As your business grows, you’ll want to outsource some of your non-core activities, like digital marketing, to concentrate on the things you do well. But that might seem like a bit of a gamble, especially if you’ve always handled things yourself.

So how do you minimise your risk?

Picture the scene: you’ve done your homework and together with your management team, you’ve decided to commit to digital marketing. After all, you know that other businesses get leads from their website, and whenever you need anything yourself, your first port of call is usually Google.

But what about the horror stories? We’ve all heard of businesses hiring ‘SEO experts’ who charge a fortune and don’t deliver anything, and you’re worried about being told to “wait a bit longer… it just needs more time… it’s all going in the right direction, we’ll get there eventually.”

It may feel as though you’re just going to have to be brave and take the plunge. But that’s a lot of risk to take on, for an upside that’s really quite difficult to quantify.

The good news is that you can manage the risk and get what you need from outsourcing your digital marketing. Here’s how:

Tip 1: Start with a pilot project

Digital marketing does take time to deliver the goods, but there often are things that can be done quickly and by that, I mean within three or four months.

For example, a basic quick-win project could be to increase the number of  enquiries you get by identifying and removing key obstacles to your visitor’s journey through your website. These could include:

  • making enquiry forms easier to complete
  • making sure there’s a call to action (CTA) on every page, that they’re obvious, and focused on buyers’ needs
  • stating the benefits of your offer and giving people a clear reason to get in touch with you

The great thing about projects like these is that you get the feedback you need within a few months, and keep a lid on costs.

Tip 2: Negotiate risk/reward payment terms

This may not seem like an obvious solution, but a shared risk/reward scheme can be beneficial to both supplier and client.

What you shouldn’t do: ask your digital marketing agency to assume 100% of the risk: For example, expecting them to charge you at cost, whilst only getting the balance if they meet your targets.

What you could do: it would be reasonable to ask your agency to accept a lower fee than usual, with the balance, and maybe a bonus, being paid when targets are met.

Do bear in mind though that if you’re a start-up with no real trading history, it’ll be difficult for you to sell this idea to a potential supplier.

Tip 3: Ask for a six-month plan instead of a proposal

It’s incredibly difficult for a digital marketing agency to write a proposal that’s specific enough for you to find helpful. Their generic nature makes it difficult to differentiate from any others you’ve seen, and the agency is unlikely to have thought deeply enough about what you need. Pricing can also be a bit hit and miss.

Ask for a detailed proposal, however, and it may go right over your head. And while the agency will have put masses of time into it, you’re under no obligation to buy from them.

There is, however a way round it that works for all parties, and that is to write a detailed six-month plan. Intrigued? Find out more in Jayne’s blog post here.


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