Make every click count!

Straight North is an Internet marketing agency specializing in SEO, PPC and responsive websites. We help firms increase sales leads and e-commerce revenue.

Our core service is SEO. We have helped hundreds of clients improve organic search visibility since 1997. We are the only SEO company that validates and reports all sales leads from phone and forms.

Call us today: 844-219-3699

 
$1,000+
 
$100 - $149 / hr
 
50 - 249
 Founded
1997
Show all +
Chicago, IL
headquarters
  • 211 W Upper Wacker Dr, Suite 1800
    Chicago, IL 60606
    United States
other locations
  • 1026 Jay St
    Charlotte, NC 28208
    United States

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Chicago Bears, Fiserv, Nicor Gas, Hub Group, UPS, HomeAdvisor, Harvard, Trustwave, New City Moving, Advanced Technology Services, Follett, Pro Stock Hockey, Mrs. Prindables & Affy Tapple, INE, Joint Commission, Modern Bathroom, National Louis University, Global Verification Network, Go Ship, Figo Pet Insurance

Mrs. Prindables Image

Mrs. Prindables

Please see our website for more case studies.

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Global Verification Network

Please see our website for more case studies.

Figo Pet Insurance Image

Figo Pet Insurance

Please see our website for more case studies.

Go Ship Image

Go Ship

Please see our website for more case studies.

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BluePay Processing

Please see our website for more case studdies.

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Chicago Bears

Please see our website for more case studies.

Pro Stock Hockey Image

Pro Stock Hockey

Please see our website for more case studies.

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Earthwise Environmental

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Mowery & Schoenfeld

Reviews

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Web Design and SEM Support for Massage Therapy Business

“Our main point of contact always gets back to me when I need her.”

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
4.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
June 2019 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Straight North provided digital marketing services, targeting keywords for PPC efforts and creating SEO-optimized website content. They also developed an online quote calculator on the site.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
New York Metro Area
Owner, Massage Therapy Business
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

While waiting on search engine results to move in their favor, the partner noticed increases in click-through rates and incoming inquiries. The team effectively communicates with its client, allowing them to offer strong customer service experience. They consistently respond within a business day.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the owner and president of a massage company that sets up portable massage chairs at conventions, trade shows, offices, health bars, and more.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Straight North?

We wanted to increase our ROI and leads by getting our website up to date.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They’ve not only remodeled and designed site pages, but they also implemented our current online calculator that provides instant quotes to customers. That allows clients to formulate their own quotes rather than waiting on us to do that. They had the software skills and expertise to tweak the site as we needed it.

Additionally, they chose keywords for our PPC work and added new content for our site to make us rank more highly on Google. All of those things were valuable to us and came at a reasonable cost.

What is the team composition?

I have one account manager, who’s my main point of contact. A team of specialists and technicians are also involved with the account.

How did you come to work with Straight North?

We had a similar site partner previously, but they raised their prices dramatically. Our team needed to find another vendor to take on what they left behind. Straight North was both within our budget and had an office in my hometown, so we chose them. They had positive energy in our early discussions. 

How much have you invested with them?

We spent between $10,000–$20,000 with them so far. 

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in June 2019, and our collaborations are ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

They provided monthly reports. It does take time for Google to read the changes and react to them. At this point, we’re in the incubation process. Our click-through-rate and leads have increased since using their services. We’ll have more information about their performance as time goes on, though.

How did Straight North perform from a project management standpoint?

They’ve done everything I need, and I haven’t needed to wait for responses. I don’t need to follow up to get them to respond to calls.

What did you find most impressive about them?

This is a lengthy process. Sometimes, it’s hard to get responses from partner companies. Our main point of contact always gets back to me when I need her. I can count on a response within 24 hours at least. Their customer service allows us to accomplish tasks quickly. 

Are there any areas they could improve?

