Important Things to Consider Before Hiring a Marketing Firm for Your Ecommerce Business

Hiring the right marketing firm for your Ecommerce enterprise is almost like a marriage. But in this case, it is not a match made in heaven, but it’s a match made entirely by you.
This article is here to make sure that you make the right pick. Also, if you are reading this, it means that you are seriously considering hiring outside help.
And this is a great step one—Pat yourself on the back. Your mind is the right path.
Deciding to hire external help is most certainly a big decision. Yes, it does come with risks. Yes, it can be a hit or miss. But no company in today’s digital era can afford to lose out on marketing, especially digital marketing.
Before meeting any firm, one needs to take some time out and do a lot of research to make the right choice.
What worked for your friend’s or sister’s company will not work for you. This is where good market research will back you up.
What questions to ask, whom to ask, what to expect, what kind of results they will produce are the kind of topics that should be running in your head now.
As you are hiring them, you are the boss. This gives you the upper hand to ask as many questions as you want.
Don’t hold back. It will be a waste of time and resources for the both of you if you do.
Hire a marketing agency because you want to improve your brand. Do not do it only to increase your customer base or revenue.
Such unrealistic goals will derail your company’s improvement in the initial phases itself. Also, don’t believe agencies that make you such lofty, empty promises either.
Increasing Return On Investment (ROI) is the holy grail of marketing. And yes, companies need to turn a profit. But avoid setting such goals right when you start. It is wise to expect marketing to bring in money at least after six months to a year.
Instead, you can ask a prospective agency to explain their ROI tools. That’s a smarter move. Then you will know about weapons in your arsenal to use when the right time comes.
Experts advise Ecommerce businesses and start-ups to exercise a great deal of patience when it comes to ROI. Well, practice patience in pretty much everything, right from hiring the agency till you meet your goals.
Getting the word around about your company will not happen in a trice. There are a plethora of categories to boost image branding. Right from web development, web design to content writing, SEO, and email marketing.
This is a process, and that too an extremely arduous one. So it is all the more important to trust it. Although, setting realistic, unachievable goals is one way to speed up the process a tiny bit.
Now let’s look at 15 specific points you should be asking about before choosing a marketing or ecommerce SEO agency.

1. Did You Put down Practical, Doable Goals?

What is that you want for your business?
Take a pen and some paper and get that list going. You must know your wants before searching for someone who will get you that.
A fair word of caution- do not try to build sandcastles just yet. Hold your horses. Set realistic goals with equally realistic periods. Only if you are clear about this will you find the right marketing agency for you.
Suppose you want to build your brand image only on social media platforms. A regular marketing agency won’t fit the bill then. You will have to look for trendy social media managers for your Ecommerce business.
This way, the agency will know where to focus and what to improve.

2. Did You Allocate a Reasonable Budget?

Here comes the tricky part. A topic everyone wants answers for, but something nobody reveals.
Advertising and marketing can be a cheap or expensive affair purely based on your budget. Hiring external help doesn’t have to be costly always.
Firstly, to get a better idea, one must do sufficient research about current market prices. This way, you will know when you are being overcharged or undercut. And this also helps to allocate a reasonable budget.
In January 2020, it cost around $2500-$5000 monthly to hire a good marketing agency. But there are teams available for 500 dollars too.

Relevant : Top 7 Pricing Models for SEO Services

Also, be alert if an agency offers a very low price. After all, the good stuff doesn’t come cheap. Dig deeper if their prices are below average market rates.
Simultaneously, hiring a super-elite and expensive agency doesn’t guarantee that they will do quality work. Be wary of both extremes.
But many Ecommerce companies have said that slightly expensive marketing agencies tend to do better work as they have the resources. This can mean that they have the budget to explore more options.
But as this truly an investment rather than an expenditure, straying 5-10 percent from your budget shouldn’t worry you. You will reap this back soon.

