In today’s time, a lot depends on the way you market your business on the digital platforms. That is because the era is about digitization and every business is benefitting the most from online marketing. Online marketing has proven to be beneficial for businesses as it not only provides a wider channel to communicate with the potential customers, but also enables entrepreneurs to market in a much cost-effective manner. This is possible when you have a well-planned marketing strategy. While you may feel that taking matters in your own hand is right, I would not recommend it. If you try to work out your online marketing strategy on your own, you may get some success. However, in the long run, you will find it difficult to keep the success consistent. Professional experience and understanding of the different concepts of online marketing is necessary to have a good online marketing strategy. Therefore, you need to hire a good experienced and knowledgeable marketing agency. So, how do you determine which agency is right for your business marketing. Well, here are some points to consider.
Decide Your Aim
It is understood that you have decided to hire a marketing agency. But are you sure why you want one? Simply deciding to hire a marketing agency without knowing what exactly you want from the agency is a mistake. Of course, marketing your business is the main aim on your mind, but that is not sufficient. You need to have a definite aim to get the best possible service from a marketing agency. So, sit down and plan what you want from the marketing agency.
If you are a business that provides professional services such as legal services or accounting services, you might be looking to increase your online presence on LinkedIn. Or you could just be looking for more leads through search engine optimization. Whether your goal is to increase your brand awareness or customer leads, there are various types of services provided by marketing agencies to achieve your goal. Social media marketing, email marketing, search engine optimization, etc. are the services that marketing agencies provide to enhance your brand visibility. Apart from these services, most marketing agencies also help out flourishing businesses create their own website and start online marketing from scratch. With so many options, decide what services you would want and keep that aim in mind before selecting a marketing agency for your business.
Choose a Marketing Service
The main aim of a marketing agency is to help their clients achieve their marketing goals by using different marketing strategies. We already touched a little upon the types of services you will find in a marketing agency. Let us have a closer look at the different services commonly offered by marketing agencies in detail.
Pay Per Click Advertising: Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising as the name suggests are online ads for which you pay only when an interested customer clicks on your ad. These ads are often placed on the top most section of the search engines based on the ad’s relevance to the corresponding search of an online user. These ads are created with the help of Google AdWords, Bing Ads, etc. The whole idea of using PPC ads is to grab the attention of a user when they are right in the middle of looking for a solution on the search engine. Apart from search engines, PPC ads are also found on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. A marketing agency will help you to craft the best possible PPC ad campaign so that you get increased leads.
Search Engine Optimization: Search engine optimization is the process of making your website and content rank high on the search engine result pages. Search engine optimization does not just stop at making your content and website rank high. It actually enhances your brand presence by making you a relevant source for an online user in need. A marketing agency ensures that your content is SEO-friendly, has correct keywords, proper linking and correct language to rank well on the SERPs.
Social Media Marketing: Social media marketing refers to the use of social media platforms to promote products and services. Social media marketing is an excellent strategy for businesses that are more customer service centric. Why? As social media enables you to directly communicate with your prospective and current customers. Social media marketing can not only be used for promoting and engaging customers but also providing after sale services.
Content Marketing: Content marketing is a comprehensive type of marketing. Apart from blog writing, content marketing also includes the creation of SEO-friendly content, social media content, and promoting them on the right platforms, and performance analysis. However, it is difficult for firms to focus on both content marketing and running their businesses simultaneously. So, hiring marketing agencies who provide these services can be a perfect solution for you.
Mobile Marketing: In today’s fast-paced world, people use mobile phones more than computers to search for products or services. And often these searches culminate in purchases. This is the reason why many businesses, especially B2C businesses, are using mobile marketing to market their brand. A marketing agency helps in mobile marketing by providing services such as SMS marketing,apps marketing, creating a mobile-friendly website, etc.
Email Marketing: Email marketing has been around even before other forms of marketing started. It works on the simple concept of making people subscribe to your emails. Email marketing can be used to not only send newsletters but also product brochures, inform about new arrivals, upcoming discounts, etc. A marketing agency can help enhance your email marketing efforts by aiding in list building, segmenting and optimizing the autoresponders.
These are some major marketing services that marketing agencies provide. Apart from these, they also work on optimizing your website, online reputation, business listings, etc. A majority of marketing agencies provide all the above mentioned services or at least a group of few. So, you should choose a company accordingly.
