Search marketing companies will waste your money on the wrong thing unless you really know what you want.
Unless you begin with a solid business strategy based on facts and a clear sense of direction, agencies will take your money and give you visitors. Here is what to do:
- An agency is just a business like yourself. The agency may have a strong drive to deliver for you, but that is simply not enough, they are in no-mans-lan between doing what is needed to deliver results and keeping you happy enough to pay the next invoice and renew the arrangement. You can’t honestly blame them if they give up earlier than you do when the answers are simply not forthcoming.
- Imagine going to the dentist and refusing to open your mouth. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense would it?
- Digital marketing agencies or search marketing companies can help arrive at the right strategy for you and do a good job provided you give them the right inputs and they would all prefer to do that, but you must come to the table with a fresh and fairly informed Business strategy and a willingness to engage in a session to develop the digital strategy.
So what does a business strategy look like:
- OK, relax, it doesn’t even need to be much of a document, let alone a big expensive one and you don’t ned expensive consultants to do it. A single A4 is possible though 2 or 3 would probably more usable. If it is long ad windy, summarise it in one or two pages for them.
- The main thing they need from it is where you believe you are right now in terms of your development and how you compare to your competitors, where you want to be and the gaps you have identified and finally how you believe you can best address the gaps.
Finally you should have a list of the assumptions you relied upon to make those decisions.
E.G You may have assumed that a certain percentage of your target revenue can be achieved via digital marketing. That may or not be right but you certainly need to be sharing it with your digital agency.
- If your organisation has a salesforce then you need the head of sales also engaged heavily as a stakeholder in this conversation.
The Digital agency should address how you plan to integrate sales and marketing strategies and the role Digital will play and they should then develop a strategy for your digital efforts that includes these sort of headings:
What are your strengths and weaknesses today with search marketing?
A look at past performance should reveal where the strengths are and what needs to be worked on.
Where do you want to be with Digital Marketing?
This critical because enough ambition keeps people engaged while to much leads to disappointment and demotivation. They should be able to set goals that meet your business needs and yet work with your capabilities or at least address the shortfalls.
What needs to happen to get there, capabilities, systems, budgets, structure, and roles communication might all be discussed.
An agreement going forward would spell out responsibilities and roles that address all the issues above and set you up for a successful campaign.
What segments are you targeting?
Understanding your demographics and testing the assumptions behind them are a vital element of planning anew campaign and this is an ideal time to get an honest appraisal of where you are and if necessary seek more information to avoid bad decisions,
What action do you want from these segments?
Being really clear internally about your overall sales and marketing strategy is critical unless everything is to come unstuck. I have been involved with more than one lay firm or accountancy firm that wasted our efforts and investment by failing to answer the phone when potential clients called or failing to call back as the receptionist had promised they would. If you are not going to answer the phone try a different approach.
What will success look like?
Closely tied to the previous paragraph is this question about how you measure and how you decide what good would look like. The agency will probably want to track performance across the conversion funnel if they are concerned about ROI or revenue because thing like unanswered phones can wreak havoc on conversion metrics.
How will you monitor and measure performance and when will major reviews occur?
Any good agency would recommend that key metrics are regularly monitored and problems highlighted and fixed earlier rather than later.
Assessing your digital agency before beginning a partnership
Do they get what you are doing? Are they willing partners? Are they bought in and committed? Do you feel comfortable working with them. These are the questions you should be asking yourself.
If you are not get this quality of service it may be that they are more geared to delivery than strategic,
One solution to this problem is to get an independent firm to develop your strategy.