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Five questions to ask your digital marketing agency before hiring them

Working with a digital marketing agency can increase the speed and return on your digital advertising investment. An agency most likely has the resources and experience to achieve better results than either an in-house team or the up-and-down world of freelancers that come with widely varying skills and ability.

However, while most agencies will be quick to assure you that they have the capabilities to meet your digital marketing needs, you don’t want to be oversold. Choosing the right agency can reduce costs and lead to faster and more pronounced growth, while choosing the wrong agency for you can mean the wrong fit, a lack of results, and can be costly.

To choose the right agency for you, it is a good idea to ask some specific questions to see how they align with your expectations:

1. What is your process?

You can tell a lot about how well a business understands your digital marketing needs when they describe how they’ll meet those needs.

This slightly less-common question (compared to the standard “how can you help me?”) requires the agency to tell you how they work and how they’ll handle your campaigns. You can also tell how experienced and knowledgeable they are about your specific needs by how well they can describe their process to you.

2. What experience do you have handling clients in my field?

Here, you get more directly into the experience of the agency. While many will claim to be able to meet your expectations, not everyone will have experience in your particular field.

Ask to see examples of their previous work for clients that are similar to your business and your marketing needs. If they can’t produce them, they may not have as much experience or expertise as they claim.

You may be tempted to go with an agency that is unproven in your field, in the hopes that they’ll bring a fresh perspective or new skills to your campaigns. That decision is up to you – and could pay off with the right agency. For other business owners, trusting your campaign to an experienced firm that can show results in your field lessens the risk that you’ll spend money to get little or no return.

3. How do you use digital marketing for your own brand?

Perhaps experience isn’t as important to you as the skillset available at the agency. In that case, you’ll discover a great deal from how they market themselves. You might ask to see how they’ve handled their own campaigns to get a glimpse of the creativity they will show your campaign.

This isn’t the most important factor, however. Many successful agencies do little for their own brands, largely because they are focused mainly on their own clients’ success.

4. When will I see results and what will those results look like?

Agencies can be either too reluctant or too eager to answer this question, and that’s telling in both cases. If they aren’t willing to pin down precisely what success looks like within a reasonable span of time, that may indicate they lack the capabilities to deliver.

On the other hand, a time frame that seems too short with results that sound too optimistic should also make you reconsider.

Look for a reliable, scientific means of proving positive results and a time frame that gives enough time (but not too much) to start seeing those results. Digital marketing should take half a year or more to start seeing improvements, depending on your industry and area of focus. Make sure you have a way to measure the success of the agency with some data at some point during the working relationship.

5. What will this cost?

Cost is always a significant concern any time you are investing in your business. Before settling on your digital marketing agency, make sure you set some hard numbers, and there’s an understanding of just how much you are willing to invest to meet the results you expect.

Once you’ve received the right answers to these questions from a digital marketing agency, you’ll be in a much more comfortable position to select the team that is right for you. It’ll be easier to decide on the agency with the capabilities to meet your expectations and to deliver the results you are looking for.


Are these valuable leads? Why communication is key to optimizing PPC campaigns

What do you define as a conversion? A conversion, in internet marketing, occurs when a visitor on a website completes a desired goal, such as filling out a contact form, calling the phone number, or engaging in an online chat platform. That is the simple way to look at a conversion. On the other end of the spectrum, a conversion to a business owner may be defined as a purchase or a potential client sign-up. This is what makes our conversion numbers so important and something we always want to focus our efforts on.

Of course, it is not reasonable to expect all conversions will be high-dollar purchases for an e-commerce business or million dollar cases for a law firm, but at some point the conversion must be valued. Too often, I see a disconnect in communication between the marketer and the client when discussing which conversions from a paid ad campaign were worthwhile. This information is important to the marketer so they can figure out what keyword brought in that million dollar conversion and they can continue optimizing their PPC campaign. With this information, paid search experts can really focus on what is worth their time and effort, versus wondering, “Sh*t! Are these actually leads?”

Most marketers find themselves wasting time focusing on conversions/leads that may not be a qualified lead. This stresses the importance of following up with your clients to make sure that the leads you are bringing in are worth their time and money.

To sum this up, it’s important to ask yourself and your client the questions below when considering what to focus the campaign budget on and how to tailor the ads for those big-money keywords.

  • What does an ideal lead look like?
  • What are things that can make a lead disqualified?
  • What are you willing to spend for a qualified lead?

Communication is KEY. As a marketer, we can create pivot tables to analyze our ads and keywords with our conversions to better optimize our campaigns. But if the client says that 80% of those leads were junk, then our optimization is thrown out the window. We must follow up with clients on a consistent basis to make sure our efforts are giving them great return on investment. By implementing this practice, we can set up a pivot table of QUALIFIED leads and focus our efforts where they really need to be.


How Effective are Google Ads?

Spending money to advertise on Google is not cheap, so it’s a smart question for any business to ask how effective paid search marketing is in 2018. Have browsing habits evolved? Do people still click on ads?