I can’t think of anything they could improve on as of yet. We’re happy with their work and ability to get us through challenges in a reasonable timeframe.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Have a good idea of what you want from them going into the engagement. Before I worked with them, I asked for some references. They praised Straight North heavily, saying that they could do the job.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 4.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

SEO Management for Manufacturing Company

"They’re easy to work with and have a straightforward approach that provides transparency throughout."

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Dec. 2017 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Straight North runs SEO efforts to help improve a manufacturing company’s search result ranking. They add and enhance content, improve an existing site, and maintain the campaigns. 

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Libertyville, Illinois
Marketing Systems Manager, Manufacturing Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The ongoing efforts from Straight North have resulted in a substantial boost in leads for the business, satisfying the client. As a partner, they’ve been a valued addition to the company’s existing efforts. Their transparency, expertise, and attention to detail are keys to their success. 

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the marketing systems manager for a manufacturing company. We have two different divisions. 

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Straight North?

Straight North provided SEO support for the industrial side of the business. Although we were already doing our own Google Ads campaigns, we wanted to rank higher in search engines since we have quite a few competitors.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Straight North provides SEO support, working on getting our pages ranking higher. They improve and add content and change features on our site. Since starting the work, they’ve also taken on developing on-page content and maintaining those aspects of the site. 

What is the team composition?

Our account manager served as our main point of contact, but at least 3–4 others are on the team.

How did you come to work with Straight North?

We found a few companies through online searches and interviewed them. Straight North kept appearing as a highly ranked company and all of their references were very positive about them. We were hesitant since we’d had bad experiences with others in the past, but Straight North was informative, accommodating, helpful, and put us at ease during the interview process.  

How much have you invested with them?

When we first began, we spent $2,500 monthly. After a year, we now pay $1,500 per month.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in December 2017 and our engagement is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

We’ve seen an increase in leads through the website. For example, between 2017 and 2018, we saw a 20% increase in leads. We’re performing significantly better than we were without them and we’re happy with the results. 

How did Straight North perform from a project management standpoint?

At the start, we had bi-weekly meetings to get the campaign going. We now have regular monthly meetings over the phone to discuss the status of the project. The bi-weekly meetings show us everything that’s going on with the project’s progress and their plans, and we always know where their focus is going to be. There are some occasional visits, too. 

What did you find most impressive about them?

They’re easy to work with and have a straightforward approach that provides transparency throughout. At every point during the project, we’ve known what we’re paying for and how much money is being spent where. 

Are there any areas they could improve?

At the beginning, I was under the impression their web designers would be a part of the SEO efforts, but it’s actually a separate service. However, this isn’t something they need to improve since they’re still focused on providing SEO support. 

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Be an active partner instead of letting them do everything. Being involved and providing feedback will help you monitor their work and make better suggestions. 

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They were always on track.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    I can’t compare them to anyone else, but I’m satisfied.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

SEO Support for Manufacturing Equipment Provider

“They were the perfect partner for our company.”

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
4.5
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Nov. 2018 - Jan. 2020
Project summary: 

Straight North provided SEO services for a manufacturer’s website. In addition to working on the site’s on-page SEO, they created content and built links to improve the site’s overall performance.  

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Detroit, Michigan
President, Manufacturing Equipment Provider
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The site’s Google rankings have improved for several keywords. They now are on the first page or in the top three results for several keywords. Straight North’s team managed the project effectively by providing monthly reports. They stand out because of their dedication to the project’s success.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

We are a manufacturer and distributor of conveyors and material handling equipment. I’m the general manager.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Straight North?

We were looking for an SEO agency that could help accelerate our organic search performance

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

For a brief period, they worked on paid accounts, but we quickly decided that we really wanted them to focus on organic search. The work they did for us was both on-page SEO optimization, content creation, and the link building.

What is the team composition?

We probably had direct contact with 3–4 different people, including the account manager.

How did you come to work with Straight North?

