How to Choose a Great Online Marketing Company

How to Choose a Great Online Marketing Company

How To Choose a Great Online Marketing Company

No matter if you are new to the world of digital advertising and SEO or an experienced veteran, we are going to help you figure out how to choose a great online marketing company. If you are looking to grow your business by being found more often and converting more of the people who find you into customers, choosing a great online marketing company is the best way to do so.

We aren’t going to bore you with the obvious things you should do, such as:

  1. Google things like “choosing a great online marketing company” and read as much as you can
  2. Read reviews on marketing companies that look interesting
  3. Look at marketing company websites to get an idea of the services they offer and what the company is about

We understand that these things are obvious. What you might not know is there are more advanced and more important ways to find a digital marketing agency made of gold. The information we are going to discuss goes way deeper. We are going to dive into the nitty gritty of what really MUST be done if you are to weed out the fools good and find the company that is going to take your business to the next level.

Why the Treasure Hunt?

What should a top online marketing company do for you? An online marketing company’s primary job is to help their clients get more customers by increasing their presence and quality on the internet. That means, but is not limited to, making sure their customers will show up on the first page of search engine results and converting into potential customers as often as possible. If an online marketing agency truly helps your business, it will result in more visits to your website, more website visitors filling out your contact forms, and more phone calls from new customers. Whether this is done with SEO (search engine optimization), Local SEO (seo for specific narrow locations), PPC (pay per click advertising), or Website Optimization, or some combination,  a great online marketing company will know what to do, and when to do it. They will do their homework and perform keyword and competitor research before doing anything else. Most importantly, they will prioritize their tasks based on strategy that is formed out of their research and experience.

Digging deep to find the gold

It can be easy to fall into the trap of just going with the first “likely” company you run across. But that’s not going to get you the best results in the long run. Don’t treat this process as an inconvenience. Finding a great online marketing company could be the best thing that ever happens to your business. But there’s a deeper secret about this treasure hunt you’re beginning as you look for the right marketing team. And that is that the treasure isn’t just getting the right marketing company, it is also reaching more customers. You want a marketing team that can demonstrate they are delivering you more new customers on a regular basis. This will justify the investment you make with them.

Doing your homework while looking for a great online marketing company might take a lot of effort, but the right choice will pay off. Not only can you expect better and more consistent results, you will avoid costly mistakes that will result in lost time and money. Don’t settle for the first company that looks “okay.” You want a company that has an excellent track record of helping their customers. Doing some digging is going to be necessary. While you are on the hunt for your golden online marketing agency, take notes. Jot down things you like and don’t like about each company. If you speak with people at the company, remember to include notes on how kind they were, how well they listened, and how professional they were. Its important to like, respect and feel understood by the people you regularly work with.

Identifying a digital marketing agency’s services

The first thing you need to figure out is what services a potential company offer. There are seven basic types of services that a digital marketing company can offer. They are:

  1. Branding – ensuring your company has a distinct brand presence.
  2. Content Marketing – presenting information written specifically for your target customers.
  3. SEO – getting your company found in the search engines
  4. PPC – paid advertising such as Google Ads and Facebook ads.
  5. CRO – optimizing websites and other sales methods to increase their effectiveness
  6. Local SEO – getting companies found in the local search results, or maps listings
  7. Website design – creating a great centerpiece and hub for your online world

You may not need all of the services a great online marketing company offers. Its best to let them decide what type of online marketing will work best for your company. That is one of the things you pay them for. In fact, perhaps the most important thing that a great digital marketing agency will do for your company is prioritize. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of things that can be done to help your company succeed online. But which thing is going to be deliver the best return on investment? A great online marketing firm will know what to do, and in what order to do it.

For example, lets say your website needs an overhaul and your search engine rankings need improvement. A great online marketing company may not worry about your website at first. Why? Because what does the condition of your website matter if nobody is finding it? Wouldnt it make more sense to work on rankings first? Of course it would. Especially since search engine optimization takes time to do, and to take effect. So a great digital agency would probably get a jump on the SEO or Local SEO for your company, and after a few months get started on improving your website.

