Hiring the right digital marketing agency can be a transformative move for your business. The skills and expertise the agency brings to the table may be exactly what you need to take your marketing campaigns to the next level and generate higher revenues.
But how do you find the right agency for the job? What qualifications should you look for? Does the size of the agency matter? What expectations should they meet? Here are some tips for hiring a digital marketing agency that will deliver exactly the results you need.
First things first, what are your needs?
In order to appropriately identify potential candidates to whom you’ll outsource your marketing campaign needs, you must first identify your specific needs and goals. There are full-service digital marketing agencies, agencies that specialize in social media marketing, and SEO agencies. Different types of agencies offer different skill sets, and selecting the right company for your business will depend on what job/s you need completed and the results you’re looking for.
Do you need help with your business’s entire marketing plan, from conceptualization to strategy development and campaign implementation? Do you need help with your email marketing or SEO campaign? Or does your business simply need a redesign of its website?
The success of your marketing campaign will largely depend on the success of your collaboration with the right digital marketing agency; to achieve the latter, it’s important that your needs and an agency’s capabilities are perfectly aligned with each other.
A 2018 survey conducted by HubSpot revealed that:
The right agency for the job is, of course, one that meets all the requirements of the job. Before you start your selection process, clearly outline your goals and expectations so you can focus your search on agencies that fit your defined parameters.
Look for Relevant Industry Experience
Why is industry experience important?
- An agency with adequate experience in your industry will know exactly the particular pain points you’ll have to deal with to achieve success with your campaign.
- The agency will deliver the appropriate strategies and expertise to help you effectively craft a marketing campaign for your specific target audience.
- It’s more than likely that the agency has already had previous success launching a campaign and achieving a conversion goal similar to yours.
- A strong industry background means the agency is up-to-date on industry trends and knows what mistakes to avoid and which ideas don’t work.
What results can they deliver?
It’s easy to promise results that meet or exceed your expectations when an agency is eager to seal the deal. But make sure that the agency can back up their promise with a similar success from a previous campaign, a strategy that’s carefully designed to meet your needs and goals, and clearly defined solutions to your specific problems and other potential challenges.
Should you consider a relatively new agency? Whether or not your business is also still new, you may give serious consideration to an agency that can lay out a good strategy that will deliver good results. You may also ask them what they can give you that other agencies can’t.
Watch out for these red flags:
- The promise of quick results, especially if you’re in a highly competitive industry, such as B2B. The more competitive the market, the longer it’ll take you to see the results you want.
- A promise to boost your bottom-of-the-funnel results. Earning new customers from your campaign would be great, but remember that your campaign is just one of the many variables that could lead to actual conversions and the agency won’t have any direct involvement with the other variables.
What tools are they using?
Depending on the specific campaign you need the agency to run, they must use the appropriate tools to make the end-to-end experience worthwhile and to provide reliable metrics.
For email marketing, will the agency use MailChimp or Campaign Monitor? For SEO marketing, will they monitor trends and track keywords through SEMrush or Ahrefs, or both?
Additionally, how will the agency communicate regular updates and other concerns to you? Is Gmail adequate, or would you prefer Slack?
The tools they use to analyze metrics and to communicate can impact how well they perform their job, as well as the success of the campaign.
Transparency in Reporting
An agency level of competence and trustworthiness can be measured by their transparency in reporting campaign performance, every step of the way. Whether the news is good or bad, whether or not they are able to deliver on their promises, your agency of choice should keep you up-to-date on all relevant data, which may include your website’s unique visitor numbers, length of website visit per customer, your cost per click and conversions, and other statistics crucial to your campaign.
There are some marketing ROI statistics, however, that many agencies find extremely challenging to report to their clients. According to TrackMaven, these include:
Proving ROI may also be difficult if an agency didn’t effectively align the campaign with their client’s marketing objectives, or if the agency isn’t gathering and analyzing the proper data.
Both parties can agree on reporting format and frequency, and you can specify which groups of data take priority. You should also let the agency know what metrics they should use to assess campaign performance; conversely, the agency should inform you exactly how they will measure your campaign’s progress and success. If some metrics are not delivering as expected, the agency should also know where and how to make the necessary adjustments to still be able to deliver a good ROI.
Does the agency walk the talk?
The right digital marketing agency should have already done for themselves what they promise and what you want them to do for you. Here are some examples.
- If you’re hiring an agency to do SEO marketing, they should be ranking well for relevant keywords in their industry.
- If you need an agency to produce blog content, find out if they have a blog of their own and what their content quality is like.
- If an agency advertises professional and sophisticated website design, their website should be a fine example of their work.
- If you need help with social media management, your agency of choice should be able to prove their skills via their own social media accounts.
Again, the right agency should be able to show proof, through examples or statistics, that they can deliver the results you want.
With a small agency of only a few to a dozen members, you can be assured of a more hands-on approach and direct access to the people working on your campaign. However, their skills and expertise may be limited.
A big agency with dozens or more than a hundred staff members, on the other hand, can offer both more comprehensive and specialized services. But the downside is your campaign may not always get the dedicated attention you’d want, you will have less control over every aspect of it, and some of the decisions will be made by the agency on your behalf without prior consultation with and approval from you.
Your needs and preferences will determine whether a small or large agency is going to be the right fit; budgetary considerations may also come into play. Don’t be too quick to reject smaller agencies if you’re looking for core digital marketing services; a larger agency may be the better choice if your needs are also larger in scope and include select services, such as video creation and editing.
Quality vs Pricing
Higher pricing doesn’t always guarantee great quality, and vice versa. The better gauge when deciding on an agency to work with is how much you’re willing to spend to get the quality you want.
At the same time, an agency must be able to justify their pricing. If it’s too low and they’ll only earn a small profit from your campaign, they may not serve you with the best they’ve got — either because they won’t feel motivated enough or because they’ll also have limited resources. If an agency’s services are on the pricier side, they must be able to guarantee dedicated resources, excellent services, and amazing results — and also be able to back their guarantee with a proven track record.
Keep in mind that when it comes to digital marketing campaigns, cutting corners in terms of budgeting can cost you more down the line. Whether or not you outsource your digital marketing campaign, it is a worthwhile investment that can deliver significant returns — when done right. If you opt for an agency that costs more but can also guarantee a successful campaign, your ROI will make the expenditure more than worth it.
According to Single Grain, the average ROI for business for every dollar spent on various marketing channels are as follows:
Get satisfactory answers to your questions before sealing the deal
Make a list of questions related to your business and industry and regarding every aspect of an agency’s services.
Make sure your agency of choice has adequate knowledge of and keeps up-to-date with industry trends, statistics, and forecasts; all relevant information about your business; and the latest developments in digital marketing tools and strategies.
You must be able to establish trust from the get go, as you will be entering into a business relationship which, hopefully, will be mutually beneficial. So it’s also essential to find out as much as you can about an agency, including feedback from former and current clients and even their relationship/s with vendors. An agency’s willingness, or lack thereof, to share information with you when you ask your questions is a good measure of their trustworthiness.
Finding the right agency to work with does not ensure that your campaign will run without a hitch, your business relationship will always be smooth, and that you’ll get exactly the results you want. There are many variables that will come into play which you won’t be able to predict or control. But when you make the best possible choice based on the guidelines outlined above, you can rest assured that your campaign will be in good hands.