Have you ever stopped to think how much money you’ve wasted in online marketing over the years? Maybe it was with an “SEO Expert” or a “Social Media Agency”. They made big promised and delivered small results.
You’d willingly spend a few minutes to learn how to cut out wasted spending and make every dollar count towards 100% progress.
The online marketing world is still a bit chaotic with few rules. Businesses still get burned every day. My online marketing agency has had to clean up the mess left by other “agencies” more times than I care to remember. I feel it’s my obligation to “pull back the curtain” and make sure small businesses are as successful as possible and getting the results they deserve.
Right now, you are going to learn how to be a better buyer of online marketing services and stop wasting money on things you don’t need.
Be a Better Buyer
Have you ever gone to an auto-repair shop to get a routine oil change and came out with new air filters, radiator coolant, and an engine flush? Some unscrupulous mechanics preyed on your fear and lack of knowledge. They pull one of their auto repair tricks and next thing you know, you’ve wasted hundreds of dollars.
Unfortunately, the same thing happens when you go to an online marketing agency. Maybe you’re looking for something as simple as a new website. Or maybe you know you need to get more traffic to your site, but don’t have the time or expertise to do it yourself.
The good news is that to be a good buyer, you only need to know the basics and the right questions to ask.
Why You Should Be a Better Buyer
Imagine those two same scenarios, but this time you’re fully informed. You know what you need and approximately how much it should cost. Now you’re prepared to find the best service, from the best provider, at the best price.
Auto Example: Not too long ago, I found a nail in my tire. I knew any tire service center could probably just put a $20 patch on the tire. I mentioned that when I went to NTB in Dallas and they ended up just fixing the tire for free. (Thank you NTB!) Being informed saved me $200+.
Now imagine you’re in a meeting with someone from an online marketing agency. Before the meeting, you prepared. You ran Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and your website failed. You know you need to make your website mobile-friendly, but other than that, you’re in good shape.
Then comes the meeting with the agency. Instead of seeking to focus on your needs, the online marketing agency folks see an opportunity. They think you don’t know much about online marketing so they try and up-sell you SEO, Social Media Management, Blogging, etc.
They can sometimes still get away with it because most small business owners don’t really know what they need. (Which is understandable because you’re busy running your business!!)
Agency Example: My team recently met with a large Home Services company (Electrician / HVAC). They were hesitant to even meet with us because they’d been burned by an “SEO Agency”. Long story short, they were paying too much for the wrong services. We helped them get an immediate cost reduction of 50% all while doubling their conversions.
How to Be a Better Buyer of Online Marketing Services
Being a good negotiator and a better buyer is hard. Especially when you’re not sure where to start. We’ve seen the best results when our clients follow Stephen Covey’s advice and begin with the end in mind. We recommend 3 main steps.
Step 1: Prepare
Meet with your team and figure out what’s broken, what’s leaking and where you need a complete overhaul.
Step 2: Ask questions
* What is your end goal?
* What do you want your website visitors to do?
* Do you want calls? Emails? Sales? What action do you want them to take?
Only when you know where you’re going can you begin to understand what you need to get there.
Step 3: Work WITH an agency to design a strategy
When you work with an agency, it’s a partnership. They should be asking you a ton of questions about your business and what goals you want to achieve. Only then can you work together to design a strategy to accomplish your goals.
Will search engine optimization get you where you want to go? Is posting a blog every other day really necessary to achieve your goals? Do you really need 5 social media channels when 2 will suffice? What about your website?
We often talk about the primary purpose of your website. This “rule” is applicable to any online marketing efforts.
“The primary purpose of a website is to tell visitors 3 things: Here’s what I got…here’s what it will do for you…and here’s what to do next.”
The Online Marketing Strategy
A solid online marketing strategy should accomplish 3 goals:
- Get your target audience to your website
- Tell them what you do and what it will do for them
- Convert them into leads that you can follow up with later
It’s difficult to talk about all businesses in all industries, so we’ve put together a broad list that stretches across a wide array of industries. There are 4 “must-have’s” and 4 “nice-to-have’s”.
Online Marketing “Must-Have’s”
- Clarity & Value: You website must clearly state 3 things: What you do, the benefit and what to do next. The 2 biggest mistakes we see on websites are either 1) They aren’t clear or 2) The content is all about them, not about the customer. People just want to know what’s in it for them, so tell them. Even in the “About Us” section. The “About Us” section should talk about how your history and skill set can help them. Last but not least, make it very clear how to contact you.
- Mobile-Friendly: Ever since Google’s “Mobilegeddon” algorithm update, it’s become an absolute must to make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
- On-Page SEO: No need to get complicated here. Just start with simply optimizing the main areas of your website (title tags, heading tags, meta descriptions, alt attributes, focus keywords). And install analytics and make sure you have your XML Sitemap installed correctly.
- Local Search: This one is actually not a “must-have” for all businesses. If you’re a national or international business, then it’s not as important, but owning your backyard is rarely a bad thing.
Online Marketing “Nice-to-Have’s”
- Social Media Presence: Having a solid social media presence is nice to have, but I wouldn’t recommend focusing on it until you have your website in order. Once you do, then Social Media is a great place to distribute your content, engage with your audience and grow a following.
- Follow Up: When someone calls your business or opts-in to your list, you should have a great follow up system in place. We use Drip for all of our follow up emails, but there are quite a few good ones out there.
- Content Marketing / Blogging: It might seem funny to people that know me that I’m putting Blogging down here since our blog is our #1 lead generator, but I still recommend focusing on the essentials first, then creating a solid content plan for blogging. Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.
- Off-Page SEO: Off-Page SEO is great, but in order to do it right, it’s expensive and time-consuming. Especially if you’re in a highly competitive market. We highly recommend off-page SEO, but buyer beware! This is where a great place for the “agencies” to sell you those filters and radiator coolant that you don’t need.
Hopefully, I’ve armed you with some useful information. Now you can confidently go into an auto-repair shop or an online marketing agency with confidence.
If you need a little nudge or simply don’t know where to get started, check out our free website analysis tool. You will receive a custom website analysis report that will help you pick the ‘low-hanging fruit’ and stop you from wasting more time and money. Go into your next meeting with an online marketing agency armed with this website analysis. It will be the most productive marketing meeting you’ve had in years.
To your continued success,