How to choose the right digital marketing agency?

An increasing number of hotel marketing managers are beginning to invest in online marketing as an integral part of their strategy. Digital marketing agencies know they have to offer added value. Hotels can learn from them how to increase productivity through digital marketing channels.

New digital marketing agencies are launching all the time, offering a variety of services. If you’re considering appointing a digital marketing agency, these top five tips will ensure you make the right decision:

1. Keep it all under one roof
Make sure the agency can handle both website design and online marketing. Marketing skills should include Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC), newsletter copywriting and set up, web review monitoring and video creation. It is important to keep website design and online marketing under one roof as a website needs to be friendly to both users and search engines. Many agencies offer a full service without actually providing it. You should feel confident before moving forward that the agency has the full set of skills required to build your brand online.

2. Are they consultants by trade?
Ask the agency to look at your current website and make some web design, structure and booking path recommendations. They should be able to spot some improvements immediately, make a list of suggestions for you and offer all those services in a detailed proposal. These internet marketing suggestions should be part of your marketing plan for 2009. Your plan should include: multi-lingual SEO, international and local PPC, link-building strategy, web-review monitoring tool, website updates, monthly newsletter and social media.

3. Are they on top of the latest trends?
Key trends in digital marketing are emerging all the time. Ensure that the agency is up to date with the latest trends. Make sure they know how to develop these trends – for example social networking and blogging. This way you can stay one step ahead of your competitors.

4. Work with a team of experts
The agency will become your business partner. Have a good look at the agency’s website. If they will be developing your website, you should be impressed with theirs. Websites often have a “meet the team” section where you can find out more about who you could potentially be working with. Look at the experience the team members offer in design, IT and internet marketing. These require a specific set of skills.

5. Hotel specialists
When selecting a web agency, make sure they are specialists in the hotel industry. Building a website for a carpet-cleaning business will be different to building a luxury hotel website. Ideally, choose a website design agency that can also build booking engines. They will understand the dos and don’ts of booking paths and will be able to advise how to best design your website for a higher conversion.

The Big Agency offers hoteliers a free 20-minute web consultation to see how their website can be improved. If you would like to meet with the Big Agency (www.big-agency.com/) when choosing a new digital marketing agency, please call +44 (0) 20 7383 2335 or email info@big-agency.com.

Posted by Brooke Lester of Great Hotels of the World at www.ghotw.com

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