Selecting The Best Digital Marketing Agency
Hiring a digital marketing agency to manage your brand campaign is a tricky job, in recent times to label yourself as an agency & to offer digital marketing services all you need is a website and an internet connection. Several entrepreneurs are doing this all across the globe. Going for the ideal digital marketing agency can be a tough job as you don’t want your brand reputation & budget in the wrong hands.
But, we’re here to help you in choosing the right agency & making the right decision for your brand. We will cover all aspects right from what you should be looking for, the red flags that should alert you & how you can get the best from the digital marketing agency you hired.
First things first, always make up your mind on what are your expectations…
Setting standards & determining goals
Businesses operate distinctively, following different practices, similarly, digital marketing agencies have varied characteristics that make them different from other players in the industry.
Every digital marketing agency specializes in a few functional areas, even the agencies claiming to offer all sorts of services usually prefer taking up projects that fall into their area of expertise.
That’s the reason why you need to be aware of what you’re exactly looking for, goal setting plays an important role in aligning your vision with the agency you choose to work with.
The process becomes easier when you break it down & form deliverables, the outcomes you want to achieve through your digital marketing campaigns.
When you successfully do this, it aids smooth communication with your agency, you must be able to convey to them what you’re exactly looking for, providing clarity at the initial stages increases the chances to create positive results & build a long-term association with the agency.
Most of the agencies that are professional compile your list of requirements and give you a clear signal if they can meet your expectations. Go through these cases to get more clarity on this topic:
Case 1: An Automated Blog for your Brand Page
In this case, you need an agency to help you with developing a content marketing system, you’re looking for an automated blog that won’t require much input from your end and will work on autopilot.
• Requirement: A well-developed content marketing plan, integrated with systematic strategies.
• Goal: generate high-quality content to attract more visitors to your website.
• result: Fully automated blog managed by an assigned team.
Listing these details down helps you to circle out agencies as you’re ready with all the information to be shared with the agency, based on your budget you can choose the right agency.
Case 2: Creating Viral Video Content & Learning the know-how
In this case, you want to create highly engaging video content for your target audience, you’re looking to create viral videos for your social media campaign & want to learn how to go about it.
• Requirement: multiple on-brand marketing videos with suitable visual assets
• Goal: launching new offers with a trendy message that appeals to the target audience
• result: Learning to use video content to increase customer engagement on social media
Now if you read the case properly, several agencies won’t have problems creating video content for your brand but when it comes to coaching you to create your own content, all agencies won’t be offering that as coaching is a task that requires a different approach altogether.
Again, it’s all about finding the right firm for you & when you know what you want, it leads to lesser complications. Many companies are disappointed or left unsatisfied when the agency they hire is unable to offer what they were looking for.
Now that we know what needs to be done first, let's have a look at the next step…
Look out for these factors in the digital marketing agency you’re hiring.
Some agencies manage to deliver what was promised & then some agencies make it big for your brand, that is by not just delivering what was asked for but doing something extra that becomes a sensation in the industry. Excellent digital marketing agencies can be hard to find, but if you consider the factors laid down by us, the process becomes way easier as you can chalk out a plan.
Every agency out there claims they are the best in the business, the factors listed will help you spot the real best service providers who have the ability to back what they claim.
1. Diverse portfolio of previous clients:
Most agencies that have been in the market for a long time proudly display the list of clients they have worked with, along with great results & success stories of brand campaigns managed by their team. Agencies do this to increase their credibility & gain acclaim from a global perspective.
Well, some agencies might not want to disclose the clients they have worked with, there might be two reasons that are happening, either because the company has worked on small projects of lesser significance or worse the company hasn’t worked with any clients yet.
This does not mean small agencies are incapable, on the contrary, it can be a great option to go for such companies if you’re working with a tight budget but if you’re looking to get phenomenal results, maybe it won’t turn out the way you want it to, simply because of the inexperienced team of the agency.
But we need to understand that in scenarios where services like SEO & content marketing come into the picture, the agencies that specialize in those areas won’t always be able to show you direct results because of the complexity involved, but a look at the client list of the company should assure you about them.
Coming to services like graphic designing & web development, the company should be able to share their work through a portfolio displaying their level of expertise, failing which you should look for service providers that display their projects & their work feels appealing & convincing.
2. Team of Experts:
The agency you hire must comprise of a team that has rich experience & has skilled professionals. The service you’re looking for is a secondary thing, primarily you need to make sure the agency has great members that can pull off your campaign.
Let’s say you’re looking for creatives & a new logo for your brand, you wouldn’t give this project to an agency that doesn’t have a qualified graphic designer. You need to study the agency, the people working there, the best agencies make sure to write about their team on their website. You can also search about the agency on LinkedIn & you may end up knowing the people working at the agency, their qualifications & past projects. This step gives you a lot of insights into the real culture being followed in the agency.
Although, you should remember that a lot of agencies work with freelancers or associated contractors, so you won’t be able to come across their entire team since some of them won’t be users of LinkedIn. But this shouldn’t stop you from digging in deeper, you should always feel free to ask about who the team comprises of & what are their achievements.
3. Testimonials & Reviews:
The company you’re about to associate with must have a great reputation in the industry, they should also display social proof as in the testimonials given by their clients.
This will give you great insights into the experience, the clients have had to work with the agency. The top players in the market are aware that customers will be looking for social proof, they make it a point to display it on their website, however for agencies that haven’t shared any of these details online, you as a client need to understand they are not competent enough.
As much as positive reviews create an impact, the negative & neutral reviews shed light on the weaker areas of the agency giving you an idea of where they are failing to cope up.
Make sure you look for the detailed reviews on Google to witness what others in the industry have got to say about the agency.
4. Core values & work culture:
You want to be working with an agency that resonates with your vision, understands your core values & resembles your work culture. Doing business with someone who has similar values leads to great business partnerships.
