The right digital marketing company is you best partner in growing sales. It’s important to find one that fits well with your business goals and, next your budget. Digital marketing is an incredibly complex, ever-changing industry. You want the agency that handles your business to be up to date on the latest trends and unfortunately, if digital is only a side-service (like it is for ad agencies), they might not be.
Digital marketing companies currently consume over 16% of advertising budgets worldwide. This is growing year-on-year as more online and offline businesses begin to realize the power of digital marketing; and the value a digital marketing company provides. The most common problem with most businesses is that they know the importance of digital marketing but have either little clue as to how to go about it; or have been misguided by noise available on the internet. This raises questions of cost and efficiency of marketing budgets.
What’s their specialization?
Choose an agency with the right digital marketing specialization. There are different types of agencies ranging from multi-skilled teams adept at everything from on site SEO, content marketing and PPC management to more specialized agencies that focus on one or two skill-sets such as social media management or digital consulting.
For new online businesses a multi skilled approach may be best as improving your marketing takes a variety of strategies. However, if you’re already aware of where your marketing efforts need improving then a specialized boutique agency could help provide the focus you need. In general a full service agency is more dependable as you scale in and out as per your marketing needs.
Do they look to the short, medium, long-term?
Lets face it : everybody wants results today (if not yesterday). Driving more visitors, leads or sales to your online store or business takes time. If the digital marketing company is promising to get you x amount of visitors in x amount of time, be very cautious. At the same time if you see no difference after 2 months of agency work, something is wrong with what they have done.
An agency that knows their stuff are going to be beginning short, medium and future strategies and therefore the potential results to travel with each of those timeframes. They should be ready to provide a transparent picture of your industry, it’s competitiveness of the keywords you would like to focus on, how well your competitors do and the way far they can carry you in a given timeframe.
How do they track results?
Select a digital marketing company based on metrics reported. Any agency worth their salt will be able to provide any metric measurements you require over a given time period. This may include keyword rankings changes, search visibility, domain rank, bounce rates, cost per clicks, click through rates or conversion rates, to name a few. Consider these when choosing an agency. Always insist on a demo login to the dashboard you will get from the agency after you signup. Instead of going for the flashes of design or usability in the dashboard, make sure you can track the complete potential customer journey through the dashboard. And all the information needs to be available in realtime. If an agency is offering you a monthly or weekly report instead of a realtime dashboard, perhaps they don’t want you to know what they have done on your account since yesterday.
Make sure the results are aligned with your goals. It could be finding out improvements in conversion rates, visitor count, reducing PPC costs, obtaining links, social shares. The list goes on. It’s acceptable for the agency to hide certain private information such as revenue, conversion rates and amount of visitors but one of the most basic questions should be “Which keywords did the agency target for their previous client(s) and what success have they had from such keywords?” Much like Before and After scenarios shown in weight loss ads.
Who will manage your account?
Consider who will be the go to person for your digital marketing account. Speak with them and get to know them. Find out if they’ll be a good match for your objectives.
The last thing you want is an agency is using an intern or freelance virtual assistant to answer your questions. If you’re going to be paying agency fees by the hour or month, you deserve to have somebody manage your account who has extensive experience with marketing and SEO. Make sure you know who is managing your account.
Do they have good reviews?
Search around the web and check out the reviews of the agency. You could even go one step further and find their staff on LinkedIn and elsewhere. Do they have good references?
It goes without saying that you want to find a digital marketing company that provides value for money. That said, you want to find an agency that suits the size of your business too. If you’re a local barber in need of more local customers and you choose an agency that deals with large corporate clients you may be barking up the wrong tree.
There are different types of agency agreements with clients.
A larger agency may be able to afford large advertising budgets and shiny sales folks to seal you into contracts but with more clients may mean less time focused on digital marketing for your business. On the other hand, a smaller agency will more likely understand your needs better providing you with more attention.
Most agencies are 9pm – 5pm but some go above and beyond to answer your emails or calls out of hours which can be a lifesaver if you have an SEO emergency! Please remember that agency work is demanding & time consuming so if you find no one answering your phone at 8 pm maybe you need to call an agency that does.
A usual reporting schedule is on a per month basis. If you need to keep track more than this, you should specifically request it. An agency that reports only once every three months or even greater may be a sign that they are overrun leaving no time to work on your project; perhaps to even prepare your reports.
You’re now receiving more visitors after the completion of a 6 month SEO project only to realize there is another keyword you would like to target. A few tweaks of your meta information would do it but you have no idea how. Will your agency do it for you, for free? We are aware agencies charge per month by number of keywords; so they keep one fee for 5 keywords, another for 10 & another for 15. In these days of keyword competition, you may end up targeting 54 keywords. A practical scenario may be to churn a few keywords from time to time. You need to have these arangements in place.