We searched online and through Clutch, before screening companies based a few different criteria. We contacted 4–5 potential candidates and then engaged with each of them. Then we asked them to prepare a high-level diagnostic analysis of our situation, rough strategy, and proposal in terms of what they would do for us.

How much have you invested with them?

We spent between $50,000–$100,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

The project lasted from November 2018–January 2020.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement? 

In conjunction with our inhouse team’s efforts’, we’ve seen a significant improvement in our overall keyword ranking on Google. On average, our site’s rankings have improved by between 5–8 positions. For some keywords, we originally were listed on page two and now we’re on the first result page. For others, we’ve cracked the top three.

How did Straight North perform from a project management standpoint?

Account management has been great with regular check-ins. The work behind the scenes has clearly been effective. They provide regular monthly reports that summarize the project’s progress well.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They were the perfect partner for our company. They weren’t too big or too small, so our project didn’t get lost.

Are there any areas they could improve?

There isn’t anything worth mentioning.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

I would tell anyone this about working with an SEO agency—you need to be willing to put in the work too. You can’t outsource everything. For every hour that they put in, you need to be able to match it to provide feedback, write additional content, or other things to complement their work.

4.5
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 4.5 NPS
    Willing to refer

Web Design & SEM Support for a Lighting Product Provider

“The team at Straight North is full of solid individuals who are always looking out for their clients.”

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
4.5
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Aug. 2018 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Straight North redesigned and refreshed a website for a lighting manufacturer. The team also provides SEO and paid advertising to direct quality leads to the client’s product pages.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Bedford Park, Illinois
Dan Dulik
Vice President of Marketing, Litetronics International
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The new website is clean and easy to use and the internal team is beginning to see an increase in traffic and quality leads. Straight North is available and responsive, answering our questions and making updates to the site as necessary. The team is hard-working and easy to work with.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the VP of marketing for Litetronics International, a lighting manufacturer.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Straight North?

We don’t have any technical support in-house and wanted help creating a website. We had tried to run a paid search campaign but didn’t have a website to support it. Additionally, we needed help building out our marketing program and driving leads.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Straight North refreshed and relaunched our WordPress website. They added fresh content and created a new layout and design for the site. Straight North continues to help us on an ongoing basis to help us make updates and changes to our website. Their team also added a call to action and optimized the site for SEO and is starting to help us with paid media.

What is the team composition?

I work with multiple members of the Straight North team, including a salesperson, an SEO expert, PPC specialists, a project manager, and a main point of contact.

How did you come to work with Straight North?

Straight North was referred to us via the owner of our company. We were really drawn to their focus on digital, the small size of their company, and the great interactions we had with the people that work there.

How much have you invested with them?

We have invested between $50,000–$100,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

Our ongoing engagement with Straight North began in August 2018.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 4.5 NPS
    Willing to refer

Digital Mktg. for Biotech Company

"We’ve seen an increase in web traffic via PPC and SEO."

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
3.0
Cost: 
3.0
Willing to refer: 
4.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Sep. 2019 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Straight North delivers SEO and PPC solutions.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Mexico City, Mexico
Jose Luis Rodriguez
Content Manager, Liventia
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Internal stakeholders are pleased with the results thus far. Customers can expect a knowledgable and dedicated team.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m a content manager at Liventia. We’re a biotechnology company based in Mexico City and San Antonio, Texas. Industries that we cover include agriculture, oil and gas, and cleaning solutions.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Straight North?

We needed assistance understanding how to best cover the US market with our digital marketing efforts.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We were able to rely on Straight North’s expertise to optimize our website and deliver superior PPC and SEO campaigns.

What is the team composition?

We have a single main point of contact who does weekly status calls with us. There are other individuals who help, but she is our main resource.

How did you come to work with Straight North?

My boss chose them, having already worked with other agencies before that recommended them. We selected Straight North after some research and a presentation that set them apart.

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve spent between $10,000–$25,000 USD.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with them in August 2019.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement? 

