For many businesses, contracting with an internet marketing agency is a necessity because the web is constantly changing and keeping up can be overwhelming. “They’re the experts.” This can be true regardless of business size: for the small business with a local reach or service area, and also for the multinational corporation serving a varied audience. But outsourcing marketing doesn’t mean handing over the keys to your web properties and data, never to look back again. You’ll only get the most out of your web marketing agency partner if you’re an active participant in the process.
Understand what your agency offers
Agencies come in a variety of flavors, from full-service to search engine marketing (SEO and PPC), to inbound/content marketing agencies, to local search optimization, and any number of specializations. Depending on your needs, internal capabilities, and budget, you may choose to outsource the majority of your marketing, or select one or more services a la carte. But because the web changes frequently, it’s possible your agency partner with change or add services from time-to-time, so it’s important to stay aware of current services and why you may consider modifying your marketing mix.
Set clear goals and define “success”
If you don’t know what you want to accomplish—measurably—with your marketing, your agency certainly won’t either. And even if you have a good handle on your goals, don’t make your marketing agency guess what you’re looking for. Clearly communicate the goals and how you define “success” so that all efforts are aimed in the right direction. It also helps the agency understand how their performance will be evaluated.
Outline your “whos” and “hows”
Some companies have internal staff who will handle parts of the marketing mix and only outsource some marketing channels (such as SEO or PPC). Others employ the services of an agency for most or all marketing efforts. To get the most out of your partnership, clearly outline:
- All marketing efforts in use (internal and external, including offline).
- Who is responsible for managing various marketing channels?
- Who is the contact person (or persons) inside your company?
- Who is the contact person (or persons) outside your company?
- How will assets (documents, images, billing information, etc.) be provided/accessed?
- How will marketing approaches be measured, and by whom?
Keep your agency partner in the loop
Offline and offsite activities can have a huge impact on other marketing channels, but if your marketing agency isn’t involved in those projects, they need to be kept in the loop. If you handle any of the following in-house, or outsource to additional partners, tell your marketing agency about activities like:
- Email marketing campaigns
- Social media promotions
- Print advertising
- Media coverage
- Local events, promotions, or coupons
It’s especially important to talk with your agency, as internet marketing professionals, about any campaign designed to drive traffic to your website. They can help you set up tracking for email or offline promotions so that those efforts can be tracked effectively through promo codes, custom URLs, or direct analytics integration. Keeping everyone in the loop is a proactive (rather than reactive) approach that helps you make good business and marketing decisions, and reduces potential data loss and the need for correction after-the-fact.
Follow your agency’s advice (or accept the risks)
You’ve hired your agency because “they’re the experts.” If they indeed are the experts, it’s important that you take their advice as much as possible. Their success is dependent on your success, so they’re not intending to lead you astray. While you may not be able to apply every recommendation (due to budget, decision-maker issues, etc.), if you regularly ignore their advice you’re wasting their time—and your budget! You’ll also not get the results they’re working hard to achieve. If, however, you don’t trust their advice… why are they your partner? Choose a partner you trust, and then empower them to do their job (and get you customers).
Just because you trust your agency doesn’t mean you should check yourself out of the marketing process—and principles. You are the expert in your business, and should be a resource for your agency so that they can make educated decisions about promoting you. Further, you can learn from your interaction with your agency, and make the most of the opportunity to educate yourself about current issues in internet marketing. It will help you to ask better questions, get better answers, and not become so dependent on a marketing partner that you feel trapped.
Since you set up data tracking (you did, didn’t you?) at the beginning of the relationship (or beforehand, if migrating from another agency or an in-house marketing person), you can now use those resources to measure the results of the marketing efforts. For greatest success, provide your marketing agency with information they don’t have direct access to (results from offline events or phone sales, for example). And when your agency compiles and provides you with a monthly report (they do, don’t they?), be sure to read it, look for key performance indicators (KPIs) and return on investment (ROI).
A skilled marketing agency is an excellent partner in building and growing your business, but they can’t work in a vacuum. Set your agency up for success in the relationship, and they’ll be a profit center for you for years to come!
To discuss your options for internet marketing services, give us a call or contact us!