At the end of the day, your team will be coordinating with the agency, there will be constant communication between the two sides, once in contract, the agency can be called as an extension of your business. An agency that is good at its work but doesn’t have values won’t be good at maintaining long-term business partnerships & you want to be looking for long-term associations to foster consistency in your digital marketing campaigns.
It can get stressful & frustrating to work with someone who doesn’t operate expectedly as per the standards. You need to be a great listener & catch the words & phrases used by the agency, you will get an idea if their values are aligning with your company.
5. The Website Matters:
Digital Marketers know why it’s essential to maintain the perfect website, any client will analyse the website of the service provider before actually hiring them. So, if you find an agency promising you the fanciest website & you find out their own website to be mediocre, it’s a clear red flag. Agencies that are unable to manage their internal projects well, won’t be delivering excellence, especially when those agencies are by any chance offering website development or design services.
Closely analyse their website, check the details, what’s unique about their website, are there any glitches, do they focus on their design language. If you find it to be average, listen to your instincts & look for another agency that values creating exceptional user experiences.
6. No Exaggerated Claims:
If an agency is overpromising & claiming to achieve extraordinary results in a very short span of time, you must get a signal that something’s fishy. It simply indicates the amount of knowledge the particular agency has about the industry. Suppose an agency convinces you they can get you the number 1 ranking on Google really fast using SEO, that’s when you should know they are lying because SEO is something that takes time to implement since it follows an organic approach, at the same time it requires a lot of consistency in the long run to maintain the position.
You must make sure they can back their claims & whether the promises made by them are actually feasible.
That’s the reason you need to have some knowledge about the industry & even better if you create a digital marketing roadmap for your brand before approaching an agency. Prioritize agencies that offer transparency & are honest with their clients. Trust can go a long way in creating strong & successful business partnerships.
7. Affable & Reachable:
You don’t want to deal with an agency that won’t receive your calls or reply to the emails sent by you when you want to make an urgent change in the marketing campaign. Such scenarios can get really heated & can lead to huge losses just because the agency wasn’t reachable. The best in the industry is surely available for their clients at such times, you need an agency that’s in touch with you when things go sideways.
Agency websites that don’t mention any contact information upfront have got it wrong altogether, a clear call to action that guides you about what is to be done next is a necessity for professional service providers. When the agency asks you to fill up a form with your details or book a call with their team, but even after a while you’re struggling or there’s no response, you know it’s time to look for a better agency that follows a simpler process.
How to maximize results from an agency?
When you as a client, hand over the budget to an agency, you want to make sure they are putting in their best efforts & utilising that budget effectively. Even though the agency will be managing your brand & taking care of all activities, there are things you must do to make sure the agency is on its toes, strategically getting the most of the partnership with an agency is a skill that clients must learn.
As every phase of the project progresses, the collaboration with the agency must become stronger.
A little homework goes a long way; You don’t want to be found lacking, because in such scenarios an agency might try to dupe you without you being aware of it. You must be on the same page with your team, communication is key here, let your team know the extent of your project, about your partnership with the agency, let them research, extract insights, this will give them time to be ready.
You need to get it right, right from the start, explain the nuances of your business to the agency, as their knowledge about the business increases, their expertise & ability to implement effective marketing campaigns for you will go up exponentially.
Focus on the process & timeline
Every individual involved in the project must be clear about the timeline & it must be monitored strictly. The scope of the project should be pre-defined to avoid any problems while moving forward. As a client, you shouldn’t take a backseat because when that happens chances of the agency making changes or tweaking the timeline increases. The timing is a really important factor & can be called a make or break factor when it comes to digital marketing.
Most digital marketing projects follow a pattern & have these common phases:
1. Detailed Research
2. Project Mapping
3. Implementing Plans
4. Analysing results
Make sure you sit with your agency & chalk out these plans beforehand to make things crystal clear.
Follow a hands-on approach:
Projects flourish when clients get involved in the process & when it’s more of a collaborative effort with the agency.
Ideas & recommendations have proven to be of great help when it comes to changing the fortune for many brands. A simple observation from your end can turn into a great insight for the agency & generate great results for your company.
Make sure you have answers to what the agency is looking for, even if you don’t have those answers, you can always investigate & get them those details so that they are in a position to pull off a great campaign for your brand.
Having a dedicated point of contact is highly recommended, you don’t want to slow down things from your end. If possible, assign a team member who can administer & manage the project from your end.
Don’t fight for control:
You must be aware of the fact that the agency’s knowledge of how things should be done in the digital space are better than yours. Holding things up & restricting them to make decisions will only lead to loss of time & resources.
Their expertise shouldn’t be doubted & they should be given complete control over aspects that require extensive digital marketing skills. You need to listen to their suggestions & value their advice since they are the experts.
Asking the right questions
Chances are that you won’t have any idea about what the agency is doing, it is completely acceptable to ask them to break it down for you, asking questions is an excellent practice to learn more about the field & that will help you to explore more.
Having uncertainties can lead to miscommunication, rather try getting the answers & get all your doubts & queries cleared, it’s the best way to smoothly operate with an agency.
Making the right choice:
The market is full of agencies offering all services related to digital marketing under their banner, but the question is how many of them are legit, is a particular agency able to generate results under every area.
We will recommend you to go for agencies that offer specialized services for certain areas. This will make sense to you when you think about any other industry, read the example below & think for yourself.
Situation: When we are having a specific medical issue, we prefer visiting a specialist who will treat us rather than seeing a general medical practitioner.
Primarily the best digital marketing agencies focus on specific areas under digital marketing & offer other services as add-ons.
So, our advice would be to opt for an agency that specialises in offering its services in selective areas of expertise to get the best results for your brand.