If you are an e-commerce business and are planning to expand your business, you need a marketing strategy and a Marketing agency to develop and implement it. In this article, you’ll learn how to choose an eCommerce marketing agency and growth strategies, where to look, and what to look out for.

Step 1: Goals, objectives and budget

Marketing goals. Before you start looking for an agency, you need to formulate your marketing goals for yourself – these are the goals that you plan to achieve through advertising and marketing. This is usually a business benefit (sales expansion, entering a new market, revenue and profit growth) or an increase in some specific indicators (social media followers, brand awareness or positive media mentions).

Determine marketing goals using the SMART methodology:

S The greater specific the aim is, the greater, because it increases the probability of achieving it. Within our situation, this really is business growth, for instance, profit growth or gaining leadership inside a selected niche.

M The aim should be measurable, that’s, it should be expressed in specific figures or parameters. For instance, a 50% rise in profits, a rise in conversion from three to eightPercent, or bypassing the marketplace leader when it comes to sales.

A Goals must be within your reach, meaning they must take into account your budget, product quality, market conditions, and other conditions. For example, you can increase sales of a product from 10 to 1 million units in a couple of months if you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising, if you don’t have that kind of money, then this goal is beyond your power.

R The goal must be relevant, meet the needs of your business and contribute to its development. For example, the goal of “become the most famous company” does not always lead to increased sales, while the goal of “increase the number of subscribers and conversions” will give the desired result.

T The goal must be limited in execution time. This makes the execution of the marketing plan more controllable. Example: 20% profit growth by the end of the third quarter of this year, or publishing 20 sales posts next month.

Marketing tasks. After defining marketing goals, they need to be broken down into specific actions (tasks), the implementation of which will ultimately lead to the goals set. You don’t have to do this (it’s the agency’s job), but you should learn the general principle to understand how things work.

Marketing budget. There are two ways to calculate the estimated budget. The first assumes that you will spend a share of your income on marketing: 20-35% of the income at the start or for the launch of a new product and 10-20% for an already launched business. The particular value depends upon how big your marketing campaign and niche. For example, retail trade usually spends more than 20% on advertising, 18% in the financial sector, and 14% in medicine.

Step 2: Types and specialization of agencies

All marketing agencies can be conditionally divided according to their specialization, direction within specialization and size. In terms of specialization, agencies are divided into those engaged in traditional advertising (television, radio, outdoor advertising, print media) and those who promote goods and services on the Internet – digital marketing agencies and boutiques. For eCommerce, in most cases it is better to choose the latter option.

There might be exceptions only when your audience sits dormant to purchasing your product or service online. This can happen if you enter an emerging market with low Internet coverage (Africa, South Asia and parts of South America). In such places it is better not to neglect traditional advertising.

In addition, agencies can provide comprehensive services (i.e. work with all channels) or specialize in a specific area, such as SEO, SMM, content marketing, paid advertising or video content in the case of digital marketing. Since we need a marketing company for the growth of our business, it is better to opt for agencies involved in complex promotion.

Such companies could be relatively large – from 20 employees or small – about 5 employees (they’re also known as boutiques). Again, because we require an agency to develop, it is best to select a business with a lot of employees. Within this situation, we are certain with a rise in the size from the marketing campaign, the company will deal with the elevated load.

Step 3: Finding Potential Candidates

Where to look. Having decided on the type of agency and budget, you can proceed to the direct search for the contractor. This is best done in two steps. First, we screen out those who do not fit in terms of specialization, size and budget, after which we analyze in detail the suitable options in order to choose the best one in terms of price / quality ratio.

Who to look for. During the initial selection of candidates, you need to pay attention to the legal status, a portfolio with a list of successful projects, the availability of information about the staff and owners, as well as experience in eCommerce.

Agency search checklist

  • Decide on marketing goals, objectives and budget.
  • Choose the kind of agency, its specialization and size.
  • Build a long list of potential performers using search engines, referrals, social media, listings, and ratings.
  • Examine the portfolio of candidates, screening out everyone who does not have experience in the desired niche, well-described use cases, contacts and information about the team.
  • Read reviews about the company on listings and testimonials, and also see what industry media write about the company, on forums and in groups on social networks. Trust only those reviews whose authenticity can be verified.
  • Personally talk to each worthy candidate about experience, algorithm of work, cost of services, metrics, scaling up the campaign.
  • Draw up a contract and specify in it the mandatory access to metrics and administrator rights to all your resources. Actions in situation of breach or termination from the contract.