We’ve seen an increase in web traffic via PPC and SEO.

How did Straight North perform from a project management standpoint?

There haven’t been many issues, but I would have preferred greater depth and personalization at the outset to understand our industry. 

What did you find most impressive about them?

They’re experts, and even during problematic moments, they’ve been open to communication and feedback. 

Are there any areas they could improve?

Their briefing process should be more tailored to keep on customers at the beginning of an engagement.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Set clear goals and share expectations early on.

4.0
Overall Score
  • 3.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 3.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 4.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Digital Marketing for Asset Security & Control Company

“They meet deadlines and do what they say they’re going to do, so we’ve been very pleased.”

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Apr. 2018 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Straight North provides digital marketing services to an asset control solutions company. The team created and continues to maintain PPC campaigns. They monitor content, search terms, and web forms.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Harrisburg, North Carolina
Head of Customer Relations, Asset Security & Control Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Internal stakeholders are highly satisfied with Straight North’s ability to optimize their web presence. The responsive team facilitates a personable and client-oriented engagement. They maintain transparency and understanding by providing frequent progress reports through a portal.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the director of customer care at an asset control solutions company. We manufacture and sell key management products to car dealerships, apartment complexes, hotels, jails, and other institutions.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Straight North?

We’re a small company of about 25 people, so digital marketing is an area in which we don’t have any expertise. We outsource this work to keep our web presence up-to-date and running smoothly. We’d been working with another company for several years, but they weren’t performing.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Straight North maintains our organic SEO. They make sure our web pages have relevant content for our desired search terms on Google so that clients can seek us out. The team monitors all of our web forms; if someone fills out a contact form on our site, Straight North validates it and provides reporting. They also help us with some basic web editing.  

Straight North created and continues to maintain our PPC ad campaigns. Right now, they’re running a specific search campaign for a tradeshow that we’re doing soon. 

What is the team composition?

We’ve probably worked with 5–6 people over three years. When the partnership began, we had an onboarding specialist. Since then, we’ve worked with account managers, who serve as our main point of contact when we need something.

How did you come to work with Straight North?

I’ve met with Straight North since they began working with my company, but I wasn’t involved in seeking them out. A former employee at my company who maintained our e-commerce store took on the task of finding a partner. Straight North came highly recommended. My company vetted 3–4 other companies and, after initial meetings, felt that Straight North was the best option to help us with our SEO and PPC needs. 

How much have you invested with them?

My company has spent somewhere in the range of $50,000–$100,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We began working with Straight North in 2018, and the engagement is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Compared to our previous provider, Straight North has been a big help in increasing our SEO and PPC presence. 

There are two things that we feel puts them above the rest. First, they have a dedicated portal that we can log into at any time. We can see our results in real time; we don’t have to rely on getting an email with results once a month. That was something we weren’t expecting, but it’s been great to have. Second, for someone such as myself who’s not familiar with the SEO and PPC industry in general, it’s hard to verify what’s actually being done. Straight North does a good job of providing monthly updates and relaying what tasks they accomplished on our website or blog sites. They give us quantifiable information that we can look at and see that they’re actively doing stuff to keep us high up in search engine results.

How did Straight North perform from a project management standpoint?

They seem to do very well. They’re easy to get ahold of. For the specialty things we’ve done outside of scope, such as the work for the tradeshow, they’ve been very responsive. They meet deadlines and do what they say they’re going to do, so we’ve been very pleased.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Even though they’re a national company, they’re very personable and make us feel valued; we’re not just another client in their portfolio. They’ve always been willing to have us come to their office, and they come to us when we need them to. Getting that personal touch goes a long way for us as a small company.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I wouldn’t say so at this time. Before, we went through a few different account managers, but our most recent contact made the effort to come out to our facility, look at our equipment, and learn our business. That was something that we felt was lacking for a bit, but they made up for it, and we’re really appreciative of that.

