15 Things to Expect from a Digital Marketing Agency
Digital marketing agencies can be the bloodline to your online business, but how do you find the right one that fits your business needs. There are large agencies, small agencies, and everything in between, so your choices can be narrowed down to what ever agency size you want.
As you will see when researching, there are digital marketing agencies that specialize in specific industries, certain geographies (Local or national), and specific marketing distribution channels (there are a lot). Some agencies are part of bigger firms and many agencies can be hired as virtual marketing assistants (So you feel like they are directly connected to your company)
So as you search around, what type of digital marketing agency will you choose?
The process of finding, evaluating and choosing the right digital marketing agency can take time and energy. It's best to find the right partner who meets your digital marketing needs and can deliver the measurable results that will help both of you grow.
Digital marketing constantly changes, as new marketing channels emerge and has become tremendously complex. This is due to companies looking to engage people across multiple channels and build interactions together to gain a comprehensive view of potential customers they are trying to reach.
With this ever changing digital marketing landscape comes an amazing opportunity for marketers.
Hiring a digital marketing agency should feel like - hiring a new employee for the long term.
- The process starts with a critical first step of what you need.
- A clear understanding of your needs can help you narrow the field of candidates by focusing on those that have the skills and competencies you’re looking for.
- You’re still likely to be left with a pretty substantial list, however. So how do you narrow it down to ultimately select the perfect agency for your digital marketing strategy?
To help you start the process, here are my Top 15 Things to Look for in a Digital Marketing Agency
1. Industry or Task Specialization.
If you’re looking for assistance with paid search you need to focus on agencies that specialize in paid search or have specific experts who focus on pay per click campaigns and understand the different platforms.
If you’re in the transportation industry, chances are you’ll want to focus on agencies with experience in the transportation industry. Yes, there may be value in working with generalists but, most of the time, those agencies that are able to demonstrate experience and expertise with tools, channels and audiences that matter to you will rise to the top of your list.
This is probably the number one factor to consider when considering what to look for in a digital marketing agency, especially if it's your first time outsourcing.
2. How are they different from others?
It’s a tooth biting world out there. There are a lot of players and many of them are basically the same (Offering the same type of services). You want to select an agency that stands out from the crowd in some meaningful way based on what you are trying to accomplish.
What do they provide that other agencies don’t?
How is their marketing strategy better?
What makes you think they are qualified than the others?
3. Digital marketing Recommendations.
Your co-workers or industry insiders (Not your competition) are the first place to start when searching for a potential digital marketing agency partner.
Who are they working with today and can show results?
Who have they worked with in the past few months?
Who would they recommend to help me?
Recommendations are one of the best in terms of paving the way to a successful partnerships in digital marketing. Even if you don’t have a good source of recommendations, make sure that you get recommendations from the agencies you are considering. If they don’t have any, or the list is short, that can be a defining factor to say no.
4. The agency’s own online presence.
If you’re looking for an expert to help you with your online marketing needs, their online presence should be exceptional, right? Be wary of any agencies with poorly designed web sites, lackluster company and staff social profiles and a low level of engagement in the social channels they claim expertise in. And, if an agency indicates that they can help boost your search ratings, check them out to see where their agency is coming up in search results related to what they have to offer. A little time online can yield some really important insights.
5. Recent and past work.
Look around their website, ask to see examples of the work the agency you are considering might have worked on. Is the work aligned with your own needs and desired brand image and marketing objective?
6. Strategic focus.
What will the agency deliver to you in real, quantifiable ways (data tracking and analysis). Ask for goals set, based on your margins. Ask what areas will be tracked for success and why these metrics are important to your specific industry. Ask what kinds of strategies they’ll use to drive the specific results that will produce return on investment (ROI).
7. Transparency and openness to help.
In your conversations with agency representatives you should be looking for openness and transparency in terms of how they do their work and how they will work with you. They should clearly outline the services, reporting and deliverables that you will receive.
8. Digital marketing tools.
Don’t forget to ask for information about the digital marketing tools that the agency uses for marketing. Make sure that these marketing tools are great for research and development, optimization, management and media buying.
9. A focus on value, not price.
Do not work with an agency that immediately quotes you a price without first seeking to clearly understand what you will need from them. There will be no two clients whose needs will be exactly the same, that will make it virtually impossible to quote a price without first gathering some information.
Beyond this initial “red flag,” you should also be wary of agencies that talk more about price than they do about the value, or benefit, you will reserve from their services. In most cases, they don't care about strategy.
10. Does the digital agency Fit in.
At the end of the day, a good agency/client relationship is all about fitting in. You have to like the people you are working with in order for success to flow. You have to be able to communicate freely and openly with them.
Trust that they have your best interests in mind. Keep in mind that every company is as strong as their least satisfied employee. Look for a digital marketing agency that clearly values their employees and that cultivates a creative, trusting work environment through all channels. A well developed company culture will likely equate to a high level of service to you!
11. Brand alignment with agency.
All digital marketing should protect and strengthen a company’s brand, but this is particularly true for trackable performance marketing. In order to protect branding, it’s vital for companies to work with a performance marketing firm that has the expertise to recruit, activate and manage partners who align with your brand and not engage in off-brand promotions. This makes it easy to build a unique brand image without letting go of quality.
12. Digital marketing expertise.
Whether SEO or paid advertising, many companies often rely on agencies to help them with complex programs or tightly defined, time-sensitive projects that cannot be completed in-house.
To meet client expectations, this requires the agency to have team members with subject matter expertise in those marketing areas, have the capability to go strategically deep within a vertical, know and follow best practices and understand what pitfalls to avoid through the marketing process.
13. Client-to-team member ratio
Working with an agency that has a low client-to-team member staff ratio will help ensure that your company gets the attention and high-touch service it deserves. This also translates to more strategic planning, out-of-the-box thinking, personalized interaction, and higher return on your marketing investment.
14. Thought leadership and education.
Does the agency consistently offer internal assets such as (eBooks, blog posts, webinars, etc.) that convey their thought leadership and expertise in digital marketing?
Externally, do they contribute to industry publications/blogs and share helpful industry-related insights, tips and strategies?
Agencies who regularly produce thought leadership content demonstrate that they are committed to adding value to their existing and prospective clients as well as to the industries in which they serve (This happens out of passion and conviction) to provide value in what they love doing.
15. Agency media coverage
Media coverage can be a good factor when considering a digital marketing agency. See if you can find publications and press releases about the agency.
Selecting the right digital marketing agency for your company to partner with will depend on a variety of factors. So start you search now, if you need help with digital marketing, lets see if we can help!
Divine Tumenta is an entrepreneur and professional digital marketing expert based in Los Angeles. He has worked in digital marketing for more than 8 years. He is currently founder and CEO of backlinkfy.com and a go to consultant for startups and small businesses in the USA.