DIGITAL MARKETING

Guide to Vetting Small Business Marketing Services

By Renezen Benedicto

How to Make Sure You’re Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Help

Your business needs an online presence, your online presence needs a strategy, and if you’re like most small business owners trying to do it all, your digital strategy probably needs a bit of help.

Finding the right type of digital marketing help can feel a lot like picking an avocado: it’s valuable for your health, but can be expensive and risky if you don’t know what you are looking for.

Some small business marketing companies will try to lure you with promises to make you rank #1 on Google overnight and easy social media tactics that are “sure” to go viral but always fall short in delivering. So how do you screen out the duds and find good, reliable digital marketing help?

Choosing the right digital marketing help
Take a step back

But first, what does your business need?

Before typing in “small business marketing company” in the search bar, do you know what your current struggles are when it comes to your online presence?

Are you looking for someone to take over your digital strategy or someone to hold your hand until you can do it on your own? Or is it maybe a little bit of both? Even if it’s just to free up some of your time, you have to know what you need.

Like any bunch of avocados, you have to be ready to screen out the rotten ones [and unfortunately they do exist] to find the gems in the digital marketing industry. With a little recon and a clear understanding of what you need, you’ll be able to find the best type of digital marketing help for your business.

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10 Questions

Here are 10 questions to ask when you’re looking for digital marketing help.

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1. Do you work as part of an agency or as an individual?

While there are no right or wrong answers, this question weeds out digital marketing providers that don’t fit your needs.

For example, are you looking for a full-service provider? A digital marketing agency can handle everything from social media marketing to search engine optimization. Set your goals, hand over the keys, and let them do their thing.

Or are you looking to keep digital marketing in-house? Add a new member to your team to focus on your digital presence, while having direct access to strategy implementation and results.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to consider with both models, and it purely depends on your needs, goals, and budget as to which avenue you should take.

Who are you working with
Whats your process

2. What’s your process?

If you know their process, you can determine if their workflow works with yours.

If you’re more of a salsa dancer, but their style is more hip-hop, can you perform well together? Make sure their process jives well with your style.

Talk about their approach. What type of marketing solutions do they believe in? How do they keep up with all the changes in digital marketing?

Take it a step further and ask them about the marketing strategies they’re using for their digital presence.

3. Will you do the work or do you outsource?

If you’re dealing with an agency, you might not be talking to the person that will be doing the actual work. Find out who will actually work on improving your digital presence. Review their experience and request to meet them first before signing a contract.

Are they outsourcing some of the work to outside partners or freelancers? Though this is a common practice, you’ll still want to know who they are since they’ll be part of your digital marketing team.

Outsourcing work
Services offered

4. What services do you provide?

Go on their site to see the services they provide. If you’re looking for a certain expertise, ask them about their core competencies.

Ask for examples of what they can do in digital marketing, even if the samples are from their own website. You’ll want to hire someone who can show you what they can do, not just tell you about it.

5. How do you get to know your clients?

Do they have a process of learning about your business or industry? Did they give you forms and templates to fill out to learn more about you, your business, and your pain points?

If they don’t take the time to understand your business, how can they help you connect with your customers online?

So listen to their answers, but also pay attention to their questions.

Getting to know you
Tracking goal progress

6. Do you have any case studies available?

Anyone can hang a sign and say “we’re awesome,” but can they prove it?

Ask about recent case studies or if you can speak to any of their clients. What types of successes have they had? What challenging digital marketing projects have they worked on, and what were their results?

Read their blogs. Does it sound like they know what they’re writing about? Do they add a fresh insight that is both informative and relevant?

7. What do your clients say about you?

Google them and see what types of reviews pop up for the company. Are they legit or do they appear like a fly by night type of small business marketing service?

Look for reviews on their website or client testimonials. In your vetting process, you’ll want to seek out small business digital marketing companies with a proven track record of results.

Keys to online marketing

PRO-TIP


89% of 35-54-year-old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to a local marketing website. Any digital marketing service worth their salt will know that. So if they’re not using reviews to boost their digital presence, how can they help you with yours?

How do you charge

8. How do you charge?

This question is more about the agency and less about the amount they charge [though you’ll need that later]. Are they scrambling to put together a price list? Or are their prices published on their website?

A company with a clear pricing structure is easier to work with than someone who pulls numbers out of thin air. Digital marketing is unpredictable enough. Planning your budget shouldn’t be unpredictable, too.

If they charge by the project, ask what is included in the scope of work. Do they charge a retainer, and does it include a set amount of hours? If that’s the case, ask what happens beyond those hours? Are there hidden costs? Do they provide base prices, with the option to customize to fit your needs?

Once you get through the “how” you can ask the next big question, how much will it cost?

9. Who owns the accounts?

There are horror stories out there of digital marketers holding their clients’ accounts hostage when they try to cut ties.

To avoid that, set up the accounts yourself [Facebook, Google Ads, etc] and then give them access. If they insist on doing it themselves, walk away. It’s your money and your digital presence so it should also be your account, not theirs.

The same goes for passwords. Assign account management access whenever possible, or use a tool like LastPass to share access without giving away the password.

Who is in charge
Real time custom data by webSMART

10. How soon can I expect to see results?

Of course, you want to see results sooner rather than later. However, the best practices in digital marketing focus on long-term strategies and not quick fixes. So if they’re guaranteeing the top position on search engines by next week, thank them, turn..and run.

Get regular updates on your progress.

Do they have a process to help clients set goals for their business? What about KPIs? Good digital marketing services will have a list of KPIs to track and help you understand how the KPIs are relevant to your goals.

Ask how often they’ll be giving you updates. Will you have weekly meetings or have access to a detailed data dashboard? They should also be able to tell when it’s time to pivot and adjust strategies that might not be working.

Put webSMART to the test.

Finding the right help for your small business can be a long, drawn-out process. So we don’t blame you if you look at us with trepidation and a suspicious eye.

We’ve been there. With years of small business experience of our own, we know it’s hard to find reliable digital marketing help.  At webSMART, we keep an open, honest dialogue with our clients. We make sure they understand our digital marketing processes. We practice what we preach, and our clients can tell you about it.

But we also believe in empowering business owners like you to take the reigns. webSMART’s launchSITE will keep your hands on the steering wheel with full control of where your ship will go.

So put us to the test. Let’s set up our first date and work together in figuring out what the best digital solution is for your business to soar to new heights.

Digital Marketing Strategy