Reviews Do Matter

We are not going to get into this topic too deeply. It is worth an entire new article dedicated to that topic. But here is a quick summary:

  1. Choose a company that has at least a dozen reviews. Too few reviews may mean they do not have much experience or good enough customer relations.
  2. Choose a company that has reviews in multiple places. Yelp,  Google, Yahoo, Facebook are just some of the places that people normally write reviews.
  3. If possible, choose a company that has at least one bad review. This may sound illogical, but there are good reasons for this.

Be careful of companies that have dozens or hundreds of reviews, and not one of them is negative. While it is possible that a great online marketing company has a perfect track record, it is unlikely. Nobody is perfect and companies make mistakes. Not to mention that there is a huge problem with companies buying fake reviews online. Google is particularly bad at spotting fake reviews.

Go back to those reviews you found about the prospective companies you are considering. Take note of the qualities past customers praise, as well as any negatives that get mentioned. Don’t let the negatives totally over-rule the prospect: you don’t know (yet) what might lie behind them. But pay attention to what the complaint is about.

One of the best ways to find out how good the customer service is at a particular online marketing company is to look for bad reviews and study the responses from the business owner or manager. If they are defensive, argumentative or otherwise less than professional, it is probably a good idea to steer your ship clear of the scoundrels.

Counting the loot – talking to their current customers

You’ve done some preliminary research on your best prospects and now its time to contact them and start asking some important questions. Stay on top of the discussion, and don’t get swept up in their salesmanship. Begin by asking them for references for current customers and their contact information. Any good marketing company should be proud to have you call their references. If they are truly great at what they do, their customers will be happy to tell you. When you call their references, be respectful of their time and make it short. Simply ask them three questions:

  1. How long have you worked with them?
  2. Are you happy with the results they have delivered for your company?
  3. Would you recommend them?

These three questions will tell you most of what you need to know and take about a minute of the reference’s time.

Divining the real treasure – reviewing their reporting and research

A great online marketing company has clear, detailed, and accurate reporting. One of the best ways to evaluate the quality of their work is to ask them for samples of specific reports. These include:

  1. Monthly campaign progress reports – this should include information on website traffic, search engine rankings, and list all tasks performed on a line-item basis
  2. Keyword research report – most online marketing campaigns should start with professional keyword research. They should have samples of their keyword research readily available.
  3. Competitor analysis report – SEO and online marketing strategy should always be based on what is working for the top competitors.
  4. Call and form-tracking report – great online marketing and SEO companies track leads, not just traffic and rankings

Review the copies of the reports they send you. These reports can be tough to understand. If you are interested and considering hiring a great online marketing company that stands out, set up a phone call to discuss the reports they send you. They should be happy to answer any questions you have.

Unpacking the treasure chest – evaluating their case studies and portfolio

Most great online marketing companies have an entire online marketing portfolio page dedicated to their case studies. Spend some time reviewing these case studies. They may be hard to understand, but you will get an idea of the quality of their work. Just the fact that they put their work right out in the open says quite a bit about their transparency. You may or may not like the work they performed. But at least their case studies have helped you make an informed decision about whether to hire them.

A good portfolio or case studies page should demonstrate before and after screenshots of their website designs and overhauls. They should also demonstrate the before and after of their traffic, rankings, and phone calls and form fills where applicable.

Cashing in the jewels – setting your expectations and discussing your goals

Once you have found a great online marketing company, you can open the treasure chest of possibilities. You can discuss your expectations and specific goals, preferred communications methods, and talk about timelines and KPIs (key performance indicators). You can also discuss your dreams and fantasies. There may be things you have always wanted to do for your business and website, but haven’t been able to manage yet. For example, you may wish to expand your service range, or go from a local company to a national brand. A great online marketing company can help you achieve your goals and reach your dreams.

