Starting a new business isn’t easy. As a new business you need an accountant, a hiring manager, an operations manager, a sales manager, a marketing manager, etc. But what if you don’t have the cashflow to hire all of those people? Then it is up to you to learn how to do those roles as your business grows.
Every business—from fresh startups to enterprise level companies—have a dedicated team for marketing, whether it’s in-house staff or an outsourced online marketing company. Now, both options have benefits and drawbacks. For this particular article, we’re going to focus on the latter option: an outsourced online marketing company.
If you’ve never worked with an online marketing company before, congratulations; this guide’s for you!
Let’s dive right in.
Definition: What Is an Online Marketing Company?
An online marketing company is a marketing company that uses digital methods to promote a brand, product, and/or service. Instead of the traditional paper or television channels, an online marketing company offers different digital marketing services that make use of digital mediums like search engine optimization, Google Adwords, social media and other online mediums.
Do’s and Don’ts: 6 Simple Tips for a Successful Partnership
1. Identify Your Biggest Issues, Your Expectations, and Your Goals for the Digital Marketing Campaign
Before you officially start working with an online marketing company, you should put some thought into what your biggest issues are when it comes to your online marketing efforts. This will also help with aligning your expectations and goals for your new campaign.
Most internet marketing strategies starts with doing proper research. Some of the research may include but is not limited to questions about different aspects of your business; competitor analysis, existing customer information, previous sales, current target market, current buyer persona, previous marketing/advertising strategies, and so on.
An experienced internet marketing company will completely align their efforts with your marketing concerns and business goals. A lot of times, business owners do not know the answers to these questions. So we recommend going through your existing data and documents and pulling out:
- Your marketing goals (as general or as specific as they are)
- Your existing published content and content ideas
- Any documented marketing plan/strategy (whether actual or conceptual)
- Any marketing strategies you’ve tried or are interested in trying
If you can find and review all of this before your intial meeting with the online marketing agency, you will be more prepared when your working contract with the marketing agency officially starts, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and effort throughout the course of your partnership.
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2. Don’t Be Afraid To Try Something New
Once you start working with an online marketing company, just know that you’ll be introduced to a lot of new techniques, technologies, and marketing methods. Whatever you’re familiar or comfortable with will take priority, of course, but just know that you could potentially be introduced to a number of new concepts, new programs, new technologies, new strategies.
If you want a leg up over your competition, don’t be afraid to embrace this element of the unknown. It’s good to have a set path and a set system; but trying something new might be just the thing you need to spice up your marketing. You’re free to try new things, so why not? And who knows; the risk might pay off with a really sweet reward.
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3. Do You Trust This Company?
Before you commit to this company, it’s important that you feel you can trust them.
Chances are, you’ve been narrowing your choices down based on value—as in, which agency will probably give you the most bang for your buck. Otherwise, you’ve probably made your decision based on referrals or glowing recommendations.
Don’t get us wrong; these are all fine factors to consider when choosing an online marketing company. In fact, we’d even recommend them. However, what a lot of business owners forget is to factor trust into their decision. They look at cost-effectiveness. They look at experience. They look at culture fit. But they never stop and ask themselves whether or not they implicitly trust this company.
And the thing is, trust is just as important as these other factors. It’s crucial that you trust the internet marketing company you’re working with. And here’s why:
You’re going to be sharing a lot of sensitive data with them—data that could compromise your business’s integrity and your customer’s privacy. You need to give them the information they need without question and trust that they won’t misuse it. Contracts and non-disclosure agreements can protect you to some degree, but you ideally shouldn’t need to reach that point.
As a beginner in the industry, don’t disregard gut instinct. Don’t be afraid to mull things over. If you don’t feel comfortable with the company, if something doesn’t feel right, or if you don’t feel like you can trust them:
- Raise your concerns with the rest of your team, and then with the company
- Start reviewing your other options.
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4. Collaborations Could Happen
Sometimes your marketing strategy might call for digital marketing services that the company doesn’t have. When this happens, they might get in touch with other third-party companies or contractors that they’ve previously worked with (or have a partnership with) and have them help out.
These collaborations happen often enough that most businesses are used to it. In fact, these collaborations are often encouraged for the client’s convenience. It makes more sense for the client’s current digital marketing partner to recommend an agency that they’ve already worked with—and thus are confident about their quality—rather than have the client go out and find another marketing company by themselves.
Another advantage of using a recommended third-party company is that they probably already know how to work together. Whenever you have a new working relationship, there is usually a learning curve that needs to happen.
As a beginner, just know that these collaborations are possible, and that they’re actually very helpful. However, don’t let this influence your final decision. You’re still the client. They need to run the decision by you before initiating a collaboration, and if you would rather find a different agency by yourself—for whatever reason—they should respect that, too.
5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
We cannot stress how important communication is. You’re working with an outsourced digital marketing company that is, essentially, a separate company. They’re their own entity, which means they have their own systems, their own schedule, and their own office.
Communication is a two-way street, and you’ve got to do your part. If you want the online marketing company to be prompt and upfront with you, you need to do the same. That means answering every email as soon as possible, returning every phone call, and making sure that you are clear with your communication.
Some things to consider when you are communicating:
- Who is involved?
- What are the details?
- How would you like this done?
- When would you like it done by?
- Where are we in the process?
These are not always going to be necessary, but they should serve as a good reminder to make sure you are clearly communicating. But don’t just forward a message from someone else and assume that your digital marketing company will figure out what you want them to do with it.
Remember; every delay in communication is a delay in your marketing campaign. So long as you’re reaching out on the regular and not outright ignoring the online marketing company, you can rest assured that your marketing plan will remain on-track.
6. Measure Results
This is one of the most important things to consider when you are choosing a digital marketing company. You cannot manage what you don’t measure. A clear way to know if your digital marketing campaign is working or not is with clear expectations that are measured. This would be in the form of results. Most small to medium-sized businesses are looking for qualified leads. These can come in the form of a phone call, form submission, or walk-in if they have a storefront. Too often, we hear that the digital marketing company only talks about clicks or impressions, but that doesn’t always prove that you got leads. So know what you want from your digital marketing campaign and make sure that the company that you are working with can measure it. If they cannot, then they are not a good fit for you.
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Earlier, we mentioned that working with an outsourced online marketing company has its benefits: Insight is one of them; fresh insight on your business from an outsider’s perspective. Also, because they work with several clients, they get to see digital marketing trends on a more global basis than an individual business could. Credibility is another, as partnering with an established digital marketing agency can help expand your network.
There are a dozen more besides, but here’s what we’re trying to get at: you can only hope to gain those benefits if your partnership with the online marketing company goes smoothly. And for that to happen, you need to do your part. So as long as you’re putting forth the effort to make the partnership work, the odds will stay in your favor.