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:
- Google things like “choosing a great online marketing company” and read as much as you can
- Read reviews on marketing companies that look interesting
- 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:
- Branding – ensuring your company has a distinct brand presence.
- Content Marketing – presenting information written specifically for your target customers.
- SEO – getting your company found in the search engines
- PPC – paid advertising such as Google Ads and Facebook ads.
- CRO – optimizing websites and other sales methods to increase their effectiveness
- Local SEO – getting companies found in the local search results, or maps listings
- 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:
- 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.
- Choose a company that has reviews in multiple places. Yelp, Google, Yahoo, Facebook are just some of the places that people normally write reviews.
- 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:
- How long have you worked with them?
- Are you happy with the results they have delivered for your company?
- 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:
- Monthly campaign progress reports – this should include information on website traffic, search engine rankings, and list all tasks performed on a line-item basis
- Keyword research report – most online marketing campaigns should start with professional keyword research. They should have samples of their keyword research readily available.
- Competitor analysis report – SEO and online marketing strategy should always be based on what is working for the top competitors.
- 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.