Businesses need to face digital marketing challenges

City Ranked Media aims to help smaller businesses overcome digital marketing issues

Digital office
VBJ File

The digital marketing industry is constantly evolving, and small businesses can have a difficult time keeping up with new methods for digital promotion and growth. Google has predicted that by 2019, most small- to medium-sized businesses will have the ability to process orders online, but those businesses face some significant challenges.

Some of the biggest challenges in the industry arise because potential customers are often not aware of what is involved when hiring a firm to provide digital marketing and management, and questions can arise about what exactly will be done, and about how much time and money will need to be invested and the anticipated outcome.

Duane Baumgartner founded City Ranked Media, a digital marketing and management company, to help smaller businesses confront and overcome digital marketing challenges.

City Ranked Media is completely transparent, reporting each month to the client on what is being done, the time spent on each aspect of their marketing strategy and the expected outcome of those actions. Transparency is one of the biggest obstacles small businesses face when attempting to use digital marketing services. There are some agencies that fail to educate a small business about how, what or why their digital marketing systems work. City Ranked Media makes sure every client, no matter how big or small, understands exactly what’s being done.

City Ranked also stands out by not outsourcing anything.

“Everything is done in house here, in downtown Vancouver,” Baumgartner said. “We have 15 people at our office.”

Baumgartner said that they believe that when work is outsourced – overseas, out of state or with freelancers through an agency – problems tend to arise, such as the wording on a website may not be quite right; freelancers may not be as familiar with the client’s business, so their “take” on that business may be vastly different from someone who is local; and in many cases, people working from out-of-state may not be aware of the specifics of the Vancouver- and Portland-area markets.

City Ranked uses data-specific tools to provide clearly defined results so that clients know without a shadow of a doubt that they’re getting a good return on investment. Some digital marketing companies take exorbitant retainer fees without providing ongoing reports or documentation, and then customers are left wondering what they paid for.

According to Baumgartner, one of the challenges City Ranked embraces “is proving the value we provide, that (a client’s) fees went to providing real services.”

“We maintain open and clear communication about everything, including how and what work is being completed,” Baumgartner said. “In the industry, most of the time business owners don’t understand what they’ve purchased because they bought from a salesperson who didn’t explain clearly about what the business owner was paying for.”

A non-traditional digital marketing company, City Ranked doesn’t market themselves at all (in the usual sense), but gets the majority of their business through word-of-mouth. In addition, the company takes a holistic approach, focusing heavily on organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO). They also focus on Conversion Rate Optimization, which is the science behind getting more people to move from initial interest to picking up the phone.

City Ranked meets with clients at least once a month, and sometimes once a week, providing measurable goals to achieve and structuring long-term growth. Many of their small- and medium-sized business clients see double-digit growth, year after year, and City Ranked’s SEO methods become a big part of that income generation.

“If you’ve been looking for a partner to work with over the long term, to build your business and use online tools for positive growth – from attaining organic rankings to social media and e-commerce web design – then we’re here for you,” Baumgartner said.

“Some business owners who don’t have much experience with internet marketing think that if you apply some magic code, then they’ll get phone calls,” Baumgartner continued. “They think that by just going to a SEO company, that out of the say 400 companies in their industry, customers will get to your webpage over the other 399 companies, and that’s just not a realistic expectation. Their website needs to be answering with good content, with a good structure, so the search engines can understand it and get prospects to it, and then convert those prospects into real leads.”

With a more holistic approach, City Ranked has found that quality organic traffic directs more qualified visitors to a business’ website, and it’s the greatest driver of clients’ continued growth. But SEO is not an exact science; it involves understanding known ranking factors, testing and past experience with specific elements that work. That past experience and City Ranked’s long track record with organic search are what make their company’s results so successful.

Some small- and medium-sized companies may not be able to afford to hire a firm like City Ranked Media as their digital marketing agency. Baumgartner offers this advice when hiring another company:

Have the digital marketing firm clearly explain in detail what they will do and how it benefits your website and business. If the firm can’t, then that firm may ultimately end up harming your business;

Make sure anything done for your online presence is portable and that you own it. Then if you decide you want to go elsewhere, you can take what you’ve paid for with you; and

Always check the references of any agency you’re working with.

When asked why he chose to locate his office in Vancouver, Baumgartner said: “My first office was out of the den of my house – I lived in Brush Prairie then. We moved on from there. This year, in December, we’re relocating to a place on 164th near Mill Plain Boulevard, a building with 6,000 square feet. We’ve picked up some new customers, and so we’re hiring 10 new people in the next 12 months.”

City Ranked Media, Inc. is currently located at 500 W. 8th St. in Vancouver. Their website is