The complete guide to choosing a web design & digital marketing company
A few years ago, Barr & Young Attorneys struggled to connect with their prospects. The law firm kept losing traffic every month because visitors did not spend time on their templated brochure site. Their part-time webmaster did not have the ability to grow their company.
That was when they reached out to us. Like many small businesses, they knew there had to be a better web design and digital marketing company to help.
First, let’s talk money
If you want a professional website designed by an experienced US-based agency, don’t expect it for less than $5,000. Below are different pricing options for a 10-page information corporate website with varying levels of functionality.
The right investment gives you a responsive website that generates targeted traffic and leads. The wrong site sits alone and unused, forgotten by your prospects.
Option 1: $1,000-5,000
Usually, these basic websites suffer from weak design, use a template base, look like everyone else. Often an outsourced international team who might not understand US culture develops and designs your site.
At this point, you need to manage developers like a part-time job. You spend your time explaining common-sense rules, and repeating your instructions repeatedly before it’s somewhat done. If you want to spend 5 grueling months of sweat and tears learning how to develop a website and saving a few bucks then go this route.
Option 2: $5,000-15,000
For an investment over $5,000 you might get a better quality corporate website with a quality customized template, modern graphics, and animation with an SEO-friendly architecture. Your account manager is usually in the U.S. to ensure the site works for your audience.
However, the site is developed overseas to save on cost and receive the custom features you want.
Option 2 works for companies with revenue between $150,000 – $400,000.
Option 3: 15,000+
The third option works for those who want to work with A US-based team with good UX experience, quality design, and onsite SEO optimized for your custom needs. This is a great option for well-established companies with revenues at $300,000 and up.
Which option you choose depends on a number of factors. However, if you want a quality website then you need to at a minimum Option 2 and more than likely Option 3 if you want a fully customizable site that accomplishes your goals.
Should you hire an agency or freelancer
Most solopreneurs just started their business. Because of that, they are on a limited budget.
If an agency is out of your price range, then work with a freelancer to grow your business initially. A freelancer can set up a rudimentary website when you do not have the money for a top-notch site.
While we are not fans of cheap websites, it is nominally better than no site at all.
However, if you want to grow then one person is not enough to drive significant leads to your business. You need a team to work on your project and a strategist with experience in your industry. Having designers, developers, search engine marketers, PPC expert, and copywriters working together will accomplish more professional work than one freelancer doing it on their own.
That is why small to medium businesses (SMBs) hire agencies, not freelancers. They focus on the return on investment rather than the investment. They know a quality digital marketing company can improve your conversion rate.
For example, Blackhawk Supply needed more quality traffic to their website. We were able to increase their search traffic by 27% in 5 months. This increase correlated to a 47% increase in revenue from search traffic. Working with an agency that focuses on ROI is vital to the long-term success of your company.
An integrated agency with web design and digital marketing
Not all agencies are equal. If you talked to just two agencies, you realize how much they differ.
SMBs usually want an integrated agency that provides web design and digital marketing under one umbrella. When one group manages the entire project, you ensure consistency between your website, social media, and other marketing channels.
If you have any questions about how an integrated agency can help your company grow, then contact us today for a free consultation at 312-265-0580.
7 Ways to Select a Web Design & Digital Marketing Agency
If your company wants to work with an agency, let’s look at how to find the best one for your needs.
#1. experience working in your industry
At Comrade, we have a few specialties. We help attorneys, local small businesses, local clinics and healthcare providers, professional services, construction/remodeling, e-commerce sites and technology startups.
Most of our clients do work in the service industry, and we know how to help them succeed. In baseball parlance, this is our sweet spot.
However, we are out of our element marketing restaurants or insurance companies. That is because marketing a restaurant and marketing a law firm are vastly different skills.
If the company you work with does not have experience working with your industry, then you might want to keep looking. While exceptions exist, remember you do not go to a family law attorney to represent your corporation in a merger.
Find the best digital marketing agency for your specific needs.
#2. review portfolio/case studies
If you own a law firm, you want to see some examples of how they helped other attorneys with their website design and digital marketing.
A few tips when exploring a company’s case studies and portfolio. Do NOT look at their photos. Look for the results and strategies. You are not paying a digital marketing agency for a pretty picture. You pay them to deliver results.
Also, ask the company if you can speak with previous customers. While sometimes they might not be able to connect you with their customers, most agencies can connect you with at least one or two.
If possible, you do not want to be the guinea pig when you work with a web design and digital marketing company. That is why company portfolios are vital to helping you learn more about who you work with in the future.
#3. Explore their social media and blog
Check a digital marketing company’s social media presence. If they are not active on at least a few channels, how will they manage your pages?
While the dynamics change from social network to social network, here are a few things to evaluate for an agency’s social media presence:
- Read what the agency writes
- Check out the quality of images they use
- Assess their attitude to see if it matches your culture
- Make sure they post on a regular basis
- Ask if their content makes you want to click, like, or share
Additionally, how do they use their social accounts to offer a remarkable experience for clients? They do not need to put out a stream of one-line jokes and quotes. However, they should post relevant, compelling content for their audience. Many agencies like to share photos of the team to give an insiders view of the company.
