Advertising: Five keys to picking the right online marketing partner


Advertising: Five keys to picking the right online marketing partner

We’re at the point where no business – B to C or B to B – is marketing effectively if they’re not aggressively marketing themselves online. But holy stromboli, there are a lot of companies offering to do that for you. With so many choices, who do you pick? Here are five keys to getting the best possible partner to help you market your business online.

1. Are they full service?

Are they going to create content (blogs, updates, articles, tweets, display ads, videos, etc.), manage ads, and monitor and report results on a regular (daily or weekly) basis? Are they managing, analyzing, updating, and enhancing your website? Full service means you don’t have to worry about or create much of anything. Other than the fodder you need to provide for creating content (info on new products, new hires, company growth, and industry changes), there’s nothing more you should have to do except look at the reports.

2. Do they communicate well?

New content doesn’t just happen. As I mentioned above, new content needs input from you. But will your new agency meet with you regularly either in person, on the phone or via video conference? Are they bringing you new ideas on a regular basis? Do their emails elicit confidence or make you feel uncomfortable and confused? Just like any good relationship, your online agency needs to make you feel like they care about your business, about what they do, and about how those two entities are creating results together.

3. Do they provide ethical services?

Too many search engine optimization companies are still selling and delivering the same stuff that worked in 2009. The whole online landscape demands systematic updates every month. Because the search engines are constantly trying to improve their systems, the marketing agencies and individuals that feed sites into those search systems need to stay abreast of almost constant changes. Some of the changes are very tiny and some are regular game changers. You want only up-to-date, ethical, “White Hat” methods employed in marketing your website. And don’t let them tie you down to a long-term contract. If you feel comfortable with that, go ahead. But you don’t have to get locked in in today’s market. You will have some up front costs for getting your account going because the agency’s have to do some extra work up front. But I’d hate to have a client stay with me because they felt tied down via a contract as opposed to because they’re getting great results.

4. Do know they know their stuff?

Ask them about “meta tags” and how they should be used in your website. If they say “meta tags” are important, run like the wind. Since Google introduced their Panda updates which determine how Google assesses the value of websites, “meta tags” are no longer relevant. Do they have experience in your market, category, or industry? Are they a design agency who just go into the marketing and programming side of the internet? Make sure they know how to make your website a highly-ranked shining star.

5. Have they delivered results?

When you hire staff, you check their references. It’s a given. But some companies fail to do that when they hire outside firms to help them maximize their business. Any honest, hard-working online marketing agency is going to have success stories and solid references they can share. Ask for them and check them out.

As my father often encouraged me to do, “Use your head.” Online marketing can be akin to rocket science, but choosing an agency partner to help you market your business is not. It’s like any other good business decision you’ve made. Do your homework and ask lots of questions. And if you have any questions about this article, let me know. I’d be happy to help.

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