Choosing a digital marketing agency is not an easy process. The choices seem limitless, they all say they’re the best choice, and many sound very similar. How are you supposed to choose?
Start with the basics. Before you begin your search you need to decide what your desired outcome will be from this new relationship. Next, you need to determine a set of parameters that measure the ability of an agency to successfully run your account. At the very least, a qualified digital marketing agency should be chosen based on the following seven qualifying factors:
- Visibility and search ranking
- Quality of work
- Aligning with values
- In-house expertise
- Good communication skills
- Problem-solving skills
1. Visibility and Search Ranking
This is the easiest way to weed out the winners from the losers. Enter a generic term into a search engine, such as “Creative Marketing Agencies in Houston Texas”. If you’re looking at a specific digital marketing agency and it doesn’t appear on the first page of your search, scratch it off the list. Don’t expect them to improve your search engine rankings when they can’t even rank on the first page.
On the other hand, if an agency appears on the front page of your search engine results there’s a good chance they know what they’re doing and are good at it.
2. Experience or Quality?
Experience can be good and bad. When an agency’s main argument for you to conduct business with them is that they have “extensive experience”, that should be a warning sign. Which digital marketing agency description is better?
- A digital marketing agency with more than twenty years of experience.
- A digital marketing agency whose clients experience an average customer conversion growth rate of 16% year-over-year.
The second description is better. It’s specific and impactful. Nothing is left up to speculation. In a single sentence they inform potential clients exactly how they can help them.
3. Proof of Results
This is the most helpful way to qualify a digital marketing agency. A digital marketing agency should preach what they practice. If they claim to be website design experts they better prove it. A quick visit to their website should give you immediate results. If it’s dated, has grammatical errors, poor copywriting, or lack of results that’s a huge red flag.
Here are a few things to look for when verifying the claims of digital marketing agencies:
- Social proof. What do reviews, testimonials, and social media accounts say about the agency?
- Case studies. More than one case study is preferable. No case studies are another red flag.
- Awards. Awards aren’t as important as the other categories, but can still indicate credibility.
- Professional reviews. Sponsored reviews are essentially worthless so it’s important to verify the motives of the reviewer.
4. Aligning with Values
Treat your digital marketing agency search as if you were hiring an employee. Hire an agency that can add value to your organization and reflect the values of your company. Agencies that partake in dishonest and false advertising practices won’t mesh well with a client that values transparency and honesty. Partnering with an agency that shares your values will produce high-quality campaigns that strengthen your brand image.
5. In-House or Outsourced
Many agencies outsource their work for research, website design, graphic design, and copywriting. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it does mean you won’t be familiar with the team producing your work.
In-house vs. outsourcing:
- In-house work is typically more expensive but requires less back-and-forth. The results often require less tweaking than outsourcing and accurate work can be produced faster.
- Outsourcing can be cheaper, but can also be more confusing. Details usually change when passed on to a third party and accuracy issues can follow.
6. Good Communication
90% of digital marketing agencies say they understand their client’s business, but only 65% of clients agree. It’s imperative to maintain healthy communication with your digital marketing agency. You can save yourself a lot of time, frustration, and money by choosing a digital marketing agency made up of exceptional communicators.
Better communication means expectations are clear, workflow is optimized, and results are authoritative.
7. Problem Solvers
Most projects run into a few kinks now and then. It’s part of the refining process. The problem starts when marketers don’t possess problem-solving skills. Make sure you partner with a digital marketing agency that prides themselves in their ability to creatively solve problems. If they can’t overcome complications then they’ll become one for you.
These seven qualifying factors should help you choose a digital marketing agency with confidence. It’s important to approach the hiring process with patience and an eye for detail. Don’t settle for the first decent agency you find. Don’t settle at all. Choose an agency that excites you and shares a passion for your business mission and objectives.