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About 90% of people use the Internet to find local businesses. Without a strong digital marketing strategy, however, people might not find you online. If you want your college to stand out online this year, consider seeking help.

Working with an online marketing agency can help you generate brand awareness, website traffic, and more. As you attract more traffic, you can also generate more leads, form submissions, and admissions.

Not every digital marketing agency will have the services you need, though. You need a plan to narrow down your choices.

Here are the seven steps you need to follow before hiring an online marketing agency. With these tips, you can streamline the process.

Then, you can work with an experienced team to start marketing your college.

Ready to set your advertising efforts up for success? Start searching for a digital marketing agency that can help today!

1. Establish Your Goals

Before heading online and Googling “online marketing agency near me,” it helps to consider your needs. Remember, not every agency will offer the services you’re searching for. Do you know which services you even need?

Take a moment to consider your marketing and advertising goals for the year.

Start by establishing SMART goals. These goals are specific, measurable, attainable, results-driven, and timely. SMART goals will help you remain on track.

You’ll have an easier time measuring your progress throughout the year if you establish SMART goals.

For example, you might want to:

  • Generate brand awareness and recognition
  • Boost traffic to your college’s website
  • Inform prospective students about accomplishments, courses, etc.
  • Position yourself as a thought leader
  • Boost brand trust and loyalty
  • Book more tours
  • Increase admissions for the year

Once you determine your base goal, make it SMART. For example, you can increase traffic to your site by 15% each month using blog posts.

Establishing your goals will help you determine which marketing services you need. Then, you can focus on finding an agency that offers those services.

Otherwise, you might choose an agency that fails to accomplish your goals. They could waste your valuable time and money. 

2. Consider Their Services

Now that you know your goals, let’s discuss the services you might need. Here are a few ways an experienced online marketing agency benefits its clients. 

Branding

If you don’t have a distinct brand, your college won’t stand out from the rest. Prospective students might struggle to remember your college. Instead, you can establish your branding to build awareness and recognition.

Look for an online marketing agency that can build your entire brand.

You’ll use your branding throughout every marketing material you create. Brand consistency can boost recognition. 

Your brand will include your:

  • Logo
  • Mascot
  • Mission statement
  • Vision statement
  • Color palette
  • Voice
  • Tone
  • Personality
  • Font styles
  • Imagery styles

An experienced digital marketing agency will take the time to research your students before building your brand. They’ll consider your college’s history as well. Then, they’ll develop brand guidelines you can use throughout your marketing. 

Web Design and Development

Your website’s design has a 75% influence on your credibility.

Meanwhile, sites that load slowly have a $2.6 billion loss in revenue each year. If your site loads slowly, it could scare visitors away. As people leave your site, your bounce rate could increase.

A higher bounce rate could hurt your search engine ranking. You could struggle to generate traffic and awareness in the future as a result.

Meanwhile, about 88% of shoppers won’t return to a site after a bad experience.

If your website is old or outdated, look for a digital marketing agency that offers web design and development services. They can update your website using the latest design trends.

Otherwise, prospective students might think you’re behind the times. They might prefer another, more up-to-date college instead.

You’ll need an updated website for your:

  • Content marketing strategy
  • Search engine optimization strategy
  • Pay-per-click advertising strategy
  • Social media marketing strategy
  • Email marketing strategy

Your website will become a hub for your other marketing campaigns. Then, visitors can fill out a form or start the admissions process.

Without an updated website, you might struggle to accomplish the rest of your marketing goals.

You could frustrate visitors into leaving, impacting your admissions rate for the year. 

Content Creation

Content creation can help you draw more people to your website. It can also help you demonstrate your experience and expertise. You’ll have an easier time building brand trust and loyalty as a result. 

Content marketing is three times more efficient in generating leads than outbound marketing. 

Marketers that prioritize daily blogging are 13 times more likely to experience a positive ROI, too. Only 70% of marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, though. 

Meanwhile, about 87% of people want to see more videos from brands. About 75% of millennials watch videos daily, too.

Hiring an online marketing agency will help you create engaging, branded content. For example, you can create virtual tours of your campus. Video content can show off clubs, sports games, and other campus events.

Without content, prospective students might struggle to learn more about your campus. They might choose another school that’s more transparent. 

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) can help your site rank higher on search engines like Google. A higher ranking can:

  • Generate brand awareness and recognition
  • Position your site ahead of other colleges
  • Boost brand trust and loyalty
  • Help you build credibility
  • Generate traffic to your website
  • Boost leads, form submissions, and admissions
  • Position you as a thought leader among other colleges 

About 70% of online experiences start with a search engine. Unfortunately, fewer than 1% of Google searchers look at the second page. If you’re not ranking at the top of a search page, students might not find your campus.

Over 50% of all website traffic comes from organic search. In fact, search engine optimization (SEO) drives 1,000% more traffic than social media. 