Things to Keep in Mind
Once you have determined why you need a marketing agency and what services will be best suited for your business, it’s time to give some thought on how you will go about selecting the right marketing agency for your business. There are various things to keep in mind when choosing the right marketing agency for your business. Some of them are:
Don’t Fall for the Size
When you are scouting for a marketing agency, the first thing you do is look for the largest agency situated in your city. This is because you assume that if the agency is large, it has better services. This is not true always. Often the large marketing agencies have a few good marketers leading a team full of inexperienced marketers. When you opt for a large agency, you might get assigned to one of these inexperienced junior marketers unless you are one of the highest paying clients. Also, if an agency has a few big clients with big names that are doing well, it is not necessary that the marketing agency is the reason to be credited. Sometimes when a brand is large and already has a certain presence in the eyes of the audience, it becomes easier to market for them without putting in much efforts.
Alternately, smaller marketing agencies have limited employees with a bunch of experienced marketers working together to provide uniform services to each client. This means that bigger agencies are not always the better one. You could get good services from a small agency as well.
Think from the SEO Perspective
If you are looking for a marketing firm to work on search engine optimization, then I would suggest that you start by doing a Google search. Simply look for a marketing agency and see what turns up on the search engine result pages. Analyze the different marketing agency that ranks high on the SERPs. An agency that ranks well is the one you should try to know more about. Why? Because if a company has good knowledge about search engine optimization, only then can it make its website rank well.
Now SEO is an important factor in creating a brand awareness for your business on a search engine. How this is achieved is equally important. A majority of marketing agencies give utmost importance to SEO and try their best to get their client a good rank on the search engine result pages. For this, they try to optimize the keywords and try to get as many inbound links as possible. In this forced attempt to enhance your SEO, these agencies may end up compromising on the quality of your content by adding irrelevant information, not writing grammatically correct articles, etc.This means that you will have a high ranking on the search engines with multiple standard blogs forcefully filled with keywords. Now, this type of SEO will harm your brand image rather than enhance it. How? When a user will click on these high ranking pages and find no quality information, he will quickly leave the page, which will lead to a high bounce rate on your website. To avoid this, ensure you hire an agency that provides quality content for your blogs and website, and not just search engine optimization.
When deciding on a marketing agency, you will not completely rely on one source. Instead, you will refer to multiple sources to find the most appropriate marketing agency. The very first source that we just discussed was the conventional way of doing a search for an agency. Apart from that, you could also have a look at the various case studies and client testimonials for different agencies to know what other people have to say about an agency’s work.This is one of the most neutral ways of finding out about a marketing agency. You could also contact a few agencies and ask them to provide you with previous client recommendations for the work they have done. Ask for case studies and client recommendations of services that you require for a better understanding. For example, if you are a plumbing company that only needs local SEO services, ask for prospective marketing agencies to show you their case studies and client recommendations pertaining to their local SEO services.
Another way to look for a good marketing agency for your business is through agency listing and directories. The general perception of these directories and listings is that an agency needs to be good enough to be a part of such listings. However, quite a few such listings allow any marketing agency to list themselves by just paying a featuring submission fee. Always keep in mind that recommendations are not paid, so if an agency is paying to be recommended then it is unethical. Sometimes some agencies also feature in these directories based on their relations with the owner of the directory. Now, these are some cases, so I would recommend that you do refer these directories but be careful and do a second check on the agency you plan to select from one of these directories.
Know the Agency’s Work
After understanding the above factors, you now need to take a much closer look at the agency and its work. To start with, analyze the agency’s work for its own business. A lot can be figured out about the services of a marketing agency based on how they run their own business. Now you do not have to completely analyze the comprehensive performance of a marketing agency before selecting one. All you need to do is focus on what benefits you. For example, if you plan to hire a marketing agency for social media marketing, check how well the agency itself is performing on the social media platforms. Check whether the agency is actually using multiple social media platforms or it is only present on a few of them. For an agency that claims to offer services in social media marketing, having a good, active and engaging social media page is equally necessary. Similarly, if you are hiring a marketing agency for some other marketing services such as content marketing, check how the agency itself uses these services for their own business. Finding out this information is very simple. All you need to do is look up the agency online and find out their own marketing campaigns.
Know their Metrics
When a marketing agency is approached, there are certain metrics you can ask to determine whether the agency is professional and provides quality services. Some of the few important metrics you can ask include:
Web Traffic: For a business that is looking to create a brand awareness and online presence, getting sufficient web traffic on their business website is essential. A good traffic on the website rapidly increases the chance of getting more leads. When aiming to get a good traffic, you need to ensure that you know who your target audience is. For a business that is more generic and has a very wide target audience, the best metric provided from a marketing agency would be to get data of web traffic along with a complete analysis of how this traffic is interacting with a website.
