You need internet marketing for your small business. You don’t have the knowledge or time to do it yourself. So you decide to outsource digital marketing.
Then you pause. You survey the landscape. It’s unfamiliar. Just what does an internet marketing company actually do? What can I expect? Will it be worth it?
Marketing online is essential, but it’s also become so complex many business owners don’t even know what internet marketing companies actually do. Here is an overview, with a video introduction on how to choose an internet marketing company.
Internet Marketing Strategy & Planning
One of the main struggles small businesses face with online marketing is developing a cohesive strategy. They have goals, but no plan to achieve them.
A professional marketing firm will immediately consult with you on strategy. This means they’ll look at your industry, competition, target segments, and offer to determine which tactics will work and what type of budget you’ll need. At this point, the goal is to give starting points and a frame of reference so you’ll understand what you’re dealing with. It’s not to finalize a plan.
Why is that? Because smart marketers know that your strategy will change as you execute it. You’ll gather data on what works best, as well as what fails. Part of your initial plan is preparing to act on success and learn from mistakes.
Anyone who establishes a static plan or makes guarantees about specific results doesn’t really understand what an internet marketing strategy entails.
Likewise, be aware that your budget needs to be flexible. As challenges arise and are overcome, so will your required resources.
After you modify and test campaigns (a period that can run anywhere from 3 months to a year) you’ll solidify your strategy. But it never sits still. Another vital job your internet marketing company will do is keep up with the ever-changing landscape of digital life. As technology changes consumer behavior, you need to stay a step ahead.
Online search is so integral to internet marketing it’s something you’ll want to discuss specifically.
There are two tactics with search. Paid advertising on platforms like Google Adwords, and organic search, more popularly known as SEO.
An internet marketing company with anything that approaches a comprehensive service offers search marketing. They’ll conduct keyword research, create a content plan, and develop goals for rankings, traffic, engagement, and conversions.
Marketing software plays an important role in search marketing today because tracking data over time is vital to success.
Another thing to look for is a company that does both paid search and organic search together. There is considerable overlap between strategy and execution which you need to take advantage of to develop the best campaigns.
There are still a surprising number of agencies and consultants that specialize in only paid or organic search. Only consider this type of firm if you want a specialist in one area.
Most small business owners don’t have the time or skill to write copy, take photos, or develop videos.
But all this content is the backbone of your marketing efforts. Online advertisements, SEO content, product descriptions – none of this can be done without a skilled writer.
Professional photos and videos can be huge factors in gaining a competitive advantage. Video is increasingly important with online marketing, and a small business can get a lot of mileage out of just one quality video.
Content creation – at its best – weaves into a story that engages your audience while communicating your value. It’s interesting, informative, and useful. It creates brand awareness and distinguishes you from your competition. It persuades prospective customers that you’re the best option.
Design & Development
Design is another fundamental aspect of online marketing, particularly as it pertains to business websites and landing pages. It’s vital that design efforts support your marketing message and conversion goals. The best internet marketing companies are also website designers. This way, the concepts driving the strategy are built into the design of web pages, banners, and advertisements.
An important attitude to look for with designers is knowing that design is how it works, not just how it looks. In other words, design must serve the marketing, not the other way around.
It’s common to find design firms that fail to get this. These designers are more focused on their own creative expression and originality than supporting conversion goals.
However, it’s actually the case that clean, simple designs that focus on functionality are superior to the gimmicky, clever, or bold.
The closer your design support works with your marketing team, the more likely you’ll stay focused on conversion goals, which is what really counts.
You’ll know you’re talking to a serious marketing company if they use the word conversion a lot.
The conversion is your business goal being achieved. It’s the new lead or online sale. It’s what leads to profit.
Conversion-rate optimization uses data and testing tactics to discover what ads, content, and designs work best to motivate your target audience. It’s the science of marketing that uses data to see how people respond to your content.
This process lets you make informed modifications. It’s the only way to dial-in campaigns and be certain of what gets the best response from consumers.
Conversion-rate optimization takes time and diligence. It’s what separates professional marketing execution from amateur guesswork.
Social Media & Branding
So many consumers are on social media today that it’s become a marketing opportunity most businesses can’t ignore.
But the execution of social media marketing (SMM) is a definite challenge. So much so, in fact, that many agencies still have no track record of success with social.
Social media leans strongly towards awareness and branding goals, although retargeting advertising is becoming increasingly effective.
A marketing company that knows social media will talk in clear terms about how it fits into your overall strategy. Avoid firms that make grandiose promises about how much money you can make through social media. In some cases, social media should be shelved in favor of more essential, conversion-focused strategies.
Likewise, there may be cases where you can effectively do some SMM internally. A reputable agency will explain when this is the case.
Small businesses that benefit from agency SMM are those with an offering that lends itself to creating shareable content and that have a large target audience active on social platforms.
All-in-one Marketing Services
There is one other consideration when you look at what internet marketing companies do.
Some do it all, and some specialize in only one area.
We alluded to this with search marketing and design. There are a lot of one-off shops out there, many operated by freelancers. However, if you need a comprehensive marketing plan, working with different vendors will hamper your efforts because of coordination issues.
With marketing tactics, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The different tactics to need serve and support each other for any one of them to be fully effective. If your marketing services are each working in a silo, you’re at a distinct disadvantage.
When you work with an all-in-one internet marketing company like Marketing 360®, you get all of your services coordinated. This makes the execution of your marketing strategy far more effective.
That’s important. Because in the end, what you mainly want your internet marketing company to do is profitably grow your business.