In a 2017 study of Google users, 60% of participants responded that they will click on any result that is relevant to their search, regardless of whether it is an ad or organic result. Only 24% of participants responded that they would actively avoid clicking on ads. This means that 3 out of 4 people will still click on your ad if it is relevant to what they are looking for.

Because these potential clients are already looking for your product or service, it’s merely a matter of a click and an action (phone call, internet purchase, email, contact form, etc.) on their part to convert that into a sale or a potential sale.

Inbound marketing strategies like paid search advertising tend to generate a more significant return on investment (ROI) than outbound marketing strategies (email campaigns, scattershot social media advertising, postcards, flyers, etc.) because your audience is specifically looking for your services.

It is important to hire an experienced and reputable internet marketing firm as a resource to handle your online marketing efforts, including creating and managing your paid search campaigns. It is entirely possible to spend (and lose) quite a bit of money if you do not set up and manage the campaigns the right way. By hiring a firm that has experience in running successful campaigns, you can rest easier knowing that your money is being spent the right way.

If you are considering hiring a firm to help you take advantage of the more than 160 billion searches per month on Google, there are a few questions that you will want to ask your rep, including:

  • Have you handled campaigns in my specific industry before?
  • What type of ad spends have you worked with in the past?
  • What is the spend-range that you recommend for my specific campaign?
  • What is the communication process like? What type of reporting do you provide?

Once you have discussed their experience and plans for your particular campaign, you can be comfortable in handing the keys to your paid search advertising over to professionals who do this on a daily basis. As always, make sure to select a firm that you trust, and someone who you know will be looking to maximize your return on investment.


Communication is the Root of All Success

Have you ever purchased a service from a marketing company who promised to be there for you no matter what happens? After signing up, did your account manager fail to answer your call, or return your call much later in the week?

This is a clear sign that the company is either a.) unable to keep the commitment they made or b.) are trying to hide something from you. Companies don’t usually stay silent when they have positive results to show and are often quick to avoid you when something negative happens. The whole key to successful marketing is figuring out what is is working and what is not. Your success should be their success. Marketing is not a science and there isn’t just one equation that is successful for everybody.

Every account is different and there needs to be an ongoing dialogue between the account rep and the client. Marketing companies should use the data from campaigns that are not working just as effectively as they can from campaigns that are delivering. An unsuccessful campaign can tell them what efforts are not worth the time, effort, and investment, and they can instead put more work into strategies that are currently working for others.

As the client, it is essential that you feel comfortable to contact your rep whenever you have questions about anything. At the end of the day, the marketing company needs to be responsive to your concerns, feedback, and suggestions. They don’t have to agree with you and should be comfortable enough with you to voice their own concerns or tell you why they disagree with specific suggestions, but again, a healthy dialogue needs to take place.

Make sure you get to know the history and the strategy of the marketing company that you are signing a contract with. Also, be sure that your representative gets to know you as well. You should have a very good idea of what kind of company they are and how they handle their business by the flow of the conversation leading up to the signing of the contract.If they are missing scheduled calls or are rescheduling meetings consistently, these are red flags that most likely will not change when you sign up with them. Also, communication should not be limited to emails. There need to be phone calls included here and there to maintain that communication, trust, and professional relationship. It’s better to over-communicate than to not talk at all. Communication is the first step to solving any issues and alleviating concerns and needs to be present in every step of business.


Custom Photography Challenge

When I began my career at Cloud 8 Sixteen, Inc., I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to photograph attorneys from one of the most prestigious law firms in America. Fast forward two years and I am pulling up to Williams Kherkher’s office, a massive building located in Houston, Texas. Williams Kherkher is a personal injury law firm that was founded in 1983. Over the last 35 years, the firm has recovered billions for victims across the country. Photographing a firm of this caliber was both scary and exciting at the same time. I knew the shoot would be a challenge, but it was one I was ready to take on.

When I was first asked to do custom photography for this client, I thought, “Wow, what an honor! I wonder if I’m ready for this?” While I have years of photography experience, I had recently taken on this new role at work and was honored to be given such a huge opportunity. I spent the next few weeks mentally preparing for the assignment. I knew that this photoshoot would be very different from photoshoots I have done in the past. These lawyers were not my close friends or family. In fact, it was the first time I was meeting them. The only thing I knew about them was they were a big freaking deal.

I was so anxious the morning of the photoshoot. I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the unknowns. It was my first time seeing their office and I didn’t know what kind of space I would be working with. Lucky for me, all my nerves disappeared as soon as I was introduced to the lawyers at the firm. I finally realized that the day wasn’t about me but was about all the awesome people standing in front of me. The rest of the day was better than I could have ever imagined. I really enjoyed being pushed outside of my comfort zone and loved learning more about their practice. I left the office feeling extremely grateful for the day I had.

The most valuable thing I learned from this experience is that the client always comes first. If I would have continued the photoshoot believing that the day was about me and my photos, I would not have gotten the shots my client needed. Understanding this allowed me to capture images that highlighted the special qualities Williams Kherkher has to offer as a personal injury firm. When I look back on the day, I am proud of what I accomplished. I captured photos that I loved, but more importantly, I took photos my client was proud to show on their website.

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