Whether or not you currently work with a traditional marketing agency, you may want to consider retaining an agency with expertise in online marketing. With your customers and prospects using the Internet regularly for their work, your marketing mix should be shifting more to online programs. An online marketing agency can help ensure your investments are aligned with your objectives, and that you get positive results from online programs.

Online marketing agencies specialize in advertising such as banner ads and e-newsletter advertisements, search engine marketing and search engine optimization. Many also offer e-mail marketing expertise and Web site design and maintenance services.

A traditional marketing agency may have added these online practice areas to their service portfolios, but online advertising is very different from classic advertising media such as print advertising and direct mail. Therefore, you may require a separate team of experts.

Are you ready for an online marketing agency? Three questions to ask
If you don’t know if your company can benefit from working with an online marketing agency, ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “yes” to any one, you may want to consider online marketing agencies.

  1. Are you moving or intending to move more of your marketing resources to online programs, but aren’t sure which ones will achieve the best results?
  2. Are you unsure how search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising and banner ad networks should be integrated into your marketing portfolio?
  3. Is your current agency continuing to focus on traditional marketing programs even though your target audience of engineers, technical buyers and industrial professionals is spending more and more time online for work?

How to choose an online agency
Use the following criteria to evaluate potential online marketing agencies. Keep in mind, your current agency might meet these criteria – if they do, they should be recommending online programs given the nature and behavior of your customers and prospects.

  • Understands your audience —  An online marketing agency should be familiar with how and why your target audience of engineers, technical buyers and industrial professionals uses the Internet, understand the types of Web sites and online communication vehicles they prefer, and be able to create a strong online marketing strategy to reach that audience.
  • Has expertise on all facets of online marketing — This includes banner ads, e-newsletter sponsorships, keyword research, search engine optimization, pay-per-click search engine advertising, online directories, vertical search engines and e-mail marketing. The agency may also have expertise in Web site design, development, maintenance and hosting — along with writing for the Web.
  • Can develop integrated marketing programs — While it’s important to beef up your online marketing, it may not be wise to do so at the expense of abandoning all of your traditional marketing programs. An online marketing agency should be able to take a holistic view of your marketing to develop a program that integrates online media in a way that extends and enhances your current marketing efforts.
  • Can evaluate online marketing options — Almost any online media outlet will provide a slick media kit promoting the benefits of its marketing programs. Your agency should be able to see beyond their marketing message and really understand how a media outlet will help you reach your specific goals and provide measurements of program performance.
  • Knows which metrics count — Impressions, traffic, qualified traffic, open rates, click-thrus, deliverability, conversions — the language and metrics of online marketing are different from traditional marketing. Your agency should know which metrics matter and how to track them.

In addition to these criteria, you’ll want to judge an online marketing agency as you would any vendor. How long have they been in business? Who is on their client list? Can they provide recommendations? Do their people seem like a good fit with your team? Is their pricing structure fair?  Do they offer expertise I don’t have in-house?

Choosing the right online marketing agency takes due diligence, but as a company that needs a strong online presence to reach customers and prospects, it’s worth the effort. By teaming up with the right partner, you’ll get a much greater return from online marketing.


  1. This article is just plain wrong. It sets into opposition two necessarily interconnected facets of the new b2b marketing paradigm.
    We’re a strictly industrial ad/PR agency, with 33 years of experience in marketing communications of all types, including print, online etc.
    We watched with amusement as many companies rushed liked lemmings to the sea of online marketing, at the expense of their print media, which still represents the engineer’s #1 source of new product info.
    I’ll match our creativity and market knowledge, the REAL basis for selecting an agency, against any shop on the planet.
    As an aside, since there was no online a decade ago, what’s the point of asking how long a firm’s been in business?
    We take great pride in our track record and our adaptability to changing market and media landscapes.
    The article suggests we “traditional” agencies are missing this new boat, when, in fact, we helped build it!
    Tim Daro
    Bernard & Company
    A full-service, strictly industrial ad/PR agency
    847-934-4500 office
    847-602-7146 cell

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