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8 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency

April 5, 2013 71 Comments »



Companies who have waited to get started with social media still have an opportunity to get started with website updates, social media interaction, blogs, and other digital marketing tactics.

Whether you’re the owner of a small company, or running a corporation, if bringing your digital marketing in-house isn’t an option, working with an agency is an optimum solution.

Buyer Beware

The problem is that there are plenty of agencies out there who are ready to take advantage of people who don’t understand social media, web analytics, website design and development, and SEO. These agencies can charge customers unfair prices and may not deliver on their claims because they assume their clients won’t know any better. Clients sign up for a contract and are able to say, “We’re online” but aren’t seeing ROI, and aren’t incorporating their digital marketing into their overall marketing mix. Clients probably have no idea what their website is or isn’t capable of, what level of engagement they have with customers, or if the SEO research the agency is doing is working.

Here are 8 questions to ask before hiring an outside agency

  • Does the agency have an updated, modern website? If the agency’s site looks old, is difficult to navigate, and not attractive, chances are your website won’t be either.
  • Does the agency have examples of their work on their site? (Portfolio) This gives you an idea of their aesthetic, types of clients they work with, and their creative capabilities.
  • Do they have clients you can call for a reference/recommendation?
  • Does the agency offer a free consultation?  This gives you and the agency time to see if the relationship is a good fit, bounce ideas, and get a feel for how the agency works.
  • How often do they send analytics, and how often will they schedule meetings to review the analytics? (a monthly meeting is ideal for a meeting)
  • Do analytics cost extra? If they do, I don’t recommend hiring that agency. Analytics show the progress and successes of your and the agency’s work. Agencies should WANT to show you the progress of campaigns.
  • If the agency will be doing SEO for you, make sure you get notifications of which keywords they’re testing and the progress of that testing. (Again, this should not cost extra.)
  • Will the agency or will you be updating the website? This is something to discuss with the agency to figure out the best solution for your company’s needs. If the website will be updated daily, someone in-house should be able to update it.

Time Flies

One of the last things to consider is the length of the contract. I’ve talked to many companies who got “a great deal” by signing up for a 3-year contract. What ended up happening is they forgot about their website, didn’t work with the agency (and the agency didn’t call them to discuss updates) so the agency got a lot of money for not a lot of work. A 1-year contract is the longest I’d recommend because that is enough time for the agency to test out campaigns, build up engagement, and to see if this is a relationship you want for long-term.

What other questions do you recommend asking an agency? Are there questions you wish you would have asked before working with an agency? Let me know in the comments section, or call Branding Personality at 1.888.747.3263.

Lori Johnson, MBA, blogs for Branding Personality. She works in the healthcare industry providing social, website, and branding strategies. Connect with her on LinkedIn and on Twitter.


Social Media is SEO in the 90s all over again

November 5, 2012 13 Comments »

Forever 90s SEO Social Media

It was 1999, the year I started with search engine marketing. I had already developed a few websites, one of which was for my sorority, and I wanted to get it ranked well in the search engines, that was mostly Yahoo. Google didn’t even exist yet.

So after adding categories to my website, learning about meta tags and descriptions, we were found under the right categories, with a bulkload of categories, that were spot on to slightly related to the website topic.

Gaming the web was always part of Search Engine Optimization. As everybody was in the same race to get more and more traffic to the website. And reading up on SEO experts that were sharing their tricks, I remember experimenting with those technics.


Britney Spears gets you more traffic!

And it did. If you added Britney Spears to your meta tags at the time, then you might get traffic of people searching for Britney Spears to your website. And at that time, it was the most searched for phrase. It meant a lot of traffic.

Obviously, nobody was interested in pet food, accounting, or web hosting when they would search for Britney Spears. But that didn’t matter. The ruling metric at the time wasn’t the number of sales, or the number of interested clients coming to your website. It was traffic. How many visitors did you get to your website. The more the better. That was what SEO companies got paid for.

Until it wasn’t about the total number of visitors anymore.

The better the analytics tools became, and the more opportunities there were for companies to close sales immediately on the website (e-commerce implementations were hot around the year 2000), the more companies started questioning these techniques. At the same time Google came and led the way in what search engines were basing their algorithms on.

Even though Search Engine Optimization is still being gamed every day, and that’s why Google’s algorithm is always changing. Most companies know with SEO, it’s not just about the total number of visitors anymore.

It’s about the people that have a meaningful interaction with your website, that either interests them to make a purchase, or interests them to come back and stay involved with the content.


Social Media is not a pissing contest

Then came the rise of Social Media, and I see the same things happening. At first, most people are experimenting with social media and slowly but surely the number hoes start to appear. It’s all about the numbers and it seems to be the leading metric. Discussions regarding Facebook involved the famous comparison of “How many likes do you have?”, Twitter: “How many followers do you have?”, and lately: “How high is your Klout score?” Again, its the same discussion about numbers that in the end doesn’t matter.

It helped companies get started that shouldn’t have been born. Companies that sell Facebook likes, Twitter followers or YouTube views. As in the end it’s not about the number of people that follow you, its about the number of people that have a meaningful engagement with you on your social media sites.

The value is in the conversation.

People do business with people they like. Not because they liked your FB page, or because they follow you.


Turn the relationship around

It’s the other way around. Show them why they should like you or follow you, and they will.

The focus should be on building relationships with them on whatever forum, Facebook group, Twitter chat, so they want to like you, or follow you. And then they will.

Share the value and they will come.


Go away!

If you want to buy likes or followers, go away. I can’t help you.

