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Updated: November 11, 2021

How to Choose a Digital Marketing Agency

Today just about every business has a digital marketing agency to help navigate an online world in constant flux. Keeping abreast of trends, the development of newer and smarter search engine algorithms, and current marketing tactics is a full-time job. If you feel you're not getting the most from your online marketing efforts, you'll probably want to hire a great digital marketing agency to help you stand out in a competitive market.
How to Choose a Digital Marketing Agency

Any good marketing strategy is about long-term success. The best digital marketing agency will combine both short and long-term objectives to achieve incremental and exponential success. As a leading digital agency that’s turned around many businesses, we can explain the benefits. But, more than that, you need to understand your business needs first. Some require comprehensive digital marketing management, while others require specific, niche services.

Important Hallmarks of Great Digital Marketing Agencies

Disclaimer: Digital marketing efforts are an ongoing process, and change won’t take effect overnight. Because most digital marketing agencies work in partnership with their clients, it’s important to select a reputable marketing team from the start. Here are some pointers to help you choose the right digital team.

Wide Range of Highly Specialized Experts

Digital marketing has a plethora of components, from search engine optimization (SEO) and Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to social media marketing (SMM). All of these require a digital marketing agency with professionals who specialize in these spheres. Moreover, you should always choose a digital marketing agency that is an expert in YOUR industry.

The right digital marketing agency will have the following service offerings:

  • Social media: Robust platform management, knowledge of updating feed algorithms, using google ad features, and digital marketing tactics aligned with the target audience’s online behavior.
  • Content marketing: Content ideation, production, publication, and monitoring, including the best SEO practices.
  • Search engines: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the foundation of digital marketing and lead generation. The agency you select should be experts on on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.

Sizeable Portfolio

A bigger agency doesn’t always equal better; it’s more about the quality and size of their portfolio. A small agency with reputable clients may be just as good an option. Reputable agencies will share case studies and mention previous clients they’ve worked with. Smart digital marketing agencies are proud of whom they work with and the work they do.

Furthermore, they typically display their partnerships for potential clients to see.  You don’t necessarily need a digital marketing company with top-tier clients, but a robust portfolio with data-driven case studies is social proof of competency.

Different agencies will have diverse portfolios. A comprehensive digital agency will not have the same KPIs or clients as an advertising agency or social media marketing agency, so it’s important to understand a little a bit about marketing niches, so you’re aware of what to look for.

Reputable agencies will share case studies and mention previous clients they’ve worked with. Smart digital marketing agencies are proud of whom they work with and the work they do.

Good Reputation in the Industry

The knee-jerk reaction of finding anything is to search online, which is a good starting point, but we’d also advise leveraging your network. A good agency will tick all the right online boxes; have a great website, rank within the first few pages of a Google search, and showcase reviews and testimonials. When you’re reviewing agencies of top-tier caliber, it’s challenging to discern which one is the better fit.

Asking around your network can point you in the right direction helps too. A good marketing agency has a visible online presence and is also passionate about what they do, and stands out in the industry due to their innovative ideas and campaigns. Adweek and Digiday are well-known publications to scan for agency thought leaders.

A sound reputation is what makes an agency a potential service provider, but a curious one makes them a partner. At your first meeting, those who are serious about forming a beneficial working relationship will ask detailed questions about your target audience, company goals, and potential clients. If they don’t request this information, they may guess your needs or offer a generic solution.

Reasonable Pricing

Determining your company KPIs and marketing budget allows agencies to develop strategies that meet your performance indicators and provide realistic projections based on available resources. For example, many clients will give us aspirational targets like boosting organic traffic by getting tens of thousands of visitors to their site or improving their email marketing business goals.

If we know what their budget is, we can manage their expectations by projecting what’s possible while aiming for a high return on investment. Agencies usually charge for their work in the following ways, fixed, flexible, or on a consulting basis:

  • Monthly retainers: A company pays a fixed fee every month for the agency to perform work agreed upon. Some agencies charge a percentage of a company’s ad spend, while others have a fixed retainer, and some do a combination of both.
  • Per hour: An agency carries out agreed work at an hourly rate.
  • Per project: The agency submits a proposal for a specific project with a fixed fee to complete the work.

Remember, you want to find digital agencies with industry experience that provide the best value, not just the best price!

Well Designed Website

Should you trust a digital marketing agency if their website looks like a WordArt document from 1998? Probably not. Websites are the 21st-century storefront or double-page magazine advert. If you’re working with an agency that purports to help companies reach their digital marketing goals, they definitely need to lead by example. An optimized website has the following:

  • Easy to navigate
  • Mobile-friendly, meaning it looks good, regardless of the device it’s viewed on
  • Simply states what the agency is about and their services
  • Has clear contact details
  • Provides case studies or reviews
  • The design is fresh and looks professional
  • Has links to social media the agency is active on

Pro-tip: Trust your gut. It seems superficial, but appearances communicate company culture, aesthetics, and values. So, if you don’t like what you see, there’s a high chance you may not like their work, or be a compatible fit.

Honesty

It should raise an immediate red flag if an agency promises to get your business to the first page of search engine results within a week. A good digital marketing agency will be realistic with you about the timeline of your business objectives. If they claim to produce results that seem too good to be true, they may be indulging in Black hat SEO.

WordStream defines it “as a set of practices that are used to increase a site or page’s rank in search engines through means that violate the search engine’s terms of service.” Search engines like Google issue penalties to a website that may demote its ranking. In worst-case scenarios, it can delist the site completely, leading to a loss in traffic, leads, revenue, and a waste of marketing effort.

A good digital marketing agency will be realistic with you about the timeline of your business objectives.

Not all agencies are dodgy fly-by-night operations, but there can still be expectation discrepancies. The last thing you want is an agency to charge you for increasing “likes” but not sales. We refer to these as vanity metrics in the industry because despite the data looking good, they don’t correlate to business growth. Asking an agency to explain their KPIs will give you a better idea of how they measure success and whether their company culture aligns with yours.

Contact Us

“Still have questions choosing a digital marketing agency? Or maybe want to talk with an expert? Then conact us here and we will be in touch as soon as possible”

Conclusion

A fruitful business partnership is built on trust and mutual gain. There’s nothing wrong with interviewing a few agencies and asking for proposal requests before deciding. If you are looking around, why not consider Comrad Web? As a full-service web design and digital marketing company, we offer web development, SEO, and PPC services. You’ll have less than eight experts assigned to your business when you work with us. Click here for a free consultation to find out where you most need digital marketing help.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you would like to discuss your project, reach out to our specialists.

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About the Author
Stan Bogdashin
Stan co-founded Comrade Digital Marketing and serves as its marketing strategist and IT expert recruiter.
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