Online Marketing is an investment that ensures the optimized online presence and boosted returns- But investing in a wrong Online Marketing Company can drain your funds and may lead you down to oblivion.
Traditional advertising and marketing are expected to rise 0.8% in 2019. That compares to a 10.7% increase in global digital and alternative advertising and marketing.
Most of the businesses have already turned towards online marketing. Thus, it also becomes essentially important to include the digital aspect in the overall marketing strategy to keep pace with the competition.
However, with the increased use of online marketing, there arises a need for online marketing companies. Keeping this thought into consideration, we have come up with a post that will help you in selecting the right online marketing company for your business.
“Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.” – Joe Chernov
For choosing the right Online Marketing Company, it is important for business owners to do a lot of homework.
5 steps of this blog would help you find a checklist that guides best performing businesses choose top Online Marketing Companies to run their result driven Digital Marketing Campaigns on all possible online channels.
So, without any further ado, let us delve into those five steps-
5 Steps To Choose Online Marketing Company
1. Clearly Define Your Needs & Expectations
This is the most basic steps that you should take into consideration while selecting an online marketing company for your business.
Working with an Online Marketing Company should never be an impulse decision and it is very important for you to plan for a rigorous preparation process, as this will help you utilize your time and investment in the most result-driven way possible.
You should be very clear about what role an Online Marketing Company would play into your business objectives. While going for an Online Marketing Company, you need to be very clear about the reasons, whether you are-
- Planning for accelerated growth
- Redesigning your brand
- Branching into new territories
- Looking for Branding & Awareness, Traffic, Leads, Sales, App downloads, etc.
You should also be very clear about the time you would like to dedicate to this partnership, the amount of money you are willing to invest and the skills your team already possesses and the skills your team lacks.
Different steps you need to follow while defining needs and expectations of your business are-
(i) List Your Marketing Requirements
Below given is a list of some of the capabilities that an Online Marketing Company can offer-
- Website strategy, design, and development
- Blogging and content creation
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing (SMM)
- Search engine marketing (SEM)
- Marketing automation
- Online advertising (PPC, Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, etc.)
(ii) Decide On The Agency Type
Online Marketing Companies come in all different shapes and sizes and while selecting top Online Marketing Company, it is essential to find the one that fits well with your business goals and, suits your budget.
For this, different factors you should pay heed upon are-
- General vs Specialized Services
- Creative vs Industry Niche
- Global Reach vs Local Reach
- Large Agency vs Boutique Agency
(iii) Understand The Nature Of Relationship
You need to ensure that your idea, values, and processes are aligned with the working mechanism of the chosen Online Marketing Company. You need to believe in the company’s adeptness to execute on the strategies you define together.
Different factors on which the relationship can be based upon are-
- Sharing of the workload
- Timely feedback, etc.
2. Find An Online Marketing Company That Understands Your Needs
To finalize an Online Marketing Company that understands your needs the first thing that you need to do is checking how effective their website is.
Best way to know how a marketing company conducts its business is checking their own blog, online and Social Media presence and website. Going through their blogs will help you know how well informed they are about the latest trends and important industry topics.
When you choose the Online Marketing Company, you should go through the following steps-
- What is their core competency?
- Check out their Portfolio
- Case Studies & Recommendations
- Supplemental content
- Tools and Certifications
- Awards & Press Coverage
Some other important factors that will help you know whether the chosen Online Marketing Company would understand your needs is-
- Knowing their specialization in your niche
- Knowing if they have clients in the same industry as yours
- Does their website include client logos and testimonials
You can also take the help of peers while choosing the top Online Marketing Company in your niche, plus, you can inquire with other firms in your niche and cross check with Agency Trade Associations.
Some other things that you may do to finalize the right Online Marketing Company for you are-
- Ask on LinkedIn groups for recommendations
- What do the League Tables say about them
- Check out the Industry / Trade Association websites
- Search the Intermediaries
The below-given outline would help you find the right Online Marketing Company for you-
3. Do A Thorough Research Of The Shortlisted Companies & Send Them RFP
While selectin online marketing company for your business, this step should be considered very crucial. By following the aforestated outline, you will have a list of probable Online Marketing Companies.
Now, the next thing is to dive deep into the profiles of these shortlisted companies and do thorough research to know if those would be the best fit for you or not. Below given factors would help you do this with utmost precision-
- Do they have a Google Partners status
- Check out Review Sites
- Look up the agency on BBB
- Talk to their clients
- Dig deep into their Case Studies
- What do the Employees say
- Check out their Twitter Reviews
Once you do proper research, you should send RFP i.e. a Request for Proposal. This will help you educate your marketing partner, as no one knows better about your business and customers than you do.
RFP provides you with an opportunity to share a little bit about your marketing objectives, plus, you can add your financial requirements or contractual stipulations to make your proposal more realistic and unique. Important things outlined under a good RFP are-
- Business and brand background and positioning
- Summary of desired work and objectives and it includes any special expectations and considerations
- Details on targeted consumers (and customers and/or distribution and retail systems if appropriate)
- Timelines for responding to the brief and for the program
- Contact details for any clarification or discussion
Sometimes, businesses do not prefer providing budget information, but if you give your budget details to your Online Marketing Company then that would guide them develop more feasible solutions to your marketing challenges.
4. Assign Your Online Marketing Company An Assignment & Evaluate The Same
When you send RFP, you should also give a brief of the services you want the shortlisted companies to do and ask them to provide an Audit as well as a broad Strategy Report.
