You’ve heard of digital marketing consulting.
You may even have a vague idea of what it entails. But for many, “consultant” is thrown around as an umbrella term for anything and everything.
So in this article, I’ll answer all your questions about what a web marketing consultant is, how it works and why many businesses need one.
What We’ll Cover:
- What does a digital marketing consultant do?
- The 5 most common business models for digital consultants:
- How a consultant determines a marketing strategy
- Digital marketing consulting custom projects:
- When you should hire a digital marketing consultant
- Where (& how) to find a digital marketing consultant
- Ignite Visibility digital marketing consultants FAQs
So, what is an online marketing consultant?
By definition, digital marketing is “the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.” Web marketing consultant services are aimed at targeting consumers in the right ways to get the best results for business needs. This is very different from advertising. Digital marketing consultants work with businesses of all kinds and sizes and determine how best to engage and convert clients and prospective ones.
And while there’s certainly more to it than that (and you can read all about it here), generally speaking, that’s the practice they work with to bring clients results.
How they achieve those results is a different story altogether.
What Is a Digital Marketing Consultant?
If there’s one thing a consultant needs to understand, it’s this: all projects are different.
This means that a successful consultant has to be able to wear many hats. They should have their hands on all the latest and greatest digital trends, from social media to SEO and PPC.
This also means that you’ll often find that they specialize in certain areas. For example:
This is a big one in digital marketing, and anyone claiming the title of a consultant should have a well-rounded knowledge of what it is and how to improve it for each individual client.
For a web marketing consultant, their involvement in SEO is often to strategize and oversee, while delegating individual tasks to a team (either yours or theirs).
Digital Marketing Consultant Definition
Here are some SEO statistics as we head into 2021:
- More than half of all web traffic comes from organic search, where SEO shines.
- Less than 1 percent of Google searchers click on page 2 results.
- 60% of marketers rely on inbound the most for quality leads.
SEO, as you likely know, is the optimization of websites for search engines. A consultant’s work typically involves:
- Building backlink profiles
- Handling on-site SEO
- Content marketing strategies
- Reviewing analytics
- Tracking results
In a sense, SEO specialists are doing two jobs at once. They are both a search marketing consultant and a content marketing consultant.
PPC is another area that’s usually best left to the experts (i.e. your marketing consultant).
Most consultants who specialize in PPC management will be Google Ads certified and have a strong background in analytics.
Their process will generally look something like this:
- Define performance goals and review data
- Implement tracking
- Build keywords and targeting
- Develop ad copy and creative
- Optimize landing pages
- Create bidding strategy
- Test and track performance over time
When trying to understand how digital marketing works, it’s important to know that it’s much more complicated than just creating content.
PPC is just one of the many digital marketing consulting services needed to truly impact your company’s growth.
Social Media Online Marketing Consultant Services
Creating a Twitter or Facebook account doesn’t mean you have a social media presence.
In fact, if you’re only focusing on the two most known (i.e. oldest) channels, you’re missing some pretty big opportunities.
That’s where an online marketing consultant comes in. They evaluate a brand’s specific audience and match it with the social media channels that represent the biggest opportunities and growth.
Beyond that, they’ll make recommendations concerning boosted posts and social ads, depending on a businesses’ goals.
Here are some social media statistics to know as you prep for 2021 marketing:
- A whopping 3.5 billion people are on social media (that’s almost half the world’s population!)
- Facebook leads the market, with 68% of US adults on the platform
- 90.4% of millennials use social media, compared to 77.5% of Gen X and 48.2% of Baby Boomers
- The average person spends 3 hours each day on social media
- 73% of marketers rely on social media to help them strengthen their brand
- A solid 54% of users research products on social media
Saying that digital marketing for social media is important is the understatement of the year. A consultant will understand how to use these statistics to your company’s advantage.
A typical consulting process might look like this:
- Determine main goals
- Develop a company brand
- Identify influencers, media outlets & customers
- Optimize website
- Build influence
- Build communities, brand and revenue
- This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the kinds of work necessary, and we’ll get more into specific examples in a bit.
For now, let’s take a deeper look at the strategies behind a consultant’s work.
Online Marketing Consultant: Determining the Business Model
The very first step in a consultant’s work is determining a brand’s business model.
This is the backbone of any strategy because it determines how that company will make money online.
Successful business models are rooted in reality – and a good online marketing consultant can tell the difference between a get-rich-quick scheme and a model with a strong strategy to obtain a clear objective.
They help companies realize the full economic value of their product or service, by highlighting its value and how customers will get it.
