Digital marketing agencies offer direct access to expertise, innovation, and exceptional problem-solving skills, to ensure brands can generate the best return on investment from their campaigns.
But how do you choose the right digital marketing agency?
5 Characteristics that Make Good Digital Marketing Agencies
Digital marketing agencies are companies comprising various advertising experts versed in SEO, PCC, paid media, content marketing, and more.
They can enhance a company’s brand image and ensure your business earns the proper attention online.
Used correctly, digital marketing agencies can reduce marketing costs, increase campaign outcomes, and enhance digital conversions.
However, not all digital marketing agencies are alike. Some offer specialist support connected to specific fields of marketing, while others deliver broader, more general services.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for selecting the ideal digital marketing agencies, many of the best solution providers are defined by the following characteristics:
1. Expertise in Multiple Marketing Channels
Digital marketing is a multi-faceted landscape, offering companies various opportunities to connect with and engage their audiences.
The best digital marketing agencies will be able to not only guide business leaders through the process of choosing the right advertising channels but also help them implement various new campaigns.
With expertise in a range of marketing channels, agencies can tailor their services and support to suit the needs of their clients rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach.
They’ll understand how to adjust your marketing strategy to suit your budget, industry, and target audience.
2. Experience (A Proven Track Record)
It’s not enough for a digital marketing agency to simply say they have experience working with many different kinds of marketing campaigns. They should also be able to demonstrate their expertise.
Many of the best digital marketing agencies have their own dedicated portfolios, filled with case studies, reports, and whitepapers based on previous campaigns.
The right agency should be able to provide analytics, statistics, and reports highlighting their knowledge in the marketing industries and their unique abilities.
A good track record of experience will also provide insights into how your chosen marketing agency produces and monitors campaigns.
3. A High-Ranking Website
Great digital marketing agencies practice what they preach. A company with a team of SEO experts should also use its SEO and ranking algorithms knowledge to improve its online visibility.
Look for an up-to-date, engaging website that appears whenever you search for competitive terms related to digital marketing.
Pay attention to the exact areas where your digital marketing agency seems to have the best presence.
For instance, if they position themselves as a thought leader in social media marketing, they should have social media marketing-related blogs on their website and an active social presence.
4. A Diverse Team of Specialists
A modern digital marketing agency should have experts covering the whole spectrum of digital marketing.
It’s not enough to hire an agency to work on your SEO only.
The same agency must be able to handle your Google Ads campaigns, Facebook Ads and anything else needed to utilize all digital marketing channels for your benefit fully.
Depending on the kinds of marketing campaigns you want to launch for your business, assess your agency’s team members and ask whether they have the skills required to help you excel in specific areas.
5. Customer Testimonials
When you’re struggling to decide which digital marketing agency to hire, one of the best things you can do is allow the company’s previous customers to speak for them.
In other words, examine the reviews, testimonials, and case studies connected to the brand. Good agencies should have plenty of glowing endorsements from companies in a similar sector or industry to you.
A strong set of customer testimonials will prove the company’s skill set and offer insight into the kind of support you’ll get and the approach the business takes to serving customers.
Look for evidence your agency is reputable, client-oriented, and reliable.
How to Select a Digital Marketing Agency?
Choosing the ideal digital marketing agency is a somewhat subjective process. The skills, experience, and support you need will vary depending on numerous factors.
For instance, the needs of a company with an existing marketing team and strategy will vary from those of organizations with no prior experience or in-house talent.
Here are some steps you can take to improve your chances of making the right decision.
Step 1: Set your Goals and Budget
The first step in choosing a digital marketing agency is determining what you want to accomplish with your new partners and how much you’re willing to pay for the assistance you’ll get.
Start by defining what “success” in digital marketing will look like for you.
Is your focus currently on improving your brand’s visibility and increasing website traffic, or are you more interested in growing your customer base, collecting leads, and unlocking new opportunities for sales?
Do you want to boost your credibility and thought leadership or unlock the benefits of increased engagement with your target audience?
Defining your goals will help you to pinpoint the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics you’ll need to track to determine whether your campaigns are paying off.
Once you have your goals, determine how much you can afford to spend on working with an agency.
Aside from the cost of hiring your professionals, you’ll also need to consider how much you can spend on paid media campaigns, content creation, and software for things like email automation.
Step 2: Do Your Research
Once you have an idea of your core goals and budget, you can begin researching potential marketing agencies you’d be willing to work with.
Consider the five factors outlined above when searching for the ideal agency, and remember to check for evidence of the company’s expertise.
Create a shortlist of professionals attuned to your specific goals and marketing budget, looking at factors such as:
- Experience and credibility: Read through customer testimonials, case studies, and reviews for each brand you consider. Avoid any agencies without any social proof.
- Skills and expertise: Examine the expertise and knowledge of each agency and the professionals within it. Look at the credentials of the people you will be working with and whether they have certificates validating their knowledge.
- Commitment to customer service: Look at how your agencies treat the companies they work with and how dedicated they are to put the needs of their clients first. Examine their overall “satisfaction score” compared to other brands.
Step 3: Evaluate the Range of Services Offered
Next, examine what kind of digital marketing services they can actually provide. While all digital marketing agencies help with online marketing, the level of support they offer can differ.
For instance, some companies may help you to develop search engine optimization strategies to boost your rankings on channels like Google, but they may not offer assistance with blog creation and content writing.
Look at the packages on offer from each brand, and ask whether the range of services covers everything you need.
If you already have a few marketing professionals on your team, you might be able to choose an agency with fewer services.
If you’re relying on your agency for your entire marketing strategy, you’ll need a broad, scalable portfolio of options to choose from.
