Today’s technology-driven world is gearing up for a new innovation every day. From Artificial Intelligence entering mainstream consumer goods to virtual reality enabled apps and games, we are living in an era of digital revolution that has made the seemingly impossible tangibly probable. The young and the old, everyone is online and has become considerably tech-savvy. According to the recent statistics, 88% of the Australian population is actively using the Internet.
Perhaps, a massive chunk of the world is searching for information, streaming videos, connecting with peers on social media, and purchasing products online on a daily basis. The dynamics of shopping, socialising, and entertainment have seen a paradigm shift after the evolution of the Internet. Consequently, the ways of marketing have also diversified with the changing times. In a 2012 news report, it was estimated that nearly 13 million Australians were hooked to the Internet for over 18 hours a day.
The advantage of researching for products and services on a Smartphone to compare prices and read the customer reviews has made the competition among brands even fiercer. Every business wants to be listed on the front page of the search engine results page (SERP) for higher visibility and brand promotions. Inevitably, hiring a digital marketing agency has become an indispensable part of the advertising and marketing plan of all competitive businesses.
The 18th edition of the Nielsen Australian Connected Consumers Report stated that almost all Australians have indulged in online shopping and one in four make an online purchase almost every week. With customer reviews, social networking sites, and online advertising influencing the purchase decisions of the consumers, the need for a profound digital marketing strategy has become more than essential. In fact, the unprecedented demand for online marketing has given birth to black hat SEO agencies which are using unscrupulous techniques to gain SERP rankings and bring down the ranking of a competitor’s website.
However, this can lead to complete banishment of your website from the internet. Thus businesses need to find a reliable and competent digital marketing agency to improve their ranking organically, generate high-quality leads, adhere to the SEO guidelines, and gain high return on investment. Hiring a third-party agency ensures that you get assistance from subject matter experts and also ample time to focus on your core business rather than panicking about the new changes in Google’s algorithm. However, before partnering with an agency, you must inquire about their track record and ask them these five critical questions.
The efficiency of a well-planned digital marketing strategy can be measured from its results. The parameters for the measurement of success of an SEO strategy must be in alignment with the business objectives of the hiring company. For example, an e-commerce business would need reports from lead generation to sale and lifetime value of a consumer.
These indicators help the business to understand the level of improvement made with the help of SEO, and how it can be further amplified to benefit the business. The key indicators usually depend on the requirement of the company. However, they must essentially target these areas – website traffic, the source of the traffic, number of qualified leads, money spent on acquiring a lead, and revenue generated from each lead. Evaluating the expertise of the digital marketing agency in measuring these indicators will help you choose a better marketing partner.
This may seem like a little intrusive, but it is quite imperative as the team must be competent and experienced in handling such accounts. Most importantly, they must have a technical background that includes knowledge of a variety of software like HubSpot for inbound marketing, HootSuite for social media marketing, Salesforce marketing cloud, mobile app development skills for Android and iOS and much more.
Additionally, as Google is becoming stringent about the quality of content on the web pages, the team must have good content writers and marketers. There should be specialised professionals for each element of digital marketing to achieve the desired results. Also, many companies outsource a major chunk of the work which can create further problems and communication barriers. So be aware of the team that you will be working with and build a rapport with them to work in tandem with each other.
To understand the real calibre of an agency, you must ask them about their other clients and the results they have achieved for them. Ask for case studies and client testimonials. Also, expertise comes with experience. If the agency has been around for a while, it must have acquired the best talent and worked on a variety of projects.
Naturally, it would have an envious portfolio as compared to its novice counterparts. Hiring an inexperienced agency can prove to be fatal as the marketing investment is a significant commitment that cannot be lost to inefficiency. Besides identifying the capability of the agency, you must figure out whether its methodology and process is a good fit for your business or not.
Budget is a significant factor that helps in selecting the digital marketing agency. This is the part where you must check about the terms and policies of the contract and the monthly fee. An agency may promise you a bouquet of services, but you must keep the limitations of your marketing budget in mind before signing on the dotted line. Don’t be completely blank about the concepts and components of the digital marketing strategy.
You must know what is required and what is not required to achieve your business goals so that you can get rid of the redundant activities that may be adding to the cost. There could be some services that may be missing from their offer list so take quotes from a couple of agencies and compare them to select the one that best fits your requirements.
Monitoring the results is important in assessing the influence of the SEO tactics working their magic on the business. Every agency follows a unique process of reporting the positives and negatives. These should be discussed in advance to know the extent of reporting and the process that will be followed during the contractual period. It must match with the marketing goals and timelines of the business to make an impact on the bottom-line.
This question must lead to further discussion on the complete marketing plan, the research undertaken to analyse the target audience and the industry, the tools that will be used to carry out the activities such as SEM, mobile marketing, social media marketing, ORM, email marketing, etc. How each tool will be channelled into the plan and organised in the reports. Also, these reports should be self-explanatory and must indicate the red flags.
These five questions are just the tip of the iceberg that will set the ball rolling for the hiring process. The business owner must probe further and retrieve as much information as he/she can about the digital marketing practices of the agency and how they will benefit his/her business. A notable thing to remember here is that you will be closely working with the agency for a long time, so focus on finding a worthy and likeable partner. This will help in avoiding any miscommunication and hard feelings in the future.