Marketing is critical to any business that targets aggressive growth. There are many businesses that are often confused about finding the right marketing agency, so you are not alone. Even the seasoned ones (those who have used agencies before) are quite skeptical. And, they prefer to create their own checklists before choosing a good and compatible internet marketing agency. No internet marketing company is the same because there are no set rules apart from generating the right results. Having said that, marketing is a mix of too many spices and not everyone knows the right mix to bring out the exact flavour. There are a lot many factors that need to be considered before choosing one.
With more people looking at the digital space before they buy a product or a service, it has become critical that your business is omnipresent to catch the customer’s eye. Again internet marketing is not only about sales, it is also about branding and creating the right image. So, having a well-thought-out digital marketing strategy is very important to the success of your overall internet marketing efforts.
We will discuss why you should be choosing certain digital platforms [and why you should not, for others] and how you are going to market on them to maximise results.
Honestly, there are too many internet marketing agencies mushroomed because of the ever-increasing internet coverage and usage of devices to research and buy products or services online. The more the merrier, however, choosing the right one is the biggest challenge for businesses. Now let us look at a few pointers about the process of going about choosing the right internet marketing agency.
Expectations from the chosen internet marketing agency
As a marketer fishing for the right internet marketing agency, you need to create a clear list of expectations that you expect from the agency along with a process of how they could execute it. You can actually create one with the help of your internal marketing team and figure out what you can do in-house and what you need to outsource. Now that you know what to outsource, the task becomes easier. Of course, proper coordination of tasks should be planned beforehand with timelines and a proper schedule. However, keep that expectation list flexible.
A digital marketing agency should be vertically aligned and should be able to do the following tasks with relative expertise:
- Web development and design.
- Email marketing in detail with all things like segmentation included.
- Social media marketing – what works and what doesn’t on different platforms.
- Search engine optimization – the mother of all digital marketing practices, they should understand on-page as well as off-page factors including the technology that you use for your website.
- Search engine marketing including online advertising (AdWords, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, LinkedIn Ads and other forms of PPC).
- Content marketing – content development and blogging.
- Video marketing – creating and marketing short branded videos.
- Email marketing – running branded email campaigns to generate leads.
- Branding – to create long lasting brand value.
Of the above, what are the agency’s strengths and do they match your requirements is a critical question to ask, It is for you to choose which of the above are required for your marketing practices and which are not. So, evaluating an internet marketing agency is about matching requirements and strengths. Figuring out what you need and what you don’t need is important since they need to understand synergies that exist between all these processes.
All the processes, in-house or outsourced should have a singular focus of attracting relevant and quality traffic, improve brand awareness, giving out the same message relating to the mission and vision of your organisation and bring in leads that can convert them into customers. Last but not least, they should also target existing customers for up-sell, cross-sell or re-sell. All in-house and outsourced inbound strategies should focus on omnichannel marketing.
While choosing the right internet marketing agency, look for a long term relationship, even if they have often made mistakes or failed since changing agencies will affect your marketing adversely and you will have to start at the beginning again. That would be a loss of resources as well as traction built, however small it could be. This means, you have to choose your internet marketing agency wisely and with caution.
Always remember that creating a relationship and an understanding requirements take time, do give the internet marketing agency you choose a little time, probably a few weeks to get things working smoothly. And, when you choose wisely, the agency will give its best and that will be to your advantage. Passion and hard work are the hallmarks of any good agency and you should always look for those before anything else. Skills and technology can be acquired in a short time, but passion and hard work cannot be.
Once you shortlist your choice of internet marketing agencies say 5 of them, always do or let someone do a background search on the internet for them. Many will come with fantastic reviews, some with bad reviews and some with a mixed bag. There is a huge challenge here. Most reviews you find on the internet may be wrong or misleading.
It is important to use some genius to figure out the best ones, by adding facts or by checking how the reviewer is related to the agency and so on. This can be a very tedious process and it is worth spending time on. Google reviews, on the other hand, are normally quite transparent and dependable. Again, a word of caution, not everyone wins the battle every time, so an internet marketing agency with a bad review need not be bad as it is made out to be. Research and find out why they got that one, in particular. There are many ways to check these out.
It is also important to check the kind of work that the chosen internet marketing agency has done in the past, so most of them would have a portfolio section on their website. Please check those as well as case studies if available. This is the best way to assess the capabilities of the agency related to your needs.
Spy and try
Last, but not the least, try and find out agencies that your competitors are using and the results they are getting. I would not recommend using the same agency but you will get a fair idea of the kind of internet marketing agency you should use.
Now is the time to ask your chosen agencies for an RFP (Request for Purpose). This will give you more details of the agency you have chosen including their business background, ways of working, pricing, and any portfolios you may have missed. This should also come with target audiences, success rates, time-lines and many other details including terms and conditions they work with, contract and these will help you assess the agency better.
The above cover the elements involved in choosing the right internet marketing agency. In case you have questions, please feel to ask away on the comments below.