Sunday, October 21, 2007

Online Marketing & SEO Consultants

I am a small company trying to build a good profitable stable niche. When I started, I need nothing about online marketing and couldn't have told you what PPC or SEO stood for. I was in a hurry so I used consultants to get educated. It was clearly not the only way. I could (probably should) have gone to the "boot camps" for a few days of intensive online marketing training that are often offered around the seo and other conferences.

I started with a consultant who ran some marketing tests on ppc on yahoo and google. I learned the basics of how it worked and spent some money running tests on moving traffic around. I found that there was alot of traffic and concluded (along with some other research) that I should launch.

After I'd been in business for half a year, I hired Ten Golden Rules (Jay Berkowitz and Maria et al) to help me improve my online marketing. They were good in that they had the capability inhouse to work on several types of project so we refined and rebuilt my sales funnel, created a new template for my webpages, and created ten pages designed for SEO purposes. I learned alot from working with them, paid them promptly, and asked them more questions that they could answer. It was a six month project.

I've used consultants intermittently since then. I had the "copy surgeon" work on some copy for me at one point. I had Ken help with some projects (get a domain transfered over to me) and I've worked with Juliana of Infineight Web Design intermittently for four years now.

I use lots of outside writers to help generate articles, web pages, or newsletters. I tend more towards people with real subject matter expertise (reading skills, homeschooling, math, educational curriculum etc) rather than marketing people.

I recently used the Hits Doctor to update my Google PPC campaign recently. He found that it was hard to improve on the performance since it was very well-tuned already but he did add Yahoo & MSN. Most importantly, he took a fresh look at the sales funnel and got us back to working on how to refine it.

Overall, the consulting firms are a little too pricy for me. I am basically a marketing firm living on a tight margin so we need to cost-effectively do our marketing.

For instance, adding a $1500 monthly marketing management fee on to a $4000 a month PPC budget means moving our cost per customer from $36 to $50. It would make sense if they could do alot more than we could but instead, I spent the money on some training sessions for our staff inhouse and now, on a much more cost effective basis, we're up and running.

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