If you’re in the market for a digital marketing agency, this post is for you. Digital marketing agencies are easy to find. Most have a unique perspective, but often times that perspective can act as a deterrent from what really matters, strategy and performance.
Our goal with this post is to provide you with the right questions and knowledge to move forward in your journey. Oftentimes, agencies require long term commitments from the word go. It’s important that you make the right choice in finding a viable partner.
#1: Overall Digital Marketing Strategy
Your strategy discussion shouldn’t wait until the onboarding process. It’s NEVER a good idea for a business to spread out their digital efforts to various agencies. Not only is it more expensive, but it’s very costly and inefficient.
The agency that’s pitching for your business should be discussing a full funnel strategy. Those digital marketing efforts should involve multiple channels and multiple strategies. If you’re hearing one off pitches, for one off channels, turn and run. Every channel represents another touch point with your target market. Your messaging better work cross channel.
Bundling services with one agency makes sense for another reason. Keeping the work together also keeps the strategy together. For example, knowing the SEO team can share data with the Paid Media team is going to assure synchrony in messaging, keyword collaboration and assisted conversion funnel expansion. Think about it. If you were building a house, would you hire ten different contractors to lay ten different areas of the foundation? Or, would you hire one contractor to lay the foundation for the entire house?
#2: Account and Project Managers
This may seem like a no brainer, but many agencies just don’t see, or are willing to pay for the value of a project and account manager. They are expensive and that cost will be passed along to you. Which most agencies know that by forgoing this expense they are more likely to get your attention. Yet, that cost is well worth it.
Account managers are not just responsible for helping you spend more money. Account managers are also responsible for understanding your goals, internal and external collaboration, the success of your project, foreseeing opportunities, challenges and keeping a healthy relationship with you. Without these things, your account will simply be a number in a spreadsheet.
Word to the wise. Most agencies have vastly different definitions of account managers. It’s only fair that you know what you’re walking into. Be sure to challenge your sales rep with many questions, including the job description of your account manager.
Project managers may not be as flashy, but they are equally important. Project managers are responsible for keeping the entire team, internal and external, on target. Without a project manager, someone will be surely wearing that hat, ever extending themselves and undeserving your account.
#3: Subject Matter Experts
Real agencies will be serving your entire digital marketing strategy. This will include PPC, paid social media, organic or search engine optimization, lead nurture, email strategy, conversion rate optimization and even reputation management. This takes a lot of work, and to truly be efficient, a subject matter expert is needed for each division.
Dig as deep as you can during the sales process to find out about your prospective agencies’ internal structure.What you’d like to see is multiple subject matter experts working solely on their own area of expertise. Be careful in your selection process that the firms your deciding from are not stretching their employees to thin, across multiple channels. You want to employ focused experts, who can collaborate internally with other departments, but stick to working in one area.
#4: Similar Industry Case Studies & Analytics View
Don’t be shy about challenging results. You should have already been given a number of case studies, or prime examples of their best work. Always take the time to dig a little deeper into those results. Learn exactly what actionable items were completed to accumulate such amazing numbers. If it passes the sniff test, chances are it’s a reputable example.
Digital marketing agencies are plentiful. Make sure your selection has vast experience in or have worked in similar markets as your industry. With every new industry, comes a new audience persona. You want to be sure the chosen agency has experience adapting to new markets. Or better yet, that they have experience in your particular market!
#5: A Commitment to Numbers & Results
As sure as star athletes will repeat the line ‘at the end of the day,’ digital marketing agencies will shower you with ‘while we can’t guarantee the same results.’ Blah, blah, blah! Agencies should not be scared to commit themselves to a result. In fact, results are what we strive for at GlacierCode, and those times we don’t hit them are just as valuable as those times that we do. There is always something to learn from not seeing the numbers you expected, which ultimately drives long term, sustainable success.
#6: Paid Media Ad Spend Fees
Reading the fine print doesn’t help a whole lot if you’re not sure what to look for. Unfortunately, some agencies get sneaky with their ad management fees. They’ll reel you in with a flat fee for ‘maintenance’ and then tack on a percentage of the cost per click. Bottom line, you should ONLY be paying a management fee, nothing on top of that. .
A healthy structure for Paid Media Management fees is something like the following:
- Channels included: search, social and display
- Services included: optimization, pacing and strategy
- Minimum fee tiers: $1,000-$3,000 (depending on agency and contract terms)
- Baseline fee of 15% (kicks in if minimum fee is surpassed), decreases percentage points as ad spend reaches certain thresholds.