A solid business model is also flexible. This is often where a good consultant can do their best work: by recognizing opportunities for growth.
Take Kodak, for example. There was a time when nothing was more sought after than the “Kodak moment.” However, as digital cameras and photography began to take over the space, Kodak failed to embrace the change, sticking instead to its guns and its prints.
Needless to say, you don’t hear too much about Kodak these days.
The lesson here is this: a great digital marketing consultant can not only identify the appropriate business model for a given brand but also identify ways to innovate.
To do that takes a deep understanding of a brand’s target audience: their wants, needs, and values – and how a comapny’s services align with them.
There are plenty of examples of companies doing just that: look no further than Uber and its sub-business, UberEats. They identified a need in their target audience (quick, affordable service that’s extremely easy to use), that wasn’t being fulfilled by traditional taxis.
The rest, as they say, is history – for now, at least.
Generally speaking, business models can be separated into five types.
1. Digital Marketing Consulting: Ecommerce
This one needs little explanation – they’re all over the internet, from the major players like Amazon to smaller sites.
An ecommerce site is designed to make money online by selling products through a web catalog and a shopping cart.
A customer visits the site, browses the catalog, selects an item, and checks out – making the shopping experience as easy as it can be for those who no longer wish to brave crowded malls and retail stores.
No lines. No giant parking lots. No meandering around searching for someone to help you find something. Just “Add to Cart” and “Checkout.”
Where a digital marketing consultant comes in:
A consultant working with an e-commerce model will do a number of things.
They’ll evaluate the actual website for ease of use as well as a seamless check-out process. They’ll ensure multiple payment options are offered and drip email campaigns are set up for customer retention and abandoned shopping carts.
Beyond that, they’ll run shopping and remarketing ads to attract new and lost customers.
In short, they will ensure that the user experience is positive, and they will work to rake in potential customers.
2. Digital Marketing Consulting: Lead Generation
This model’s just like it sounds: it generates leads for a specific business.
It could be for a range of industries, from a local dentist’s office to a community or vocational school.
Even the aforementioned Uber falls into this category by connecting buyers who need rides with drivers who sell them.
The success of this model is based on how many leads are collected, and how many of those leads then take the desired action – make a purchase, subscribe, enroll, etc.
Where a digital marketing consultant comes in:
The consultant will drive the entire strategy here – from the powerful content on the page to specific lead capture and lead magnet tactics.
Online Marketing Consultant for Lead Magnet
This involves the nitty-gritty work of determining what information to request in your lead forms to what value you’ll offer in exchange for that information (free e-books, guides, training videos, free trial, etc.)
Beyond that, an online marketing consultant should be well-versed in conversion optimization and lead nurturing to make sure there is a clear plan to lead prospects down the funnel.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – lead generation is an art in itself. It requires the work of a consultant familiar with all stages of the process and a complete of the tools to help in the conversion process.
3. Digital Marketing Consulting: Branding Business Model
Branding: “The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.”
On the surface, at least. Beyond that, branding tells your customers what to expect from your company and its services. It also helps give a brand a singular identity in an increasingly competitive age.
Think of Nike, Lululemon, and McDonalds. Think of swooshes and golden arches.
These brands are iconic, and each one conjures up certain images and emotions in a customer’s mind.
People buy based on those emotions and continue to based on brand loyalty.
Where a digital marketing consultant comes in:
To help develop a strong brand identity, the consultant will start by compiling all the data on a company’s target audience, and refining and creating clear brand guidelines for images, copy, tone, colors and more.
This may actually be one of the most crucial digital marketing consulting services because, essentially, the consultant is creating your company’s first impression.
SEO increases both the quality and quantity of browser traffic. Tag someone who could benefit from SEO help! pic.twitter.com/qLxfo8l6db
— Ignite Visibility (@IgniteV) November 16, 2020
4. Digital Marketing Consulting: News Model
The news model focuses on providing information, sometimes around a specific subject.
Major news publications all fall under this category, such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Some of these models make money by selling subscriptions to their content, while others rely on advertisements.
Where a digital marketing consultant comes in:
A successful news model relies on strong, engaging content. A successful consultant knows how to deliver it smoothly and effectively.
5. Digital Marketing Consulting: FAQ Model
These are similar to news models but generally, relate only to a very particular subject.
You’ll see these commonly in industry blogs; an expert produces posts that address and answer specific industry tools, trends, and ideas.
These too often rely on advertisements or niche items like training videos to make money.
