There are numerous benefits to hiring a digital marketing agency, the majority of which are related to maximizing your ROI and freeing up some of your time as a busy business owner.
Some of the primary goals for hiring a digital marketing agency are to generate maximum leads, sell your product or service, and increase brand awareness.
Choosing to hire some outside help is a big step, and you shouldn’t be taking it lightly.
With thousands of digital agencies popping up all the time, how do you know if a digital marketing partner is really as good as they claim to be?
In this post, you’ll learn what to look for when recruiting a digital marketing partner so you can make the right choice for your business.
1. Understand your priorities and what you wish to achieve.
The majority of marketing agencies specialize in one or two areas. Although many of them offer a 360-degree service, some prefer to work on projects that are only relevant to their field of expertise.
Therefore, it is crucial that you understand your goals and expectations before choosing or partnering with a digital marketing agency. Here are some tips:
- Break down your marketing goals into deliverables. For example, a fully managed content marketing strategy.
- Understand the goal of those deliverables. For example, to attract the right traffic to your website.
- Outline the end result you hope to achieve. For example, a website fully managed by the agency.
Knowing these things will help you articulate your expectations for your marketing partner.
2. Look for a genuine-looking portfolio of past clients.
Smart companies take pride in the clients they work with and often publicize their collaborations for all to see.
It is okay if you do not know about previous customers (brownie points if you do). However, if you can’t find a client list or examples of their work, that could be a red flag.
If you’re looking for the best digital marketing agency in your industry, you want to have some kind of social proof that their services have worked in the past with businesses like yours.
However, certain services, such as content marketing and SEO, are difficult to display. As a result, agencies focusing on certain fields could be unable to exhibit their work in a portfolio.
In any case, a client list or success stories are always a clear example of their experience.
3. Look for a digital marketing partner that has experience with your industry.
Always look for marketing companies that have prior experience with your industry. They will not only be aware of your challenges, but their strategies and expertise will also assist you in developing marketing campaigns that are tailored to your core demographic.
If you happen to run across an agency with experience in your industry, ask them how successful they were in accomplishing their previous goals.
For example, has the agency ever created a similar campaign for a plumbing company looking to expand its services to a new area? If so, what were the outcomes?
A marketing partner with a deep history in your industry can not only help you develop successful marketing plans, but also prevent ideas that never work.
4. Find out what tools they use and if they have the expertise to use them.
Ask your prospective digital marketing company about what tools they use for measuring website performance, SEO, project management, etc.
The following are a few popular tools that you can enquire about.
- Google Analytics, Semrush, Ahrefs — for SEO and website performance.
- Hubspot, Marketo — for inbound marketing.
- Sprout Social, Meltwater — for social media analytics.
- Salesforce, Hubspot — for CRM.
- MailChimp, Constant Contact, Hubspot — for email marketing.
If your marketing agency partner isn’t using these tools because they offer their own proprietary technology that accomplishes these tasks, they should be able to explain how they work and why they’re beneficial for your business.
5. Expect some common services.
A good digital marketing partner will assist you in increasing revenue by using various marketing techniques to attract your target customer and expand your online presence.
The services that agencies provide can vary greatly, but in general, you can expect to receive the following:
Before you even consider which marketing channels to use, you must first develop a detailed understanding of your target market.
If you don’t, any successful marketing company should be able to conduct market research on your behalf to determine the best way to represent you.
But, if anyone tries to sell you a one-size-fits-all solution, it’s almost always a scam.
Some digital marketing companies also offer paid ad management, which includes Facebook advertising.
Facebook’s targeting capabilities, coupled with its large user base, make it an ideal forum for almost any company to see a good return on investment (ROI).
It’s not just about growing “brand recognition” or getting more page views when it comes to getting the articles to rank high. There’s a lot more to it.
You’ll be able to catch potential buyers at the ideal point in the buyer’s journey if you get your content to rank high. Although there are agencies that specialize in SEO, there are many companies that offer this service as one of their offerings.
YouTube is preferred more than primetime TV shows. That’s the popularity of videos!
Video advertisements are a perfect place to see ROI because of the large audience and increased interaction that comes with video marketing. Demographics, online activity, location, interest, YouTube channel, and other variables can all be used to target video advertising.
Many multimillion-dollar companies have been built solely upon content marketing. Many businesses claim that producing marketing content involves simply writing a few blog posts each week and publishing them on their website.
However, those who prioritize revenue over traditional advertising understand that the situation is more complicated.