Keep in mind some agencies will offer different packages with different levels of support based on the price you’re willing to pay.
In some cases, you may be able to start working with a business by leveraging just a handful of their services, then consider upgrading over time as your budget increases.
Step 4: Evaluate their Approach and Strategy
Just as different digital marketing agencies can provide access to different services, many also take unique approaches to the way they implement advertising campaigns. The best digital marketing agencies will tailor their services to your specific needs.
This means many companies will begin their relationship with your company with planning and goal-setting conversations.
Some companies may provide auditing services (such as an SEO Audit or a Digital Marketing Audit), which allow them to examine the strategies you’re already using in your business and look for growth opportunities or places where you need to focus on improvement.
Ask your potential digital marketing agency how they collaborate and work with brands, and question how they’ll be able to demonstrate their success using regular reports and analytics.
Some companies can even offer insights into what you can expect to see within a specific time period, such as 30, 60, or 90 days. Ask:
- How will you structure the right digital marketing strategy for my company?
- How will you measure success and share your results with my company?
- What is your process for PPC, SEO, content creation (And other marketing methods)?
Step 5: Arrange an Introductory Meeting
Once you’ve narrowed your options for the perfect digital marketing agency into a few ideal contenders, it’s time to speak to your agency, face-to-face or digitally.
Setting up a meeting with the company will allow you to learn more about their approach to digital marketing, the experts that will be involved in building your strategies, and more.
You’ll also be able to evaluate the communication skills of the company you will be working with and define whether you feel comfortable with their level of service.
During the introductory meeting, outline your expectations and goals, and ask the digital marketing agency to tell you how they will help you reach your target.
Collect information about the people who will be working with you directly, and dive deeper into any questions you might have about the brand.
Step 6: Finalize Your Decision
Finally, it’s time to decide which company you want to work with. Remember, during the decision stage, it’s worth ensuring everyone in your executive team is on the same page.
Everyone responsible for investing in the growth and promotion of your company should feel comfortable with your choice.
Create a contract with the agency you’ll be using, outlining the exact scope of the services offered and how you will measure success along the way.
It’s also important at this point to define exactly how you will be charged for the company’s services, what extra software and tools you might need to invest in, and so on.
Ensure you have all the contact details needed to stay connected to the people responsible for your projects throughout your marketing campaigns.
How to Work with a Digital Marketing Agency?
Choosing the right digital marketing agency for your needs is the first step in improving your chances of success.
Once you’ve selected a reputable brand to work with, you’ll need to ensure you can collaborate with them effectively.
Here are some top tips to follow when implementing your new partnership.
1. Establish open lines of communication
Perhaps the most important thing any business can do when investing in a digital marketing agency is to ensure open communication lines are in place.
In today’s world, it’s unlikely your marketing agency will be working with you in-house, so you’ll need to define how you will stay connected and share knowledge consistently.
Set standards for your communication strategy, defining which platforms you’ll use to stay in contact (Email, SMS, phone, and video calls) and any collaboration or project management tools you’ll want to use.
It could even be helpful to start scheduling regular check-in meetings between the agency and executive members of your team so that you can track progress.
2. Trust Their Expertise
Marketing is one of the most important tools you can invest in for your business. However, it can be difficult for some companies to let go of control and hand the reins over to someone else.
When you hire an agency, it’s important to remember you chose them for a reason. Allow them to use their expertise and knowledge without trying to micromanage or guide the process too heavily.
While asking questions and offering recommendations based on what you’ve learned about your industry and audience is fine, don’t try to take over.
Trust their expertise, and allow them to experiment and explore new forms of marketing if they believe it will benefit your business.
3. Provide Feedback
While giving your digital marketing agency the autonomy and freedom they need to work on your online presence for you is important, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t provide feedback.
Offering insights into your results, what you’re hearing from customers, and what you like and dislike about their marketing strategies can help your agency to deliver more consistent results.
Remember, the feedback you offer should always be clear and constructive. Don’t just say you didn’t like the latest social media campaign the company produced. Explain what you disliked about it and what you might like to change going forward.
4. Be Realistic about Timelines and Expectations
Setting expectations for your digital marketing agency is important, but it’s equally crucial to be realistic about your goals.
For instance, if you’re working with your marketing agency on an SEO and content marketing strategy, it’s worth remembering that it can take a while for organic rankings and traffic to increase.
Don’t expect your agency to perform miracles.
Your agency will undoubtedly provide insights into how your company is growing and your marketing strategies are paying off with reports and analytics.
However, it’s important to tailor your expectations to the realities of the online world. If you’re unsure what to expect, ask your agency what they believe they can accomplish within a specific timeframe.
5. Track and Measure the Success of your Campaigns
While your digital marketing agency should be able to monitor your campaigns on your behalf and provide you with some useful analytics and metrics, it’s worth having your own strategy in place for keeping track of results.
Your chosen agency should be able to provide graphs, statistics, and visual representations of marketing data. However, you can evaluate how your marketing campaigns influence customer sentiment.
Pay attention to the success of your campaigns over time, and share your insights with your marketing agency. If you feel you’re not progressing towards your goals quickly enough, ask your team what you can do to improve your results.
6. Work Collaboratively
Finally, it’s important to remember the relationship you build with a digital marketing agency is a partnership.
While agencies do allow you to delegate a lot of the work involved in building powerful marketing strategies to another business, you won’t be able to ignore your campaigns completely.
It’s important to take a collaborative approach to achieve your goals.
Connect with your digital marketing agency regularly, share your goals and expectations, and discuss possible challenges and impediments along the way.
A collaborative approach will boost your chances of success and allow your existing team members to develop their own marketing skills and knowledge for the future.