When you're getting ready for a website redesign, you need to make sure that you partner with a certain kind of online marketing agency. Anyone can say they design websites nowadays; but not everyone can say they produce websites that look great, are easy to use, and have a real, measurable impact on your revenue stream.

Your website is your most valuable marketing asset. It is your #1 salesperson, connecting with people 24/7/365. And it represents a major business investment. You want to make sure that your marketing dollars are going to get a solid return.

When hiring an online marketing company, look for these 6 critical traits. If they can pass this litmus test, you know your marketing is in good hands.

Hiring an online marketing firm? Make sure . . .

1. They Are Results-Oriented

Your website isn't there just to be another pretty face. It's there to answer customer questions; it's there to generate leads; it's there to help close the sale.

When evaluating online marketing companies, you want to see what kind of record they have and what results they produce. You can do this by:

  • Reading through their case studies.
  • Checking out their blog for stories about past redesigns.
  • Contacting their references and having a conversation over email or phone.

Also, talk directly with the companies you're considering! During an initial phone call or meeting, ask the online marketing firm questions about past results they've achieved and what they did to get those results. Make sure you ask for specific examples and concrete numbers. You might use questions or prompts like:

  • Tell me about a successful lead generation campaign you coordinated.
  • What was the increase in leads? 5x? 7x? 10x?
  • How many leads converted to sales?

Furthermore, look into how they track and report results. Ask:

  • Do they use analytics software like Google Analytics?
  • Do they integrate CRM tools?
  • What other software or tools do they use to track web results?
  • What KPIs (key performance indicators) do they track?
  • How frequently do they send reports? What does a sample report look like?

2. They Are Transparent

It's imperative to have an open and honest relationship with your online marketing partner right off the bat. Even before you engage their services, an online marketing firm should be upfront; they should be able to tell you exactly what they do and exactly how they plan to do it. They should give you all the details you need or want about things like:

  • Process: What are the steps for each phase of the redesign? How do they handle communication with clients? Will there be an ongoing time commitment (e.g., status phone calls or meetings)?
  • People: What members of their team will be involved in the project? What are their credentials?
  • Partners: Is their team completely in-house? Do they use freelancers? Do they partner with other vendors (e.g., a photographer)? Who are these other people who may be involved in the project? What are their credentials?
  • Fees: How will the project be priced/billed? Are there additional costs (e.g., web hosting fees) that we need to account for?

3. They Manage Their Time

A project plan is a website redesign's best friend. Having a clear timeline in place helps manage expectations, gives you goals/deadlines to work toward, and keeps both the client and online marketing team accountable.

  • Ask for a project plan/timeline - in writing.
  • Ask your online marketing company how they handle "bumps in the road." How flexible is the schedule? Is there time built in for delays?

4. They Follow Their Own Advice

Have you ever encountered a firm that tries to sell you on social media marketing, but you look at their own social profiles and see Facebook hasn't been updated in 6 months and their last Tweet was from 2009? If the firm's own marketing leaves something to be desired, think about what that says about what they can deliver for you.

Examine the firm's online presence and marketing initiatives.

  • Do they regularly update their own website?
    • Do they maintain a blog, or maybe a news section?
    • Does their "About" page reflect recent awards or new team members that they've told you about?
  • Do a "gut check."
    • Does their website look/feel current? trustworthy?
  • Are they familiar with current trends, technologies?
    • For example, can they help you make your website mobile-friendly?
  • Can they tell you about their own experiences?
    • What internal marketing initiatives have they launched?
    • What results did they see?
    • How was their business impacted?

5. They Are A Teacher

There are a lot of nuances to Internet marketing, and a lot of jargon, data, misconceptions and myths to weed through. It's easy to see why business owners get frustrated and how things like SEO get a bad rap in the public eye.

When choosing an online marketing agency to partner with, you don't want to wind up with someone who takes a "smoke and mirrors" approach. You need to work with someone who not only explains a concept like vanity metrics, but also gives you guidance and advice on metrics your business should track instead. Your online marketing firm shouldn't throw jargon at you and be vague when answering your questions. They shouldn't inundate you with data and expect you to sort through everything and draw conclusions. Your online marketing company should be your teacher, your trusted advisor, and partners that bring ideas to you.

Knowledge is power. You want to work with an online marketing company that enlightens and empowers you.

  • Do they explain technical terms and other jargon?
  • Do they explain their rationale when making recommendations?
  • Do they walk you through data and reports and explain what the numbers really mean?
  • Are they available for extra help? Are they easily accessible through email or phone?
  • Do they give you cryptic answers, or do they provide thoughtful, detailed responses?

6. They "Get" You

A successful website redesign hinges on your online marketing firm gaining a thorough understanding of your business and its unique goals and its challenges. You shouldn't receive a cookie-cutter pitch or proposal. Partner with someone who is inquisitive; look for an online marketing firm that gets in your head.

  • Do they ask to meet with you or arrange a phone call to talk more in depth about your needs?
  • Do they ask for your input? Or do they only push their agenda?
  • Are they focused on their own portfolio or your company's goals and objectives?
  • Are their recommendations tailored to your specific problem(s)?
  • Do you feel like you could substitute your company name with any company name in their proposal?

What other traits do you want your online marketing firm to have? What makes you sign on the dotted line...or run for the hills? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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