Where a digital marketing consultant comes in:
They work to build a strong standing in a particular niche, among other things.
That means working to establish industry expert status by participating in social discussions, creating strong email campaigns, and optimizing every piece produced on the site for higher rankings in the SERPs.
Digital Marketing Consulting: Asking the Right Questions
Once the model they’re working with has been established, an online marketing consultant will have a better idea of the kinds of tactics and tools needed for success.
Next, they have to evaluate each business individually to create a personalized strategy.
To do so, they must ask a series of questions.
1. What are the goals of the business?
Your business goals inform the entire game plan; after all, how will you find success if you don’t even know what you’re looking for.
That said, there’s a difference between rookie and expert goals. Rookie goals, for example, look like this:
- I want more website traffic
- I want to rank #1 in Google
- I want more email subscribers
What marks them as rookie is that they’re poorly defined. A digital marketing consultant will come in, evaluate your current numbers and overall goals like above, and expand those goals to look something like this:
- They need 5,000 more website visitors a month
- They need to rank #1 for the keyword “refurbished iPhone”
- They need to collect 2 leads from each remarketing ad
See the difference? Setting real numbers will help achieve real results.
2. Where is the business in the product or service life cycle?
A life cycle describes the stages a product or service goes through from conception to the end of its run. Typically, it looks something like this:
By determining where a product or service is in its life cycle, digital marketing consultants can identify where the work initially needs to be focused. That could be building buzz for a product that’s being introduced or brainstorming ways to extend the life cycle of a service that’s declining.
3. Where does the business need to go to be profitable?
In order to be successful, every business needs a way to make a profit.
Based on the business model, a marketing consultant will identify ways to earn a profit and what steps the business needs to take to get there.
To earn a profit, a business has to make more than it spends, and a content marketing consultant can also help make decisions about current spending to make sure it isn’t hindering any potential profits.
4. How much funding or cash does the business have?
To make the most informed decisions about where marketing dollars should go, a digital marketing consultant needs to know exactly what they’re working with.
First of all, it will enable them to set a marketing budget. Then, based on the business goals and opportunity for profit, they can determine how much should be allocated to each area – from where they should advertise down to the tools used to track their efforts.
5. Where are the business customers online?
Digital marketing consultants can find out where your target audience hangs out because you can’t reach them if you can’t find them.
6. How do they like to interact with businesses online?
Not everyone likes to use the web in the same way. Web marketing consultants take this nuance into consideration.
7. What content and ads do they respond to the best?
These are grouped together for a good reason – they all come down to a deep understanding of a business’s target audience.
The process involves several steps, including:
- Analyzing the current customer base
- Analyzing the competition – who their customers are and who they’re targeting
- Analyzing the product’s value, features, and benefits
- Creating buyer personas based on demographics – age, gender, occupation, location, etc.
- Analyzing characteristics – personality, lifestyle, values
Based on who the target is, they can conduct subsequent research into the channels most used by that audience and demographic, and determine which content resonates most with them.
8. How expensive will it be to set up traffic generation through each marketing medium?
After it has been determined what the best channel is to use, they then have to look at it in terms of budget.
For example, if the target audience is mainly B2B professionals, they’ll likely consider LinkedIn as an appropriate channel.
However, advertising on LinkedIn tends to be more expensive than other social channels. A consultant will know this and be able to make budget recommendations accordingly.
9. What is the cost per conversion?
Cost per conversion is the average marketing cost of each new customer.
Cost per conversion = total number of clicks/total number of conversions.
To properly assess, a consultant will look at the average amount being spent per click, the average profit margin, and the number of people who actually buy something after clicking
This is a process that will need to be implemented throughout the marketing campaign to ensure a profit is being made. If at any point it the CPC rises, your consultant should be aware of it and adjust accordingly.
10. What is the return on advertising?
Return on ad spend (ROAS) measures the overall effectiveness of a digital advertising campaign.
A digital marketing consultant needs to be able to calculate a company’s current ROAS (if they’re already advertising) and keep tabs on it in the future.
Average ROAS will vary by industry, which is why it’s important to have a consultant that evaluates not only your ROAS, but can compare it against industry averages.
This number will help inform future budgets and the overall direction of a marketing strategy.
LEARN MORE: What is ROAS? A Guide and Formula to Calculate Return on Ad Spend
11. How long will it take to become reliable?
Once a digital marketing consultant begins to form a direction and choose channels for a particular strategy, they have to look to reliability.
They have to be able to tell a client what their projections are, and how long they’ll take to achieve.