It’s not a one-way process when dealing with an agency. You may need to provide your business goals, main competitors, logins to analytics, CMS and email and explain your own expectations. In fact the more relevant info you provide to the right digital marketing company, the better they can help you.
Is it affordability? No contracts? Transparency? The skills of the team? The locality? Take a look around their website and ask previous clients about what makes them unique. In our opinion every agency has strengths & weaknesses; try to see if they match with what you need.
Be specific. Although it’s difficult for an agency to pinpoint the exact amount of time the digital marketing company will be working on your account a rough ballpark figure can help you work if you’re getting value for money. At the same time, more time spent on your account may not always translate into more conversions on your campaigns.
An agency that employs grey or black hat techniques such as “buying” backlinks and using blog networks to post your content may gain quicker results but does this fit with your long term business goals? The last thing you want is to drop out of the search engines because some SEO guy bought 10,000 links for you from dubious domains and now Google is penalizing you for it. Remember Google penalized its own division in Japan for such practices. And considering Google takes just about 68% of search traffic now, you will need to make sure their practices are favored by Bing, Yahoo and regional engines like Yandex depending on your target audience.
If you’re a small to medium sized business that chooses an agency that deals with larger clients and larger budgets there is a high probability they will put less time and energy into your project. At the same time, a one person agency may not be your best bet even though you are a one man business. Remember digital marketing is a combination of numerous skills; all of which are usually not available to the desired level in the same person.
This can be an uncomfortable question to ask but a question that can reap insightful answers. An digital marketing company that is aware of their weaknesses could be a better choice than an agency that can’t immediately list out 3 of their weaknesses or refuses to accept they have any weaknesses.
Experience comes in many forms but a digital marketing team that covers a wide range of skills over a reasonable amount of time (at least a few years) will help you as there should be at least one person in the agency who can answer your questions at any given time. You deserve to have experienced folks working for you. At the same time, please note that experience of the last decade may not be relevant now. For this reason you see so many young kids doing some of the most effective digital marketing.
Are you left hanging on the phone for 5 minutes on your first call? Not a good sign. Sure, they’re probably busy with more work than they can handle, and too busy to deal with you. Find an agency that answers the phone quickly, responds to emails quickly and can provide support in a digital emergency. In a volatile environment that digital marketing truly is, an emergency can arise anytime. How it affects your business is decided by how effectively & quickly it is handled.
The more payment methods on offer the better. If you’re on a pay monthly basis a direct debit can save you a lot of time and effort of having to send manual bank transfers. It may be advisable to stay away from PayPal only agencies for the simple reason their revenues may not be big enough. Stated differently if digital marketing was your core business and you were making enough from it, you won’t be donating hefty processing fees that are x% of what you earn, when your bank is doing it for free or for a very nominal amount. Diversity of payment methods offered is important unless the agency is next door.
If an agency is charging you to audit your website you’re probably getting ripped off. An SEO audit should be free. There are two reasons for this.
1.It helps the digital marketing company gain a better understanding of what needs to be done and provide you with an appropriate quote.
2.It provides a better insight for your on what needs to be done.
Often overlooked and/or low on priority is project management skills available in a digital marketing company. Folks are so engrossed in SEO, content marketing, social marketing, reputation management and the works that they fail to look for the core skill that binds all of them together to deliver results. You should look for certified and/or experienced project managers on the team as project management alone makes the difference to execution.
Only the most confident agencies will be able to. Even the best & biggest agencies will shy away or will try to lead you towards non-result based payments. Make it a point to include in your review parameters.
The biggest agencies are not the best.One might assume that the biggest agencies – or those with the flashiest client list – are the best. That’s fundamentally not true. Many of the biggest online marketing agencies have only a handful of top digital marketers working for them, and then tens or hundreds of junior online marketers managing the client load. Unless you are going to be one of their top paying clients, you’re unlikely to receive the senior expertise you had hoped for.
Ultimately, all of the case studies, testimonials, and online recommendations in the world won’t ensure that a company is as good as they make out. Always go with your gut feeling, but do your homework and use these recommendations to prevent ending up with a company who don’t have your best interests at heart. And the moment you realize you’ve been stuck with the wrong agency, don’t delay switching over. You would have made your best business decision today to have switched over to a digital marketing company that wishes to grow only after your business grows.
The above is a summary based on our expertise & experience. If you feel we missed something significant or anything needs to be altered, feel free to share your valued comments. If there is someone you know is likely to benefit from this information, please feel free to share. Thank you for your time!