The real experts know they aren’t an expert in everything. That’s why over 62% of brands are leaving their online marketing in the hands of the real experts.
A knowledgeable SEM agency can transform your brand’s online presence. But as in most professional fields, there are plenty of charlatans looking to take you for a ride.
That’s why we’ve put together some key tips to help you find the SEM partner you’re looking for. Read on to learn more.
Can They Show Results?
A good SEM agency should be equipped to show you the proof in the pudding. There’s no good reason to take an SEM provider at their word.
If they say they can get results, get them to show you how. What successful projects can they show you? What hard data do they have to back up their assertions?
But it doesn’t all rest in facts, either. If it’s an SEM company worth their salt, then chatting with their previous clients should be enough to tell you if they’re worth your time.
Find out who they’ve worked with in the past and ask for testimonials. Check out their reviews and what people are saying about them online. It’s easy to set up a website and declare yourself an expert. Get the evidence to back it up.
Are They Realistic?
The internet is a bubbling chaos of communication. Nobody can wholly predict it. Anyone who claims to is likely trying to sell you snake oil.
When you’re looking for an SEM agency, stay cautious of anyone who promises you the world. Chances are, vacuous promises are a way of reeling you in. Once you’ve spent the cash, they’ll go on to underdeliver on their impossible guarantees.
Look for an agency with realistic ideas instead. They’ll factor in the size of your business, your reach, and your budget to draw up a picture of success that works for you.
You don’t need an agency that intends to rely on wishes for a successful campaign. Get one that can give you an idea of the facts and the reality you’re working with.
Do They Understand You?
Marketing of any kind is as much about knowing the business as it is knowing the customer. Your SEM agent should show that they’re ready and willing to learn about your company.
From the outset, you can judge them by the number of questions they ask. If it seems like they’re interrogating you about your business, great! That means they’re engaged and they understand what a tailored marketing campaign looks like.
On the other hand, if they seem more interested in selling you a one-size-fits-all solution, be wary. What works for other brands, even in your niche, might not work the same for you.
The ideal SEM will offer to work with you on a solution that suits your business. That means taking into account what you do and what your customers expect.
What Tools Do They Use?
If an SEM agent doesn’t know anything about analytics, they don’t know how to do their job. Web analytics like Google Analytics is a crucial part of any search engine strategy. They give live feedback on the success of marketing campaigns and thus your ROI.
Smart marketing means using analytics to tweak marketing in real time. It’s also fed back into future campaigns to squeeze out more success and patch up any holes.
An SEM lacking knowledge of analytics is like a pilot flying without instruments. Maybe they’ll get lucky and land it, but you’d probably prefer to feel safe in their hands.
How Long Have They Been Around?
SEM is an experience game. Although things change rapidly in the SEO world, most new developments build on what came before. You’re working with an SEM agency because you acknowledge you’re not an expert. That means they need to be.
Finding out how many years they’ve been in operation is a good rough indicator of the experience involved. Ideally, find an agency who’s remained focused on SEM from the beginning. If they’ve hopped around between different online services, it could be a sign they haven’t gained any real experience.
Even if they say they’ve been in business for years, try to check their history. Frequent name changes or domain moves could be a sign they’re not all they claim to be. A company with a bad rep will often try to shed their previous persona and adopt a new one.
It’s easy for anyone to set up a website and claim to be an SEM. Sifting out the frauds from the experts will be what decides whether you get value for money.
What’s Their Price Structure?
This one isn’t simply a case of knowing what your SEM agent would charge. SEM providers can have quite variable price models, so you need to figure out what you’re dealing with before you commit.
Some SEM agencies will charge based on clicks, others on a percentage of the overall output, or based on ROI. It may be difficult to compare across SEMs. But the main thing to consider is whether their pricing model suits you.
If you know you need a solid, predictable budget for your marketing, then you’ll want to go with an SEM who can offer a fixed figure. If you’re more worried about growing your brand than what you’re spending, then fees based on the overall media percentage won’t seem so bad.
Just be wary of the incentives SEM agents might have to drive up activity in return for more money in their pocket. You want the marketing campaign to serve you, not them. If the SEM is driving your spend, you may have fallen into their trap.
Find the Right SEM Agency
Shopping around to find the right SEM agency is a smart move. Once you have a few options, you can compare them to find the partner who will really work for you. By keeping the above points in mind, you can filter out the time-wasters and narrow it down to the ones who’ll make a difference.
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