As somebody who owns a modern business, you already know that web marketing should be a part of your strategy for customer growth. You also know that the most cost-effective way to accomplish this is usually to hire a web marketing firm, rather than waste the time and resources necessary to train an in-house marketing team.
That said, you need to be savvy enough to spot a bad strategy when you see one. Here are a few things that any marketing company you work with should be aware of.
1. Social Media is Social
This should go without saying, but unfortunately it can’t. All to often, marketing firms see the word “media” and forget how important that first word is. You can buy ads on Facebook and Twitter, but unless you are leveraging them to create a social presence, their ROI pales in comparison to search engine marketing.
Your web marketing firm should understand that users now expect to have a conversation with their brands. They are no longer content to passively listen to a marketing campaign. At any rate, what good is a passive listener in the age of viral marketing, when a message can quickly spread on its own because people can’t resist sharing it with their friends?
Finally, don’t underestimate the potential of feedback. Why pay for focus groups when you can use social media to talk directly to your customers?
2. Spam is Not Marketing
Internet spam is more reviled than the late-night infomercial. When people see spam in their email, in blog comments, on their social networks, and in their search results, they recoil in horror. Many of them are willing to take the next step and report you.
What qualifies as spam? There’s a sliding scale involved, but odds are you will be considered spam any time you try to weasel your way into a conversation that you know you aren’t a part of. Joining in on conversations about related topics is legit, but if at any point a reference to your business comes off as contrived, you will be considered spam.
In particular, the worst form of spam is anything that has been automatically generated for search engine benefit, namely spun articles and auto-comments. If you discover that your web marketing firm is involved in these practices, drop them immediately and hire somebody who understands damage control. These tactics risk getting you entirely removed from the search results, and Google is making it easier every day for offended people to report you.
3. You Own Your Business
No online marketing consultant should try to force you into their business model. Good firms are useful for informing you about ways that the internet is different from traditional business, and for performing tasks that your business does not specialize in. This doesn’t give them the right to unilaterally decide what to do with your online presence. The best firms will make sure that you are heavily involved in the process. The more separated your online marketing efforts are from your actual business, the less fruitful they will be.