Digital marketing has grown in terms of scope and reach over the years. When it comes to the choice of a suitable agency which will handle digital marketing for your business, the decision becomes very tough especially when the time is a big constraint. All the business owners want to hire a trustworthy agency which can completely handle their online marketing needs. There has been a huge increase in the number of agencies in recent years which have further added to the complexity of making the right choice. The decision is critical as it will have a great impact on your online presence and growth. Any wrong or hasty decision can have highly detrimental effects on your budget and brand.
A few years ago, the primary focus of consumers rested on traditional marketing platforms like television commercials, radio advertisements or print media. At that time, launching ad-campaign on these platforms was considered enough. The same does not hold good anymore as the focus of people is no longer just bound to traditional media alone but has spread across a variety of platforms. Marketers have to think of innovative ways to pull the attention span of the target audience and a good digital marketing agency can do it effectively and take your business to new heights.
The foremost step before you begin to advertise is to have a clear understanding of your marketing needs. Your ability to acknowledge your core marketing needs and to express them completely while you hold conversations with prospective agencies will be highly helpful for you to make the right choice. You should have a clear idea about your website, search engine optimization, social media requirements, other advertising campaigns etc. In addition, you should also have a proper idea about your budget. Although there can be no fixed figure as marketing is not a product but it should be reason enough.
Thus, some soul-searching is essential as till the time you know what you really want, you won’t be able to make out if you have found the right choice once you found it. If your marketing needs are diverse than you should look for everything under one roof.
The relationship between a business and a digital marketing agency is just like marriage i.e. it stays on for life unless there is a lack of transparency which leads to trust issues. Thus, there should be no room for lack of transparency. It must be the underlying factor on which you’re dealing with. You should thoroughly search the website of the agency, their achievements, and credentials. Reference of past success stories or ongoing campaigns usually acts as a great assurance about the credibility and potential of the agency.
There is a thumb rule, that if it seems that the agency is hiding something then it probably is. It is often seen in cases of budding agencies which make tall promises in low pricing. Complete transparency in every sphere should be your prime consideration to avoid any fraud.
This can be done by delving deep into the website of the agency to ensure the credibility and past experience of the firm. You should refer to the testimonials of the clients. If you are able to smell anything wrong with the testimonials like they are framed, then you should not hesitate to ask for references of the clients possibly also from the ones with which the partnership of the agency did not go so well. A candid conversation with the latter will give you are the fair idea of what did not work well for them. You should not be surprised at the amount of information you are able to get about the agency and another kind of suggestions from them, once you call them. Calling is a much better idea than emailing them.
Another sound method to gauge the credibility is to go through its website. The quality of their website and its rank on Google search will tell you a lot about their business acumen and their search engine optimization expertise. You can also browse their social media presence and upkeep of the same. Thus, the bottom-line is that you have to do your homework nicely.
Looking for any previous work experience they have in your niche will indicate that they have a fair knowledge about the industry and will not take enough time to put your business on track.
If the agency has previous experience in the industry you work in, it can be both a positive and a negative. Positive because the agency will have a thorough understanding of the industry and will be well acquainted with the challenges which are prevalent in the same.
On the contrary, if the agency does not have any such experience you should frankly and elaborately ask how it will approach a new industry, i.e. its strategy and plan of action. You can also ask how long it will take to get comfortable with new market and settings as it is essential for it to carry on marketing activities with ease. It has been often seen that agencies which have previous experience in the industry usually approach any new venture with the same old techniques. This is also seen in agencies which are dedicated to any particular industry. So, at the time a previous industry experience can prove quite detrimental to the long-term interests of your business. A good agency will invest suitable time and energy to study the specific needs of your business, its online stature with respect to your competitors and devise a strategy which will best fit your needs and long-term aims.
Once you have boiled down to a list of most eligible agencies who can be possibly hired for the job, you have to sit back and calmly weigh all aspects of the same. IF there is any particular agency which scores higher than the rest on a set of parameters listed above, you have to then analyze the persona of the agency and the kind of people who will be dealing with you. This will give you a faint idea about what kind of relationship you will share with the agency and does it resonate with your basic intent and the values of your business.
You will have to deal with your agency on an extensive basis thus, having a good rapport with it is essential for a smooth journey. The relationship between you and your agency will matter a lot and it is entirely on you to decide if you can move forward with the one you have chosen.
You have to play an honest role while hiring an agency and not bloat your traffic and revenue figures to make a false impression. Any such figures can completely ruin your market search and also the strategy of the agency if hired. You have to be brutally honest with your agency and tell them correctly about all the facts and figures in addition to your needs and expectations for them to work out a clear and plausible marketing plan for your business.
You also have to be clear and honest about the budget which you have allocated for marketing purposes. Any miscommunication on this part usually leads to future disputes. Don’t blindly follow enticing offers made by some agencies which offer very low prices to attract your attention and actually come with many hidden charges and terms.
