Every business owner or marketing manager setting up a web marketing strategy has asked themselves the question at hand at least once. If your needs are urgent and you require a wide range of skills, creating an internal web marketing division within your company isn’t always cost-effective. Agencies can be a great option if you want to find a shoe that fits. In this article, we go through the different criteria and questions to ask yourself when choosing your web marketing agency. Keep in mind this article is meant as food for thought and you might want to consider additional criteria.
Set your goals
Before even starting your Google search or filling out your first contact forms, it’s important to have an idea (even a basic one) of your needs. Essentially, the web marketing agencies you meet can’t read your mind. You will need to explain what you expect from them. While a specific plan and clearly-defined strategy aren’t necessary, it’s important to take the time to research and have a basic understanding of the different web marketing elements (SEO, Google advertising, social media management, web design, etc.) The goal is to speak the same language as the agency and not have the impression the person you meet with is speaking Chinese.
Estimate a rough budget
You might not have any idea how much a web marketing strategy costs. In reality, there’s no magic formula for defining your budget since everything depends on your goals. Defining a rough budget will however give the web marketing agency an idea and allow them to offer appropriate solutions. Essentially, a $10,000 budget won’t give you the same options as a $5,000 budget, whether for website design, an SEO strategy or online advertising.
When you make the rounds of web marketing agencies, you will find that prices can vary greatly from one agency to another. Even if price isn’t the only criterion to take into account, having a budget in mind will allow you to make an initial selection and avoid wasting time if the agency you contact is too far removed from your ideal budget.
Take the time to ask your questions
Don’t hesitate to ask your questions over the phone and only make an appointment once the agency has answered your “pre-selection” queries. Keep in mind that no question absolutely requires a meeting, so don’t be afraid to insist with your line of questioning. It can be embarrassing to find yourself in front of a salesperson who tells you they don’t take any contract below $15,000 when your budget is $5,000.
Here is a list of questions that you can easily ask web marketing agencies before visiting their office:
- What services do you offer?
- What are your greatest strengths?
- What sets you apart from your competitors?
- How many employees do you have?
- Where are you located?
- What is the minimum you must spend for a particular service?
- Do you have experience in my industry?
- Are your services subject to a commitment period?
This list of questions can serve as a basis that we encourage you to add to as needed. We will go over some of these points in detail to explain their importance in choosing your web marketing agency.
Compare each agency’s strengths and weaknesses
All web marketing agencies essentially offer the same services, but they are not all equally effective for each of these services. For example, a website design agency may offer SEO services despite these not being its strength. It is therefore important to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each agency before entrusting them with all or part of your budget.
For skeptics who believe that agencies can spin things however they see fit and feel they have no way of knowing if they are being truthful, there are simple ways to substantiate their claims. For example, an agency that claims to specialize in web design will no doubt have an ample portfolio/creations section. If the agency claims to be an SEO expert, it shouldn’t be difficult to find their site by searching Google for “SEO”, “SEO agency”, “SEO expert”, etc. Finally, if the agency claims to specialize in web marketing, you can analyze its positioning on Google, its achievements, its social media presence, etc. You might be surprised by the wealth of information you come across!
Verify the agencies’ reputations
In the digital age, companies are now rated like Amazon products, with stars and customer reviews.
Take the time to read reviews left by agency clients. This will show you which issues come up most often and help you better understand each company’s strengths and weaknesses.
You can even contact their customers directly to ask them your questions and see if the reviews are legitimate. This may seem extreme for some people but wanting reassurance before giving several thousand dollars to an agency that will influence your web marketing is normal.
Intuition often plays a major role
Beyond the price, it’s important to feel confident with the web agency that will support you. When you’ve searched around and contacted various agencies, there will inevitably be some that stand out and leave a better impression than others. This doesn’t mean that the others are incompetent, but we are talking about human relationships in which a certain amount of subjectivity is necessary.
However, beware sellers who know how to answer your questions to make you feel confident but are clueless whether they can deliver on the promises they make. If you want to avoid this, find out what the person’s role is within the organization. Are they a manager, someone who does the work or a someone who advises clients and then delegates work to the rest of the team?
Think long-term with your web agency to get the most bang for your buck
Finally, one the best tips we can give is to think long-term with your agency rather than trying to get the cheapest version of different services, negotiating aggressively and always expecting more than what you pay for. You might be able to save money in the short-term, but your agency will eventually no longer be able to do anything for you and the next agency will charge you for another initial analysis that will cancel out whatever savings you made.
The goal is to find a win-win balance between your company and the web marketing agency so that it helps you grow and continues to share best practices without you having to ask anything. You may have already done business with web marketing agencies and we hope everything went well. If this is not the case, you can always contact us to receive a free evaluation from one of our founders who are committed to always being available for every client. In the meantime, thank you for taking the time to read this article. We hope you liked it and found the answers to your questions.