To do that, they have to have consistent, reliable information. Sure, it’s great to see sales increase for a month, but to truly nurture a successful business, you need to be able to rely on those numbers consistently going up.
This will take some time. The foundation has to be set, along with reliable metrics and analytics.
12. How large can it be scaled at the current price point?
Fact: To make more money online, you have to be willing to spend more.
A digital marketing consultant is able to evaluate your current budget and scale it in a way to get the most returns.
For example, content marketing. Good consultants know that producing more quality content will yield bigger returns, and can work within your budget to make it happen.
If the budget allows for more writers and designers, great. If not, they can allocate the job elsewhere, or look at ways to repurpose existing content into videos, slideshows, and infographics to keep the content consistent.
13. How much overall profitability does the business see?
At any stage in the strategy development or deployment, a consultant must be able to measure profitability in order to determine the best business practices.
To do so requires analyzing a myriad of factors: production costs, gross profit, daily operations, etc. to ensure that any measures going forward will increase, not take away from, any existing profit.
Digital Marketing Consulting: Custom Projects
Often, a consultant isn’t hired to oversee a company’s entire marketing strategy.
Sometimes, they’re brought in for specific projects that require their expertise
We touched on some of the areas a consultant can specialize in above, but now let’s take a look at some of the custom projects that may require a search marketing consultant.
As a company grows, so too does its audience.
Sometimes, that means growing wide enough to reach an international audience.
While that’s a good thing, it will mean redoubling and restructuring your SEO efforts to include multinational and/or multiregional SEO.
A digital marketing consultant will know the ins and outs of International SEO, and should be able to address everything from optimizing website content for a variety of languages and multiple geographic areas to using Facebook global pages and going international on Amazon.
Launching an App or Website
Website and app launches are another big reason consultants are often brought in.
For example, a startup may be looking for some help launching their first website, or an established business may be introducing an app on the market and looking to build some buzz.
Either way, a digital marketing consultant can help form a strategy to ensure you see significant traffic or downloads – even on the very first day.
They’ll likely focus on building and promoting through social media, creating landing pages and sending relevant traffic there, sending out press releases, crafting incentives, etc.
A social media presence is a must in this day and age.
But many businesses find themselves at a loss when it comes to building an effective social strategy. After all, it’s a space that grows and changes at a moment’s notice, and it can be hard for anyone to keep on top of it.
This is why you bring someone whose job it is to stay on top of the trends.
For example, if you’re running a local dental office you may not think there’s a place on social media for you. But a good consultant knows that locals love social media (70% of customers choose a local business that has a social media site).
They also know how to use it to increase your customer base and loyalty – through engaging content, how-tos, special promotions, and local ads on Facebook.
Email Automation Campaigns
Email automation – a series of emails that are sent in a sequence – is an extremely effective way of reaching and retaining customers.
But it’s not so simple as sending an email here or there.
First of all, do you have a reliable email list (and a way to grow it?) Do you know which email automation tools are right for you? Which metrics you should be tracking? How often you should be sending them, or what elements you should be testing?
Maybe not, but you can be sure a good marketing consultant does.
They’ll know the tools to use, the analytics to monitor, and the creative elements that will attract customer clicks.
For example, if you run an e-commerce company, you should know that 40% of cart abandonment emails are opened and that half of the customers who click through end up purchasing.
But those numbers don’t happen by themselves, and to make yours successful there are several factors to take into consideration, including timing, bold CTAs, product reminders, related items, and convincing copy.
That’s outside of many e-commerce sites’ expertise, and that’s exactly when they call in a consultant.
When to Hire a Digital Marketing Consultant
In the beginning, most companies try to take on digital marketing themselves.
But there comes a time when all companies can benefit from hiring a digital marketing consultant.
How do you know when it’s time for you to take the leap?
The clearest sign is when you are ready to grow your business with clearly-defined goals and objections but you aren’t quite sure what step to take next.
- If you’re not experiencing growth or change, regardless of the different strategies you’ve tried to implement
- If your team is already stretched thin. Even the best employee can’t produce a good quality work product if they are hitting their limits.
- If your team just doesn’t know where to go next. Digital marketing campaigns require a certain level of expertise. A lot of time and frustration can be saved by going directly to a professional consultant.
Where (& How) to Find Digital Marketing Consultant Services
Some business owners may think that it’s difficult to find a digital marketing consultant, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Securing a good one is a different story.
Many online marketing consulting services can be secured from freelancers or remote consultants. Those in search of individual consultants can find them on sites like Upwork and Fiverr.
