How to Choose an Internet Marketing Consultant

Here are some basic tips for when you are trying to hire an Internet marketing consultant.

Define the Need: 
Before you even consider hiring an Internet marketing consultant, outline what your company or website needs.  Yes, that sounds like a basic requirement but if you don’t spend the energy in truly defining what you need, you will not get the results you want.  For example, you can ask yourself if you need:

·         To create an optimized landing page that will convert more incoming traffic into sales leads
·         To increase rankings in search engine results
·         To develop a pay-per-click program
·         To outline a social media strategy
·         To do all of the above

Generalist vs. Specialists:
Most online marketing consultants have at least a basic level of knowledge about each of these areas − after all, the aspects of Internet marketing are interrelated just like the Internet itself. Many Internet marketing consultants are generalists while others are specialists in at least one specific area.  That’s why the first decision that you need to make is what you need and the whether you need a generalist or specialist. 

Why choose a Generalist
If you want to build a website from scratch and then earn money through the website itself, then you want a generalist who can walk you through the steps of keyword research, developing a search engine friendly website, creating content and then attracting traffic through means like PPC and social media campaigns.  It would be expensive and inefficient to hire experts in each specific area since a large team may not work well together and different people may have different interpretations of the corporate brand and strategy.

Why choose a Specialist
If you need an expert to work on only one piece of the puzzle, then it would make sense to hire a specialist with unparalleled knowledge in that area.  For example, if your IT team knows how to build an SEO friendly website and you know how to use social media networks and PPC campaigns, you might only need someone to do intense keyword research.  

U.S. Based or Outsource Internationally:
Once you or your company has identified your specific needs, then it is time to find the right person.  Posting advertisements online and searching through sites like oDesk, Guru and Elance is a good start.  It is always tempting to want to hire someone from a country like India for pennies on the dollar, but remember that there are pluses and minus.

International Outsourcing Benefit
o    Low cost

International Outsourcing Drawbacks
o    Language:  People in other countries may speak adequate English but they might not be fluent enough to completely understand what you need − particularly in relation to intangible concepts like branding.
o    Hours:  They often work different hours and might not always be available when you are.  
o    Verifiability:  It is much harder to verify their educations, experiences and references.
o    Payment:  Less recourse if the work does not meet your standards.

Regardless where you hire an online-marketing consultant from, the questions are the same:
·         Where have they worked in the past?
·         How much did traffic increase?
·         Would they be hired again?

Ask these questions of both the prospective consultants and their previous (or current) clients. Examine their resumes and portfolios − most consultants will have spreadsheets showing how the traffic and search engine traffic of their client websites has grown.  Be sure to talk to their references, especially if you will be working remotely with them.

Hiring an Internet marketing consultant can be intimidating but this basic guide will help you get you started.

Squeezed Tip courtesy of leading Internet marketing consultant Jeff Demers (