If you have ever shopped for a preschool or school you know there was a long list of things you were looking for. Is the school clean? Stimulating? What curriculum is covered? How do they resolve conflicts that come up and what are the strengths of the teachers? And finally, most importantly, do you feel you and your child will enjoy spending time there!
Don’t laugh but you need a similar list when shopping for web services. In many cases, your internet marketing consultant becomes a key partner in your business. Success with internet marketing can make all the difference to the success and future of your business. Hire someone you are sure can deliver and be there for you in the future!
I’ve written about this topic years ago, and the need for business people to be shrewd consumers of internet marketing services is no less today. About 20% of our clients have negative experiences with previous internet marketing consultants or web designers. Sometimes they’ve spent money for a website that was never completed. But more commonly they learned later that their site was not optimized and they received no consulting on how to get traffic to their site and new clients to their phone.
Here’s what you need to look for:
Web Design and Development Portfolio
I recommend you start by looking at the internet marketing firm’s online portfolio. The first question is: Have they done projects similar in type or complexity to yours? Do you see any of the features you might be considering?
Secondly, do all the website designs look the same or are the designs more eclectic? It’s OK if all the designs look the same; many designers do have a specific, recognizable style. However, you have to like their style. If designs are more eclectic that means you have found a designer who varies their style to match the desires and needs of the client.
Always ask for references when hiring someone to do any large job whether it’s a housepainter or an internet marketing consultant. If the business has happy customers they will be happy to share that information.
This may be less important if the business has great references. But do be sure the person has experience to match what you are looking for.
Here are some specializations:
Search Engine Optimization 90% of the sites I look at are not optimized. Make sure there are unique page titles on the websites the firm built recently.
High-end design. To give you that indulgent or clean, modern look.
E-commerce. Building online stores is complex, challenging and changes rapidly.
Databases, photo galleries, and online class registration,all require lots of technical expertise as well.
Small business marketing: Your website is a marketing tool. You need a website that intelligently and persuasively builds the case for your expertise, credibility, reliability, and why you are great to work with. You don’t want a site that is just attractive: you site needs to have clear “calls to action” that encourage prospects to engage and communicate with you. If you need marketing help, then look for that as well.
Years in Business
Is your internet marketing consultant or web designer someone you can consult about how to use your website to grow your business now and in the future? Be sure your internet marketing consultant will be there in a year.
Communication and Chemistry
A lot of back and forth communication takes place between you and your web designer or internet marketing consultant. Are they good listeners? Do they ask the right questions and make good recommendations? Who will be building the site and doing your search engine optimization (SEO) and can you talk to them directly?
Do you feel comfortable and will you enjoy working with this person? This is very important because you are not just handing the job over to the designer or project manager. Rather, you will work as partners to develop the site and you may be talking to your designer or project manager once a week as your project moves forward.
That’s what you’ll want to hone in on: web design and programming skills, search engine optimization (seo) and online marketing skills, references, experience and communication compatibility.
Karen Nierlich works with the Internet Marketing Firm Full Orbit Web and Marketing (FOW) in Albany, California. FOW prides itself in helping clients grow their businesses 10%, 50%, even 100% using the power of the Internet. They specialize in web design, web programming and development, search engine optimization, and social media.