How to choose a digital marketing agency
In the fast-paced world of business, it is crucial to have a strong online presence. The power of digital marketing has exploded in the past decade, posing a completely different set of challenges and opportunities than ever before.
To increase reach and engagement, many businesses have turned to digital marketing agencies for help. However, with so many available options, it can be daunting to know which is the right fit for your business.
In this article, we provide the information and tools you need to select an agency that aligns with your budget and business goals.
While many marketing agencies offer digital marketing services, it can be difficult to decide which solutions are suited to your particular brand and strategy. In this section, we cover the considerations you need to make when assessing a potential agency partnership.
These considerations include (but are not limited to):
- Areas of expertise
- Project-based or long-term
- Payment structures
- Reporting and accountability
- Platforms and software
- Your budget
- What success looks like to you
Area of expertise
Depending on your marketing goals, you should choose an agency that specialises in a particular service. First of all, check that they offer the specialised skills you require and have experience in similar projects. Some common areas of expertise include:
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Search Engine Optimisation involves optimising your website and its content to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). Your marketers will use relevant keywords to increase visibility and attract more organic traffic to your website.
Google Ads and Pay-per-click (PPC)
Google Ads marketing, also known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, involves placing ads on Google and other websites, but only paying a fee when someone clicks on them. This is a cost-effective way for businesses to increase their visibility and drive traffic to their website.
Social media marketing
This marketing tactic focuses on building brand awareness and engagement on various social media platforms. It involves creating and sharing content such as posts, stories, videos, ads, and even managing online communities. Common social media channels for businesses include LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.
Content and inbound marketing
As a way to attract and engage your ideal customers, content marketing is all about creating valuable content for them to find organically. This includes blog posts, infographics, ebooks, and videos about topics they are actively interested in.
By sending promotional and informative emails directly to a list of potential customers, email marketing can be an effective way to convert leads into buyers. Emails are an effective way to promote products, services, or other marketing content.
Website design and build
If your website is outdated or plagued with glitches, it may be time for an upgrade. An agency specialising in this will usually have an in-house copywriter, designer, and developer to ensure your website looks good, is user-friendly, and effectively communicates your brand message.
If you need help tracking the success of your marketing campaigns, analytics can help by measuring, managing, and analysing data from various channels. This helps you to understand how your campaigns are performing and identify areas for improvement.
If you want multiple services, or all of the above, then you’ll need a full-service digital marketing agency. For a business looking for support in multiple different areas, a full-service digital marketing agency will be more useful than a specialist agency.
Before partnering with any agency, be clear about your goals to confirm their offering is an appropriate match.
Project-based or long-term?
Do you need a one-off task done or will you have ongoing tasks that need to be managed long-term? If the former, you should opt for a project agency offering a set deliverable while the latter will suit a business that is looking for a longer-term partnership.
For example, some agencies only sign on clients for ongoing work, often on a retainer or monthly fee. These projects include ongoing content marketing, social media management, and website optimisation. If you are looking for consistent support with your marketing and an industry expert you can turn to when needed, we recommend opting for a partner agency.
On the other hand, some agencies offer one-time services like branding, CRM onboarding, and integration building. If you are looking for support with a particular project, these agencies have the knowledge and experience to deliver the most effective results.
While getting the right service offering from your digital agency should be your main priority, the payment structure will also be a key factor. Depending on your chosen agency, this will be either a lump-sum payment or a retainer.
A lump sum payment structure means the agency will provide you with a fixed-price contract for the project. The agency will come up with a quote based on the time, tools, and skills required to complete the task. This payment structure is commonly implemented by specialist agencies offering one-off services.
With a retainer payment structure, your agency will provide an agreed service or a number of hours each month. You will pay for this in advance to reserve the agency’s time and expertise. This is a suitable choice for businesses wanting ongoing support and regular services.
Reporting and accountability
Before investing in a digital marketing agency, you need to be confident in the efficacy of their methods. Ignore all the jargon for a second and ask – how can this agency prove its value? Reporting and accountability are crucial for providing insight into the effectiveness of strategies and tactics. Success can be measured in a variety of ways:
- Increased volumes
- Higher conversions
- Improved quality
To prove its return on investment (ROI), a digital marketing agency should provide detailed, data-driven reports that demonstrate how its efforts have improved your bottom line. This can include metrics like website analytics, social media engagement, and lead generation.
Additionally, agencies should be transparent about their processes and be willing to discuss their methods and results.
Platforms and software
Due to the specialised nature of digital marketing, many agencies will only use certain platforms and software. This allows them to provide a comprehensive skillset focused on that particular platform. Common digital marketing platforms include:
- Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
Before agreeing to work with a digital marketing agency, ask them to provide a full list of the platforms they use. If you already have a website, CRM, or other software set up, it will require additional work to transfer everything over.
While you may be attracted to a big-city agency, consider if this is truly necessary. These agencies typically charge higher costs to cover large overheads but with the rise of remote work, the location of your marketing agency is no longer limited.
Now that many digital marketing experts have the infrastructure to work from home, you don’t need to pay these inflated rates. Many regional agencies charge far less while still delivering the same high-quality services.
Depending on your budget you may need to refine your digital marketing agency selection. Your marketing budget may be determined as a set percentage of your turnover, with some sources averaging 8.7% as a guideline.
However, if you’re looking to grow you may need to spend more than this to inject some stimulants into your performance. A marketing agency could consume all of this budget, or a small percentage, depending on your other planned activities.
What success looks like
The final factor determining your choice of digital marketing agency will be how you define success. Outlining the goals you’re looking to achieve will help you compare your outcomes with the intended deliverables. You should assess each agency option through the lens of its ability to move you towards your goals, as specifically as possible.
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