Larger companies with more money to spend can go for a digital marketing consulting firm.
Enlisting the help of a team of consultants from a reputable digital marketing consulting firm may be necessary for companies that wish to scale at a faster rate.
After all, it’s a person who can build a bridge between businesses and customers using online platforms. It may be even more beneficial to have more than one consultant to come up with new ideas to push the company forward.
And remember: good consultants won’t come cheap, but they will get results. To make sure you’re enlisting, I highly recommend my article on hiring a qualified SEO consultant.
Your 2020 Search Engine Land Awards winner for Best B2B Initiative – SEM is @IgniteV! For a full list of winners, please check out: https://t.co/Iph71fDHo2 pic.twitter.com/wq3nK1d5gL
— Search Engine Land (@sengineland) October 19, 2020
You may no longer be wondering, “What is a digital marketing consultant?” But if you want to know how to find a web marketing consultant worthy of your investment, there are some solid steps you can take.
As it turns out, that’s a pretty straightforward process, too…
Just follow this quick guide, step by step:
- Decide what services you want, then research those services. This could mean launching a blog, publishing a series of white papers, enhancing your social media reach and so much more.
- Gather some companies from the results and research/compare their services. Make sure they’re in your budget and up to your standards. It’s better to get it right the first time. While the cheapest option isn’t always the best, it’s still really important to stay within your budget for this task.
- See what tech they use. How can they help you? Will this tech help you reach your goals? Will you have to learn any new platforms? If you do, will they train you?
- Check out the portfolio of all the companies you have lined up. Does their experience and expertise line up with what you’re looking for? There are a lot of consultants and freelancers out there who claim to offer all sorts of services but, unless you decide to go with a larger firm, you’ll probably get better results from someone who specializes in one or two aspects of digital marketing. Make sure this person knows their stuff. If your goal is to grow your Instagram following, be sure to pick a consultant that can show you tangible evidence of their other clients’ Instagram growth. Be very specific when you ask for examples of their work.
- Really dive into their client roster. Who do they normally work with? If you’re a small start-up, try to find someone who specializes in businesses like yours. The tips and tricks for marketing a small business can vary from those used to see success with bigger businesses. You’ll want a consultant who understands that. Do you like what you see? If you don’t, it’s not worth your time. Analyze measurable results wherever possible.
- Read reviews and confirm credentials. This is a good practice for any decision you make, and it rings true for digital marketing consulting services, too. Anyone can tell you that they’re great at something but if they have multiple reviews backing up their confidence, it’s more likely that they will deliver the results you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to check out their own social media platforms. What are their followers saying? Who are they connected to?
- Question their work process and find out how involved they’ll expect you to be in the project. If you want to be hands-on, will they allow you to be involved? If you want to completely hand the process over, will they be able to do their job without your constant input?
- Hop on a call. Give their customer service a test run, and figure out if your values align. A video chat might be even more effective, depending on your preferences. Take time on your call to feel this person out. Do they feel like someone you could trust with your business? Do you get the feeling that they are trustworthy and knowledgeable about your industry? Hiring a digital marketing consultant is a big decision. It’s important that you feel connected to this person, their business, and their proposed strategy.
Once you’ve done some research and had some calls, sit down, look at your notes, and compare the consultants you’ve reached out to.
Deciding to hire a digital marketing consultant is not a decision that needs to be made overnight. Feel free to sit with your research until you feel comfortable making the decision.
Web marketing consultants have a complicated job, to say the least.
Now that you know how digital marketing works, you now understand that their work involves strategies, tactics, numbers, and tools.
But at its heart, it involves getting a client seen – in search engines, in prospects inboxes, and in their social feeds.
If all goes well, you’ll be seeing those prospects pop up on your websites and shopping carts as well.
Ignite Visibility Digital Marketing Consultants FAQ
1. ⭐ Does Ignite Visibility offer digital marketing consulting services?
Yes, we do! Check out our digital marketing service page for a full list of services.
2. 📦 What does Ignite’s digital marketing consulting services include?
Ignite Visibility’s digital marketing consulting services include strategy and advice from our experts on SEO, Local SEO, International SEO, Digital PR and Link Building, SEO Consulting, Social Media Consulting and CRO consulting.
3. 🔥 Why work with Ignite’s online marketing consultants?
At Ignite, we bring a multi-disciplinary team of experts who are always up to date on all things digital marketing. We have been consistently named a top digital marketing agency in the United States by all top industry lists. Our consulting services integrate SEO with social media, CRO, SEM, content marketing and public relations