Most startup businesses begin their journey somewhat cash strapped and intent on keeping things lean. This usually means taking care of business functions like marketing in house, which is fine at the beginning, especially if the company already has some digital marketing knowledge.
However, a company’s marketing needs will eventually get to the point where they are simply too complex and time-consuming to do alone, but likely still too expensive to hire someone to do in-house. This is where a digital marketing agency begins to make a lot of sense. Below are some of the most important things to look for when hiring a digital marketing agency.
If you didn’t know, there is an entire industry of digital marketers out there who operate on premises, assumptions, and tactics that used to be considered cutting edge but no longer are. This is partly because there is no shortage of unsavvy companies who do not know any better and are willing to pay for out-of-date methodology, partly because people refuse to evolve. When you are shopping around for a digital marketing agency, expertise should be one, if not the biggest factor in your decision.
Ultimately, you are hiring a digital marketing agency to increase your online presence, so doing some investigation into that same agency’s online presence is usually a good proxy for determining what kind of work they do. If they have a sleek, modern-looking website, rank well in the SERPs for various keywords, and a significant number of active followers across their social media platforms, chances are they know what they’re doing. If you want to see examples of digital marketing agencies, simply search for something like “SEO” + “[your location]”--e.g., “seo Brisbane”--and begin going through the results.
One of the first things to keep in mind when hiring a digital marketing agency is that there are plenty of marketing and SEO companies out there that thrive on charging their clients a lot of money for work that does not really end up improving SEO, brand awareness or increasing conversions. Something else to keep in mind is that a lot of digital marketing companies will charge their clients upfront and bill regardless of the quantity or quality of their work. While this is not inherently bad and can produce the desired results, it is often stressful for the client and certainly sways the relationship firmly in favor of the marketer.
Other companies, especially if their bread and butter is something like link building, will use a performance-based pricing model that only bills their clients for results. It depends on what a company’s desired outcome is when hiring a digital marketing agency, but evaluating your options based on how they charge you is usually a good place to start making decisions.
The best agencies tend to be those that are the most respected by the competition. This tends to be a truism across industries, and a good way to find out what kind of reputation an agency has in the industry is to look at their media appearances. There is a large media industry that covers digital marketing, with several podcasts that are mainstays within the digital marketing space that interview the people and agencies considered to be worth listening to.
A good idea when choosing a digital marketing agency is to perform a Google search of your companies’ followed by the word “podcast” to see which popular podcasts they are appearing on. If the agency is making the rounds on the podcast circuit and shows want to have them on, this is another good sign. If a digital marketing agency specializes in SEO, they will be on top of any new changes and strategy best practices and it will be reflected in how they are perceived in the industry.
In addition to how capable a digital marketing agency is, you also need to consider fit. What kind of relationship do you expect to have with the agency? How hands-on do you expect to be as a client? What kind of decision-making authority do you need to have or are you open to giving the agency carte blanche to determine strategy and grow your business?
These are all questions you need to answer before deciding on an agency to hire, as different marketing outfits operate on different philosophies. You don’t want to begin a relationship, sign contracts and start working together, only to realize that both you and the agency have expectations that were not ironed out beforehand and which are going to make a successful working relationship difficult.
Marketing can make or break a company so it is important to get it right from the beginning. Hiring a digital marketing agency can either be one of the best things you ever do, or one of the most expensive mistakes you make. If you keep the above tips for searching out and hiring a digital marketing agency in mind, however, you will find a company that has your best interests at heart, knows what they’re doing and will provide you with the kind of ROI you expect when investing in marketing.