Digital marketing is an industry with a fairly low barrier to entry. There are no regulations, no official licenses, and not really any certifications that are well known to those who aren’t internet marketers.
Virtually anyone can go online, set up a web page, and call themselves a digital marketing expert. I have seen it several times. I have seen men barely able to turn on a computer get in front of an audience and speak as if they are an internet guru.
They present their marketing strategy as a black box with no transparency. They claim it is too complicated, that only a seasoned expert such as themselves can understand what they are doing. They will take your money and tell you it will be months before you see any results.
On top of this, they will give no insight to what they are doing for that money. By the time you catch on, it is too late.
Months have passed with no results and there is no sign of improvement. Your rankings on google have not improved and you have not received any phone calls, much less increased business.
I have seen this all too often and it breaks my heart to see honest business owners fall into the same trap.
Here are some tips to help you properly vet your online marketing company and make sure they are legit.
1) Do Your Research
Imagine you are hiring a new employee, what would you do? When you hire a new employee, you usually interview them, get references, and research them. You also might google their name to see what you can find.
Treat this process like you would hiring anyone else.
Google the company and search for their reviews. Don’t just search for the company name, search for the individual who is handling your project.
What is their level of experience? Do they have any history that you should be concerned about? Ask for references and samples of work.
If they are a reputable company, they will have many happy clients eager to tell you about their great experience. If they don’t give references, or claim they need to “protect their customers,” that is a red flag.
2) Ask For a Plan of Action
If they can’t tell you what they are doing, or say it is a “trade secret,” move on to the next company. Having a few secret techniques is one thing, but you deserve to know what you are getting for that hard earned cash.
Hiring someone for Search Engine Optimization? Ask for a written proposal and a strategy.
Need someone to manage your Google Adwords? Ask them how often they log in and what they will do to optimize your campaign.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard of companies charge monthly for adwords management who fall asleep at the wheel and never log in to see how it is going.
3) Pay Attention to Response Time
If a company is trying to earn your business, they are typically on their best behavior. If you are a prospective client and the marketing agency you are talking to is not promptly returning your calls, that is a big red flag.
Think about this: If you are having a hard time getting a hold of them before the sale, what is it going to be like after they have your money?
The biggest complaint I hear about other marketing agencies is their poor response time and customer service.
4) Watch Out for Red Flags
We all have instincts when we first meet people, and you should listen to them. If a company guarantees instant results, that is a huge red flag.
As internet marketers, our job is to find ways to make you money. However, sometimes there are forces at work that are outside of our control. We are not psychics. Nobody can guarantee 100% results. Period.
If it seems like they are telling you everything you want to hear, be skeptical. If they sound like a car salesman, be very skeptical. You want someone who will give you realistic expectations and will be honest with you.
Agencies with great products sell themselves. They have no need for ‘car sales’ tactics, as they are busy enough providing results.
5) Read the Fine Print
Always make sure there is a contract in place before you write a check.
Make sure the contract includes everything that was promised to you in the initial consultation. If you really want to play it safe (particularly for bigger projects), have an attorney look it over.
It may cost money, but it will give you peace of mind and can potentially save a lot in the long run.
Also be skeptical if the contract is excessively long and difficult to understand.
The purpose of this article is not to scare you away from doing SEO, Social Media, or Pay Per Click advertising. If done correctly, they can be an incredible asset to your company and help grow your business exponentially. If you do your due diligence and find an honest, quality company, your opportunities are limitless.
If you’re in this position, we’d love to help. Send us a note to [email protected] or click below to contact us today.