By Joe Williams, Magento Certified Solutions Specialist and VP of eMarketing Services at InteractOne
When it comes to marketing your Magento store, there are a lot of talented marketing agencies to pick from. Although, the pattern we are seeing is that many of them have little to no experience with the Magento platform and yet, a large number of Magento merchants hire these agencies. As a Magento Development Partner, we are frequently asked to install extensions or make changes to the catalog for client websites. Unfortunately, more often than not, the task can be accomplished using standard Magento functionality or doesn’t even need a developer to implement.
With Magento Certified Solution Specialists managing your marketing campaigns, there’s no need for a separate marketing agency. Using a certified Magento partner that offers both development and marketing services provides you with more efficient implementation, productive results and a higher ROI.
Based on our experience, here are 5 reasons to use a Magento partner for eMarketing.
1. They know how to set up the Magento admin
Aside from the obvious advantages of having development expertise at your disposal, experienced Magento admin users have gone through the learning curve of how to utilize out-of-the-box features and properly configure admin settings for a given situation.
An inbound marketer with Magento experience will better understand how SEO is handled within the Magento framework and how to properly set up your configuration. They should be able to directly manage redirects and rewrite rules, properly generate sitemaps, customize metadata and upload content optimizations using import/export. These details might not sound like traditional marketing activities, but they are foundational to success when using Magento. As a development and marketing agency, we monitor and perform these tasks on a daily basis.
Your marketer should also know how your Magento catalog is structured, how menus are created and structured, and why it matters. If you’ve ever had to clean up your product attribute values to improve usability and SEO, you know how important it is to set them up correctly in the first place. A Magento expert can help you do it right the first time instead of just suggesting it should be done.
Magento-specific marketers also have perspective from what they’ve seen others do well (and not so well) within the platform. Example: A new client of ours had more than 65,000 rows of 301 redirects in their .htaccess file because their marketing agency didn’t understand how to manage redirects in Magento during the site migration. After moving the redirects into the database and cleaning up the .htaccess file, the client’s average page load time went from 12 to 7.4 seconds.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Another recent example is a website that was bogged down by search engine crawler traffic, and an increasing number of 404 errors in their Google Search Console. Fixing some mis-configured product attributes resolved the issue on the Magento side, but then we marked the broken links as fixed in their Search Console account. This client’s previous marketing agency sat on the issue for three months with no resolution, while our Magento experience allowed us to catch the problem in less than two hours. Imagine the damage to organic ranking and online reputation done over the course of three months and how long it will take to rectify, all because of some oversight in a few Magento admin settings.
Site speed and performance are huge ranking factors; who better to improve the performance of your Magento site than a team of Magento experts? Marketing agencies that don’t have the knowledge to work with a specific platform can only give high level suggestions from audit tools like SEMRush or Google Insights, and lack understanding in the necessary steps to improve performance. In most situations, a Magento Solutions Specialist can identify several admin and hosting tweaks to improve performance. You’re achieving quicker results by having tasks addressed proactively instead of identifying the problem only and blindly backing into a solution.
2. They know how Magento extensions work
Not all extensions are created equal: We’ve seen extensions introduce bugs that were devilishly hard to track down and correct. Reviews on Magento Connect are good indicators, but they don’t take your particular setup and installation into account.
You don’t always need an extension: Magento might already have the functionality you’re looking for. There are countless extensions on the marketplace that either duplicate features that already exist within Magento, or they extend some existing functionality. You or your marketer might want to do ‘X’ and then find an extension requiring an integration, when there may be a Magento-native way to accomplish 90% or more of the benefit of the idea. You could have some solid front end features working on your site in the same amount of time it would take to find and install a third party extension. Not to mention, installing unnecessary extensions adds overhead to your site and makes updates more time-consuming in the future.
Another unfortunate commonality is seeing Magento installs with redundant and inactive extensions that are meant to improve performance or SEO, but aren’t working properly due to misconfiguration or conflicts. One example is having three SEO extensions installed to implement rich snippets on your site, or multiple marketing automation plug-ins, none of which are setup correctly. The great thing about the user friendly Magento extension marketplace is sometimes the worst thing – anyone can download extensions. When people who don’t understand the Magento platform download extensions but can’t get them to work properly, they will just download and install another one to test out, and so on.
3. They know Magento is not indestructible
I’d be remissed if I didn’t mention site security and how it pertains to SEO. Google is able to identify known vulnerabilities and malicious scripts on your website, and then broadcast that in search results. Lacking security and not being up to date with Magento patches obviously has a negative effect on your SEO efforts and online reputation.
You might be thinking this is an area where development and marketing don’t really need to communicate, so what’s the point, right? Both the Magento core and all of your extensions, whether you’re actively using them or not, need to be well-maintained and patched. Since installing an extension isn’t just “set it and forget it”, it’s important to have someone research extensions before deciding whether they’re necessary, and then make sure they’re kept up to date and secure.
An agency with solution specialists and developers working together is more proactive at keeping these things updated for you, compared to a marketing agency focusing just on marketing and a development agency just working on the projects you ask them to.
In addition, a Magento-focused team will be more up-to-date with new features and extension changes that can benefit your business. Your Magento solutions provider will be able to keep your site ahead of the curve on user experience while ensuring your site stays secure.
4. They see your missed Magento opportunities
Magento solutions partners exist for a reason, and partnering with one that also has marketing expertise helps analyze your entire business and set realistic goals. They can evaluate your business needs and interpret them into the best marketing or development solution without wasting the budget on unnecessary wishlist items.
For example, spending $10k on new photography for your products might be a great idea. But investing less time and money optimizing your product attributes and faceted navigation could give you a higher ROI in the short team and help pay for that bigger project. Both projects add value, but one of them is already in your hands if you are a Magento merchant.
A recent client came to us with four extensions installed (all of them paid extensions and two of them were subscription-based with monthly fees) and they had no idea how to use any of them. They liked the thought of having the functionality these extensions provided, but didn’t have the resources to manage them – that is a huge opportunity cost. Magento consultants can help take a high-level look at your goals and pull back on the reins to prevent lost focus and budget by going extension-crazy.
5. They provide in-depth Magento and marketing collaboration
Using a team dedicated to Magento, composed of specialists in each area of eCommerce and digital marketing gives you efficiency and peace of mind by having a single point of communication for your website marketing and development. Marketing and development should be able to set expectations together in constant communication. Development should support customer acquisition. The two main reasons development work is necessary (after security of course) are customer acquisition and customer support. Efficiency is gained by the lack of duplicate work, blind delegation and extension-cluttered installations.
With your teams in one place, you can focus on running your business instead of becoming the middle man or project manager.
So, are you using a Magento Partner for eMarketing AND development needs?
SEO and User Experience (UX) go hand-in-hand. Your marketing team needs to be knowledgeable in the Magento platform in order to connect business and marketing objectives to actionable tasks. Often times you save a great deal of time and money by just having a Magento Solutions Specialist available to suggest improvements and resolve issues without sending everything straight to a developer.
That valuable resource will save on development costs, implementation time and improve your user experience. With both teams working together on your business, you’ll get the synergy that separate freelancers or agencies just don’t provide, and more assurance that your solutions will lead to success.