Have you seen the ads where the model, entrepreneur and coding-for-girls advocate Karlie Kloss talks about the website she built herself with wix.com? It is an excellent example of doing things yourself. But, with no disrespect to Kloss who seems like a very positive person, the DIY approach doesn’t always work well.
Ask anybody who designed to plumb their bathroom or paint their lounge, just because the underlying principles seem easy to grasp doesn’t mean that the inexperienced person is going to have a great result.
So should you do your online marketing yourself or should you leave that kind of thing to the professionals? There is no clear-cut answer, as it depends on several factors. These include time, skills and priorities.
If you have no interest in mastering SEO, it might be easier to hire a pro to do it. If you have the skills, as well as the time, you might want to do it yourself. Perhaps you do have the skills, but you’re also really busy with other tasks, in which case you might want to outsource it and focus on other things.
Whether your company is partly or entirely online, you do need to look into search engine marketing to keep up with the competition and achieve success. If your business was an early adopter then perhaps your current website has become outdated after a few years, which means that you need to look at it again to ensure the best results for your business. Just like any marketing, when it comes to digital marketing it pays to pay attention and keep things up to date with changing trends in the environment, from customer behaviours to competitor initiatives as well as just social trends.
It Matters Who You Hire
Forget the $99 snake oil salesmen from India who advertise on ubiquitous websites and with spammy emails and promises the Earth in return for a surprisingly cheap fee. You know the saying, ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is’? Well, that’s the same with online marketing! You get what you pay for, so if you want quality, consider and compare your options and then choose wisely.
SEO pros happen to be good at placing their advertisements where you will find them first on search engines, remember, so don’t just go with the first one you find! And no, there is nothing cookie cutter about search engine marketing.
There are plenty of reputable specialist companies to choose from, along with experienced freelancers. Perhaps you have somebody in-house you could train up, or maybe an intern or temp staff member who has the right skills or is keen to learn. Is there anyone you can think of who might be up for the challenge, perhaps someone you consider a ‘techie’ or who is always using apps on their phone? Ask them!
What are Your Goals?
So what do you expect from your online marketing endeavours? It’s not enough to just ask someone to ‘make your business better’ because that is too vague. Instead, think about what exactly you want to improve. From goals such as increasing sales, smoothing cashflow or reducing risk you should develop online sub-goals that will support the primary goals.
These subgoals might include increasing your social media presence, running a new branding campaign or driving online sales, for example.
Any online marketing agency worth its salt will want to know more about your business and goals before they agree to work with you. If you aren’t sure where your primary focus ought to be, an agency can advise.
You need to be armed with detailed information about your business. Know which of your website pages are converting into sales or leads better than others. Know where the majority of your website visitors comes from and how much your leads cost. The amount you have available to spend will impact your results, but even if you don’t have a huge budget, you can still improve your business. Search engine marketing on a smaller scale is still worthwhile for some techniques, but others need a minimum spend to be effective. When the big bucks start coming in and then, you can consider an SEO budget increase.
A good online marketing agency (that’s us!) can discuss goals with you and work out the best route to take with the budget you have available. You might not be able to afford do the whole shebang (email marketing, social media ads, updated search engine optimisation, display ads, a pay-per-click campaign etc.) right away.
However, the agency or person you hire should be able to go through your goals with you and make the best recommendations according to whatever budget you have available.
Next… Narrow Down the Options
So if you feel you have the skills required, or you are willing to learn and have enough time to do so, go ahead and tackle your search engine marketing, ensuring your knowledge is entirely up to date first. If not, mainly you’re looking at either an agency, a freelance SEO expert or someone in-house.
A full-time, in-house specialist is going to work out more costly than an agency since you will be paying a full salary plus benefits, hardware and software costs, payroll taxes and more. The more experienced this person is, the more they will charge for their expertise. You might want to consider someone at an entry-level because, but by the time you’ve have provided them with in-house SEO training, you could have just learnt the ropes yourself (or invested the money in an agency and had results already).
This depends a lot on your long-term strategy; whether outsourcing non-core functions is the way you wish to go, or whether having in-house skills to support your company with high integration with other business processes seems more your style.
A freelancer could work out great… or not. At least an agency has a proven record. You also have the option of a part-time, in-house person, but for that cost, you can also look at agencies. With an agency, you can choose exactly how much you spend rather than having to pay a full-time salary plus all the extras.
An agency uses a number of specialists while your in-house person is, well, just one person. Keep it in-house, and you don’t have the full expertise of the entire agency marketing team at your disposal. Agencies use expensive software, meaning you don’t have to invest in it for an in-house SEO expert. Agencies have the funds and workforce to find and view more data, and use expensive premium analytics tools.
An in-house person is a great investment if you can afford to have someone focusing wholly on your business and implementing search engine optimisation for you, while an agency can work out cheaper, to begin with.
If you have the budget for the best of both worlds, go ahead and get an in-house expert and an agency so they can work together, bringing a whole wealth of resources, data and experience to the table. A good agency should feel like part of your team, just like an in-house SEO expert would.
Make Your Decision
Of course, if you still want to do your own search engine optimisation, ensure you have the relevant skills for the job and the time to implement it.
Realize that dealing with the online world is very different from dealing with the offline world. You will want to master keyword research, plan, build and maintain your website, and produce content regularly. You will also need to know about public relations, how to build a social media network, use Google Analytics and more.
If that sounds too overwhelming, and you don’t have the time do master your own SEO as well as running your day-to-day business, you have a choice. Invest your budget wisely into a regular monthly SEO package (we do that too) with an agency or in-house search engine marketing professional, and then you can sit back and watch your online business grow and flourish.
Rank # 1
That website Kloss built? It is full of technical errors, and doesn’t even rank doesn’t rank in the top 3 for her own name. Maybe she should have had some help.