You’ve made the decision to grow your business online. Now it’s time to get down to the nuts and bolts of building a substantial digital presence that will support your business goals. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re already entrenched in a digital marketing agency, one critical piece of the puzzle has been missing: you lack of inbound marketing expertise. You know what they say, ‘know your audience, engage them.’ Now it’s time to bring that expertise to bear in creating a marketing strategy that will generate leads, build credibility, and grow your business.
Why Hire an Online Marketing and Optimization Firm?
It’s a common question: why hire an online marketing firm? With a little digging, you’ll uncover three critical elements that make up for this deficiency.
You’ll need a strategy in order to effectively engage with your audience, and that means you’ll need to consider:
- Your overall marketing strategy
- The objectives you’ve set for the campaign
- The target audience you’ve identified for this campaign
- The marketing channels you’ll use to reach your audience
- The resources you have (time and money) available to drive this effort
An online marketing and optimization firm will help you lay out a strategic approach in this regard, considering all the moving parts of your business: products, pricing, marketing, etc. They may also incorporate paid and organic search into your strategy, leveraging tools like Google AdWords, which helps you manage your paid search budget, or Humility, which puts organic search at your fingertips.
You’ll need to decide how you’ll implement the strategy you’ve mapped out, and that means you’ll need to consider:
- Your budget
- Your timeframe
- Your team’s capabilities
- The experience of the people you’ll be working with
- What you expect from the firm (capacity, delivery style, etc.)
It’s essential to have a clear picture of what you’re expecting from this investment — be that a steady stream of leads, a sudden bump in sales, etc. After all, you’re investing in a firm that will be working to drive results in your direction. With that said, it’s important to consider each member of your team’s capabilities and experience before making such an investment. Your strategist should be able to give you an idea of what you can expect in terms of results, while your digital marketer should be able to map out a plan of action and communicate it to you in terms you can understand.
Finally, you need to be able to accurately and effectively measure the results of your strategy, and that means you’ll need to consider:
- The metrics you’ll use to determine success (hits, leads, sales, etc.)
- How you’ll analyze the data you’ve gathered (through reports, dashboards, etc.)
- The timeframe you’ll use to evaluate performance (short-term vs. long-term)
- Whether you’ll use a trial-and-error approach or a set plan to reach your goals
- How you’ll adjust your strategy based on the results of your measurements
- The extent to which you’ll be able to replicate results
- The cost of going down the wrong path vs. the cost of the right path
In summation, an online marketing and optimization firm will arm you with a clear picture of what to expect in terms of results, making it less likely you’ll be overwhelmed by the unexpected. They should also be able to offer you a clear plan of action, and the experience of their team and the various software applications they work with should be able to provide the data you need to measure your results and adjust your approach as needed.
Considering the enormity of the task, it’s essential to work with a marketing firm that’s been carefully vetted and established in the industry. With that in mind, how can you tell if a firm is reputable? Look for the following:
1. A history of success
Virtually all successful marketing firms have a history of delivering results, so it goes without saying that you’ll want to work with a firm you can rely on to get the job done. Take a look at their portfolio, especially those jobs that are most relevant to your niche. You’ll want to ensure the work you’ve commissioned from them is of a fairly high quality.
On the flip side, firms that haven’t been able to produce the desired results usually don’t last very long, so it’s essential you don’t become another victim of poor quality work.
2. A strong online marketing foundation
In order to have a successful inbound marketing strategy, you’ll need a firm that has a strong online marketing foundation, meaning they have the experience, training, and tools needed to effectively engage with your audience online. Look for these traits in their staffing:
- Experienced marketers
- Advanced knowledge of email marketing
- Deep understanding of SEO
- A team of analysts (data experts) who can provide valuable insights
- Predictive modeling and reporting
- Advanced knowledge of conversion optimization
- Familiarity with content marketing (such as inbound marketing)
- A broad understanding of marketing analytics
If they don’t have experience in these areas, then it’s a good indication they probably haven’t been deeply involved in an inbound marketing campaign before. You’ll need to have some experience working with an online marketing firm to ensure you get the most out of your investment.
3. A willingness to provide support
An online marketing firm that expects you to provide all the support needed for a successful inbound marketing strategy is not a reputable firm. You’ll need to be able to get in touch with the people directly responsible for your project (either the owner, CEO, or a senior manager) and discuss what you need from them. Additionally, be vigilant about checking out their client testimonials before making a decision.
On the one hand, a marketing firm that has successfully executed inbound marketing campaigns in the past is likely to have the necessary experience and expertise you need to get the most out of your investment. On the other hand, if they’re looking to you to provide all the support needed, then perhaps your expectations are a bit high — especially if you’re paying for their services.
Bottom line: if they don’t have the capabilities and experience needed to execute the plan you’ve laid out, then it’s a good indication they probably shouldn’t be handling your account. Be sure to consider all the pros and cons before making a decision.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with a clear idea of what to look out for in terms of online marketing firms and how to effectively hire them. From a purely educational standpoint, this article is fairly basic, and it’s important to remember these tips before hiring any firm. Regardless, this article is just one small piece of the puzzle that is inbound marketing. In the next section, we’ll discuss some of the more specific details surrounding the execution of an inbound marketing campaign, including how to set up automated email campaigns and use online form tools to collect email addresses.