Any advice for potential customers?

It’s easy to lose track of their work and just assume that they’re doing everything, but it’s important to stay engaged. They make it easy to do so through the portal, which provides tons of great metrics and reports. You need to look at the portal on a regular basis so that you can learn how it works; this is how you’ll get the most out of their service. 

4.5
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

SEO & PPC for Dental Product Manufacturer

"It seems like they were making random changes that they couldn't explain or rationalize."

Quality: 
0.5
Schedule: 
2.5
Cost: 
0.5
Willing to refer: 
0.5
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
June - Aug. 2018
Project summary: 

Straight North was hired to deliver SEO & PPC services. This review includes the vendor's response.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Vancouver, Canada
CEO, Dental Product Manufacturer
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Straight North underperformed relative to the client's expectations. Despite an impressive ability to present services well, the partnership was tarnished by obtuse communication and a lack of professionalism.

The client submitted this review online.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company and your position there.

We have 2 companies. One manufactures teeth whitening products and the other offers invisible aligners direct to consumer. I'm the CEO of both.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

For what projects/services did your company hire Straight North?

SEO for one of the companies and PPC management for both companies.

What were your goals for this project?

We were spending too much money and not converting enough on PPC for both companies. We also wanted to rank higher in the organic results for the aligner company.

SOLUTION

How did you select this vendor?

They sounded like they really knew what they were doing. They said all the right things.

Describe the project in detail.

We had a kick-off call. Then they proceeded to do basically nothing for the next month on SEO. They couldn't even get tracking code set up till around 30 days later when this should have been the first thing. On the Adwords front, they were doing a bunch of non-sensical things. They had told me they do single keyword adgroups, but they basically kept the same limited number of adgroups we already had.

What was the team composition?

I talked mostly to the project manager, who I don't think had a clue of what was going on most of the time.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Can you share any outcomes from the project that demonstrate progress or success?

It seemed like they did almost no work, at least nothing of value. They did make a lot of changes to our Adwords accounts, but they didn't seem to make any sense nor did they seem to provide any improvements. It seems like they were making random changes that they couldn't explain or rationalize.

In one month of SEO all they did was put up 6 links in directories, which are worthless as far as SEO goes. Anyone can do that. That's ALL it seems they did as far as SEO. Not a single link anywhere that would provide real link juice. Not a single link in a good blog or anywhere other than those 6 useless, lowly ranked directories.

How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?

It was really difficult to have effective communication with them. I don't think the project manager had a clue. After I started complaining and showing them that they didn't have a clue, I finally talked to one of the senior managers, but I think he left the company soon after I proved to him that they were doing either no work or useless work. I assume he was fired for the lack of performance they were providing.

After that, they put me in touch with one of the Partners, who said that he was very disappointed with my email explaining all their shortcomings, and he even offered to keep working for free till the middle of September (2 additional months of work for free), but I told him that the people they had working for them didn't have a clue and that I thought it would be a complete waste of time. They never refunded me anything.

What did you find most impressive about this company?

Nothing, except maybe their sales skills in suckering me into hiring them. In my opinion, they are a bunch of con-artists that charge you and then probably do a minimal amount of work each month. Beware!!!!! I believe all the good reviews they have are from people that don't know anything about SEO or PPC.

They will show you reports and give you info that make it look like they are really helping, but from my experience, and I have a lot of experience dealing with SEO and PPC firms, this company cannot provide services that are worth anywhere near what they charge. Also, it is my understanding that they appear so high in the results on Clutch because they pay to have that sponsorship position in their listings.

Are there any areas for improvement?

They could try doing what they put in their SOW and what you pay them for.

0.5
Overall Score Only because you can't give a 0.0 here
  • 2.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 0.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    It was infinitely expensive if you divide the cost by the amount of work they did.
  • 0.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    IMO, they are useless. They did basically no work during the first month. I cancelled after that, but they still charged me for the 2nd month.
  • 0.5 NPS
    Willing to refer
    In my opinion, they are a scam.