Have you ever seen a blog where the last date of entry is older than your website? Keeping an updated blog is vital for a digital marketing agency.
If they do not create content on a regular basis, then what other things do they miss? Digital marketing and web design continually change. A blog proves that you have the thought leadership to keep up with the changes in the industry.
Also, the content on the blog helps your prospects identify with your style and learn more about how you can help them. In other words, it builds a relationship.
#4. look at the tools they use
Every business needs the right tools to get the job done. Just like a contractor needs an assortment of power and hand tools, digital marketing and web designers need the right tools as well.
For example, a quality web design agency should know how to use WordPress. 30% of the websites around the world use the content management system (CMS) to manage their site.
However, for e-commerce sites, you might want to use Shopify, BigCommerce or Magento. A quality web agency can pick the best CMS, so customers get their project completed in a timely manner.
Additionally, professional digital marketing agencies rely on tools like SEMrush, CallRail, BuzzSumo, and Moz for search engine marketing. While they are not a necessity, these tools keep our search strategy agile while still delivering quality results for clients.
Furthermore, we are proud to be a Google Partner. A Google Partner is a digital marketing agency with at least one certified Google AdWords specialist that manage over $10,000 in Google AdWords in a 90-day period.
Digital marketing companies relish the designation because it is a nod from Google that your agency has the experience to help with your next campaign.
Google is not the only software product that has certifications. Tools like HubSpot and Salesforce provide a range of certifications for companies who offer inbound marketing and CRM support.
Make sure you work with a company with the right certifications for the tools your business needs to succeed. They have the necessary training to provide you with the proper guidance for your business.
#5. Make sure you are a good cultural fit
Every company is a bit different. Some agencies are more creative. Creative environments are more dynamic and can adapt quickly to client’s needs.
Creative companies work great for consumer law firms that work with the public and need something that does not seem so buttoned up. small businesses like to work with creative firms because they don’t charge as much as enterprise-level bigger agencies and work on your terms.
Also, they make sure the company can work with your budget. We discussed above some general ranges for website design. The question is does a company have the flexibility to help you succeed.
Conversely, other firms might do better working in a corporate environment. They are stricter and use more corporate speak when they talk. The downside of working in a more corporate environment is they are not as quick to move on changes in the industry and usually more expensive.
Those same corporate type agencies also usually have big retainers, strict rules, and lengthy contracts.
Here are some questions you should ask after talking to an agency to see if they are a good fit for your company.
- How well prepared are they for your meeting?
- How much work did they put into the proposal?
- Do they educate you on the industry or just giving you pricing packages?
- Do they listen to you and audit your online presence?
- What type of website design and digital marketing plan did they present?
What is the best cultural fit for your business? How will working with a specific agency reflect your own culture and goals?
#6. look at ratings and awards
Have you ever heard someone tell you they want a subpar attorney or doctor? You want the highest rated company you can afford. To help you find the best, you want to know what others say about your prospective agency.
Fortunately, a few sites help you discover the best agency for your needs.
The first is Google. Their local search helps you find web agencies and the reviews from past and current clients. They are an invaluable source for learning more about how the web design firm can help your business.
However, if you are not working with someone local, there are other options.
Many firms rely on Clutch, a business rating site that helps you find the highest rated service providers.
Clutch uses verified reviews vetted by their staff through a phone interview where they ask clients specific questions like:
- “What was the scope of involvement?”
- “What is the status of this engagement?”
- “What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of their engagement?”
At Comrade, we appreciate that an independent third-party collects the answers to your reviews. They independently verify how we can help you.
Yelp also provides reviews of work. We discuss them in further detail below in the social media section.
Don’t rely on the reviews, but also look at the awards a company won. Why do research everything yourself when others already did the work for you?
#7. Work with a local digital marketing agency
Local is not everything until it is. Before they got into digital marketing, one member of our team relayed a story about how they used a company overseas to create their website. For $500, he thought he was getting away with a steal.
The communication problems delayed the project for four months and caused an endless amount of strife. While working with overseas teams is not always, bad you want a contact who is local.
You do not have to schedule calls at 3 in the morning or 8 at night to speak to your web design company. Time zones can be just the beginning of your communication challenges. Whenever possible, hire locally. However, if you are not able to do so, then look for someone in your country.
Additionally, you want someone who understands your locale to write content for your firm. Otherwise, how will they get the syntax right?
It is one thing to have someone from Chicago write an article about the top things to do in Milwaukee. The two locations are just a 90-minute ride away. It is a completely when your content writer is in Manilla writing website copy for a personal injury firm in Austin.
How can they relate to the audience and the legal challenges someone else has in a different country?
Many clients work with us because we have a significant local presence here in the Chicagoland area. Being able to meet in person makes a difference.
At the beginning of this article, we discussed how Barr & Young Attorneys wanted to improve their results.
Once they identified their budget and started working with us they were able to start growing. Two years later they added three new attorneys to their firm to help them handle the increased business.