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Online Marketing: DOs and DON’Ts of a successful campaign

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With over 74% of American households online, your business can’t afford not to use online marketing strategies. Techniques like SEO (search engine optimization), email marketing, video campaigns and PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns allow you to reach your target customer faster, more easily, and for less money than traditional advertising – leading to increased sales and overall profits for your business.

Alright, so you’re sold – online marketing services are a great idea- what next? When it comes to something as important as building your brand, it’s important to hire a professional to provide expert help. An online marketing company can coordinate a comprehensive campaign, monitor efforts, and tailor strategies to meet your goals. The tricky part can be finding the right company at the right price- here’s a quick overview of a few DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to working with an online marketing company.

DO know the basics.

An online marketing company can use several different strategies to achieve your goals. For example, if you’re seeking better visibility, you can make changes to the titles, content, and graphics used on your website in order to make the site easier for search engines to find- the higher “result” your site appears as on a page, the more visitors you’ll have. You don’t always need to make changes to your site- other strategies, like email marketing services, reach out to current or potential customers, similar to direct mailings. Social media strategies position your brand in a certain way on other sites. Before you choose an online marketing company, get an idea of the strategies they’ll be using and what your responsibilities will be. Will you need to commit to a website overhaul, writing email content, or other tasks?

DO follow industry standards.

Most online marketing companies will require a payment up front before they begin work, and will craft a contract with a payment schedule before the campaign gets underway. It’s not common to pay only after services have been completed, or for a company to work without any type of agreement in place.

DO set up a way to measure results.

Tracking is one of the chief benefits of an online marketing or video campaign. Some video campaigns to try are SpotMixer, Animoto, and Spork Marketing’s Running Stills.Unlike traditional print or television advertising, online spending can be measured in real time, and “conversions” (sales per click to an ad, per visit to a website, etc.) can be tracked fairly easily. Make sure you have a mechanism in place to track the results of your campaign.

DO talk about price before the agreement is signed.

The best time to negotiate is before any type of agreement has been made. Most online marketing companies will be willing to bargain, especially if you’re purchasing a comprehensive list of services. Also ask about discounts that might be available if you refer other businesses or purchase additional services.

DON’T fall for “guarantees.”

No company knows the top-secret Google or Yahoo or MSN formula that will get you to the top of the search engine results page every time. Don’t fall for a “guarantee-” there is no way a company can honestly promise a particular result.

DON’T cancel out the company’s efforts.

If your online marketing strategy involves changing page headings and site text, make sure you get the go-ahead before updating your site with new content yourself. Changing text or copy-even slightly- can cancel out weeks of work and thwart efforts to drive traffic to your site. Tell the web designer or online marketing company you’re working with about common updates (adding new event information, etc.) so that changes won’t interfere with SEO efforts.

DON’T be unethical.

Stay away from companies that use unethical tactics, such as hiding content, keyword stuffing, writing misleading code, spamming, or other similar techniques. Honest and reputable search engine optimization services avoid these practices, which can get your site banned from popular search engines. The best way to choose an ethical company is to find a firm by referral- if someone you know has worked with and trusted the company, it’s a good sign.

Image by danperry.com.

About author

Betsy Brottlund
Betsy Brottlund 12 posts

Betsy Brottlund is the Director of Marketing at Resource Nation, an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for entrepreneurs and business owners ranging from payroll services to phone systems. Brottlund frequently contributes to several sites that offer tools and advice for business owners, including Dell and BizEquity. Previously a communications consultant, Brottlund has worked with start-ups to Fortune 500 companies managing their marketing and communication programs.

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  • Erica,

    IMO, having your site not SEOed properly is better than SEOing it with bad SEO practices. I agree that you need to find someone who is reputable and having a list of happy clients in the past.

    Reputation is, indeed, more valuable than being ranked first (in some ways) – For instance, having your site ranked first with the second being a page from a social media site that saying your site a scam is probably the least thing you want to achieve through SEO campaign :)

  • Great advice… Being in the business of SEO, I’ve seen first hand the unfortunate circumstance of small businesses being tricked by shady companies. It takes a lot to clean up that mess. Find someone you can trust, because it’s your reputation that’s at stake. And I definitely think having a solid reputation is more valuable than being ranked first! But both doesn’t hurt :)