Things to look for when choosing a digital marketing agency for your business
Choosing a digital marketing agency that’s right for your business can be a difficult process, and it isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. With so many agencies out there specialising in different areas of digital marketing and making big promises about what they can achieve, you need to trust that they know what they’re talking about, that they’re only selling you the services you actually need.
Most importantly, you need to know that they’re able to the generate results.
The various abbreviations thrown around by digital marketing (PPC, SEO, XE, SERP, CPA…) can also be a bit of minefield, so you’ll also need a digital marketing agency that’s happy to make these clearer for you. Otherwise, how are you going to know if what they’re doing is working?
Karl Hindle manages Pennsylvania-based digital marketing agency, WellSpring Search, and has worked both agency and client side. He says: “What makes a good digital agency is transparency, honesty, and competency.
“Being transparent means helping to educate and explain to clients what is actually involved, and why. You should also speak to them in the language they understand, rather than the jargon-filled, ‘techno-babble’ most digital marketers speak!”
James Norquay founded his agency, Prosperity Media, in 2012 after gaining over 10 years’ experience working in SEO and content marketing. To choose the best agency for your business, he advises: “Look for an agency with industry relevant case studies, and provides 100% transparency on all work they’ve completed and shows you everything they do.
“When speaking to different agencies, you should also prepare a list of technical questions to ask them beforehand. This is a great way to test their transparency and skills.”
There are many things you need to consider when choosing a digital marketing agency for your business. We spoke to a number of fellow agencies to find out more about their experiences, and with their help, have concluded that these are the most important things you should look out for…
An area of expertise
Before you choose your digital marketing agency, you should have a basic idea of the serves you want, whether that be PPC (Pay Per Click), SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), content writing services, social media management, or even web design. The likelihood is that you’ll want to focus on just one or two of these areas, and they’ll want to ensure that your chosen agency actually has experience of providing these services – and does them well too.
The last thing you need is to pay for a digital agency that isn’t able to do web design try to build a new website for you! So, read their case studies and reviews, and ask for examples of previous work they’ve done in these areas.
This is something that Doug Darroch, Founder of 21st Renaissance, agrees with. He says: “Most digital marketing agencies can do almost anything you request, but you’d be surprised how little they might know about specific digital marketing channels. Find out what they do very well and what they are the best at. Hire them for that one thing if it matches up with what you need.”
Kurt Parziani, Digital Strategy Lead at Assured Digital, reiterates the importance of ensuring an agency is able to deliver the work and results they say they can. He advises: “Often, the agencies that promise the world and say ‘yes’ to everything are the ones to be wary of. They will overpromise upfront to land the sale, then be slow to deliver, and actually not achieve anything close to what they said they would. This results in clients feeling burnt, which hurts them in terms of trusting other agencies in the future.”
That they practice what they preach
Michelle Kubot, Marketing Director at Ambrosia Treatment Center, says: “I’ve seen a lot of ‘bad’ digital agencies, and they’ll often charge to post generic worthless content on the company's blog and social media accounts. In the end, a company is paying thousands a month for absolutely nothing. That's not what SEO or social media marketing is about.
“Instead, agencies need to prove their skills. A company looking for an SEO agency can check SEMRush to see how much organic traffic each agency website is getting. If they can't get their own site to rank, you shouldn't believe that they can help you rank either.”
It might seem simple, but if an agency already has the tools to generate website traffic, enquiries, and any other goal they require, then why wouldn’t they be using this to aid in the marketing of their own company? Whether you want to rank on the first page of Google’s search results, or get your business seen and heard on social media, look at how well each agency is performing in this area. If they appear to be falling short, don’t be afraid to ask them why this is.
A tailored proposal
A good digital marketing agency won’t claim that you need to invest heavily in every channel and area of marketing to achieve your goals. They understand that some of these won’t necessarily be the best fit for your industry or the audience you’re trying to reach, and they’ll do their research to ensure your time and budget is being spent wisely. For example, Instagram may not be the best channel for a legal firm, though it can generate great results for fashion, beauty, and homeware brands.
A quick way to see if an agency has your best interests at heart is through the proposal they send you. Ben Foster, Managing Director of The SEO Works, shares the following advice: “A ‘good’ agency should have asked you about your market, and your ambitions as a company. You should also have discussed budgets, expectations, and your competition so they can fully understand and deliver what you need.
“If the agency turns up with a ‘one size fits all’ proposal that’s stuffed with generic waffle, it speaks to how much value they place on a campaign. If they’ve taken the time to analyse your market, and come up with a specific strategy based on your company’s ambitions, they know what they’re talking about.”
As Matthew Sherry, Business and Marketing Consultant at Reload Media says: “I’ve worked for digital agencies for the last 5 years, and what really makes a good agency is its culture and approach to clients. Good agencies will build into their brand, culture, and people, and they have the idea that success for the client is top priority. This shifts the work away from “get it done" to "how can I help my client build their business?”
That they’re open and honest
Finally, the most important thing to look for when choosing a digital marketing agency is that you can trust them. Otherwise, why are you letting them handle your budgets? However, if an agency is honest and transparent through every step of the process, they won’t just advise you on the digital marketing channels you should and shouldn’t be investing in; they’ll also tell you when something hasn’t worked.
Geoff Main is the Director of Passionberry Marketing, a creative marketing agency based in Leichhardt, New South Wales. He advises: “Trust between an agency and a client comes over time. It relies on the consistent ability to communicate well, meet each other's expectations, and to overall deliver results.
“There will come times where you don't deliver as either a client or an agency, and it's important that you're open and honest as to why it didn't happen and how you can better manage this going forward. Always deliver on your promises, and over deliver when you don't.
“From an agency point of view, to build a client’s trust, you should always clearly explain what you do and how it fits what the client wants and is trying to achieve. The more they understand what you do, the more confident they’ll be in explaining it internally. Consistently make your clients look better and perform better with their internal teams.”
Traffic Jam Media is a Cardiff and London based digital marketing agency that offers PPC, SEO, social media management, and content writing services for a range of clients. For digital marketing advice or a free proposal on how we can help your business, contact us today!