Last month on the Web.com community, I blogged about when you should outsource your online marketing. But once you’ve decided to do this, you’ve still got another decision to make: how to choose the right online marketing company to outsource to. Here are some tips for finding the perfect match.
- Assess your weak points. What online marketing tasks are you able to handle, and which do you need help with either due to lack of knowledge or lack of time? Maybe you’ve got great website marketing copy, but you’re not getting enough visitors to your site. SEO can help. Or perhaps you have the reverse issue—you attract a lot of visitors, but can’t convert them to buyers. You might need a website redesign, better marketing copy or both. Or perhaps you need help with social media marketing such as Facebook and Twitter because you simply don’t have enough hours in the day.
- Set measurable goals. Once you know what you’re seeking help with, decide exactly what you want to accomplish. Vague statements like “get more website traffic” aren’t enough; you need to quantify your goals so that you can measure results and know whether you’re getting your money’s worth. Use numbers, percentages or dollar figures to quantify what you expect to achieve.
- Set priorities and a budget. Determine which online marketing methods are highest priorities, how much you are willing to spend overall and how much money you can allocate to each method. It’s a good idea to allow some wiggle room—for instance, if you are running an online ad campaign using Google Adwords or Bing Ads, you may need to spend a little more than planned to buy the best keywords.
- Create a shortlist. Once you know what you want to do and how much you can spend, it’s time to find an online marketing company to outsource to. Start by asking colleagues what companies they use and if they recommend them. You can also check out sites such as TopTenReviews to find the best online marketing assistance for small businesses. Finally, reading industry publications, experts’ blogs and industry websites can lead you to recommended companies.
- Comparison shop. Find out what each online marketing company offers, various levels of cost and what is included. It’s helpful to create a spreadsheet to compare your options. Support is important: Is it free, or is there a cost? Will you be able to speak to a real person, or is support provided by chat or email? What are the support hours?
- Payment plans. How do you pay the company? Is there a monthly fee or annual fee? What is included and what is extra? Are you locked in or can you cancel the services at any time? Is the company paid based on performance or is the rate the same whether their online marketing works or not?
- Results matter. Find out what types of reporting the company offers. Is there a dashboard you can view to see results? Do they provide you with daily, weekly or monthly reports to see trends and results of their efforts? Tracking results is crucial, so look for as many reporting options as you need. Then, be sure you actually use the reports to assess results and make changes to your online marketing program as needed.
In my next post in this series I’ll talk about how to develop a good working relationship with your online marketing service once you’ve chosen them.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.