You and your team may also wish to be more of a part of the online marketing efforts. Discussing this desire right from the start is the best time to present it to your new online marketing company. Making your online marketing a cooperative effort may help keep the efforts of the marketers and your team fresh,energetic and always on-point.

It is important that you stay engaged with the company you chose. Make sure to have regular monthly meetings to discuss progress and strategies. There are many online marketing companies that put on a great “dog and pony show” to get you to sign up. But once they have your money, they often “disappear” or become lazy. So stay on top of them so that you know what steps they are regularly taking on your company’s behalf.

Its also important to understand that you and your team have an important role to play in your online success. You need to deliver outstanding products and services for your customers, and make a big-time effort to get as many great reviews as possible and post to your social media on a regular basis. These are two of the things that even the best online marketing company cannot do as well as you. Success online really is a team effort.

Keeping the ship afloat – staying up to date on the latest online marketing techniques

Building your online presence is not a “one and done” activity. As online searching changes and technology advances, you need to work with marketers who are experts at understanding the way people search, use websites and make purchase decisions.  An engaging and lively internet presence combined with plenty of top search engine rankings and a healthy and active website is a treasure you want to protect and grow. To achieve that end, you need to discover the treasured business asset of the very best online marketing company.

A great online marketing company will stay on top of changes in online marketing. The way that people search for products and services are changing every day. With the growth of voice responsive devices and applications like Siri, Google Home, and Alexa, the way that people get information will change even more in the coming years. Its important for you and your team, as well as your digital marketing agency, to make sure that you continue to educate yourselves. This will ensure that you have a healthy online presence that will continue to land you new customers for years to come.

Robert Portillo, founder of Nimbus Marketing, and his family.

About the author:

Robert Portillo is the founder of Nimbus Marketing. Nothing satisfies him more than expressing his thoughts well. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons. He can often be found at local farmer’s markets, hiking trails, and the beach.

How To Turn Your Google Accounts Into Fort Knox

Online services become more important to everyday life with each passing day.  Your email accounts are the keys to all your online kingdoms. Your Facebook page, Twitter stream, and even your bank are all registered using one or more of your email accounts. If you’re selling goods or services, email is often the most important avenue for your online marketing strategies. It’s common for the average email user to use the same password across most or all their accounts to make them easier to manage. However, using the same password on multiple accounts can set you up for disaster.

Gmail is one of the most popular email providers in the world. Because Google uses the same login information for all their services, keeping your Gmail account safe is vital for internet security. If you’re using Gmail and associated Alphabet accounts for your business or personal email, use these handy tips to secure them properly.

Check Connected Apps and Sites

It’s convenient to connect various applications, websites, and cloud services to your Google account. It makes it easier to log in, and easier to collect important information in one place. However, having many connected accounts increases the amount of damage that can result from a security breach. The first step on your path to a truly secure Google account is to review all your accounts on the Connected Apps page.  Be sure to remove any services you don’t use anymore. This will limit login access to your account, and that will lower your security risk.

Look at Device Activity

You probably use multiple devices to work on your various Google accounts. This is especially true if you use your email account for your online marketing strategies. Visit Recently Used Devices. From this page, you can view a list of all the computers and mobile devices that have access to your account. It’s smart to revoke permissions from any device that you don’t use for your account anymore. In addition to reviewing and managing access to your account, the Recently Used Devices page also lets you choose when and how you get email and text alerts for suspicious activity.

Use Two Factor Authentication

Two Factor Authentication is the best way to secure your Google accounts. When you use two factor authentication, you make a fundamental change to the way your account is secured. You still use your regular password, but Google also archives a second identifier like your mobile phone number. A mobile phone number allows Google to send you a PIN that verifies a second layer of login security on your account. This is very helpful if you travel often, and need to log on to your accounts from different devices in faraway places. On your everyday computer, logging in and out of your Google account still will only require your password.

