businesses similar to yours improve their digital presence and increase sales.
“Good questions outrank easy answers.” — Paul Samuelson
These questions are a select handful of the many you might want to pose to agencies. As you embark on your research, think carefully about what you want to accomplish and the characteristics you want to find in a firm. When you entrust your brand’s online success to an Internet marketing company, you should feel wholly confident that you’ve made the right choice.
Author bio: Dawn Mentzer is a contributing writer for Straight North, an SEO, Chicago based agency. As a solopreneur and freelance writer, she specializes in marketing content — and collaborates with clients nationally and globally.