Most businesses looking into web marketing for the first time probably have no idea what it costs. Many of the inquiries we get are people shopping around and comparing prices. Unfortunately, that’s the wrong approach.
The cost of web marketing is almost entirely dependent on the strategy. Much to the dismay of the shopper, however, the strategies being quoted can vary widely, not just in terms of what the company will do, but the experience of the team doing it and the rate at which they do it for. Which means you can find SEO strategies that range from as little as a few hundred dollars on up to several thousand dollars per month.
But price is meaningless, unless you understand what’s behind it. I suggest you look for three things: Strategy, experience and results.
The first thing to look at when comparing proposals between two web marketing companies is the strategy. Are they offering an SEO-focused strategy that is dependent on architecture and keywords only, or does the strategy delve into a more holistic approach that includes social media marketing, content strategy, etc?
As individual services, each of these have merit, but it’s hard to be have a “successful” web marketing campaign without incorporating multiple areas of web marketing. Search engines today are looking for optimized sites that have authority. Authority doesn’t come from the optimization itself, but from the user experience and off-site interactions.
You also need to know to what degree you’re getting each service being included in the strategy. Social media maintenance may sound good—unless that only means an hour per month when four are needed to be effective.
What kind of experience do the web marketers have? Web marketing can take years to master even when the focus is in one particular discipline. Working with someone with two years of experience is vastly different than working with some with five and even more so than working with someone with 10.
But years don’t always equate strength; you need to look at the knowledge of the strategists or team you’re considering hiring. Fortunately, in the age of the internet, this is pretty easy to do. Simply do some online searches and take a look at what they have published. You can either hire a thought follower (who has relatively few things published of value) or you can hire a thought leader who has been a source of strategy, ideas and solutions that other web marketers turn to for advice.
Of course, there is also another difference you see with experience, and that is price. The more knowledgeable and experienced marketers will charge accordingly for that value.
In the end, none of that really matters if the person or team you are considering can’t get results. You need to find out what kind of results you can expect!
You can always ask for case studies, but those are often cherry picked because they look the best. You almost always expect too see the small print asterisk stating “results not typical.” Still, those can be a good place to start. But take the next step and talk to some current clients. Again, those can be cherry picked, but at least you will be able to talk to someone who has experience working with the team and can provide you valuable feedback.
One other thing to consider in the results department is the longevity of the person or company. Many SEOs come and go. And they go because they can’t get the results people want. When you’re looking at a marketer who has been active for over 10 years, you know there has to be reason. And that reason is usually because they get and keep clients by producing the valuable ROI for them.
Comparing web marketing companies on price alone will usually only get you the company with the lowest price. Rarely will it get you services with the best value. For the most part, price shopping leads to more failures than wins. Look beyond price and find the company that gives you the most security. After all, it’s your money—make sure it works for you!