- An Example:
- Family Dentistry spends $10,000 in search, $7,000 in social and $13,000 in display.
- Total spend is $30,000.
- Agency charges a minimum fee of $2,000 or 15%, whichever is greater.
- Total fee is $4,500, or 15% of $30,000
#7: Organic SEO Results (Diving Deeper Into Engagement)
Search Engine Optimization is tricky business. SEO experts are a lot like doctors. They’ve forgotten more about their practice then you’ll ever learn, so most of the time they’ll be using terms you don’t recognize. Yet, there’s one major difference. To be an SEO expert does not require a license, or more importantly, malpractice insurance. Anyone with vocal chords and a hefty bunch of courage can walk outside right now and scream at the top of their lungs, ‘I’m an SEO expert!’ And it would be true.
You have to find an expert you trust with your life, literally. As well, you have to monitor their efforts. For example, if they’re claiming performance is up because total sessions are up, then verify that it’s the kind of performance you want. Here are a few questions to do that:
- Sessions from which channels are up?
- Are Organic sessions up?
- What about unique sessions, the ones that matter?
- Has bounce rate moved up or down with the new traffic?
- What search queries are driving this new traffic?
- What do pages per session look like?
- Most importantly, are leads or revenue increasing from this channel?
You may not be familiar with any of these concepts and that’s ok. They should still be able to answer you. If you really want to be able to look under the hood of your own website, we would recommend taking the Google Analytics certification course.
#8: Process: From Link Building to Content Execution
Another great sniff test here. You’re a business owner, or marketing manager of some sort. You understand process and how difficult it is to keep everything glued together. Keep an eye out for process and how things will get done. If you find yourself poking holes in one item after another, this is a sign of things to come. Again, turn and run.
#9: Innovation: What Exactly Sets Your Digital Marketing Agency Apart?
As we mentioned, digital marketing agencies have been manifesting quicker then bubbles out of an electric bubble machine. Because the industry is so competitive, most are about as stable as one of those bubbles. The fact is, if an agency hasn’t found their own secret sauce, it’s all too easy for the next bubble to come along and under cut them on price.
#10: Negotiating Room?
Digital marketing strategies are hard work. You may have budget limitations, as we all do. A word of caution, if you’re asking for pricing flexibility and getting it, then you’re in trouble. Knowledgeable agencies know exactly how long it takes to build a reputable online presence. If they’re willing to slash their prices just to keep you from running out the door, or worse to get you to put ink to paper, then one of two things is true. Either they were over priced to begin with or they will cut out essential steps to developing your digital marketing strategy.
Don’t try to drive a hard bargain. Instead, focus on driving towards the right agency. Raise your frequency to the level of success you want to achieve and require that the parties who work with you raise theirs frequency to match yours.
Choosing a digital marketing agency is a difficult process. If your not familiar with the field, you need to know what to look for and what questions to ask. Don’t be shy when it comes to intaragating prospective agencies. Focus on their strategies, value propositions, internal structure, pricing structure and case studies.
Most importantly, your next agency needs to know your #1, above all else goal, which 99.99% of the time will be revenue. If they are not learning that information immediately, then they are not the choice.
Best of luck!
Tried by many, mastered by few, Pay Per Click is one of the fastest and most sustainable routes to success for any business. No matter the industry, Pay Per Click can be a strong source of leads for three reasons. If you’re still debating PPC as an option for your business, we hope this post sways you in the right direct.
Intent based paid search
Pay Per Click advertising offers an advantage most forms of digital marketing do not, control over your impressions. With correctly structured PPC accounts, businesses can dictate which search queries their ad appears for, filtering out non relevant searches that organic search may not be able to do.
Not only can Pay Per Click advertising filter out non-relevant searches, but also allows you to bid higher on bottom of the funnel intent. With PPC, you can bid more aggressively on decision based searches.
Protecting your brand with PPC
It’s a dog eat dog world and your competitors are trying to steal your doggy biscuits. If you’ve worked hard to create brand awareness, than you’ve created branded searches for your business. The fact is, if you’re not protecting those searches by bidding on them, then your competitor is. Which means, your competitors are profiting off of your hard work.
PPC is the name of the game
It’s no secret, businesses are spending a majority of their annual marketing budgets on digital marketing. The PPC industry is a major source of revenue for giants such as Facebook and Google. Because of the competitiveness between channels, more and more real estate is being given to paid ads. Organic listensings will always be relevant, but Google will continue giving priority to those who pay to play.
Here’s a great visual by our friends at Social Media Today on the industries spending the most on Paid Media in 2017. Infographic courtesy of Social Media Today.
