E-commerce Marketing Agency 101

If you look up the phrase “E-commerce marketing agencies” on any search engine, the results will typically spill into the millions. This can be pretty overwhelming and you might wonder where to even begin. In a world with so many options, how do you know who you can trust?

With a fixed marketing budget and the possibility of another recession like in 2008, we want to help you make the right decision on who you hire – the first time.

In this article, we’ll be answering some of the most plaguing questions, such as:

  • How do you know which company proves the better alternative in terms of quality?
  • Does a higher budget necessarily yield better results?
  • What if you have more than 10,000 products you want to market – will it cost more?
  • How long will it take to see results?
  • How can I track if it’s working or not?

Well, worry not about these questions as the following pointers will help you pick the right e-commerce marketing agency for you.

What to Look for in an E-commerce Marketing Agency

1) Past clients and projects can point you in the right direction, but don’t let them ‘sell’ you.

Credibility and experience are two crucial markers for picking out an e-commerce marketing agency. They will help you predict whether the agency you’ve selected is likely to do a good job. But be sure to scan the “portfolio” section of those agency websites.

Even if an agency doesn’t have an e-commerce website in their portfolio, that doesn’t mean they can’t effectively market your business.

It’s useful to identify if they have any renowned clients under their portfolio. If they’ve worked with large companies, they should be familiar with large marketing campaigns – and that’s what you’re going to need with a booming e-commerce store. 

If you’re just starting out, have no fear. Even a small e-commerce store is going to benefit from a marketing campaign. Just make sure you have ample investment capital because in the world of online product sales, each product should be treated like its own website, or brand, with its own audience. That doesn’t always pan out because frankly, no one is going to write numerous blog posts for each product, as well as reviews, as well as perform an SEO backlink strategy.

That’s just too much work. Unless – you have a budget of more than $100,000 per month for marketing.

Ok, that may be a bit dramatic, but you get the point. If your budget is $2000-5,000 per month, focus on the top 5 products you want to sell more of. When you see the campaign is working, and you’re generating leads that turn into sales, then consider scaling the digital marketing campaign.

 2) Take a look at the agency’s marketing & reputation

A company selling marketing services should be able to market itself first, in theory. However, many of the best agencies won’t have many reviews but they will show up in Google search. You can usually pinpoint signs of a good marketing strategy from the following:

  • Benefits, Not Features. A clear outline of the benefits of hiring the firm.
    • What’s their specialty?
    • What differentiates them from other firms?
  • A Seductive Home Page. An easily scannable home page that’s intuitive to navigate and puts all the tools you need at your fingertips.
  • User-friendly Content. A lineup of content and blog posts that entices prospective clients.
  • Clear pricing. There shouldn’t be a breakdown of fees that don’t make sense, and upcharges. You should pay a flat retainer rate.
  • Blog. A masterfully crafted index or article repository offering practical, helpful SEO-friendly content.

And, how did you hear about the agency?

Was it from an independent source or through the efforts of self-marketing?

If that’s the case, they probably have their strategies on point which would also yield a high SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) ranking.

Past Customers

Reputable customers are a mirror of the kind of service to expect. If an agency has 5-star reviews, even if there aren’t, many, that suggests they have good values and ethics. Moreover, it’s also prudent to seek out online reviews from third-party sources which highlight customer experiences via testimonials.

When’s the last time you left a positive review after a good meal?

Probably awhile ago. According to INC, it takes 40 positive customer reviews to balance each negative review. Further, this suggests that 40 customers had a good experience for every customer that had a negative experience. Here are a few more peculiar stats:

  1. There’s a 91% chance unhappy customers won’t do business with a company in the future (Lee Resources).

  2. Dissatisfied customers tell 9 to 15 people about their experience (White House Office of Consumer Affairs).

  3. 86% of consumers quit doing business with a company after a bad experience (Customer Experience Impact Report).

  4. Good customer experiences lead to nearly half of repeat customers (Zendesk Customer Service Study).

Past projects can give you further insight into whether the company in question is the right match for your business and its goals. Don’t base your decision solely on reviews. Like other investments like real estate, the perfect marketing agency for you is likely to be a diamond in the rough.

3) Proximity is important

If you elect to go with an out-of-town alternative, you may find it cumbersome and expensive to schedule sit-downs.

Don’t worry. This is perfectly fine if you’re clear on what you want to accomplish. Be sure your business is truly ready to scale.

In order to formulate strategies, compromises, and revisions you’ll want a clear plan of action when working remotely.

Sometimes, you have to be physically present to effectively convey your ideas or vision and to get what you’re looking for down to a tee. If you’re still in the start-up phase, its preferable stick with an agency within city limits for convenience purposes.

However, if you opt for an agency beyond your area, they should have an effective communication system in place that takes you through every step in the process and addresses all of the questions that might arise.

Our agency, for example, does not have account managers. You will always speak directly with a core team member who is working on your website daily. You’ll have a phone number and email for direct contact, with a response time averaging less than 12 hours (international).

When you hire a marketing team, however, you won’t need to communicate on a daily basis. Unlike employees, your marketing team will free up your time to focus solely on your business. Excessive communication can make things more confusing. We just like the option to be available to our clients.

4) Does the agency have a vision for its future?

Technical matchmaking aside, you also need to make sure you have good chemistry with a potential marketing partner.

Their skillset is essential no doubt, but what’s just as important is whether your personalities fit. What’s more, it’s also paramount that they are hungry for success. Ask about expansion plans and how the company plans to integrate emerging technologies into their current strategies or resources. This will give you an idea of how eager they are to get the results you desire.

The right agency always has plans for the future and is ready to embrace change. 

Lastly, the ideal e-commerce marketing agency should fit within your budget.

Have an estimate of the kind of services you’ll need and work out the total budget you’re willing to dedicate in advance. Many agencies will talk you into a higher budget than you can afford, and short-term SEO isn’t going to help you at all in the short-run. If you can’t afford the campaign, for the entire length of the campaign, try another solution like CPC ads.

A budget calculator is typically available online, and it’s also another tell-tale sign- though subtle- of a transparent agency. The absence of it doesn’t necessarily paint a company in a bad light, but it could mean hidden costs.