Questions To Ask Potential SEM Vendors

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In today’s marketing environment, buyers and sellers alike are going digital. As marketers turn to digital media, the demand for online marketing services is on the rise. To market your products and services successfully in the digital environment, it’s important to choose the right media mix while selecting the most qualified vendors within your budget.  It used to be that finding a good vendor took trial and error or was simply good luck.

While the best recommendations are those from friends and colleagues, businesses can find digital vendors from SEMCompare, SEO Consultants, SEO Market Place and SEMVendor. These sites provide various options for finding companies that provide online marketing services. For instance, SEMCompare allows marketers to match their project and budget to qualified vendors.

Marketers can find reputable Internet marketing companies on these sites because the vendors are usually screened. You can get quotes by describing your project, then interview potential vendors yourself. The sites provide vendors specializing in SEO, PPC, local search, content creation, copywriting, reputation management, social media, landing page optimization, link building and more.

As marketers continue to expand their reach, they are using organic and paid listings for successful search marketing campaigns. Marketers in the vanguard have started social media campaigns. In today’s digital environment, a company needs a well-designed, fully functional website, which means copywriters, web developers, link specialists and so forth. There is a big demand for online marketing specialists, and finding the right one for your business can be a challenge. To help with the process, below are some questions you can ask prospective vendors.

Project             Question

All Projects      How long have you been in business specializing in (marketing tactic)?

Can we contact people on your client list for references?

Can you give us names/background of the team that will work on our project?

Will our campaign/project have a dedicated project manager?

Is there a limit to the number of project manager contacts?

Does it cost extra for phone conversations about the project?

Will you outsource any tasks in our project; which tasks and to whom?

What business categories/verticals have you worked with?

Do you provide written methodology for conducting project-specific tasks?

Do you use professional copywriters; what is their background?

How do you monitor/measure traffic/social media mentions/alerts, etc.?

How do you track sales conversions?

What reports do you provide and how often?

What is my involvement in the process?

What is the total cost; do you provide a detailed cost breakdown?

Who owns the campaign data/text/code/links/archive, etc.?

What differentiates your services from others?

PPC                  What software/management system do you use to manage campaigns?

PPC/SEO          Can you describe your keyword research process?

PPC                  What keyword match types will you use; how do you use negative keywords?

PPC                  What are your top 5 metrics for success?

PPC                  Are those managing the campaign Google certified?

SEO                  Can you describe your link building process?

SEO                  Do you have case studies with verifiable results of achieved client positioning?

SEO                  Do you perform competitor analysis and website audit?

SEO/Local        What are realistic traffic/conversion expectations for my site?

SEO                  Do you use search engine guidelines and best practices?

SEO                  What SEO tactics will be used (code changes, keyword research, Meta tags, copywriting, new pages, linking, etc.)?

SEO                  How many pages will you optimize on my website?

SEO                  What ongoing costs are involved in maintaining SEO positions?

Social               Do you provide a social media audit, competitor analysis, custom strategy?

Social               What social media sites will be used to promote/monitor our brand?

Social               What tools are used to monitor brand mentions?

Social               How often do you check frequency of brand mentions?

Social               Who decides what content gets posted/tweeted?

Social               What data is tracked (company, competitors, mentions, relevant keywords, location, etc.)?

Social               How do you decide which brand mentions require immediate response?

Social               What tools are used to measure social media metrics?

Local                What local search directories will we get listed on?

Local                Do you use data feeds and what is the cost?

Rep Mgt          What services do you provide for reputation management?

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About the Author

Claudia Bruemmer (www.claudiabruemmer.com) is a freelance Internet writer-editor and SEO copywriter. She is a former Managing Editor of ClickZ, former Editor of SearchEngineWatch, and author of numerous Internet marketing articles published on iMedia Connection, Search Engine Guide, TopTenWholesale, and other sites.

About the Author

Claudia Bruemmer (cb@claudiabruemmer.com) was Managing Editor of ClickZ from 1998-2001. As freelance writer-editor and Internet marketing consultant at ClaudiaBruemmer.com, clients include Bruce Clay Inc., Red Door Interactive, Search Engine Watch, SEMPO, JP Communications, Justilien.com, and Laptevsky.com.

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