Company response

The vendor responded on January 17, 2020.

Thanks for your review of the services that we delivered nearly one and a half years ago. While we appreciate your candid feedback, we disagree with a number of your accusations. We are sorry that we were not a good fit for your company.

SEO & SEM Services for Home Products Retailer

“Beyond the good communication and the good reviews, we didn’t find any value in working with them.”

Quality: 
0.5
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
0.5
Willing to refer: 
0.5
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Jan. - Dec. 2019
Project summary: 

Straight North came on board to provide SEO, SEM, and PPC services to a home products retailer. This review includes the vendor's response.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Ontario, Canada
Dig Marketing Manager, Home Products Retailer
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Although Straight North provided a responsive and committed account manager, internal stakeholders were ultimately disappointed in their ability to grow the online business and generate sufficient leads. The return on ad spend was very low. The team didn’t provide data to back up their actions.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m a digital marketing manager at a Canadian flooring, rug, carpeting, and window covering company. We sell our products online and in stores.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Straight North?

Over the last few years, we’ve taken our business online. At the end of 2018, we decided to start marketing online and reworking our website. We were starting from scratch because flooring isn’t really something that’s been sold online, so we didn’t have any industry standards to work against. We hoped that month-over-month, we’d be able to see some results and start to build goals.

When we hired Straight North, we were hoping that their SEO and SEM services would boost our online business and help us get leads for the in-store portion of the business. We hadn’t been happy with the performance of some SEM services we’d used previously. 

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Straight North fulfilled a one-year contract for SEO, SEM, and PPC services. 

What is the team composition?

We had an account manager that we were in contact with for SEO and SEM. I believe she mentioned that there was a team of content writers. For the PPC campaigns, we were in contact with the director of online advertising. 

How did you come to work with Straight North?

My boss hired Straight North, and I believe he did some research. 

How much have you invested with them?

We spent closer to the higher end of $100,000–$250,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

My company signed the contract for SEO and SEM in January 2019. We didn’t start online advertising until April because we were implementing the SEO changes that they suggested for our website.  

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Unfortunately, we were never able to project goals or set standards because the numbers just weren’t there. The results of the cooperation weren’t very good. The return on ad spend ended up being 0.05, which was extremely low.

Although we’re a Canadian company, Straight North set up our Google Ads account in US dollars. That messed up all of our metrics and added another level of complexity in trying to convert the numbers. Our ad spend was $120,000 CAD, yet our return on the ads was less than $6,000 CAD. They also Americanized a lot of our text and misspelled our company name twice in the first SEO document that they provided. When we mentioned the misspellings, they never fixed them.

We told Straight North that our top priority was growing the e-commerce portion, but they weren’t really able to do so. Although they got some leads, growing our e-commerce business was an area that they fell short in achieving. We also suggested that they build business profiles in Canada as part of our SEO efforts, but they kept building them in the US and even Europe. 

There were a lot of things that we weren’t happy with regarding Straight North’s SEO and SEM services. When we raised questions and tried to get an explanation, they didn’t provide satisfactory reasoning behind what they were doing. 

How did Straight North perform from a project management standpoint?

The account manager was good. She communicated well and answered the questions that she could. There were a lot of ongoing projects, so we shared a simple Google Doc so that both of our teams could see where the projects stood. Our account manager kept on top of those tasks. If we had a question, she tried her best to find the answer with the tools she had. 

However, I think the problem lay in the answers themselves, as they weren’t based on numbers or facts. The answers they provided were incomplete and didn’t help us understand what was happening. For instance, they ran ads with our URL varying between .CA and .COM. We didn’t have a .CA domain, and when we inquired why they were using it, they said they were testing it out to see how people would react. We still haven’t received the results of this test.

What did you find most impressive about them?

