You have decided to grow your business through online advertising, but you don’t know where to start. So, you start looking for a digital marketing agency. Makes sense, right? Right. However, you don’t want just any digital marketing agency. Many say they are full-service, though they truly aren’t. Since these companies aren’t licensed and regulated, there are many fly-by-night companies that you don’t want to do business with. Here today, gone tomorrow. And your website just went with them. While certifications do exist for some of the specialties within a marketing agency, other specialties don’t have any certifications whatsoever. How do you choose an agency that will meet your needs?
While almost all digital marketing agencies do offer websites, you need to make sure that the website will meet your needs. Many use simple templates that you could have created yourself in 10 minutes, yet they are charging you a significant amount of money, either up front or in long term contracts. You want to make sure the agency can make the website that is right for your needs. Right now, most popular is a custom WordPress website. However, if you are a larger company, you will want a company that is able to hand-code a custom website. If you sell things online, you are going to want a company that does E-commerce websites. Make sure the company you not only the ability to make your current website but can make any website you may need going forward.
All companies say they utilize search engine optimization (commonly known as SEO.) But, do they really? This can be very difficult to assess from your standpoint. But there are a couple of questions you can ask:
1. How often is the SEO done? The answer should be continually. For the best results, your SEO expert not only keeps current in the latest algorithms (which are usually updated hundreds of times per year), but also continually optimizes for any changes, makes sure everything is up to date and more.
2. Do they offer third party reporting? Google offers many reports that help you know your marketing is working. There are many more third-party reporting sites that can give you more insights. While SEO does not elevate your rankings overnight, you should see a steady increase. If they only offer you their own reporting features, it is likely that they are cheating on the results. Even the initial report you get showing the problems in your website and rankings should be from a third party. If not, run.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is all the rage. And, for good reason. Who doesn’t spend a large chunk of time on Facebook these days? Most all digital companies offer “social media marketing.” However, many smaller digital marketing companies only offer canned content pushed out to your social media sites. While daily and more frequent social media marketing may be out of your price range (especially since these companies have decided to increase their earnings by making it so you need to pay for their marketing) it is well worth a look at an example of their social media marketing.
Ok, I’ll admit. I have a love/hate relationship with this topic. Spam has convinced most people to delete most emails that aren’t valuable to their needs. While there are many regulations in place to help decrease spam, those regulations won’t likely help you reach your customer. While your customers may subscribe to your newsletter, they quickly stop reading them and start deleting them. I trained in sales copy known as “drip” campaigns, however, these days most of those are ineffective. So, how do you have effective email marketing? There are still a couple of techniques I do believe in. Thank you and review emails can be effective to get reviews. Refer a friend emails, with an incentive to do so, can help you get referral business. A clearly labeled discount offer can be effective. But spamming your subscribers will just wind up with your customers deleting you, or worse, reporting you as spam and then you get blacklisted from winding up in your potential customers inbox.
PPC Ad management
While most digital marketing agencies offer PPC ad management, this is one specialty that does offer a couple of certifications. The most common is a Google Ad certification. There are multiple specialties for this certification. If you plan to use PPC ads, make sure you use a company that has a Google Ad certified specialist, and experience with other platforms such as Facebook. While those are the two most common, you may also consider PPC advertising on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Yelp, Home Advisor, Angie’s list and more.
There are some things to look for that most “full-service” digital agencies don’t offer. Some say they do, but don’t. However, these skillsets often save you money, and almost always improve your bottom line. Their results are well worth looking for in any agency you choose.
Almost all agencies offer a “project manager.” However, the best ones offer a marketing strategist. This specialist looks at your entire marketing campaign, both online and off. Unlike a project manager, a marketing strategist will ensure you have a cohesive marketing campaign and will help you evaluate which marketing strategies will potentially gain you leads, and which ones aren’t worth the money for your business and marketing goals.
Smaller digital marketing agencies often claim to offer original copywriting. Most don’t. Ask to see some of their blogs. Do they look stilted? Do they read well? An SEO copywriter, you can’t even tell it wasn’t written for search engine optimization. After all, what search engines are currently looking for is useful and relevant material. Make sure the agency you choose offers original copywriting. Likely this isn’t going to be cheap if done daily. Is it better daily? Of course. Though that may be cost prohibitive. Find out what packages are offered for this service, and how often they are offered. The results more than pay for themselves.
Choosing the best digital marketing agency isn’t always easy, but to help your bottom line, do your due diligence. Do check for one that can grow with your business, and that isn’t just out for greed.