Has the thought ever crossed your mind: “What is my online marketing team really doing for me?” “Am I getting my money’s worth?
If you’re looking to hire an agency or individual to help with your marketing, those questions should be some of the first you ask.
Whether experienced or a attempting to hire an Internet marketing company for the first time, you should expect a positive return on any investment you make on your business. You have every right to covet a company that treats your company like it would its own. Would that company make the same decision with its money on the line?
Here is what you should get in Internet marketing regardless of how much you spend:
Regular reporting (daily, weekly, monthly) – Depending on your spend and involvement, at minimum, make sure you receive a coherent monthly report with all of your key performance metrics (KPI’s).
Set goal metrics – Has the thought ever crossed your mind: “What is my online marketing team really doing for me?” “Am I getting my money’s worth?” – You should have budget, cost per lead or return on ad spend and rough volume estimates. Do you know how much you pay for a click? A lead? You should.
Communication – The most important thing your agency should be doing is talking to you. Ask questions and learn from your team. If you don’t, you won’t be getting your full value from their efforts.
Ownership – Do you own the AdWords/Facebook/Domain etc. from your marketing spend? Even if you don’t know, it’s time to ask. You might scare your marketing team, it may suspect you’re looking to replace it. This is probably a good thing, it will keep the company focused on your results.
Here are our 8 questions to ask your marketing team if you’re hiring or have hired an online company to do work in the following areas:
- PPC – Google AdWords
- Social Media
- Content Marketing
#1 – How do I see the work you are doing?
If it’s Google AdWords, you should own the account where your marketing budget is being spent. If you don’t, ask to be given ownership. It’s possible there will be an excuse as to why you wouldn’t be able to have this.
Excuses are a great sign that you’re not getting the full value of your marketing dollars. Proprietary software, bought or borrowed, often results in higher fees paid on your advertising. If you find your marketing company can’t give you access to see how they’re managing your spend, it’s time to find new help.
In either case, ask them to walk you through the software. Ask questions. Your goal should be to navigate and review the campaign performance and ask questions about areas where there appears to be wasted spend.
#2 – What percentage of my advertising is paid in fees to you? What percentage is actually used to acquire new leads/clicks/sales for my business?
Beware of the “one size fits all companies.” It’s not uncommon for 50 percent or more of your marketing spend to go to management fees and other needless, wasted compensation efforts. If there isn’t a clear answer here, find a company that will give you one.
#3 – What tools do you use?
Any and all online marketing teams use tools. Paid tools can be incredibly valuable. The tools you hear from your marketing team will vary based on what they’re doing. A sample of industry leading tools is listed below. If your Internet marketing company doesn’t mention any of these, ask them what it uses instead of one of these examples. It should be able to tell you why it has chosen one tool over another.
Rank tracking tools (There are many of these available)
- Rank Tracker
Bid Management (Not required)
When it comes down to discovering if an online marketing team is really at the top of the field, just ask it to describe why it selected the tools it uses. You may not understand much of what is being said, but you should be able to get the company to convince you they do.
#4 – What blogs do you read?
Similar to tool usage, blog subscriptions and proper feed-management is a clear sign of a tuned and geeky marketing team. Ask them to send you its top three favorite blogs. Ask them why the company likes them.
What you really want to see here is a list of blogs you don’t understand. The top posts from these blogs should read a bit too detailed to make sense to you. Instead, the blogs should contain information for marketers. If you get a list like:
Ask for more examples. These are the default spaces in the online marketing space. You want someone who knows more and reads more than the required, popular sources. Get people who go above and beyond.
#5 – What would you recommend for my business if I wanted to venture into another marketing space?
Savvy marketers have one eye on your current performance and another on your future performance. If you’re only doing AdWords, it’s a complete no brainer to start some re-marketing in Facebook. It might also be smart to get a comprehensive SEO strategy going. Each business is different and each advertising agency will have areas of expertise, but they should always have ideas to take your marketing to the next level.
#6 – What should we stop doing?
Not everything will work as expected, there will be failures. Ask your marketing team where you’re wasting the most spend and how it recommends correcting that. Find out what you should stop, so you can start spending money on something that has a shot at better performance.
#7 – How much time do you spend on my campaigns?
Marketing agencies spend widely different amounts of time managing client accounts. Ask your team to detail some of the tasks it’s doing to keep your spend closely monitored and optimized.
What you’re trying to get at here is an estimated hourly rate for the work performed. If you have access to the campaigns, check a change history to check the work. If you suspect that you’re only getting a few hours of actual work done on your account per month, compare that to the fees you’re paying.
If you’re paying fees up to $1,000 or more, you can estimate time back to an hourly rate. Internal teams are obviously a special case, but external teams should never charge you more than $200 per hour.
#8 – How do you do the work?
This one especially applies to work like SEO and Social Media. Ask questions about what is actually being done for you. Many SEO companies do a fair bit of work up front but don’t invest enough time on your company – 3-6 months or more after the account opens. Find the answers here by continuing to ask who, what and why questions here. If you’re paying for links or promotions, ask the company to send you those.
Note: If it’s SEO – open the examples you receive. If you don’t feel good about the domain the link is on, or the page, it’s time to get serious about how your team is doing its work. Link quality is the most important part of the work. It’s also the most difficult thing to get right. Poor quality links from irrelevant sites can severely hurt your long-term performance in Google and cost you potential customers and money.
Marketing agencies come in all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses underestimate the importance trust has in hiring the right people. Mistakes with your advertising could harm your business or produce significantly degraded results.
The reality is, most businesses make a lot of hiring mistakes in this space. It’s not a surprise. The language is often confusing and unfamiliar for most business owners. It’s also difficult to find a company that isn’t just blowing smoke and making empty promises. Asking the right questions can get you on the right track for holding yourself and your marketing team accountable.
That all comes back to ROI. A lot of work was recommended for you here. What’s it all worth to you? Having a rock solid team managing your online marketing could improve your results by 50 percent or more.
We’ve seen businesses spending thousands of dollars per month in PPC get 80 cents back on $1 of spend. They got results in the $3-$5 range simply by changing to a new marketing team. Can you say woot?!
One or two hours of your time to (re)qualify your marketing team could be the best investment you make in your business this year. Are you ready to get everything you want, expect and demand out of Internet marketing?
Chase Anderson is the Director of operations at Clicks and Clients – A Denver based internet marketing Agency. Through SEO, PPC & Social he helps businesses become successfully profit driven in their marketing endeavors. You can read more from or connect with him on LinkedIn & Twitter.
Image credit: CC by Infusionsoft Sales & Marketing Software for Small Businesses