The relationship started well in terms of our confidence that they were going to perform based on the reviews we’d read about them on Clutch. We also liked the project manager. Beyond the good communication and the good reviews, we didn’t find any value in working with them. 

Are there any areas they could improve?

In order to understand our specific business, Straight North needed to learn a lot, and I don’t think they ever really did that. They didn’t seem to understand the online and in-store portions of our business and how they needed to approach the two separately. 

Any advice for potential customers?

It’s always hard to find the right agency for you, but inquire and have in-depth conversations with them before you sign the contract. They should demonstrate that they really understand the business that you’re trying to bring them into.

1.0
Overall Score
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 0.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 0.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 0.5 NPS
    Willing to refer

Company response

The vendor responded on January 17, 2020.

Thanks for your review. We understand that you were happy with the quality of service that was provided by our Account Manager. However, it seems that you were not satisfied with the results of your SEO and PPC campaigns.

During the sales process, it was communicated to us and documented in the contract that your company’s main focus was to drive sales leads. As you mentioned, the reasoning for this was “because flooring isn’t really something that’s been sold online.”

Since March 2019, over 1,600 leads were generated from organic search. Since May 2019, over 740 leads were generated from your PPC campaign.

We feel we worked with you over the course of 12 months in a positive and mutually beneficial relationship. While you communicated to us that the results were not as successful as you had hoped, they were positive, showed return and were appreciated. We did everything we were asked and everything that was documented in our contract.

Web Development and SEO for Waste Equipment Company

“Straight North is really easy to work with, it’s been a very simple process.”

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
July 2018 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Straight North migrated multiple websites to Drupal for an industrial manufacturing company. Working with various platforms, the team continues to develop sites for the client and provides SEO services.

The Reviewer
 
1,001-5,000 Employees
 
Charlotte, North Carolina
Rob Handkammer
Digital Marketing Manager, Wastequip
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The team has successfully migrated two sites, with plans to complete two more within the year. Additionally, the sites have seen an increase in organic search rankings. Straight North actively participates in feedback cycles, adapting accordingly and crafting an enjoyable process for both teams.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the digital marketing manager at Wastequip, an industrial manufacturing company operating in the waste industry. We manufacture a wide range of trash can sizes and the garbage trucks that pick up the trash. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, we have eight brands under that waste group umbrella.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Straight North?

Our eight brands had eight different platforms and we had recently purchased a company based in California that hadn’t updated their website in years. We needed help migrating these websites to Drupal and fixing our organic SEO.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Straight North is moving our websites to Drupal. Thus far, we have launched two and expect to complete two more in 2020. Drupal allows us more flexibility and searchability, as well as being easily optimizable for organic search. The Straight North team understood the importance of organic search and optimized our sites. 

What is the team composition?

I have had conversations with four members of the Straight North team, including a writer, a designer, and a project manager. 

How did you come to work with Straight North?

I had done a lot of research into companies that worked with Drupal and sent out an RFP. After speaking with multiple companies, I recieved a word of mouth referral for Straight North from someone who had heard good things about them. We had two initial conversations before we decided to work with them. 

How much have you invested with them?

We have invested $40,000–$50,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

Our ongoing engagement with Straight North began in July 2018.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement? 

We have successfully migrated two sites to Drupal and our search ranking is better than our old site by far. We’re looking good for 2020, with two more sites to come. My main point of contact at Straight North has been phenomenal in guiding this process, making it enjoyable and easy to get through. They were able to cross out a lot of things I was specifically looking for,

How did Straight North perform from a project management standpoint?

The project went smoothly. In our initial meetings, they outlined the schedule of the project, which they’ve stuck to. My project manager was incredible and responsive. She was always there when I needed an answer. She and I would have weekly meetings to follow up on our progress. 

What did you find most impressive about them?

Straight North is really easy to work with, it’s been a very simple process. They’re receptive to changes and understand that at the end of the day we know the content best. They take our feedback seriously.