If you’re shopping for PPC, or just looking to learn a thing or two, you probably realized everyone and their mother offers a free PPC audit. Why? It’s the best way to offer a high quality, free value that starts a good conversation. We believe in free PPC audits and you should too, especially if you’re in need of some Paid Media assistance.
Yet, not all PPC audits are created equal. We used to do something similar to most other digital marketing agencies. Unfortunately, a slideshow with high level insights doesn’t do anyone any favors. To pull true value out of your PPC account, you have to know how to dive deep into Google Ads and create targeting based off of user behavior.
Face to Face PPC Audits
With the over saturated PPC market, we’ve shifted our approach and are focusing solely on educating our prospective clients.
Contact us today for your in person PPC Audit. We’ll walk through your account with you so that you can see the same opportunities we see.
What you’ll get:
- A true understanding of your campaign structure and opportunities.
- A look at wasted spend we can fix immediately.
- Keyword best practices and bidding strategies.
What you will not get:
- Any dumb slides or one sheets you’ll store away for… um… never!
- A hard sales pitch! We are also interviewing you to see if we’re a good match. We don’t take every client.
- A one size fits all approach. We’ll see if your targeting and strategy are correct for your industry.
Web developers are easy to find these days. On every street corner there’s bound to a serviceable web professional. Unfortunately, the over saturated digital industry makes it hard to find the cream of the crop.
You may be in the market for a new website. Perhaps you are looking to learn more about your existing platform. Whatever the case may be, we hope this article can give you a starting point to auditing the work of your web developer.
#1. Are Their Web Development Projects Being Farmed Out?
No matter what’s being promised up front, be diligent and ask a lot of questions. Perhaps the most important question to find an answer to is this, “Who is really programming my website?” Web developers are expensive and it’s fairly common for agencies to farm out a lot of their work.
In some cases, that may not be a problem. Yet, in many other cases you need an project manager on hand who is in communication with an in house team. Your project manager should know you, your business and your website goals inside and out. If they’re dealing with location, language or other communication barriers because their developer is not in house, then your project may not come together how it should.
#2. Hiring Your Own Programming Contractor
Before you buy a used car what’s the first thing you’re going to do? Take it to a mechanic so that they can find problems that your untrained eye cannot.
Websites are very mechanical, and each cog should spin in unison with the next. Hiring your own web developer to check under the hood can reveal issues that will cost you down the road.
#3. Is Your New Website Custom?
You may have been sold on a WordPress website that included a design process, custom theme and added security features. That’s great, but there are some things to be aware of.
- Is the theme or custom plugin warrantied? If not, how can you guarantee they will comply with the latest WordPresss updates.
- What inspired the design? Can I see your portfolio? Is this design different from your other projects, or are you ‘plugging and popping’ each website?
- Who is your security vendor? Is this a cost your adding on from Wordfence or Securi that I can simply add on myself?
Be sure to dig deep into your next website project before you sign on the dotted line. With a very competitive digital industry, it’s not uncommon for some agencies to push quantity over quality. Be sure to ask the right questions up front and weed out the developers who don’t take your brand as serious as you do!
Need some design inspiration? The hyper creative team over at Design Contest put together this amazing infographic for web design best practices in 2018. Check it out.
If you’re new to digital marketing, or struggling to get results, then it’s time to learn more about the innovative Paid Media targeting strategies available to businesses. Paid Media, pay per click search, paid social media and programmatic display offer sophisticated algorithms businesses can utilize to build sustainable lead funnels.
Yet, with the vast amount of information on Paid Media, business owners are turning away from these strategies after being discouraged from their unsuccessful DIY efforts. The reason why Paid Media is not working out for the DIY business owner is because most are incapable of utilizing the proper tools to find their audience online.
In this post, we’ll take a look at one of our favorite Paid Media tools, Facebook.
The Facebook scandal was no fluke. No other platform knows your audience like Facebook does, because few other platforms have collected as much data as they have. To make up for their negligence, Facebook has made significant efforts to scale back on what marketers can target and they’ve become more transparent into why ads are served to which users.
Despite these changes, Facebook has still proven to be an effective tool for savvy marketers. With the right strategy, you can retarget website visitors, generate leads, promote events and create brand awareness. Most importantly, you can display relevant ads based off of your target prospects demographic data. For example, you can narrow the impressions bought by geography, age, gender, parental status, interest and even job title.
Here’s a long list of Facebook’s Ad Targeting options from our friends at Wordstream. Of course, you can find their website and the post to this infographic here: