Evaluating Your Online Marketing Needs – Choosing an Agency for an Enterprise Level Digital Marketing Campaign (Part 3 of 3)

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Red Flags

Much of the agency model nowadays for SEO and Internet Marketing is predicated on getting the actual key-punching work done overseas in India, Iraq, Russia or the Philippines, and then having US-based customer service/account representatives to “handle” clients. If a proposal seems like it’s too good to be true, or like it’s too inexpensive to be reasonable, you can bet that the majority of the work on the site isn’t going to be done in the US. If you ask to speak to the programmer who’s going to work on your site, or you ask to speak directly to a content writer and the answer is “no”, there’s a good chance that that’s because the meat of the work isn’t done in the States.

Unfortunately, you get what you pay for with programming, content writing, and social media work- if it seems too cheap, that’s a definite red flag for an off-the-shelf or “churn” type agency. If your first conversation after signing the contract is about “resetting expectations” then you’ve probably been sold a bill of goods. If there’s a layer or account representative between you and the people doing the work, ask for direct access. If you can’t get it, ask why.

Focus on Deliverables over Measurable ROI

An Internet marketing campaign shouldn’t be deliverables based; it should be consultative and results-based. Signing up for a Bronze, Silver , Gold or Platinum package whereby you get “more” of something like links, or content, or on page optimization at every different tier  is not a good use of your money or time. Internet Marketing is different  for every single business and client, and there’s no way to know in advance what a particular campaign might need or be affected by. Don’t buy an off-the-shelf package- all the agency has to do is fulfill      deliverables, whether there’s any ROI or not.  Just like there’s a pretty simple equation for weight loss- calories out have to be more than calories in, then you lose weight- Internet has to show ROI. “We spent this much and it resulted in this % increase in sales” is the only question you need to ask yourself regarding any Internet Marketing campaign.

Vanity Keywords

Beware the agency that swears they can rank you first for a broad keyword such as ‘shoes’ or ‘blinds’. Those sorts of promises are a) unsustainable without a large budget and b) the sign of an immature strategy. What if you make more money being in first position on page 2 because the product you sell tends to attract people who skip the first page of search results? This is an unlikely situation, to be sure, but your online marketing team needs to consider things such as that- the idea that being first for a term will make you the most money is a great concept but it doesn’t always bear itself out- what if you could be 1st for 100 longer-tail terms like ‘running shoes’ or ‘kitchen blinds’ and multiply your profits? A good agency will develop a comprehensive strategy and not aqcuiesce to ‘this is the only term we care about’.

Outdated Metrics

Rankings are an indicator of your sites’ strength but they should not be the end goal of a campaign. Rankings do not automatically translate to money, though it’s in an agency’s best interest to let you think they do. No one will deny that it’s better to be in 1st position for a term than it is to be in 5th, for obvious reasons of visibility and click-through-rate. But rankings are impossible to maintain and subject to the hundreds of changes a year made to the search engines. Very rarely is a site listed at #1 and pinned there for years- unless it’s a branded term. Guaranteeing #1, or even first page rankings, is another sign of an immature strategy.

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