This will help you understand the skills and range of creativity of an Online Marketing Company that will help you gauge how the company will benefit your business. Different kind of assignments that you can assign are-
- Ask for a free Audit Report
- Ask them to devise a Broad Strategy
- Why do they feel their strategy will meet your goals and objectives
- Is it sustainable
- When can you expect to start seeing results
- What resources will they need from you to carry out a successful campaign
- What role and responsibilities will be expected of you
Now, next thing that you need to do is evaluating the assignment, as this will help you know if the chosen Online Marketing Company is making unrealistic claims or they can exactly offer the same kind of services that they have promised.
- You may review agency proposals & assignments in-person or via video/teleconference
- You should identify the criteria for evaluating proposals in advance and consistently apply that to each Online Marketing Company
- The right Online Marketing Company will let you know that achieving realistic goals takes time and accordingly they will provide you well-scheduled report
5. Meet The Online Marketing Company F2F & If Satisfied, Sign The Agreement
The final step to choose Online Marketing Company is meeting the company representative F2F and asking the right questions by being thorough, as this will help you make a most informed decision by hiring the top Online Marketing Company.
Different steps you need to go through while having F2F meeting with the company are-
(i) Understand The Team
When you go to the office of a chosen Online Marketing Company, the first thing that you need to analyze is how the company works from both a creative and a business perspective.
You should try to comprehend the company’s vibe, and understand how professional and interactive the teams are. Some other notable things you should pay heed upon while understanding the team are-
- You should understand that Online Marketing Company is the extension of your team
- You should know who will manage your account, what are their qualifications/experience, how long have they been with the company and what are their performance metrics
- Your marketing team should include experts in Web development, Graphic design, Writing and editing, Marketing automation, Project management, SMO, SEO, ORM, etc.
- How much experience do they have
- How passionate is the team
- How ethical is the team
- Are they local
(ii) Understand The Capabilities Of The Team Members
After basic conversations, there come the creative conversations, which will give you the idea about the capabilities of the team members of an Online Marketing Company.
Below given points would help you check the dexterousness of team members-
A – Their Certifications
Top Online Marketing Company includes certified Digital Marketing professionals such as-
- AMA Certified Professional Marketer
- Google AdWords Certification
- Google Analytics Certification
- Bing Ads Certification
- Facebook Ads ‘Blueprint’ Certification
- HubSpot Certifications, etc.
B – Check Their Knowledge About The Latest Online Marketing Trends
C – Know How Updated Their Marketing Stack Is
A good ‘marketing stack’ comprised by top Online Marketing Company incorporates tools and resources that can efficiently analyze everything from back end data (customer information) to front end behaviour (ads viewed, emails opened, blogs frequented, purchases made).
Different marketing stacks which you should ask your Online Marketing Company are-
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Tag Management Platform
- Content Management System (CMS
- Inbound Marketing
- Outbound Marketing
- Marketing Automation
- Customer Management
D – How They Manage Analytics
You should ask for the plans for the management of the following key metrics:
- Website traffic
- Leads produced
(iii) Understand How The Company Will Manage The Marketing Work With You
This will help you know how the company will help you meet all your Online Marketing objectives. Some of the important points to pay heed upon here are
- Understanding / Gathering client requirement
- Clear delegation of roles
- Organized work environment
- Review and Approval Process
- A Project Management Tool in place
- Data Dashboards
- Task Prioritization
- Client Management
Along with all this, you should also understand what Digital Marketing Strategies they implemented to advertise their own brand.
You should know what size clients the chosen Online Marketing Company deals with and understand their success, plus, you need to ask for the references and have a brief conversation with their past and present client.
You should also ask them what makes them better from their competitors.
(iv) Understand The Deliverables Offered By Your Online Marketing Company
You should ask them how they measure the success of the marketing campaigns they are recommending. Different deliverables that you need to be clear about are-
- What reports will you get from the agency and how often will you get reports from the agency
- Will you get access to a live dashboard for monitoring the performance of your campaigns
- Will you get access to their project management software, as this would provide you with transparency on the status of your works
- Discussion about the status meetings with your team
(v) You Need To Ask Them About Their Pricing Model
While choosing an Online Marketing Company, this is one of the most important things to know the preferred pricing model. Different pricing models that you may find are-
- Percentage of spend
- Bill by hour
- Flat fee
- Capped Percentage of Spend
- Percentage of revenue
- Customized pricing model based on client size, services, requirement, and time periods
(vi) Sign The Service Agreement
Now, in the final step of selecting online marketing company, if you are satisfied with the chosen Online Marketing Company, you need to be clear about the legal technicalities like confidentiality, fees, idea ownership, non-compete clause, etc. Some notable points you need to follow are-
- You should avoid restrictive contracts
- You should be very clear with the deliverables and avoid those agreements that quote a fee without specifically mentioning the offered deliverables
- Different things incorporated under the service agreement are-
- Agency Obligations and deliverables, Client Obligations and deliverables, Confidential Information; Non-Solicitation
- Rights, Ownership and Usage, Approval of work, Legal Clearances and Indemnification
- Client Representative, Liability of Agency, Additional Services, Project Changes and Expenses
- Time of Payment and Late-Payment Charges, Term and Termination, etc.
In one of our another post, we have compiled some of the best Digital Marketing Agencies in India, and now, I will take you through that list as well, so you can understand what kinds of features a top Online Marketing Company incorporates-
List of best Digital Marketing Agencies in India–
- iProspect India
- Mirum India
- Quasar Media
- BC Webwise
- Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, etc.
The best thing about Online Marketing is you can also quite easily master it by enrolling yourself in a Digital Marketing Course. This will also help you easily gauge the competency and working efficiency of an Online Marketing Company. To hire the best online marketing professionals, have a look at these online marketing jobs.
On the concluding note, I hope this article will hopefully serve as your checklist for selecting the online marketing company that helps you to achieve your desired results.