Are there any areas they could improve?

One area they could improve is integrating a tracking tool for project management as opposed to tracking changes through paper documents.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Follow the schedule and be prepared. If you’re not prepared, you’ll be playing catch up. Make sure you’ve got your ducks in a row before you engage with them.

4.5
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

SEO Campaign for Online Retailer

There were a lot of individuals working on different things, but they weren’t strategic and didn’t control quality.”

Quality: 
2.0
Schedule: 
1.0
Cost: 
2.0
Willing to refer: 
0.5
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
June 2019 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Straight North created content to build backlinks on external sites. Their aim was to improve an online retailer’s SEO by increasing the site’s domain authority. They used Google Analytics to measure progress. This review includes the vendor's response.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Austin, Texas
CEO, Software Development Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Straight North failed to deliver major results and regularly missed deadlines. Additionally, they created low-quality content. Although they have a strong marketing team, they lack the necessary skillset to successfully improve SEO. Without strong leadership, they couldn’t manage quality control.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m an executive for a software development company.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Straight North?

We reached out to Straight North on behalf of our client. They’re in a very competitive market, so our objective was to improve their SEO.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Our key metric was improving domain authority, so Straight North launched a link building campaign. They provided a six-month statement of work and outlined the process. They were supposed to build backlinks from reputable websites by creating contributed content for external blogs.

They also had their own dashboard that pulled information from Google Analytics and provided a list of backlinks they’ve created. They also helped develop onsite SEO practices.

What is the team dynamic?

I had a primary point of contact for the majority of the campaign, but I’ve spoken with 4–5 people throughout the project.

How did you come to work with Straight North?

I found them online and they were highly rated on Clutch. There’s a difference between SEO for a startup versus a large corporation, so we needed a team with enough resources to support the project.

I contacted a few companies, but Straight North was the only company that responded in a timely manner. I’ve worked with other SEO companies in the past, but they didn’t have the resources to work on a project like this.

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve spent about $30,000 so far.

What is the status of this engagement?

The project began in June 2019 and we plan to terminate the contract soon.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

How did your relationship with the vendor evolve?

After working with them for two months, we hadn’t received the major deliverables that were outlined at the beginning of the project. We did receive a few smaller deliverables, like links to sites with weaker domain authorities, though. I reached out to my main point of contact to express my concern, but there continues to be a delay.

For what our client is paying them, we expected the quality of their work to be better. Their team seemed to copy and paste text from the website for the content they were producing. As a result, the content was awkwardly written. Anyone could have done that. There was no quality control.

I provided feedback, but nothing I suggested was incorporated into this particular project.

On top of that, their team is more focused on building backlinks than increasing domain authority, which is our primary objective. I guess they want to increase traffic to the site, but we’re not aligned on what we need to get done.

How was project management handled?

Our primary contact did the best she could, but we needed a project manager to really direct the project. There were a lot of individuals working on different things, but they weren’t strategic and didn’t control quality.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They do have the resources they need to support a project of this scale, but don’t have the necessary skills to market themselves as SEO experts.

In what specific areas can they improve?

With proper leadership, like hiring a new SEO director, they could improve their effectiveness.  For now, though, the way they represent themselves is misleading.

What advice do you have for clients with similar needs to yours?

I would only use them in a strict marketing capacity.

2.0
Overall Score
  • 1.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 2.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 2.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 0.5 NPS
    Willing to refer

Company response

The vendor responded on January 17, 2020.

Thanks for taking the time to leave your review. From our discussions with you, it seemed that you were happy with the quality of our copywriting work with regards to your product category pages along with the content asset and content-based links that we built for you. However, you were not satisfied with the timeliness of our service delivery.

We are confirming that 100% of the campaign deliverables are complete per the scope of work detailed in our contract. We apologize for the delay in completing work by the end of each month. To make things right we have offered to refund the last monthly payment for your campaign.