I am sure your numbers go up when we write and interact with your intended community. Your potential customers. But frankly, I don’t care. I do care, however, about how many people are interacting with your brand on social media. How many leads we generate, how many people view your product pages after interacting with you. That’s what makes us happy, and if that makes you happy – then I am sure we are a good match.

For fresh ideas on how to attract new customers through social media, fill out the form on the right and we’ll talk. I look forward to that!


Top 5 Call to Action Features for a Website

May 18, 2012 14 Comments »

If you have a commercial website, you need visually interesting, graphically rich calls to prompt visitors to make a purchase or request a service. But different types of websites need different types of calls to action. For example, if you sell products on your website, you want to place an emphasis on pictures and making it easy to buy your most popular, best selling products with the highest margins.

Below is our top 5 calls to action for a website list below is geared more for service related website. Though many may seem like simple solutions, by including these features on your website, you may see higher conversation rates and more profits, which can make all the difference in today’s competitive online sales environment. (more…)


Google Penguin and Panda Updates Explained

May 11, 2012 13 Comments »

Google PandaOver the last year or so, Google has released two major updates to the way it ranks web pages in its search index. In early 2011 the Google Panda update was released, first during February in America and then in April across all other English speaking markets. This update affected many websites and was designed to improve the quality of the websites in the search index. This is a brief guide to the Panda and Penguin updates from the perspective of a webmaster who has dealt with both. (more…)


Alternatives to Google Analytics – Can Any of These Free Web Tools Compete?

May 7, 2012 8 Comments »

Google AnalyticsLaunched back in 2005, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Google Analytics was the ‘daddy’ of web monitoring tools. A popular choice with online marketers and website owners the world over, Google Analytics generates powerful, accurate and detailed statistics about your websites visitors.

With 57% of the world’s 10,000 most popular websites tracking their online success with GA, it would seem like the obvious choice for marketers of all abilities. But is it?

  • Some website owners don’t like the ‘all-seeing’ aspect of Google and prefer to keep their websites statistics quiet
  • GA’s interface has often been criticised for being complicated and hard to understand
  • GA can’t track how long people stay on your site unless they move to a second page
  • If you happen to be practicing black-hat SEO (search engine optimisation), Google can crack down on your site (more…)


Utilizing Social Media to Increase Your Page Rank

May 2, 2012 23 Comments »

Page RankSocial media networks are vibrant and consistently evolving. In fact, it has gone beyond making friends and sharing status. You can now see an increasing number of people getting involved in these platforms to perk up their businesses. Both big corporations and small businesses have been exploiting the potentials of social media for their business promotion. Two reasons as to why businesses are getting involved in social media are to acquire new clients and stay connected with their current and potential clients. There are a number of ways in which social media ads play a pivotal role in increasing your page rank. The ideas and methods mentioned below will help guide you in the direction of improving your page rank using social media. (more…)


Google Places: What It Can Do For Your Business

April 4, 2012 6 Comments »

Google PlacesThe importance of using Google Places should never be overlooked. Do you have yours yet? Why do you need a Google Places page? These are legitimate questions and the answers, plus helpful hints will be addressed below. In addition to simply having a Google Place page it is important to keep that place ranked high in order to see the benefits of taking the time to claim your place. A Google Places page puts a concrete location to your business. Chances are your business is not yet a household name, by utilizing Google places you can change that. (more…)


8 Reasons Why Guest Posting Is An Advantage

March 28, 2012 143 Comments »

Guest BloggingWriting is a passion for many (like yours truly!). It’s a hobby that crosses back and forth from the personal zone to the realms of professionalism. The trend of micro blogging is as old as Web 2.0. Writers with an opinion to share, find it a very convenient and hassle free to voice them.

As time has elapsed and blog posts have gained popularity through their various topics and discussions (read comments), Savvy marketers saw this as a great opportunity and jumped aboard the bandwagon. At the same time search engines had changed their algorithms in a manner wherein importance was given to updates. Thus, staying in the news was a useful way of ranking on the SERPs. What better way, than to write meaningful subject matter that readers find relevant enough to share with their fellow peers.



How to Reduce Your Bounce Rate Like A Pro!

March 23, 2012 28 Comments »

Bounce RateAnalytics are an incredibly useful tool! They give you a peek into what visitors are doing and looking at on your website, which in turn shows you what you can do to improve your website. Bounce rates are just one of the many statistics that Google makes available in their analytics suite. Most people intrinsically understand that a high bounce rate is probably a bad thing. But what is a bounce rate exactly ? Google’s definition is this:

“Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.“

As you can see, it is a pretty basic concept. Visitors land on your page and then decide to go elsewhere on the web or close the browser before going to another page on your site. This is not necessarily a bad thing. For example many single page lead generation pages will have an extremely high bounce rate even if they are converting traffic well. In that case your bounce rate is a meaningless number. Now that we know a little bit about what a bounce rate is we can look at some steps you can take to lower it. (more…)


4 SEO Plugins Your WordPress Website Must Have

March 14, 2012 292 Comments »

WordPress SEOSo your company decided that it’s finally time to take the plunge into the blogging world. Congrats! It’s an integral part of any Internet marketing plan, and it’s a great thing that you have finally gotten started! Static websites don’t get nearly as much traffic as those that are continually updated. This is where blogging comes in, because each new blog post is fresh new content and another reason for someone to visit your website and browse around. Those intriguing blog posts wont matter too much if your blog isn’t formatted correctly for SEO. To make sure that you are maximizing your visibility, I have  listed 4 SEO Plugings for your WordPress Website.  (more…)