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Part 2: Insights from Sam: How Can a Business Choose the Best Online Marketing Agency for Them?

By Erin  |   Online Marketing

Profile Of A Mind

In our “Insights from Sam” blog post series, I ask Sam (our online marketing expert here at Followbright) a question or two about, you guessed it, online marketing. These questions are the most common ones about online marketing that we’re asked here at our web strategy agency.  Each time, Sam shares his insights through simple, easy to understand responses.  Enjoy!


Erin: In the past, you’ve talked about how when businesses are trying to figure out who to hire to help with their online marketing, they should look for a partner that has a breadth of experience. The thing is, when you go to most agencies' websites that say they do search marketing, they *of course* say that they have X number of years combined experience or they are very experienced in multiple fields or here are two case studies.

If someone is trying to choose a good online marketing partner, how can they really know if the potential partner they're speaking with actually does have experience?

Sam: Yeah, it can be a tricky proposition because the client doesn't necessarily understand all the nuances of the advertising or marketing channel that they are investigating. If they did…if they were truly experts in Pay Per Click, for example, then they wouldn't need to hire an agency, most likely they could just do it themselves.

Asking questions like "how would we begin the process of kicking off these campaigns?" or "what are the steps required for us to go from where we are now to reaching our goals?" or asking for some basic projections on how much traffic is available is a perfect start. How many leads might be generated? An agency with experience—given a bit of time to do some homework—should be able to come up with those answers pretty readily.

If the answers are extremely vague or don't seem to follow a definite process, that's something that a client might want to investigate a little bit.

For example, if a business asked how an online marketing agency might approach keyword selection and the answer was "we would only use the best keywords", that’s way too vague. (But it happens!)

An online marketing agency should be able to be pretty specific about the process they use, how they will involve the client in the process, what steps they will take care of on their own, what steps they are going to need help from the client, things like that. There should be very definite answers to those things.

It's also important, especially with larger agencies, to ask who would actually work on our accounts. It's really great to have the president of the agency sit in on your meeting, but if the president and director of marketing aren't going to be working on your account, it's a great idea to ask "who would be personally managing my account?" because there is a big difference between the Director of Marketing and the mid-level account manager who is actually going to manage the account.

To sum up: it’s important to find out what processes will be used, what the agency will expect if they were to work together and what the account team would look like.

Erin: Got it! So as a company is going about trying to figure out who to partner with, is there anything you can think of that might be a red flag or a warning sign if it showed up in the discussions? Something that might make a company think, “maybe we shouldn't be considering this company as a potential partner to help us with our search engine marketing”?

Sam: Sure. I think one of the big things to watch out for is if an agency is really focused on their costs and their minimums rather than what the client needs.

So for example, if a client had a certain budget that they were willing to work within and the agency's fee structure would really max out that budget, the agency should be up front about how that will affect profitability for the client.

A responsible agency should be able to tell a prospect pretty quickly whether or not they are going to be a good fit. If the agency isn’t considering the possibility that the agency is not a good fit that is something the client should pay attention to. After all, the important question should be, “will this relationship be profitable”, not “can the client afford the agency”.

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