To say that the internet has revolutionized the way companies do business would be a vast understatement. Many companies have moved their brick and mortar business all or partially online, while other companies have started exclusively online and remained there. Still, others retain their real-world presence but use the internet to promote themselves. With such a huge potential for growth it is natural that many of these companies have turned to third party online marketing companies to help them establish themselves or raise their profile. There are certainly many excellent and reputable online marketing companies out there; however, there are also some bad ones. The following list of qualities is a good starting point for sorting the wheat from the chaff.
Utilization of Latest Technique and Technology
One of the principal qualities to look for in an online marketing company is a utilization of the latest techniques and technologies in the industry. SEO, SEM/PPC, social media, content strategies, and other fundamental elements of online marketing have evolved at a breakneck speed. An online marketing company that was leading the pack only five years ago will have been left in the dust if it has not innovated their suite of services.
Ask potential companies what are their strategies and their core areas of focus. The answer you receive should give you some insight into how modern and relevant the company is today. If you fell up to it, you can also conduct your own research about the ways certain elements have changed, for example Google Penguin’s and Google Panda’s effects on SEO, link-building, and content.
Wide Range of Services
Focusing on a single area in today’s dynamic environment would also be a mistake. It isn’t enough only to do social media, SEO, or content; a truly effective online marketing company will embrace all three while remaining on the lookout for new trends and new opportunities.
Your particular industry may benefit more or less from one particular approach due to its target demographic and industry sector. Finding a company that specializes in the areas most important to you while offering periphery services may net you the best of both worlds.
Record of Success
It is not enough merely for an online marketing company to have been good; they need to still be cutting edge. A past record of success and an extensive list of satisfied clients is certainly a key indicator of an effective company. Ask for references and a description of some of the company’s major achievements and successes. Remember, they are in the business of marketing and they should at the very least be able to build enthusiasm about their own company.
An Explanation of Success
Without a specific goal it is impossible to even measure success. Right from the beginning, it is imperative that you and the online marketing company are on the same page about what constitutes success. Ask how they will define success. Will it be in the number of conversions? New customers? A higher SEO ranking for your site? More friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook? Find out how they define success and then consider how that corresponds with your own goals. Also ask over what time frame success will be measured? Depending on the strategy it may not pay off in the near term but instead be geared toward long-term momentum. Knowing that up front is a crucial way to manage expectations.
Unfortunately, an entire segment of the SEO world practiced a method called “black hat SEO.” This involved essentially building links and raising rankings in a less than scrupulous manner. Google and the other search engines have cracked down hard on black hat methods and there are very serious penalties. This is just one example of the importance of asking and understanding what methods the online marketing company will be using.
Even with shady practices aside, you will still want to get a clear, thorough understanding of how the company operates merely for your own peace of mind. Understanding how the company works will be key to knowing when and how you can contact them, what the process is for handling unexpected crises or other urgent events, and how changes can be made to your account.
A Clear Fee Structure
Paying for anything without knowing the price is rarely a good idea. This is especially true if you are doing business with a new online marketing company that you have never dealt with before. At the very least they should be able to explain the basic pricing such as whether it is by content pieces, hours/posts made to social media, hours worked, etc. Understanding the fee structure is a fundamental way to evaluate what sort of success you will need to see to get a good return on your investment.
A Connection with You and Your Company
This last quality is important on many levels. On the one hand you will probably want to make sure that there is a good “vibe” between you and the company/key contact people. People do business with people they like and feel like they can trust. This will ensure that you can establish a good line of communication and a strong working relationship. It is also important that the marketing agency be a good fit for your company. They should committed to doing the best job possible for you and they should act in your best interests.
Hiring an online marketing company can be a great strategy to outsource some of the work you and your employees understand, like, or have time for the least. You will also typically see much better results from a professional online marketing company than you could have gotten on your own. If you are in need of The above list of qualities to look for will help you make the smartest choice possible.