After working in internet marketing for the past 10 years I've learned one simple fact.... 90% of internet and e-commerce marketing vendors are full of crap and always over-promise and under-deliver.
This is what the vendor usually does:
1. Internet Marketing Vendor solicits emails or phone call
2. Internet Marketing Vendor promises X increase in whatever metrics they work with (especially annoying if any executive hears about it)
4. Internet Marketing Vendor makes you sign a contract for certain amount of time to "get good data for a test" or to "build a longterm relationship"
This is what usually happens.
Best Case Scenario:
Vendor has "trial period" without contract, during this time they make improvements by taking care of all low hanging fruit. This vendor then makes you sign long term contract during which their performance levels off and they basically add nothing to the bottom line above the low hanging fruit they took care of. You are forced to either spend your time riding them to keep improving above the low hanging fruit or just pay them to do nothing.
Worst Case Scenario:
Vendor makes you sign a contract up-front and the project is something that will not see results right away. SEO is the most common area for this. You keep paying them and don't see results, but feel trapped because you're in a contract or are worried you'll cancel right when things turn around.
The worst part about any of these vendors is that they all have built in excuses to not live up to their promises. Here are some I've heard.
- Conversion Rate Optimization: "Only 1 in 6 tests shows a positive increase in conversion rate"
- SEO: "Google takes a while to readjust rankings", "your analytics reporting might be off"
- PPC: "It's just how competitive it is"
Here's the thing to remember when working with vendors.
- Vendors are another business and businesses put THEIR OWN INTERESTS first. Their best interests are to get paid the most money for the least amount of work and cost. If you sign a contract without any ties to performance or opt-outs then what possible reason do they have to put good work in? They can just go out and sign-up another company with their hype and over-promising. Most employees don't get a "contract", if they don't perform, they get fired, why are vendors treated any differently?
- Vendors don't understand your business like you or your marketing team does. Their are quirks and idiosyncrasies that every business has. A one-size fits all model simply doesn't work no matter what the sales team tells you.
So, what should you do?
- Negotiate so business is month-to-month or vey short contracts
- Make performance based agreements with concrete language on what metrics and reporting will be used