Relevant : Key Factors That Determine the Cost of SEO Services

3. Do They Have a Working Expertise in Your Industry?

Having a wide variety of clients isn’t a bad thing. But hiring an agency that has considerable experience in your field is more reassuring. This means that the agency has done this before. So it will be easier for them to meet your specifications.
For example, your Ecommerce business deals with dairy products distribution but the agency you are considering specializes in SaaS companies.
However successful their campaigns might be, they will still be a little lost to promote your enterprise.
So it is advised to narrow down on agencies that have previous subject knowledge. They will not only have fantastic campaign ideas, but they will also steer you faraway from scrappy ones.
However, you can always question their gaining new knowledge and achieve revenue and sales goals.

4. Do They Have Advanced Tools to Deliver the Services?

Having an agency as versatile as the internet today certainly helps in keeping up with the competition. It’s always wiser to have as many tools as possible in one’s arsenal.
So go for an agency that can multitask well and someone who has more than one specialization.
Even if you want to focus on social media strategy mainly, you cannot forget your website.

Relevant : Benefits of Using Social Media Marketing Tools for Ecommerce

Most customers still heavily rely on email and website marketing to determine their worth. This is when an agency which deals with both will come in handy.
Here Is a List of Services You Can Check for in a Potential Candidate:

  • Website development
  • Web design
  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Image branding
  • Promotion via video and multimedia
  • Campaigns

5. Do You See Yourself Working with Them?

Comfort. Though it’s an extremely important point to remember, it is usually forgotten or ignored.
You may ask, it’s a business deal after all. Why should I expect to be friends with them?
An external marketing agency is one entity with whom you will be working very closely for years. And this does make them your pals. And it is crucial that you feel comfortable and relaxed with them.
As the minimum retainer period for any agency is about 6-12 months, you will be communicating and collaborating with them over a long stretch.
Check if their personality, goals match with your company’s. Numbers, analytics, and gadgets aren’t going to be helpful in this matter.
Like I have mentioned earlier, it is easy to forgo this step. But this could be the game-changer.

6. Do They Have a Big Team to Handle Your Project?

There are equal numbers of pros and cons with a small as well as a big agency. You cannot dismiss size based on its sheer number. Right from communication till revenue depends on this.
A small company will be able to give you its entire attention. You can communicate with each individual and can track the team’s day to day activities. But there is only so much a handful of professionals can do.
This is where bigger-sized agencies thrive. With more experts, each project will go through many layers of inspection. This will considerably reduce errors.
They can handle everything for you and sometimes complete tasks without consulting your team.
But this can backfire on you as well.
Checking out their client list, previous projects and checking their reputation with other companies will make this choice easier.
Word of mouth is pretty useful in such situations. Do a thorough background check, get many cross-references, talk to their ex-clients to get a clearer picture.

7. Do You Get to Know the Team Better?

No, I am not talking about a 30 minutes meet and greet. Forming a rapport with members of the agency is vital for the company’s performance to improve.
You will be emailing, skyping, and talking in person with this team at least four times a week. It is way more comfortable to work if you gel well with them on a professional level. Also, it becomes easier to put forward constructive criticism.
As per my previous point, do individual background checks on all team members. It will also help you get to know them. This way, you will be aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
Their quality of work and commitment to the given task is more likely to improve if you are not an invisible figurehead.

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8. Do They Outsource Your Work to Others?

Many small-sized agencies hire freelance designers/writers/bloggers as it’s a cheaper option. While this is beneficial for the agency and the freelancers, it might not always bode well for your company.
It takes much longer to correct an error with outsourced professionals. As they won’t be on the agency’s payroll, they will not have full control or access over them.
The same error can be corrected much faster if done by an employee of the agency. Also, the quality of work will not be the same always. It is prone to fluctuations.
On the other hand, outsourced work could bring a new dimension or edge to the given task.
The reason is that those experts are not as close to the project as the agency’s employees. So, their perspectives will be different and sometimes refreshing.
And this way, many digital artists and technicians will have a chance at employment because of your company.
Also, having back-up experts to review the work is a good option. A tip- Get to know if outsourcing costs more.

9. Are They Tech-Savvy?

Get to know what tech tools they will use to improve your company’s visibility. Each agency will have a preference. Make sure you have a person on board who knows their gadgets and software well.
As software gets updated almost every six months now, you can use better resources for your projects. There are millions of software and computer programs for every digital marketing method. The choices are limitless.
A person well versed with this will be able to provide you with meaningful insights. Utilize the software that works for your product.
Check their relationship with the different marketing software companies. This is where experienced agencies have a hand and leg above the newer ones. Here are some of the trending software for you to get an idea:

10. Is There a Digital Marketing Game Plan in Place?

This should be the deal-breaker for any Ecommerce business. Every agency has a different strategy to keep up in the internet world.
Make sure you pick an agency that works with your digital marketing goals.