Traffic Source: Apart from getting high traffic, it is equally important to know where this traffic is coming from. This is because at times, the marketing agency may show that you have a good web traffic but you need to check if this traffic is relevant to your website. High web traffic may also mean too many spams, so you need to know the source of the traffic. When you know the source of your traffic, it helps you create a better marketing strategy. For example, if you find out that a majority of your traffic is coming from a guest blog written by you, you can then create more such blogs to have a high web traffic.
Time on Website: Another metric that is important for your marketing strategy is the amount of time an online user spends on your website. This information helps you determine if your content and website is engaging enough to make a user stay on it for a longer time. Furthermore, you know whether the information you provide is relevant to your target audience or not. This helps you to plan a better SEO strategy as you can then create keyword-rich relevant content to rank well and increase the time a user spends on your website.
Social Media Analysis: Social media analysis is another important metric you need to ask whether the marketing agency will provide. The major social media KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you can ask to include the engagement rate, the impression for each post, etc. When you get an analysis of the social interaction taking place on your business social media pages, you are able to identify how much of your social media efforts are actually leading to conversions. Such kind of in-depth analysis is a good metric to look for.
Apart from these, there are many other metrics such as conversion rate in case of any paid digital campaign, a monthly SEO report, etc. that you can ask an agency if they are willing to provide before you decide to hire them. When a marketing agency is able to provide such metrics, you can be sure that the agency is able to give you a true picture of how your business is faring in the digital world.
Find Out What They can Achieve
Marketing is a very vast field with too many methods, channels, and strategies. It is also a field which is ever adapting and innovating with new concepts and methods to market anything. With such a dynamic environment, a marketing agency needs to have the knowledge about the latest happenings. There are some companies that boast about having a complete knowledge about the new changes or updates. You might consider to hire such a company that claims to have the required knowledge to do all the work efficiently and effectively. But you need to be careful. Often these are false claims which may not be fulfilled by the agencies. Some marketing agencies even give the excuse of the strategy taking time to show result and keep charging you for a long time.
Do not fall for such false promises and always ask for the credibility of the claims these marketing agencies make. To start with, marketing agencies themselves should not make tall claims as the success of any marketing strategy depends on a lot of factors such as the organic traffic, competitive market, ongoing trends, etc. So how do you filter out such agencies? Start by conversing with them and asking them their USP (Unique Selling Point). For example, if you plan to hire a marketing agency to specifically work on your business blog, ask the agency how they will work on your blog and content strategy. A good marketing agency will be able to provide you with almost a rough strategy including keyword planning, content creation, content calendar creation and sharing mediums along with timelines, without hesitation.
Finally, you need to very cautious when hiring a marketing agency that is offshore and only available via emails and other forms of connections such as instant messengers, calls, etc. For such agencies, coordination can become a problem that could affect the speed of your marketing processes and other operations.
Reviews and References
Check their reviews on Facebook, Google and other relevant websites, it is very very important!
Know their Charges
Budget is one factor that is important for any business. As a business owner, you might have a set budget in mind for each aspect of your business, including your marketing strategy. Keeping this budget in mind, you will scout for some agencies. Now when you are looking for agencies, always remember one thing. If the agency is charging substantially low prices for their services, you might want to take a step back and think why they are charging so low.If you are going to choose a marketing agency with extremely low prices, then there are chances that their work and results could be substandard. If a company is not charging its clients much, chances are they have lower margins and less resources to actually achieve exceptional results.
When it comes to deciding the money you want to spend on your marketing, do not settle for less because of the cost of services. If you actually spend a little more, you may be getting back a higher return on investment. A marketing agency that will charge you a little higher will actually ensure that you get back a good return.
After all that has been discussed, you should have a better idea in choosing a marketing agency based on your business requirements. While the above mentioned factors and parameters are essential to choose a right agency, you should also rely a little on your own understanding. Hopefully, this article has helped you get a fair idea of how to select a marketing agency for your business.
Ali Salman is an online marketing strategist who have worked with Coca-Cola, Extreme Pita, Mucho Burrito, KIA, Honda and other Fortune 500 companies. Ali Salman now heads Rapid Boost Marketing - Canada's fastest growing search marketing agency. RBM clients include Fortune 500's and medium size businesses across North America. Ali as RBM CMO leads his team in building and managing quality, high-performing and cost-effective interactive campaigns and programs for our company's customers and partners. In his career, he has significantly improved campaign performance for large brands such as Government of Alberta, Liberal Party, Workopolis, Cathay Pacific, as well as medium to large retailers and high-tech B2B-enterprise niches.
Ali and his team develop online promotional concepts that spark viral growth through search and social media for RBM clients, devising strategies that use search engines and more to reach key demographic segments in the ways they're most likely to be receptive. Ali Salman also oversees corporate marketing initiatives for Rapid Boost Marketing, including strategic communications counsel, public and analyst relations and client education programming.