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I'm a newly appointed Director of Marketing for a medical software company. I'm looking to hire an agency. We currently have vendors dispersed across content creation, retargeting, and web development - each with a decent sized retainer per month.

I'm looking to either consolidate, or really be wise with our marketing spend and choose some kick ass agencies.

Anyone in a similar role have any good references for great agencies that have helped with customer acquisition, SEO, PPC, content marketing, conversion optimization, and marketing automation?

Note, growing the team isn't an option at this point, moreso in 8-15 months.

Thanks

  • JP

    Jason Puckett

    almost 3 years ago #

    Hey Joelle:

    I oversaw client acquisition, campaign strategy & project management for a 30 person content marketing agency for the past 3 years. Recently, I've moved into a role similar to what you're in now... I've worked with a ton of companies who outsourced everything you mentioned (content, SEO, PPC, conversion optimization, etc.)... I saw some engagements go well for my clients and even more fail. Some advice based on what I've seen:

    1. Hire locally- the ease of management and accountability is incredibly difficult to handle remotely.

    2. Hire vendors with an overlapping workload. It may sound messed up, but you'll get agencies working harder knowing that they have competition.

    3. Hire a firm within your personal network- Vendors are way more motivated to do a good job if they know it'll come back to haunt them if they don't perform.

    4. Hire as few vendors as possible-- I would overlap PR/Content (same skillsets), and I would overlap PPC, SEO & conversion optimization.

    5. User Acquisition- If someone positions their agency as a "user acquisition" specialist, that is a complete over-promise and it may stem from their inexperience. I would be skeptical if someone tells you "I will get you x users for x dollars" There is no way to estimate that.

    6. Get really involved-- the clients who are more involved with their vendors always see the most success.

    Hope this helps!! Good Luck.

    • SE

      Sean Ellis

      almost 3 years ago #

      Thanks for this really solid answer @jasonpuckett . Curious on point 4, you suggest hiring an agency that does PPC, SEO and conversion optimization. Do you have any recommendations for agencies that are great at all three? In my experience, CRO agencies that specialize in CRO seem to by way better than everyone else. But that's just my experience...

      • JP

        Jason Puckett

        almost 3 years ago #

        Hey Sean... The agency that I've worked with the most is Rise Interactive, they are out of Chicago (where I'm based)... Do you have any CRO agencies that you're fond of that I should check out?

        • SE

          Sean Ellis

          almost 3 years ago #

          Conversion Rate Experts, Markitekt (ConversionXL), Site Tuners... Check out some of the content that each of these firms creates and you'll be impressed with their knowledge.

          • JA

            Joelle Ayala

            almost 3 years ago #

            CRO is definitely an area of importance, but I don't think we have enough traffic (or a large enough data set) to really dive deep into split testing.

            Do you guys usually focus on enhancing targeted traffic before you get deep into CRO or should I reconsider this idea?

            Thanks in advance.

          • JP

            Jason Puckett

            almost 3 years ago #

            Thanks Sean, will read through some of their content this afternoon.

    • PL

      Peter Levitan

      almost 3 years ago #

      Consider not calling your agency a "vendor." You want an agency that is much more invested in your objectives and future. "Marketing partner" will get you more service bang for your buck.Your office cleaning service is a "vendor."

    • JA

      Joelle Ayala

      almost 3 years ago #

      @jasonpuckett thanks for the insight. This helps a lot. I'm in Baltimore so I don't know if using local agencies is the best move. I like the idea of agencies with overlapping skills to keep them on the edge.

    • DT

      Damian Thompson

      almost 3 years ago #

      Jason -

      I think you raise some good points, (3)utilizing personal networks is a great idea in many cases, (5) look for defined responsibilities that are controllable and not someone selling a pipe-dream, and ( 6) being involved is always a smart approach.

      But I have to disagree with you on #1.

      Now of course I would say that, running a distributed agency, but the idea that the guy around the corner is more knowledgable, better for your business, or easier to manage because he happens to occupy the same piece of dirt as you? That's some 20th century thinking right there.

      Running a global team and supporting global clients forces us to create systems, procedures, and accountability processes that are far more favorable to our clients than when I was local to them.

      We can't rely on keeping an account through client entertainment or proximity. We have to rely on the quality of the work to build the relationship. Also by setting clear expectations and achieving results.

  • ND

    Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

    almost 3 years ago #

    Work with Inturact! :) We do all of those things.

  • KW

    Katelyn Watson

    almost 3 years ago #

    From my Kabbage experience - I like Unique Influence, they are in Austin. Also love Pitch PR - inexpensive and very results driven. I tend to like scrappy agencies that get the work done and have topical knowledge vs shiny presentation.

  • JA

    Joelle Ayala

    almost 3 years ago #

    I was thinking about using Wordstream's PPC services, but as far as SEO and content promotion I'm not too impressed with what some of the agencies that I've seen have to offer.

    I'd like to find an agency that incorporates marketing automation with research based content distribution and inventive link building, or find agencies that specialize in each.

    I'm interested to hear if anyone has any insight on how they've managed agencies that excel in content promotion/distribution and link building.

  • TG

    Todd Giannattasio

    almost 3 years ago #

    Hey Joelle!

    Here's a pretty good overview article on Content Marketing Institute about how to hire an agency for content marketing - http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2013/02/choosing-content-marketing-agency/

    I would make sure to not overlook the importance of personality. When our agency works with prospects, we always think about "is this someone that we would want to be hanging out with if we were stuck in an airport together?"

    It definitely makes a difference in your own happiness over the length of the relationship.

  • LO

    luke owen

    almost 3 years ago #

    http://www.hubspot.com/partners/partner-tiers

    Scroll down towards the bottom till you hit the tiers starting with the only Diamond partner. As HubSpot partners, they are all trained in just about every item you listed in your question and if they are at the top of this list, you can expect that they know how to manage all of these marketing items for their clients.

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