By Brad Shorr
If your practice has not gotten results from Internet marketing — SEO, email marketing, PPC advertising, etc. — it could be you’ve partnered with the wrong type of agency. There are two agency selection problems many medical practices encounter:
- Selecting a disreputable agency that promises the world with no intention of delivering results
- Selecting a reputable agency that is simply a poor fit for the needs of the medical practice
To avoid these problems and select an agency capable of delivering ROI on your marketing campaigns, cover the following four areas in depth.
1. Check the Fit
Medical practices have unique or specialized marketing requirements, such as an emphasis on localized marketing, a need for compliance, and a conversion strategy focused on appointment setting and patient retention. Look for agencies adept at handling these specialized requirements.
A good fit is more than the agency simply having medical practice clients; all medical practices are not the same. Be specific when questioning an agency about similar clients:
- Does the agency have other clients with practices in my specialty or a closely related one?
- Does the agency have other clients with practices of similar scope and conversion objectives?
- Does the agency have clients in non-medical fields, but of similar scope and conversion objectives?
The more experience the agency has in your industry and/or in achieving your digital marketing goals, the faster and more efficiently it is likely to succeed on your behalf.
2. Check the Results
Having the right fit is important, but even more important is whether the agency has gotten results. Again, the “secret” of successful agency vetting is getting specific information. Don’t settle for vague claims and unsupported assertions. Instead, ask for information about other, similar clients along the following lines:
- How much growth in organic traffic did your digital marketing campaign achieve in the first, second, third and subsequent years?
- How much growth in appointment setting did your digital marketing campaign generate in the first, second, third and subsequent years?
- How much did the marketing cost per conversion (e.g., appointment) decline in the second, third and subsequent years of the campaign?
Note: These three questions not only provide meaningful data, but also give you an idea of the agency’s client retention.
3. Check Stability
In the world of digital marketing, agencies come and go quickly. Since many digital marketing campaigns — SEO and email marketing in particular — require a sustained effort, partnering with a stable, successful agency is important. Starting over inevitably causes a decline in short-term results (and possibly long-term results), as well as involves a great deal of additional cost and time. Questions to cover in this area include:
- How many years has your agency been in business?
- How many full-time staff employees does your agency have?
- How many clients do you have?
- What is your client retention rate?
- What is your growth plan for the next five years?
- What are your current revenues?
- What can you tell us about the financial condition of your agency?
4. Talk to the Agency’s Clients
Finally, when you ask for client references, ask questions geared not only to results, but also relationship issues. Because digital marketing campaigns involve a lot of agency-client communication, working relationships are important. You’ll want to know:
- Is the agency easy to work with?
- Does it respond quickly to problems and questions?
- Is its reporting and other communication transparent and easy to understand?
- Does it give you details about the actual work it is conducting on your behalf?
- Does it have sensible explanations for meeting, exceeding or failing to meet campaign objectives?
You will get far more insight from clients than the agency itself on questions of this nature, and the information will round out your impression of the agency to the point where you can make an informed and confident decision.
Internet marketing works when the partnership works. Going the extra mile in the vetting process shortens the distance to marketing objectives.
Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North (www.straightnorth.com) — a B2B Internet marketing company that offers services for SEO, PPC and Web design. Brad has written for leading online publications including Forbes, Moz and Entrepreneur.