Use Passphrases Instead of Passwords

Passwords strategies are as numerous as passwords. Everyone, whether an expert or a novice at computer security, has a favorite method for writing and remembering passwords. The most common method is to mix up numbers, letters and symbols, and to use both upper and lower case letters. Complex passwords made from random letters, numbers, and symbols are much harder for hackers to crack, but they’re no good if you can’t keep track of them. Instead of using a single, convoluted password, try using a passphrase. Passwords like “S3l3ct10n” are more difficult to remember than “My Glasses Have 2 Tinted Lenses!” Any password that contains dictionary words is less secure than a purely random set of characters. However, a long passphrase is more secure than a short string of random characters, and easier to remember.

Use a Password Manager

If you have too many passwords to remember easily, try a password manager like LastPass, Dashlane, or Zoho Vault. These services plug in to your browser, and they automatically fill in usernames and passwords across all of your sites. These services are invaluable for online marketing strategies where your usernames and passwords can really stack up. Each of these services offers a free plan, and they’ll work on almost any browser, so you’re sure to find one that works for you.

Your connected Google accounts contain a treasure trove of valuable information. Hacker understand that access to your email account can mean access to all your accounts. Smart password management on your email account is the first step to make all your accounts as secure as Fort Knox. Luckily, with many different security features available, securing your account is easier than ever before.

Planning & Budget: The Keys to Effective SEO

There are many considerations one must take into account when deciding to hire an SEO marketing firm and start an SEO campaign. But foremost among those considerations are two very important points.

First, have a plan. And second, have a budget!

Without those two foundations in place, you are more likely to waste time and money than you are to reap the benefits of a top-notch SEO campaign.

Effective SEO takes time

Start with understanding that SEO is a long-term strategy. A good rule of thumb is that it will take four to six months to start seeing results, and six months to a year for those results to become substantial. The reason is, the first month there is generally a lot of discovery, auditing, and planning taking place, and not much implementation. The second-month implementation begins, but it takes time for search engines to recognize the changes, so virtually nothing happens to results until the tail end of the second month.

When results start appearing in the third and fourth months, they’re going to be minimal. By the sixth month, things should be starting to move along nicely, but it will likely be closer to 12 months before the real payoff starts. It’s in the second year that you will harvest your investment.

The other truth you need to understand is that good SEO is not cheap. The old saw, “You get what you pay for” is never truer than when applied to your SEO budget. Depending on how much you want your SEO firm to do, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $5000 a month, or more. Some companies have budgets in the tens of thousands of dollars for SEO, but if you are serious, you should be prepared for a minimum of a 12-month startup with a cost ranging from a low of $6,000 to as much as $60,000. And beware of those who will tell you they can produce results quickly and for less money. The truth is, good SEO takes time, and a mindset that is looking for instant results will not serve you well.

Given those basic truths and with an understanding of them, you can start to prepare your budget. The first thing you need to do is decide on which metric you will pursue. What are you going to measure and why? One of the best places to focus is on your traffic – how many unique visitors make their way to your website. This metric generally converts to leads, new and increased sales, and several other types of asset conversion.

Set your goals

Next, set a goal for your SEO campaign. What kind of increase do you want to see? Are you looking for increased sales? If so, how much of an increase are you looking to make over the next 12 months? It is up to you to determine what success looks like to you! And once you have that goal, decide just how much hitting your goal would be worth to you? Then, go one better and decide how much a larger increase, say as much as 50 percent growth, would be worth it. Given those two perspectives, you are then ready to start working out a specific budget. Knowing what hitting your goal is worth to you and your company helps put your SEO budget into a fine perspective and allows you to see beyond that initial investment to the bigger picture.

Remember, SEO is a highly cost-effective strategy for long term success, but only when you enter into it with eyes wide open and the right foundation in place. If you take the time to make a comprehensive SEO plan, what your competition is doing, SEO-wise, won’t matter nearly as much from your position as the leader in your field.