With brands increasingly moving their businesses online, digital marketing has become more integral than ever before. This is because, in this era of digital evolution, everyone online meaning that just ‘being present is no longer enough to make you stand out. Making sure your brand is visible and memorable is an important goal for most companies, but it is becoming more difficult too. This isn’t even getting into the different ways you can market your brand – such as optimizing SEO, PPC, email marketing, content marketing, paid media, and more.
As there are so many options available, it can be confusing to know where to even begin. Deciding on the ‘correct’ and optimal digital marketing strategy for your brand is not easy. Not only will you need the expertise and know-how on how to strategize and launch a campaign, but a brand also needs the manpower to consistently monitor it. This remains a consistent problem for companies – who may not have the budget, in-house team, or knowledge on how to create a well-strategized marketing campaign.
This is where digital marketing agencies come in. Instead of doing everything in-house, a digital marketing agency can take care of all your marketing needs so you don’t have to worry. As they specialize in this field, they have all the in-depth marketing knowledge, experience, and resources to help you meet your business needs.
However, it remains vital that you choose an agency that is well-suited to your business and objectives. With so many digital marketing agencies popping up, it can be a challenge to find which one works best for you. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are looking to outsource your marketing needs but don’t know where to start.
What is a digital marketing agency?
First, a refresher. A digital marketing agency is an agency that brings together a more modern method of marketing. Instead of using traditional methods, most of their marketing efforts will focus on SEO, online content creation (such as blogs or videos), digital strategy, and social media marketing. Doing so allows them to help strengthen and boost online brand identity and awareness. This, in turn, can increase a company’s bottom line.
As these agencies have extensive knowledge regarding the latest digital marketing trends, and the most up-to-date tools, many businesses trust their expertise. Therefore, businesses will often outsource their marketing campaigns to these agencies. If you are considering working with a digital marketing agency, here are a few things to keep in mind before you jump right in.
Define your goals
The first thing you want to be clear about before picking an agency is what your business goal is. This is one of the most important things to consider. While most people might think business goals only revolve around increasing sales and revenue, this is not always the case. Some businesses might want to grow their customer base and loyalty, some may want to increase website traffic, while others may want more leads. This is why determining what you want to achieve is essential so that the agency you pick can understand and deliver results tailored to you.
If you are struggling to pinpoint what kind of goals you should pick, you can ask yourself a few questions to help you think through your decision:
- Do I want to promote my brand’s online presence?
- Am I looking for more sales?
- Do I want more visibility online?
- Do I want to focus more on lead generation?
When you set your goals and objectives, you also set your key performance indicators (KPIs). This means both you and the agency can accurately measure your campaign’s performance to see how well it is doing (or if it needs to be tweaked). With these goals in mind, both of you are on the same track and know where you are coming from. After all, without setting a clear goal, how will an agency be able to help and meet your needs?
Set a budget
Outsourcing work means spending money. Thus it necessitates you to budget for this cost (which may be recurring, depending on your marketing needs and campaign length). Aside from setting aside money for the agency, you might want to think about splitting your budget according to different marketing tactics. For example, if your business primarily caters to local clientele and you want to increase awareness of a specific shop, you might tell your agency to spend more money on targeted local ads and local SEO, to make it easier to search for. Another business that primarily runs online might focus its budget on email and social media marketing instead.
The amount you can budget for marketing varies from business to business. If you are unsure, consider: how much you are looking for your company to grow, and how long you want to partner with an agency. These factors may influence what type of agency you choose.
For instance, if you want to expand overseas down the line, you might pick an agency that can do omnichannel marketing in addition to optimizing for international SEO. If you want to work with an agency long-term, try to pick one that offers long-term contracts to clients. Always be sure to get quotes from an agency – any reputable one should give you a clear breakdown of costs and services.
Do your research
There are hundreds of digital agencies around today, though not everyone is suited to your needs. With so many options to choose from, it can be daunting to make a decision. Things to keep in mind include the size of your budget and business scope. If you plan to run a lot of paid advertising campaigns, you might look to a digital advertising agency for help. If you are looking to increase brand awareness and customer loyalty, you might choose to work with a social media agency – especially if your target demographic tends to be younger, like Millennials or Gen Zs. If you have an event coming up and want it to be covered by traditional media and press, you may decide to collaborate with an agency focusing on public relations. These agencies will then help you generate positive press coverage by building relationships with journalists, bloggers, and influencers.
Also, if your business is smaller, or does not have a large marketing budget, you might choose to collaborate with a small, boutique digital marketing agency. On the other hand, conglomerates and large companies may want to partner with established and large agencies instead.
When you do your research, always be sure to compare different agencies’ costs and services. Looking at what they provide, and for how much, it’ll make it easier for you to decide which one to ultimately go with.
Ask to see portfolio and case studies
So you’ve compared the costs and services of digital marketing agencies that you are thinking about working with. Is that all? No. You’ll also want to take a look at their work portfolio and case studies. These can either be found on their website (most reputable agencies publish them there) or on portfolio sites such as Behance and Dribbble.
By looking at past projects, you can see how the agency brings value to its clients, what they do, and what they have been able to achieve. Some agencies may also include in-depth case studies where they go over their process on how they audit, strategize and execute a campaign. You may want to check any testimonials and reviews from previous clients, so you know what working with them is like – if their customer service is good or if they have quick response times.
Looking at past projects allows you to see whether an agency has experience working in your industry. If there are a lot of past projects in your sector, this is a good indicator that they know how your field works. This means they are likely to better understand your pain points and can advise you on what competitors are doing. An agency’s portfolio should also highlight different areas of digital marketing they do well in, such as PPC, SEO, or social media marketing.
Always have multiple options
Sometimes, it’s hard to shortlist options down to one. In this case, it may be better to have multiple options left even after narrowing down your choices. This is because having multiple options allows you to ‘shop around so that your brand gets the right type of service in the end. Having multiple options also gives you more leverage and power when it comes to negotiating terms and conditions. If an agency ultimately doesn’t choose to work with you, you still have backups to go for.
Ask as many questions before committing
Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you ask as many questions as possible so that nothing catches you unaware. As the old saying goes, it’s better to look stupid now, than later! Here are a few questions you may ask an agency (if they haven’t provided the information upfront already).
What is your availability: When are their working hours? When can you reach them? How long do they take to get back to you?
How do you measure success: A good agency should provide you with metrics on their successful marketing campaigns. Not providing them is a red flag, so beware!
What is the average cost of a similar service: Most agencies typically have more than one price package. Always be sure to get a quote so you know what to expect – and whether they bill by the project or by the hour.
What value can you provide to my business: So you can find whether their services meet your needs, and what strategies they specialize in.