Digital Marketing is one of the most adaptive and challenging professions out there hands down. It is also a thriving industry and the select few growth hackers out there that bring large results can’t keep up with the magnitude of demand that truly exists. This has in turn created a huge opportunity for similar industry professionals to get into the field and can be extremely tricky for any client looking to get online results in the era of Growth Hacking/Data Driven Marketing. Of course, as mentioned before anyone offering internet marketing services must be okay with volitility similar to the stock market shakeup in 2008 – Google is continually changing the rules and just like investing your money in a portfolio manager that has experience and passion to learn everyday you should think in the same terms with your digital marketing extension/company.
To top this off it is an industry is constantly being scrutinized by clients who have hired the wrong company or expect to understand organic search in 2 months (if you cannot commit to a long term successful strategy you may be better off not investing). On the flipside what keeps the community and industry thriving is the value of qualified inbound traffic you can bring to businesses. For the failures, flack or miscommunications you are inspired by every win or traffic correlation that is much higher than a campaign spend equating to a large chunk of change (ROI for your client). Needless to say the BS available online today tends to outweigh the value when it comes to researching and learning about digital marketing. Step one I’d say for potential clients is understanding you are hiring experience and a creative mind that is blended with analytical and can draw mean insights from data past and present. True digital marketing consultants that are gangster at what they do do not compete for your business. It’s simple…they gain a huge following from their case studies, blogs and are referred by heavy hitting clients..most have limited bandwidth so in turn they are in that sweet spot of choosing the right businesses to grow. The best position (trust me I’ve been on the desperate side of launching a business in a recession so I understand that too) is to find a company or professional that isn’t cold calling you or overhyping the game – go find them based on quality niche contribution /word of mouth buzz, etc. Every Digital Marketeer has their own strategy and I honestly encourage competition but all true growth hackers agree – it’s not the chase that were about…you should be already convinced of the potential versus sold up. After all we have enough work cut out for us and ROI sells itself.
After dealing with various professionals, experts, marketeers..and constantly having conversations with clients about what to look for etc. I filtered a list of the most common traits I personally have witnessed & feel the rare group of high level digital marketeer possess. If you are hiring I’d recommend to breeze the list and see how the interview or filtering process matches up and look for at least some of the traits below.
1. Transparency – With Marketing in general you need to find a source you can trust. Disruptive marketing is creative in nature and should be just as much data driven activity as creative expression – This is what makes people remember your business where every corner there is an overload of free content. Transparency is key, understanding you are hiring experience and a mind that can optimize, test and get your business visible much faster than learning or harming your website. Look for someone or a business model that isn’t overselling and hard pressed to get you to sign with them that day. Seek a relationship that is patient and values research, quality and honesty – you will be faced with upsets but with an honest business you will get over the mistakes quicker and grow faster. Look for a company or growth hacker willing to sit down with their clients, evaluate their current strategies an ideal milestones. After this a professional should assess ideal bandwidth for the campaign, team involvement, budget, etc. and estimate or propose a blueprint/plan for success and the time period to get there.
2. Cooperative Yet Assertive – This may sound like a paradox but it’s true. You need to understand that good digital marketers are part engineers part extension of your team and much more. Chances are if you are dealing with someone who is open to every change, or new idea you throw at them they aren’t well versed in what works at what doesn’t. Also, it takes a great deal of effort and consistent work to continually drive qualified traffic or lay that foundation so its beneficial that you are hiring a professional that can transfer their proven frameworks & successes but tailor to your business game and target audience. It’s a good personality trait if you are in the middle of looking for candidates – don’t be turned of for example if your consultant is adament about using their proven designer/copywriter etc. because this shows they trust the experience and are assuming the risk on your businesses behalf.
3. Relationships or Network In Place – Don’t get it twisted, if you are hiring/outsourcing your marketing to an expert/agency/consultant you are paying for the access to their network. As with any vendor or contractor you hire you are paying for there expertise and subcontractors/niche tradesmen to get you the highest result. Let’s frame this example with another industry I am passionate about – general contracting for home remodeling. When you hire a contractor to build your home you are also hiring his trusted resources. If you were to try to play general contractor as a newbie you would pay double for the plumber, electrician, etc. because you do not have any prior relationship in place and you pay the standard rate (you don’t have the homie hookup). This works the same for SEO/PPC/Web Developing you name it. Good business relationships are not limited to A & B, I will always allow my clients to leverage my existing relationships to get you higher quality content awareness, buzz and placement. Any good SEO already has dealt with a wide variety of bloggers, webmasters and PR so they can save you the hassle of doing outreach. This is a very long process that isn’t fun and you are likely to get extremely low response rate. In simple, you are paying for this when you hire an SEO…
4. Following Their Own Advice – Hire a company that doesn’t just talk the talk. If you are hiring someone to develop your site make sure to browse their site and opt-in some forms, etc. so you can see they are competent versus finding numerous bugs on-site etc. If you are hiring an SEO look for some regional search terms to see where they come up. SEO is one of my core bread and butter services, when inbound leads find me from “San Diego SEO Expert”, “San Diego SEO Consultant”, etc. I let them know that I can take them here too & understand the bandwidth and effort needed. If you are hiring a social media company browse their online profiles, are they outdated and not engaging any community? I would take a look at what the next internet marketing company you are hiring is doing for their own site.
5. Flexibility – Be careful hiring a large company due to the illusion of more clout. Larger agencies are not always the answer, and this is why you see so many of the best search engine professionals in a flexible position holding a few consultants and specialists versus growing one of the typical over-inflated old school ad agencies. The days of Mad Men Marketing are gone so don’t be fooled into thinking a large inflated team of appointment setters is better than a nimble lean team.
6. Certification/Testomonials – Certifications can be a very tricky subject in an industry a) so incredibly new for most industry standards b) constantly changing as technology evolves. With that said, you should still inquire and see what certifications your potential client possesses. Again see the above title…it’s grouped with testomonials because you can treat these as one silo essentially. A professional with all the certifications is the world could be the world’s worst marketer but just be very good at the control f function for “online certification” programs. On the flipside the professional with a few testomonials could have hired some people off fiverr so cross check their experience. Did they work at past agencies? Do they have some credible, profitable businesses vouching for their work and ethics?
8. Startup Experience – Most digital marketers worth their salt have experience with startups, for sure. Why? Well, one because it is fun as hell and challenging so most have sought the relationship but if not because it many startups nowadays are reliant on a growth hacker to pickup steam. Working with and for a startup you eat what you kill mentality and is an experience in my opinion unlike any other. If you are seeking a growth hacker that has only traditional large scale business clients I would urge you to ask why. I recommend a professional that has rolled up the sleeves, worked hard with a passionate team of creative individuals and pushed to grow a company with zero to little existing footprint. I’ve personally grown new website traffic double over several engagements and it tests your skills unlike hoping on a campaign already doing well.
9. Conversion Rate Optimization – Without a good mind or team looking at your conversions you are missing a huge chunk of positive revenue online. Conversion Rate Optimization should be integrated into your internet strategy and considered an important element in your strategy. Paid Ads are only getting more and more expensive along with rates for Social Media, SEO and other forms of online advertising as more users adapt and transactions happen online – keep an eye on who is offering your firm out of the box thinking and trying to improve your conversions.
10. Results Driven – You should seek a partner in your marketing efforts that is concerned with end results. Who cares about the hour of consultation if nothing was implemented? Creative marketing is hard and should have adequate time to reflect success but don’t get caught up in too much fluff. Get Reporting & Analysis on items such as unique visits, higher engagement & purchases and overall improvement of campaigns at a minimum of a quarterly time period.