search-engine-marketingOnline marketing is a big part of any company’s marketing plan. But when it comes to online marketing, although companies recognize how important it is, they don’t know much about it. That’s when they figure out that they need professional help promoting their businesses on the Internet. At this point, a new challenge arises: “How can I know for sure what Internet marketing agency is right for me?” That is an excellent question and not many people know the answer to it. Almost everyone has gotten some kind of advice about hiring the right attorney or accountant, but most people are in the dark when it comes to hiring an online marketing agency.

Step 1: Start by Contacting the Agencies that Found You
A lot of very successful agencies publish Internet marketing tips on a regular basis. If you find these tips useful and they seem to know what they are talking about, give them a call.
Step 2: Search for Agencies
A successful search for a marketing agency will be within the first results of Google for terms like “Internet marketing firma” and “online marketing agency”. If they made it to the top positions, they are likely to be able to do the same thing for you too.
Step 3: Pre-Select Five Agencies and Interview Them
After you review the websites of several agencies, you will find about five that you really like. It’s time to start making some phone calls. These are some really good questions to ask them:

  • How long have you been in business for?
  • Who are your clients?
  • What are the most significant results that you have achieved for your clients?
  • How could you help me? (do they talk about “giving your company exposure in the online global market” or about “helping you increase your revenues by 77%”? Always go with agencies that focus on your bottom line)

How exactly would you make that happen? (again, look for specifics. If they suggest doing Search Engine Optimization, what exactly are they going to do to help you rank high? If they suggest building links for you, how many and from what websites?)
Step 4: Check References
This is the most important part of the process, so please don’t skip it. Some agencies are great at selling their services but below average when it comes to promoting your business. Other agencies are just the opposite. Don’t let words convince you; look for facts. Clients will tell you things like they really are. Asking a client is the better way to find out if a company meets deadlines, if they deliver what they promise, and if the campaigns that they are running have a positive ROI. Ask how long they’ve been working with that agency for. If the agency is doing a great job and making them money, the client is likely to have worked with them for a long time and is planning to stay with them for a while.
Step 5: Ask for Proposals
These need to be very detailed. You are not buying a Black 2GB iPod Nano (they are all the same); you are buying “marketing” so you need to know exactly what they will be doing for you so you can compare apples with apples. Last month a prospect requested a proposal from us. Our quote was almost twice as much as our competitor’s. But the other company didn’t include details in the proposal. This was a Search Engine Optimization project. We suggested to the potential client to ask for a comprehensive proposal showing everything that they would do for her. When they did it, it became clear why their quote was half the size as ours. They were going to do one quarter of what we were offering. So they were in fact twice as expensive! Always ask for detailed proposals.
Step 6: Hire an Agency on a Trial Basis
If someone wants to make you commit to a 12-month period, say something along the lines of “I’d love to. I will sign that agreement as soon as you can prove me that you are as good as you say you are”. Once you’ve signed an agreement, your hands are tied. Ask for a trial period in which you can evaluate if you feel comfortable working with that agency and that they are delivering everything they said they would.