Ask 7 Questions Before Hiring a Web Agency
e-Business is about blending traditional business operations such as Accounting, Shipping, Sales, Warehouse, etc., with a webstore. How will the webstore impact operations?
Before outsourcing your ecommerce, it helps for the service provider to understand your business. Here are some considerations before hiring a “one size fits all” agency for your business.
1. What is their experience with (YOUR INDUSTRY HERE)? Without having worked on staff with a company like yours, web agencies can have a significant learning curve understanding your operations, how your sales team uses a CRM sales funneling and other systems like ERPs you’ll be discussing.
2. Does the agency talk about profitability and return on your investment? E-business is about generating revenue and increasing profitability. If you’ve built an attractive web site that gets lots of traffic but isn’t generating much business, pay a small fee to have your site reviewed by an e-commerce consultant with a track record of implementing e-business strategies in your industry.
3. Do they understand your products, services and the supply chain marketplace? Without this experience, you can expect a learning curve and extra hand-holding requiring more of your time.
4. Do they have industry and product knowledge to help you develop substantive written content? Without unique, substantive content about your products, services and solutions, you aren’t much different than the next e-store. Can they help convey your subject matter expertise and differentiate you? Remember, you don’t just ship boxes do you? You’re a knowledge-based sales organization.
5. For website content, are they only providing OEM SKUs, product descriptions and product images? Your competitors already have, or will get these digital assets too. Original written content (e.g. product reviews, instructional/educational, white papers, video) will not only differentiate you; It will place you above the competition on search engines because you are providing solutions to customers searching the web for answers. Google will show you some love!
6. What can the agency offer beyond technical knowledge to build websites, amusing posts to social media and reports? Do they have experience developing industrial/electrical distributor marketing strategies and executing tactics that have grown businesses like yours?
7. Can they speak the language of supply chain distribution and quickly integrate with your IT, Sales and Marketing teams? Or do they prefer working independently? Ideally, they’d offer cross-training to empower your team to become more self-sufficient.
Electrical Marketing is not a web agency. It is an extension of your organization’s existing resources. Having worked as employees and contractors in Industrial/Electrical supply chain organizations, Electrical Marketing associates combine strategical, technical and tactical e-commerce solutions for long term e-business success.
Your business is unique and so is your industry. In the case of Electrical Marketing, our industry is the Industrial/Electrical supply chain where manufacturers and distributors have large inventories, databases and complex supplier relationships. Understanding an organization’s “e-Business” versus e-commerce needs means we don’t deal with plumbing supplies, automotive parts or something else.
You’re not running an online store; you’re running a business that is now online. e-Commerce is selling online. e-Business goes beyond technical. It takes into consideration your operations, your competitors and the marketplace. It’s strategical and tactical. It also includes Business Intelligence.
The Era of Content Marketing Has Arrived
Beyond data, the “Content Era” is here. From a search engine marketing viewpoint, we’re seeing that you can leapfrog the competition by not stopping at data. Unique, educational and informative content about your products and services is helping leaders win visibility in “e-Business”. This sets them apart from e-Commerce stores by positioning them as Subject Matter Experts. Search engines want unique content. Those doing “e-Business” stand out as knowledge-based providers who do more than ship boxes. Data is a great start and earns you a spot at the table. Unique, substantive content like an electrical or industrial distributor microsite will feed your business as digital marketing evolves.
Extend Your Existing Resources
As a marketing director with independent and national distributors, I hired web agencies to write code. Beyond that, we did everything “in-house”. We knew our business and developed our skill sets to run the online business. Eventually I found a service provider with hands-on, staff experience that matched our organization’s business model. This literally extended the staff’s existing resources because they’d walked in our shoes.
Gone are the days when you post 10’s of thousands of products and appear in search engines. You can gain a competitive advantage now by creating “original” content.