All communication should be open and clear. There should be mutual respect and understanding.
When you are able to deal with someone on a face to face trust building becomes easier. Although there are many options available online like video conferencing or video calling but a live view of the agency and its office, meeting the team in person gives a different level of assurance. Also, if the agency is from your city it will have an edge over other outstation agencies as it will be familiar with the pulse of the target audience and a much better understanding of the culture and preferences of people.
However, in absence of a good local agency you can look for some outstation agencies. You have to be proactive in that scenario and take onus to ensure that you conduct video conferences with the agency and its team and get all your queries answered before you make your final decision.
Characteristics of a Good Digital Marketing Agency
The first and the most important characteristic of any good agency is that it will not hide any facts and figures from the client. They know how to gather and use data correctly to maximize your Return on Investment. It will assist you and guide you well so you may not commit any mistakes related to various aspects of digital marketing like campaigns, Adwords, filers, Analytics etc. They track all your campaigns to the core. Thus, they help to build your ROI by making you avoid any such kind of mistake.
Any good digital marketing agency will be able to generate real Return on Investment when they are able to decipher the impact of their strategy on the ultimate sales of the product. Thus, posing a direct question to the agency that how their investments impact the productivity of sales, goes a long way to tell about their acumen and way of doing business. It will also give you an idea about the depth of their understanding of the market and your needs. You may further your increase your information by asking about their most successful marketing programs in terms of ROI.
A good agency will have a deep understanding of the demography of the target audience. It will be well versed with their preferences and dislikes. They will be successfully able to delineate the entire journey of the customer from the first point of contact to sales. This information can be further enhanced by Analytics. They carry out multiple analysis of the data they have before proceeding further. They work on leads and sales rather than on guess-work or predictions. Agencies which are seriously dedicated to their business, often carry on regression analysis on data from multiple customer surveys, brand tracking, even discussions in focus groups to clearly understand the customers. All this information helps you to make more informed decisions as you are better able to understand the nerve of your customers at different stages of their journey.
Marketers have a great variety of tools at their disposal to create the right ROI based on the money and resources invested in the whole effort. These tools often comprise a major part of the complete plan and can be various statistical methods or sources like social media, content, PPC etc. Tools also include programs, graphics, content writing, subscriptions, automation services etc. E.g. Coschedule and Active Campaign act as great ways to take care of emails, automation related issues etc. Also, Hubspot, Sprout Social is helpful in services like creation of content to carry out a deep understanding of the content.
The agency should be able to demonstrate which tools they often use and what is the impact each one has on sales. A widescale knowledge and scale of the tools will also tell you about the expertise of the team which will be handling your marketing needs. There should no query unanswered and you should have a clear picture of how much you are spending and how will it be used to fulfill your needs.
A good agency is not only aware of the latest trends in the market space but many times is the trendsetter. You should explore if the agency which you are planning to hire is up to date with the best practices. You should also ensure that they are able to back their words with substantial examples. While you discuss the blueprint of your marketing plan, in particular, try to gauge if the agency team-members are thought leaders and have the potential for some innovative technologies or are mere followers.
You have to take a closer look at their content, automation, mobile responsiveness of their own website, the frequency of posts, the quality of content in terms of substance and length etc. The persona they are presenting should be reflected in their real-time efforts.
You should also study the way they report their stats and if the latter are ambiguous and do not present a clear picture of the ROI and instead focus on some alluring facts and figures, this is not the agency which can take you to new horizons. Remember, the right agency will have everything in place and nothing to hide. They will be clear on their layout, be updated with the latest statistics, have a clear vision about what will impact ROI and how. Such agencies truly lead to path-breaking innovations.
Good marketing agencies do not walk alone but are usually a part of a larger ecosystem which has many players each with a specific role. The ecosystem speaks volumes about the approach of the agency. You can find out about the partners by looking for which leaders in the region is the agency in touch with, or studying its reach and the role of the agency in the ecosystem. The tie-ups can tell you about the positioning of the agency in the world of digital marketing. It will tell you about the real potential they have.
Ultimately, picking a digital marketing agency for your business can be a highly taxing experience but all the effort you make to arrive at the final decision is worth taking as firms usually have a long-term relationship with their marketers and do not usually switch unless something severely goes wrong. Take up each of the above pointers one by one and spend time on evaluating the prospective agencies. Do not get trapped in biases or recommendations by friends and peers but carve your own path. Gain a clear understanding of your own marketing needs and be honest with yourself at every step.
Look for the characteristics which good agencies should possess. Ensure that all your queries are suitably answered by the agency before you sign them for the job. Give them the right picture of your business so they are able to tailor the strategy accordingly. Also, find out which tools will they use and how will each of them affect your sales. Thus, make sure you have researched well, thought about all possibilities before you finally decide. Think and decide so you don’t have to decide and then think.