About 60% of marketers say blog content and SEO are their highest sources of quality leads. SEO has a 14.6% close rate as well.

Look for an online marketing agency that has experience with SEO. 

Google’s search engine algorithm changes constantly. Make sure the agency is up-to-date with the latest trends. Otherwise, your ranking could drop.

If you rank below other colleges, prospective students might struggle to find yours. A strong SEO strategy can help you reach more students. Then, you can boost admissions!

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising allows you to create eye-catching visual and text ads. These ads will appear on search engines, other websites, and social media platforms. You can use PPC advertising to boost brand awareness and recognition.

Prospective students can click on your ads to reach your website. Then, they can learn more about your college before starting the admissions process.

Make sure you find a digital marketing agency with experience handling PPC campaigns. Ask if they have Google Ads and Facebook Ads experience. The platforms are a little different.

With PPC, you pay each time someone clicks on (or views) your ads. If the team lacks experience, they could blow through your budget.

Instead, make sure they’ll have a plan to optimize your campaigns.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing can help you engage current and future students. 

You can use social media to direct more people to your website content. You can also keep followers up-to-date about events and accomplishments.

Consider working with influencers as part of your social media marketing strategy. For example, you can connect with other students. They can post about your school, events, and other news.

You can also share user-generated content (UGC). Prospective students might prefer to learn about your college from current students. 

Once you determine which online marketing services you need, you can find the right agency for your campaigns. 

3. Consider Experience and Training

There are now over 217,000 marketing companies throughout the US. Not every team will have the experience you’re looking for, though.

Check each agency’s website for an About Us page.

Determine how long each agency has worked in the industry. Consider how many clients they’ve helped over the years, too.

Ask how long they’ve offered the services you need as well. For example, did they just start offering video marketing? You’ll want to make sure they have years of hands-on experience.

Otherwise, they might make costly mistakes when working on your projects. 

An established agency has likely learned over the years. It’s likely they’ve learned while helping their clients, too.

Ask if they’ve worked with colleges in the past as well. Consider finding an agency that specializes in helping colleges. They’ll have a better understanding of your needs and target audience. 

Learn more about their team as well. For example, what training have they completed? Do they have any certifications?

An experienced, qualified team will have more success when building your campaigns. 

4. Read Reviews

You can learn more about each online marketing agency on your list by reading reviews. Ask the company for references from their current clients as well. If they work with any colleges, ask if you can speak with that client.

Then, ask the client about their experience working with the agency. For example:

  • Is the team knowledgeable and experienced
  • Have you experienced any problems
  • How were those problems resolved
  • Did they accomplish your goals
  • What services did you request
  • Were you satisfied with the services you received

You can also find reviews online. Check the company’s Better Business Bureau and Google My Business listings.

You might find one or two negative comments. That’s normal. It’s difficult to please everyone.

If you see an abundance of negative reviews, however, scratch that agency off your list.

Instead, find a team with a strong professional reputation. They’ll work hard to maintain that reputation by offering the best services. 

5. Ask About Their Process

As you speak with each agency on your list, ask about their work process.

They should start by learning about your industry, college, and competitors. They should research your target audience, too.

The company should also ask about your goals. If they don’t ask, they won’t help you accomplish those goals. Their campaigns might not align with your specific needs.

Instead, choose an agency that’s prepared to help you grow.

Ask how you’ll communicate, too. How will they keep you up-to-date about your campaigns? If they don’t provide regular updates, you might not realize there’s a problem.

They could waste your budget away before you realize what’s happening.

6. Request Case Studies

Ask each digital marketing agency for case studies, too. Look at case studies specific to the services you need.

Then, ask how they helped their previous clients. What goals did they help accomplish? Which key performance indicators (KPIs) did they track?

For example, maybe they tracked website visitors, dwell times, and clickthrough rates. These metrics can help you learn about website performance.

If the agency doesn’t have case studies, ask how they track the progress of their campaigns. If they don’t track their progress, look elsewhere. These teams might not accomplish your goals.

7. Review Their Pricing

Before hiring an online marketing agency, ask at least three agencies on your list for a quote. Get a copy of their contract, too.

Ask each company how their pricing structure is organized. Ask what happens if you don’t notice results, too.

Don’t make your final choice based on price alone. Instead, review your notes.

Look for an agency that offers the services you need. Make sure their team is experienced and qualified, too. Then, reevaluate their pricing.

You’ll likely get what you pay for. If you choose a cheaper option, the agency might not accomplish your goals. Instead, get your money’s worth.

Choose an agency that will accomplish your goals and set your college up for success. With their help, you can reach more students and boost admissions.

Start the Search: 7 Tips for Finding the Best Online Marketing Agency

Don’t hire the first online marketing agency you call. Instead, use these seven tips to compare your options. With these tips, you can find a qualified, experienced team.

They’ll have an easier time accomplishing your long-term goals.

Ready to discuss your marketing goals with a member of our team? We’re here to help.

Contact us today to get started. 

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