How to choose a digital marketing agency.
This is a guest blog post contributed by Brian Maher of WebAgency.
Choosing the right digital agency has never been more important. Digital marketing offers the potential to track ROI much more accurately than is possible with offline media. Plus, the digital revolution is not going away; more users are engaging online more often and with more brands than ever before. Simply put, few brands can afford to be without an effective digital marketing strategy.
If you want to embrace this “new” industry and benefit from the advantages that it presents, you must work with a company that understands your unique marketing and communication requirements.
In this article I’ll present 5 elements that will help you choose the right digital partner for your business.
The first question you should ask is: What services does the company offer? Your digital agency should offer digital marketing as well as web design services. When your web designer understands digital marketing they will be able to build your site to incorporate your marketing objectives; this means that they’ll design with consideration for search engine accessibility and usability (this is sometimes called SEO web design).
Working with a single, full serviced digital marketing company also means less work for you as you won’t have to source multiples agencies or manage communication between each of the people providing different digital elements.
A full serviced company should offer:
• Web design and development
• Web strategy and planning
• Search engine optimisation
• Search engine marketing
• Online advertising
• Social media marketing
• Copy writing
• Mobile web solutions
• Email marketing
These days, it’s usual that most of the above services will be delivered as standard by one agency, but the agency may also work closely with preferred partners to deliver specific technologies, like mobile or social media applications. This is the norm and you can feel comfortable working with agencies that operate like this as long as they have an established relationship with their partner vendor and they will stand over the quality of the finished work.
2. New technologies
Online marketing is evolving faster than any marketing medium that came before it. Just a few years ago, companies including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter did not even exist. Now, some of their sites boast user numbers as high as 800 million.
Digital marketing moves quickly, so you should work with an agency that values research. Seek out an agency populated by people who are geeks for trends and who enjoy learning about and trialing new technologies. They will ensure that your brand remains at the crest of the digital wave. Make them your new best friends.
An experienced agency should have an extensive portfolio of work. Review this and familiarise yourself with it. This portfolio will give you a good sense of an agency’s capabilities and will help you to make better sense of references and testimonials.
However, there’s always a pinch of salt. When you’re viewing an agency’s portfolio remember that the agency is only as creative as their client and that the work that the agency does is tailored to that client’s marketing and communication objectives (and the specifics of the brief).
It’s particularly valuable to review work completed for clients in an industry or sector similar to your own. This said, avoid partnering with an agency that currently works with one of your direct competitors as this can create a conflict of interest.
4. Meet key people
People drive ideas and people rather than technology will determine whether your project is a success or a failure. With this in mind, always take the time to meet the key people within an agency. This will help you to ascertain whether the company has the values and work ethic that you are looking for.
I usually request an initial meeting at their offices. This helps me to gauge their work environment and get a feel for their operation. You might also request a presentation on their services and existing clients.
5. Do they practice what they preach?
It’s not unusual to meet an agency and walk away with a positive feeling, only to find out that they have no digital strategy for their own business – or worse, that they appear beside negative comments in reviews or on board sites.
Personally, I don’t feel 100% comfortable giving my SEO account to a company that has a low search engine presence, particularly for really closely related terms or for their company name.
It’s important that the agency you choose to work with believes in the services they are selling to the point they are implementing them themselves.
Finally, when you’ve narrowed down your search and are selecting between a handful of agencies, remember that you should choose an agency on the basis of quality rather than price. All too often clients are fixated on the price tag and think that the lowest fee will guarantee them a good return on investment. This is rarely the case. High quality, effective and efficient service will always win in the long run.
Choosing an agency should never be about the first date, but rather about the potential for a meaningful, long-term relationship (yep, digital marketing just got soppy). Choosing the right agency can be the beginning of something beautiful.