You recognize that in order to succeed in a competitive market you need to have the best brand experience for your customers. With the great waves of marketing change over the past few years the social and mobile web has given the consumer the power to choose on many different platforms. This leaves you with the task of finding the right company to deliver your company’s message to your potential customers in the most efficient and effective way possible.

We’ve compiled a checklist for you to help you make the right decision when choosing a company.

Step 1 – Know your bottom line

The first step to work out is what you want your website and Internet marketing to achieve. You need to consider carefully your aim, your goals and how you are going to measure success.

For example, if your website is mainly e-commerce your focus is going to be on return-on-investment (ROI), conversion of sales, and building and maintaining your customer base.
If you are launching a new company and you need brand awareness, you will simply be providing information and education about your services or products. So in this case, good visibility and a clear focus is needed.

When you know what you need to accomplish your goals, you will be able to see if a company fits the bill.

What to do? Ask the company you’re interested in to provide solid proof of their capabilities. They should be showing you case studies or examples of how they have approached a problem and how they have provided a solution.

Step 2 – Know your cost vs. value

It’s usually the elephant in the room. Cost is definitely a deal maker or deal breaker when it comes to hiring a company.

As with everything else you purchase, the phrase “you get what you pay for” rings true in the world of web design and development. If you begin to cut costs solely for saving a dollar now, you may not reap as much value in the long-term when it comes to delivering the results you planned for in step one.

So how can you justify the costs of your project? It’s simple math really. This is where you as a business owner stops to do some research. What have you spent in the last year on your marketing and advertising? The past five years? How have those efforts brought a return on your investment?

What to do? Ask your company if they can provide clear evidence of the value delivered through tangible results. Remember it’s about value, not cost. If the company can provide a website or service that brings ROI, then cost isn’t a deal breaker. Don’t let sticker shock blind you from your goals in step one, if you do your research you may find that you’ve been spending money elsewhere without results for quite some time.

Step 3 – Identify a solid track record

This is not necessarily how long a company has been in business. In fact, a lot of new agencies have some stellar ideas and new methodologies to consider. The point here is how much the company understands your industry and have they effectively delivered a similar solution to their other clients?

What to do? Ask the company for some performance data, client testimonials and a case study or two demonstrating their approach and how they measure results.

Step 4 – Communicate and learn

The ever-changing web makes it a highly complex and technically challenging monster even for us who are living and breathing it every day. So it is highly important that you understand what your web company is talking about and doing.

When you enter into a discussion with them, they should be on your side, working hard to explain what they do, how they do it and most importantly why they are doing it. If you are ever confused or lost by any part of the discussion, it’s not your fault… it’s theirs.

What to do? Ask the company questions about their process, their methodologies and why they are making certain recommendations or decisions. If you don’t understand a component of the web project, ask. True, it is up to you do your own research, but you should never feel like you’re in the dark about your investment.

Step 5 – Recognize content is your problem

You no doubt have come up with your own reasons for either a makeover or a re-launch of a new site. Most often, the first thing that comes to mind is how your website looks and functions. These are of course important factors, but the most important factor that is most likely overlooked is your content.

If your company tackles art before content, you’re in the wrong place working with the wrong folks. They are simply putting lipstick on a pig.

Your company needs to dig deep, they need to be asking the right questions about your customers, your business and your industry. If they are not, red flags should be going up and you should be headed for the door.

Even though this is step five, it is honestly the most important aspect to consider when choosing a company. The company needs to know the importance of content first. Whether they create the content or receive from a copywriter, they are building the framework that is housing your content. They need to understand how your users will interact with the content and how you specifically will manage the content in the future. This ensures that your website is delivering your message and maintains its quality for years to come.

What to do? Use your content to help your customers. Content is everything from your written copy to your images and videos and more. Your web company should be talking content before art. If anything, they should be in touch with your marketing team or copywriters if they are not creating the content themselves.

Step 6 – Know what you want to achieve, be realistic

Invest some time and thought into your goals and expectations from your company. Define what it is in six months or a year’s time that will reassure you that your money was well spent.

Think beyond “first on Google” or “getting more traffic”.

What are some goals you can reach?

  • Generate more leads
  • Increase online sales
  • Improve product or brand awareness
  • Be “in touch” with your customer base

What to do? Ask your web company what tools and services they provide to drive measurable traffic to your site. The company should understand your sales process so that they can provide a solution to making your process more efficient and provide real value through the new website.

Step 7 – Know your strategy

A good web company should be offering you a clear concise web strategy. This goes beyond your website.  A good strategy will give your business a strong sense of authority, relevance and trust. When you’ve got a solid plan, your able to measure. When you measure you’re able to make good decisions based on real data. This results in converting your site visitors into paying customers.

What to do? Ask your company to explain their approach in great detail. Make sure the strategy is able to reach your goals in step one. The approach should outline that you will reach your deadline and stay within budget.

Step 8 – Maintain the quality of your investment

After launch of your new site, a good company will maintain a healthy relationship with you. Depending on how involved you are with the maintenance and publishing of content, a good company will assist you in your analytic reporting and ensure that your website is helping you reach your goals.

What to do? Ask your web company to about their existing ongoing relationships. How are they assisting other clients? Do they have ongoing maintenance or service plans on a monthly or quarterly basis that you can sign up for?