Internet marketing involves the online marketing of products and services. Included under the broad umbrella of Internet marketing are banner ads, affiliate marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), email marketing, and social media marketing (SMM). It is an ever evolving industry that requires Internet marketing companies to stay on the cutting edge to provide the best service options to customers.
The goal of Internet marketing is to get traffic to your website. Because most of your time is devoted to actually operating your business, it is common to outsource your online marketing to experts. But some Internet marketing companies are better than others. Those that excel have several characteristics in common that make them stand out.
1. Offers Diverse Services and Products
A great Internet market company offers many solutions rather than a single product. A company that provides diverse services and products understands that online marketing is a complex process that is most successful when multiple tactics are used including SEM. A company that provides SEO assistance along with affiliate marketing expertise can ensure your online marketing strategy is efficient and cost-effective. Integrating various elements into one strategy creates opportunities for leveraging resources. Find out what their areas of expertise are before you begin working with them – you don’t want to learn later they are unable to provide the level of service you need.
2. Is Highly Tech Savvy
It is important you work with a company that can make technical recommendations to improve your website. This may include design or code changes. Many website design firms know SEO, but not all SEO companies know website design. You want a company that understands the ways search engines work and can create a highly effective SEM component. Perhaps you want to include mobile SEO in your overall strategy. Not all Internet marketing companies offer this particular service. Same goes for video and audio development opportunities. They should be proficient with social media since social media marketing is a major factor in today’s online marketing initiatives. Do your homework to find a company that has stayed on top of industry advances and can easily implement them into your marketing plan. A company that has excellent problem-solving skills and is knowledgeable about the technical side of online marketing is invaluable. You can get more value for your money with this type of company.
3. Knowledgeable of Industry Best Practices
When incorporating search engine optimization tactics into an online market strategy, doing so using industry best practices can help your site improve rankings on search engines. For SEO, this means focusing on white hat methods and avoiding the black hat ones. Any type of black hat tactic can result in a search engine penalty. Sites can lose PageRank or SERP rankings or be banned. Internet marketing companies need to be familiar with search engine guidelines and know about algorithm updates to prevent your site from being penalized. Look for companies that host their own blog and provide helpful information to customers via blog postings. Scan blog entries – are you confident they have a high skill level based on those posts? If not, look for someone else who inspires your confidence.
4. Thinks Beyond the Box
Creativity is a must. There is so much competition for websites that it takes ingenuity partnered with traditional Internet marketing elements to get noticed by users. You want a company that can make your website stand out among all of the competition. SEO is one of the most affordable elements of online marketing. Organic search often drives online marketing outcomes. A creative strategy is needed to stop your competitors from immediately duplicating your actions. And you want site visitors to share your content with their friends. You need to be unique to be effective. A great Internet marketing company can thoroughly research ideas and concepts to verify unique marketing approaches. And their creativity includes everything from copywriting and website design to affiliate marketing and ad creation.
5. Customizes Marketing Approaches
A great consulting firm understands that one size does not fit all. Rather, they create customized online marketing plans that meet the specific needs of individual site owners. They consider your short-term and long-term goals when developing an effective marketing plan. They are able to work within customer budgets and time-frames. While they may use similar Internet marketing tactics, all marketing approaches are tailored to meet individual business needs. This is absolutely crucial if you want to be successful. They focus on developing a strategic marketing plan that encompasses current and future goals. It is adaptable and easy to integrate into your everyday operations. For a customized approach to be successful, a great company will conduct competitor research. It is not enough to simply consider your business in a vacuum. Your competitors are very much in the picture and should be considered throughout the development and implementation of your online marketing plan.
6. Educates Along the Way
You don’t want to be 100% reliant on a consultant. A great Internet marketing company will provide education to you and your staff along the way. This does two very important things for you. You will be developing the knowledge to really know if they are providing quality service or not. And you will be able to assume many of the ongoing aspects of your marketing plan if you so choose. Some Internet marketing companies provide regular webinars that customers can take advantage of at any time. Blogs and forums provide a wealth of information. Companies that provide these resources for customers can help you and your employees stay up to date on new marketing opportunities.
7. Provides Clear Performance Monitoring Options
How do you know if your marketing plan is working? Ask prospective Internet marketing companies about their performance monitoring options. What types of reports do they produce for you? How frequently? What factors are used to determine if plan adjustments are needed? These are examples of questions that should be asked by you and answered by the marketing firm you hire. If specific marketing components include analytics, you should be aware of those resources and know how to use them long after the marketing company is out of the picture. The information they provide should be succinctly presented and easy to understand by you and your team. Ask to see a sample of their monitoring services and reports. If they are not able to provide information without using a bunch of jargon, they may be trying to pull one over on you. A great Internet marketing company is transparent in its performance monitoring and reporting activities.
8. Wants Your Business to Succeed
You want a partner who truly wants to see your business succeed. An Internet marketing company that is not transparent in what it is doing to you market your site may be trying to make you dependent on their “expertise” or is providing watered-down services. This will not help you in the long run. Find out what types of value-added services they offer to customers. Whether you want to hire a company for the short-term or long-term, selecting one that has your best interests at heart is important. You know you have selected the right company when they begin to ask you questions. They will ask lots of them in order to fully understand what you hope to achieve with your marketing goals. Once they have those answers, they can develop an online marketing model that complements your profitability strategies.
9. Has Credible Customer References
Many Internet marketing companies provide a list of customers on their website. This is helpful, but you want to actually speak to a few of them. Ask for a couple of contacts for current customers as well as at least one for a customer who is no longer working with the company. You should also ascertain who their customers are in your particular niche. Some site owners want to work with Internet marketing companies that are familiar with their particular products and services. Unfortunately, overlooking the fact that the company may be working for your competitor can be counterproductive.
Hiring a bad Internet marketing company can do serious harm to your online business. A drop in search engine rankings can cause you to lose significant traffic. And loss of traffic impacts your revenue streams. Reputation is everything for online businesses. A drop in PageRank that results from black hat SEM practices can irreparably damage your online reputation. And it can be difficult to regain your higher PageRank, especially if the marketing company you hired engaged in spammy activities on your behalf.
An Internet marketing company that has experience with advertising as well as search engine marketing can take your online marketing strategy to the next level. The principles of effective online marketing are constantly evolving. Hiring a company that helps establish new trends and is an industry leader can turn your own marketing efforts into major revenue producers for your business. This is achievable if you take time to find an Internet marketing company that will partner with you to get the results you want.