Hiring a web marketing agency should be an exciting time for any business. Even if you've handled marketing so far, it will make a huge difference to have a professional company take over on your behalf. It allows you to focus on the business end of things and still see improved results. However, that's the best case scenario. The worst case scenario involves a web marketing agency that proves more trouble than they're worth and may even set your progress back. So before you hire an agency, here's what you need to consider.
Whether you're hiring a web marketing agency or a new receptionist, your budget always needs to be considered first and foremost. When it comes to marketing, see if there's money you can add to it by giving the agency more jobs to do. For example, if someone has been handling social media for you, updating your blog, sending out email newsletters, etc. These are all things you can have your new agency handle.
At the same time, be sure you're clear about what you actually need from a web marketing agency. You may not need some of those things I just listed and, therefore, should not be paying for them. In contrast to the above advice, if you're confident you're handling the blog just fine, there's money to be saved there.
You also do not want to wind up getting sold on services you do not need. If your market is a younger one, they may not respond to email newsletters like older clients would. So no matter how well a company claims to do them, they're not worth wasting a cent on.
Their Own Results
Any web marketing agency out there should count SEO amongst their expertise. So do a Google search for key phrases and see where they land. If they're not showing up on the first page, and preferably high up on it, what are the chances they'll know how to do the same for you (it's possible, of course; marketing agencies are a market market, but it's still worth considering).
You could possibly forgive them for not beating out the hundreds of other web marketing agencies for Google real estate if they've proven they've helped others. This is where their resume comes into play. Any web marketing agency worthy of being considered should have a resume that clearly shows what they've done for other companies like yours.
However, do not take their resume at face value. You may have to ask questions like:
• How long did it take you to achieve these results?
• What did you charge?
• Are you still employed by them? If not, why?
They're a marketing agency, so they know how to sell. That means you're going to need to use a generous amount of scrutiny to get the answers you need.
The Tools They Use
Marketing online these days means using any of a number of different tools. So any web marketing agencies worthy of your time should be familiar with many and using at least a kindly regularly. Not using tools does not mean they're somehow above the need. Tools like Clickable, Omniture, e-Frontier, and Webtrends all provide huge advantages. Anyone in web marketing who ignores them should raise a huge red flag in your mind.
This component has two factors involved. First, you need to know how an agency plans on measuring their own performance. Put another way, what do they actually plan on providing you-objectively. Their answer needs to be specific as marketing can sometimes needlessly drift into the vague.
The other interesting thing to look out for is how familiar they are with your company and does it come across in their answer? They should be able to explain where they'll get you in terms of page rank and how that result is affected by your competitors.
Of course, the second part is the guarantee. Their promises do not mean much if you do not get any assurances. So be sure they tell you what happens if they miss the mark.
While this may seem like a lot to ask or expect of a web marketing agency you're only interviewing, I assure you it's necessary. Otherwise, you could very easily end up paying for a problem.