  • Do you want to boost your social media handles or website?
  • Are you into email marketing or social media marketing?
  • How important is content marketing to your business?

These are the kind of questions you must be throwing at a potential contender.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one main component that carries much weightage in the digital marketing strategy.
Find out what plan they have in their mind about this. Other components you must discuss well beforehand are their content creation, website development, paid advertisements, social media strategy, etc.,

11. Do They Have an ROI Strategy in Place?

This is where you directly ask the agency how they will bring in money for your company. This is a straightforward point but a tricky one. It is because you will come across a handful of unreliable agencies and set very lofty, unachievable goals.
To avoid such sticky situations, always ask the agency to explain their golden money-bringing strategy in depth.
Go for agencies that promise to increase website traffic, sales leads, SEO leads, marketing leads, among other opportunities.
Steer clear of ones that say they will bring in new customers. This is a figure that depends on many variables. And it’s never guaranteed that new campaigns, however good they can be, will increase your membership.
Ask for a baseline report based on analyzing your company’s data to gauge their ROI plan. This will point out if the agency can indeed walk the talk or not.

12. Do They Steer Clear of the Conflict of Interest?

We strongly advise you to choose a marketing agency which has prior industry knowledge. But this is where you must exercise extreme caution.
Tread carefully. Never, ever work with an agency that has worked with your competitors before.
Your company will always run the risk of being embroiled in a conflict of interest problems. This is a big no-no irrespective of their ethics and reputation.
There are high chances that agencies working in one industry for a long time would have worked for many of your direct competitors.
Even if the agency had signed a non-disclosure agreement with that company, it is ethical not to hire them.
Instead, look for agencies that possess insider industry knowledge, which usually comes with long years of experience.

13. Are They Vocal and Communicative?

Once you sign the contract, the agency becomes a permanent part of your team. Well, you switch to another agency, but even that is going to take a good one year. And this is why it is vital to communicate extensively with them.
If you wish to be very involved in their work and you have to be vocal. Voice out your likes and discomforts.
Also, you need to decide where, how, and how often you would like to communicate with them.

  • Is it going to be once a week, twice a month, or thrice in a quarter?
  • Do you prefer video calls, zoom meetings, or in-person meetups?
  • Is it going to be a formal office meeting or an informal, friendly brunch at a restaurant?

All of this is completely your call.
You get to decide all these specifics. Run your agenda with your prospective agency as well before finalizing things.

14. Did You Give Them Enough Time to Do the Process?

Patience is the key. Trust the process.
Owners must practice patience to see results. Marketing is synonymous with trust, and this takes time to cultivate and grow.
There are options available to see quick results like paid advertisements. But its success is always short-lived.
Moreover, don’t get rid of any agency right after a month of hiring them. Give them a platform, space, and time to showcase their ideas.
Try focusing on your long-term goals instead and make the agency work towards this as well. We advise you to be patient while choosing an agency too.
Do not lose hope or drop the idea if you don’t meet your dream agency. Also, don’t let past bad experiences deter you from achieving the path of success.

15. Did You Pay Attention to the Contract?

Finally, before signing the contract, feel free to quiz them. It can be on anything and everything that is bothering you.
Make sure they have mentioned the below-mentioned things in the contract.

  • The number of campaigns
  • The number of blog posts/guest blogs
  • Paid advertisements
  • Discounting strategies
  • Social media promotions

Get everything in writing so that you don’t get a rude shock down the line.
Also, it is advised for your lawyer to scan through the contract before finalizing it. Go through the list of things that are jotted down every month.
Do not leave anything open for interpretation or negotiation. Make use of a good lawyer to cement all possible loopholes.
Also, you will be sharing almost all of your company’s data with them. This makes signing a non-disclosure agreement a must.
Are you looking for the #1 ecommerce marketing agency for your online store? Get in touch with us to speak to our ecommerce SEO experts now!

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