You’ve set up your parts website, you’re ready to start selling auto parts online… but hardly anyone (if anyone at all) has shown up to buy.
The internet is HUGE, so the chance of someone stumbling upon your parts website by chance is small. You need some way to stand out and make yourself visible. The answer: marketing.
Some marketing is easy to do by yourself, like sending out emails or creating Facebook and Twitter accounts. But if you really want to drive part sales and aggressively grow your online business, an investment in a marketing agency will go a long way in saving you time and helping you meet those goals.
When hiring a marketing agency, you shouldn’t just pick the first one you stumble upon. The return on investment (ROI) from the agency can vary a lot, so if you want to get the best bang for your buck, you need to make sure you’re hiring the best you can get your hands on.
Here are some questions you should ask a marketing agency before you agree to work with them:
1. Who will be my main point of contact?
It seems like an obvious question, but some marketing agencies operate differently than others so it’s important to know from the start who to call. Some marketing agencies have a different contact person for every product, and it can get confusing (e.g. SEO, PPC, email marketing, social media management, etc).
The fewer points of contact you have with the agency, the better.
2. How available will they be to me?
Again, it’s perhaps an obvious question but you need to know upfront just how much time they’re willing to commit to you. If you have questions, the marketing agency should be willing to set up a call and speak with you.
3. What does the marketing fee include?
Make sure you know which services you’re getting for your money. A lot of clients with smaller budgets will be paying a huge marketing management fee, only to find that their account is getting neglected because of their small budget. What services are you paying for?
No matter what budget you set, you should make sure you’re getting the treatment you deserve.
4. How often will I receive reporting?
It’s absolutely essential to track what the marketing agency is doing for you. Otherwise, how will you know you’re getting a worthwhile return on investment (ROI)?
The agency should be willing to give weekly reports on your webstore’s traffic, sales, and other metrics improved by their marketing.
5. What can I expect to see in my reports? Do you have a sample report?
Again, clients with lower budgets sometimes get the short end of the stick when they work with the wrong marketing agency. Sometimes these smaller clients will just get an automated report and no explanation for what they’re looking at.
When you receive reports from your marketing agency, you should also get an explanation of what you’re looking at, your progress, what’s being done to improve performance, and other important details.
6. How often will we discuss my results?
Similar to the last question, there should be healthy communication between you and your agency contact. A phone call makes it easier to hold a conversation than back and forth than email.
These calls are a great way to discuss what you and your agency contact can do to improve your results.
7. Do you have experience with other clients in my industry? If so, what types of results have they seen?
Selling clothes or books isn’t the same as selling auto parts, so ideally your marketing agency knows the specific needs of YOUR industry. The same tricks won’t work for everything. If the agency has experience with marketing auto parts, they’ll probably do a better job with your parts store.
It’ll also help you get a more accurate estimate for what results to expect. They’ve seen the numbers for other clients selling auto parts, so they have a better idea of just how much they can do for you.
For extra reassurance, ask if you can chat with some of their current clients. Testimonials will help you guess just what kind of situation you’re getting into. If the agency offers you any case studies or facts about their successes, those are good too. The bottom line is to look for proof that they’re reliable.
8. What results can I expect with my budget? How long will it take to achieve these results?
Depending on the marketing budget you set, you’ll see varying levels of success. In general, a larger budget will allow the agency to test more things and advertise in more places, but at the same time a smaller budget will help you just get your feet wet.
Remember the number they give you, and see how well it matches up with the ROI you actually get. If you’re not immediately seeing the 10x ROI they promised, that’s okay. It can take a few weeks for the marketing to ramp up as the agency figures out which strategies work best.
Likewise, if it’s been a few weeks and you’re seeing a 9x ROI instead of 10x, that’s not the worst either—you might just need to call your agency contact and discuss the possible adjustments you can make. But if the ROI you’re seeing is only a fraction of what they promised, then be wary and don’t be afraid to fire them if it stays that way.
The agency should be upfront about this. They should be willing to talk about why the ROI is higher or lower than their original estimate, and how long it will take to grow the sales to where you want them.
9. What would you recommend my budget be to hit my marketing goal?
Clients typically won’t ask about a recommended budget because they already have a marketing-approved budget they and have to use that. However, this is a good question to ask in case the ROI expectations are way off the mark for their budget.
Having an appropriate budget can play a big role in how much your agency can accomplish. If your agency contact wants to test Google search campaigns vs shopping campaigns, but only has enough budget to do one, then it’d hard for them to figure out which one works best.
10. What marketing services would you recommend to hit my marketing goal? Why?
With so many types of marketing out there (search and shopping campaigns, remarketing, social media, and more), agencies can go in a lot of directions when it comes to the services they offer. Some types of marketing work better than others, depending on the industry you’re in. The marketing agency should have a good idea of what services work best for selling auto parts!
Keep this in mind while you’re working with the agency. A lot of clients will want to do one thing or another because they’ve heard or read that a certain type of marketing really works, but in reality it’s not always the best solution.
Marketing agencies will usually test out different strategies to find the best one for you and your parts store. They can guide you toward the marketing services that will best benefit your business.
11. Will any work be outsourced?
When a marketing agency outsources some of the work to freelancers or a 3rd party, it can become more difficult to manage. There’s usually a breakdown of communication between the agency and whoever they’re outsourcing to.
Outsourcing can also bring down the quality of the result, causing you, the client, to suffer.
If any work is being outsourced, you should know about it. Include the outsourced company in all discussions so that nothing is lost through the constant game of telephone.
Some dealers choose to make a simple marketing plan on their own just to learn the basics, then hire a marketing agency when they want to take things further.
It helps to know the basics of marketing so you can better communicate with your marketing agency. Some marketing agencies might try to pull the wool over your eyes by throwing out obscure marketing terms, and you don’t want to fall for those kinds of tricks.
You'll know you've found the right marketing agency when they listen, communicate, and care about your success.