Don’t Miss These Search Points
It’s 2022, and still, there are tons of startups and small businesses jumping into digital marketing without a real strategy. They know they need to be online but often lack the in-house talent to develop an effective digital marketing strategy. That’s how agencies can help.
To find the best agency partner, you must first determine your business goals, and then assess whether potential agencies have the core competencies you need to achieve those goals.
The digital marketing world is vast, with many different channels, tactics, and agencies. Digital marketing agencies come in various forms, and each is best suited for specific business needs. An essential step in finding the right agency partner is determining if you need a full-service or specialized agency.
The maturity of your marketing program and the expertise of your in-house team will help determine whether you need a full-service agency or not. For example, if you need help with your entire marketing strategy, a full-service agency might be a better fit. But if you only need help with paid media management, you can probably outsource that one component of your strategy to a specialized performance marketing agency.
Common Mistakes When Hiring an Agency
We see businesses make two common marketing mistakes:
The first mistake business owners make is assuming that hiring a digital marketing agency will compensate for their lack of time and digital marketing knowledge. In reality, marketing efforts will bear fruit when the service provider and the client can stay on the same page while working together. Goal alignment is essential.
Other times, people may assume they know everything about marketing (or at least they think they do) and aren’t open to the insights agencies bring.
Their subconscious will always strong-arm logic out of the door, making them feel they’re paying too much for what they already know. So they either end up trying to take on the whole department under their own wing or hire a full-time employee and overload them with pretty much everything in digital marketing, hoping to flourish under their mentorship.
How to Choose The Best Agency Partner
Let’s look at some key points that you need to consider when choosing the right option to effectively serve your digital marketing needs.
Be Clear With your Priorities: Decide what you exactly need. For instance, you might only need to broaden your reach and recognition across social media. Sometimes you want a dedicated content marketing team to automate your blog. There are tons of tricks out there in this broad spectrum of digital marketing that can turn you a profit. Collect data, pilot run with temporary options, and disqualify yourself from the newbie status. If viable, it is always better to have an in-house marketing team or at least one marketing point of contact, depending upon the size of your business and the scale of marketing you are looking at. They will be responsible for managing, updating, and overseeing day-to-day affairs with the digital marketing agency you’ll be hiring. They will further simplify data and information to verify performance to your satisfaction.
Regular practices and processes: Researching a broad topic like digital marketing will have already given you a ton of details and options. You might also have contacted many service providers and shortlisted your preferences. While shortlisting based on niche and expertise, you also need to figure out which digital marketing agency provided you with the processes and other details in the most legible way. Just logically find out which one will work for you best in terms of simplicity without compromises.
Manage your expectations: This part wouldn’t be much of an issue if you got the previous steps right. However, it is worth mentioning because it is widespread among small businesses and new entrants to get excited and expect unrealistic results right off the bat. As much as digital marketing is an opportunity grabber, it operates in an enormously wide-open space where millions of players try to get ahead of each other. Rather than have empty expectations, it is advised that you concentrate on your business and work diligently with your chosen marketing team. With time, you will see measurable results in the form of website traffic, customer inquiries, new business, higher revenues, etc.
How to effectively check past work/clients: Just as important it is to check out the list of clients, it is to check the authenticity of it. They might have been just a third-party contractor who created content indirectly through another agency. It is tricky to judge whether they’ll be able to perform the same way on their own. Well, they might have learned a thing or two on the way. Sometimes fresh eyes can do unexpected wonders while off bounds.
Sometimes it is not easy to display past work like content marketing or SEO. So ask if it’s possible to share reports. Mostly, this might not be possible due to confidentiality issues. But if you have someone well versed with digital marketing on your side, they will understand how well the agency has worked with the past client claims from the details in their proposal or first presentation. However, with display campaigns, advertising, and web design and development, if you can’t find a well-put-together portfolio, it is highly likely they’re too new or haven’t fared well in the past.
Ingenuity and Presence Check: Check where they stand in terms of an online presence. For instance, it is a very common sight among the ocean of digital marketing agencies where their own channels and social media handles are almost dead and inactive. Also, sometimes there are cases where they’re popular on SERPs but not so much on social media. While it is not very ideal, they might be able to boost your SEO or Search/Display ad performances. You will need to ask questions, research, rethink and verify thoroughly before arriving at a conclusion.
Transparency Check: Some agencies will offer and try to load all possible marketing channels on you and promise impractical results just to fatten the bill. You might only care about customers without having enough know-how and experience. A smart salesperson who isn’t necessarily good with digital marketing can trap you into it. It is imperative to carefully choose a well-designed marketing plan based on ROI and what works best for you. A good marketing agency will ask several questions or make you fill out forms to obtain your details and provide you with a tailor-made marketing plan as per your requirements.
Consistency Check: Make organized sheets that record features, responses, and offers that several agencies have provided you with. Evaluate thoroughly and call them back or let them follow up to understand if they’re consistent with their responses and offers.
Accessibility Check: Good and experienced digital marketing agencies will ensure that you stay well informed and get the proper answers to your queries in the most straightforward way. They will be easily accessible at all times, online or offline, and try to build trust. However, if you find the onboarding processes take a long time or receive extremely late responses, they’re likely struggling to even put together a quote for you. This shows a lack of edge and experience in the market, which is a clear sign for you to move on to another agency. It is crucial to ensure a stronghold over communication channels, especially in this pandemic-ridden world where zoom calls and virtual meets have already started to like yesterday.
In short, never go full service unless you have a fat budget and are hiring the likes of Ogilvy. Even they split efforts by outsourcing and subcontracting things like ad film production and social media influencer events. The saying, “Do not put all your eggs in one basket”, perfectly fits the bill here. Find multiple experts for each specific marketing activity you are looking to rely on to improve your business. Make them work together using your in-house marketing guy /team.
That way, you will have your marketing system compartmentalized, which is financially safer and less likely to ruin your reputation if something goes wrong with one branch or agency. Imagine you suddenly are facing a social media backlash, and a full-service agency handles all your marketing that, in fact, focuses on SEO. Without proper and immediate action, your business’s image might take a huge hit that otherwise could have been mitigated by a social media expert. Finally and undoubtedly, if you’re looking to market something to more than just the local space, you will need way more than 2-5 people handling your marketing efforts.