Ensure your digital marketing agency is using content in various forms including, infographics, blog posts, SEO writing, content analysis, and social media promotion.
Instagram is one the largest social media platforms in the world with a one billion user base according to eMarketer. You need to post the right kind of content to stay on top of current trends while attracting potential consumers.
Instagram Stories will help you generate leads if you’re looking for a new way to market your company.
Therefore, make sure your marketing agency is leveraging Instagram to maximum advantage.
Email beats social by 40x for customer acquisition. In fact, it has the highest conversion rate (66%), when compared to social media marketing, direct mail, and other digital marketing mediums.
Email marketing is popular among marketers because it is both powerful and cost-effective.
Marketers can now personalize their messages more conveniently than ever before due to advances in email automation. Personalization involves more than simply using a subscriber’s name in the subject line.
This form of personalized marketing is the most effective way to attract new customers while enticing current ones. The true indicator of a good marketing partner is understanding your customer and sending appropriate messages.
6. Size matters, too.
Some digital marketing agencies may have only five employees, while some may have 500.
A smaller agency will provide you with more direct communication with the people in charge of the projects. But the agency with five people working on your campaign, on the other hand, is unlikely to have the skill set – or the technological capabilities – that a larger agency would have.
An agency with hundreds of people may provide a plethora of services from video production to website creation and anything in between.
So, keep these points in mind when deciding on your digital marketing partner.
7. Understand their pricing model.
A common criticism about digital marketing companies is that the marketing campaign or project begins with a fixed price and then agencies add a slew of unnecessary extras.
And by that time, you will be mid-way through the project and be left with no choice but to pour in more money.
A clear pricing model indicates honesty and ethics and can help you better plan your business and marketing strategy throughout the year.
8. Stay away from unrealistic promises.
Are they promising results that are too good to be true? There are a lot of shady marketing firms who will promise you amazing results but don’t deliver.
Therefore, if an agency claims to be able to deliver results that no one else can, demand proof. Ask them to map out the winning plan that sets them apart from the competition.
An agency that promises bottom-of-the-funnel outcomes is always a red flag.
Usually, the top-of-the-funnel represents traffic, followed by lead generation, marketing qualified leads (MQL), sales marketing qualified leads (SQL), opportunities, and customers at the bottom.
Although the aim of most marketing campaigns is to attract new clients, an agency can never guarantee that the bottom-of-the-funnel numbers will boost high up.
After all, there are far too many factors that may have an effect on the statistics (e.g., how many sales your business is closing).
Another red flag: Your SEO partner promising you first-page results on Google. Because SEO is so nuanced and personalized, there’s no way to guarantee first-page rankings, especially in a short period of time. SEO takes time to see results, so be wary of any agency that’s making promises about your rank!
Even the most effective marketing strategies won’t guarantee a stream of new clients; so be careful of these assurances.
9. Ask the right questions.
Once you have narrowed down your marketing agency, ask the following questions.
Are their methods current?
The following platforms roll out updates quickly and have a huge effect on how well you market your product or service:
- Google’s algorithm
- Google Ads
- Microsoft Advertising
- Email marketing platforms
- Other search engines and their ad platforms
- Amazon’s search and rankings
- Social media networks
- Social media ad platforms
Inquire if your digital marketing company is aware of recent developments and updates. You might also look for a digital marketing agency that has a partnership with channel publishers like Google and Facebook as this will ensure that they’re up to date on the latest trends and updates.
Are they well-versed with the majority of aspects of digital marketing?
They should be aware of both technical and on-page SEO (both are different but equally important). Knowledge of link building, content marketing, email marketing, PPC, social media marketing, and more.
How committed are they to timelines?
Is there a project manager who will keep the project on track? Will they have catch-up calls on a weekly or monthly basis? Will you be warned about delays if you don’t provide results in a timely manner?
Do they tick the following requirements?
- Can they work full time?
- Do they have appropriate skills and experts?
- Are they outsourcing the work or doing them in-house?
- Do they have a good online reputation?
- How do they handle complaints?
To Sum It Up
Digital marketing is a game of changing strategies. Before you sign with a digital marketing partner, make sure they check all of the boxes on your checklist. Your marketing partner must then persuade you that they are the best fit for your marketing goals and objectives.
About the Author
Sumeet Anand is a B2B Marketing Expert skilled in SEO, social media marketing, and content marketing. He helps brands and businesses out there generate leads with his top-notch content strategies and is featured on various major media publications across the globe. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.