Thinking of bringing on a team of digital marketing experts to assist your property’s online presence and direct booking strategy in 2018? This partnership can be invaluable as they bring experience to the table and can apply tried and tested marketing methods to your property while you can teach them about your typical guests, their needs, and your business goals.
It’s good to go into your research with an open mind as many agencies will customize marketing plans for you and focus on the tactics your business needs the most.
As you start discussions with digital marketing agencies, try to keep these key things in mind:
- Are they industry-specific? Are they focused on hospitality or do they work with a wide range of clients? Either decide you want someone who only works in your industry or you’re OK with an agency that spans multiple industries.
- What areas of expertise are you most interested in? Do you need more help with email campaigns, optimizing your website with SEO, posting on social media, updating your website’s content or layout, or do get scared just thinking of running a Pay Per Click advertising campaign? Ask what each agency is known for or what their team members have a lot of experience in.
- In-house or outsourced talent? Some agencies keep all of their team members under one roof while others will outsource their jobs to freelancers. Both will get the job done, but in-house team members tend to be more focused and knowledgeable about your specific account but freelance work can be cheaper.
- What ROI can you expect? The agency should be able to give you an estimate of your ROI based on your conversations and what your goals are. They should also walk you through timelines of what will be done and when you can expect to see some impacts.
- They understand the data: The agency should be able to explain the various data points in Google Analytics, benchmarks for your industry, and any opportunities they see within your data.
- They report on their performance: They should show you a sample of a report you’ll get on a regular basis and discuss their reporting process so you know that they’re constantly monitoring the success of your program as well as highlighting new areas of opportunity.
You should also look out for these red flags:
- No success stories: They should be able to share case studies or success stories about other clients and how their efforts brought on those successes or overcame serious business challenges.
- Vague answers: Are they avoiding specifics or don’t want to share strategies or commonly used tactics? They might go into your program with that same sense of vagueness and waste both time and money on strategies that won’t work.
- Promising ridiculous results: If an agency promises you that they’ll get you on the first page of Google overnight, they’re not going to do it the right way and will end up hurting your property’s online presence in the long run.
- Their website is outdated: If their own website isn’t following the standards they tell you that yours needs to follow or their site hasn’t been updated in years, they may not be as invested as you’re going to be.
- Crickets in your inbox: Have you sent in a request for more information and get nothing back or it’s like pulling teeth trying to get a response? Chances are that won’t change once you’re locked in a contract. Find a partner that’s good at communicating and proactive in their approach.
- Super strict contracts: You know the rule of never signing anything without reading it, but you cannot sign a marketing contract without knowing the specific terms such as the length of contract (you don’t want to get stuck in a three-year contract), what happens to your website and your content when the contract is terminated, and what your notice period is. On the flip side, watch out for super vague contracts too or reassurances that you’ll figure it out when the time comes to it as the last thing you want to learn when trying to leave a contract is that they own your website domain and all of its content and that you can buy it back for an astronomical fee.