Using a digital marketing agency has become more and more popular with businesses big and small. According to marketing statistics by My Codeless Website, “The number of enterprises in the Digital Marketing Agencies industry in the United States increased by 12.0% annually between 2017 and 2022.” Now that’s a lot of agencies to choose from. So where do you start?
Once you have decided that what a digital marketing agency does would benefit your business, it’s time to select one. We’ve all heard stories about companies who ended up using the wrong agency for their business’ goals and wasted money, time, and energy. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a simple checklist of questions to ask internally and with the digital marketing agency before signing that contract.
What are your primary goals for hiring a digital marketing agency?
What are your overall business goals?
First and foremost, it’s important to outline your overall business goals. Every business should take into account what direction the company is going in the long term, market conditions, exit strategies, the competitive landscape, and many other factors in deciding achievable and stretch goals for that business.
If your company is looking to hire a digital marketing agency, chances are there are problems to be solved. From Unfair Advantage’s 14+ years in business, here are some questions to consider when outlining overall company goals:
- What are some factors that are hindering marketing efforts currently?
- Examples might be communication, lack of strategy, lack of resources, etc.
- Are you sticking with the current offerings of your company?
- How often do you expand your offerings?
- Is there a future possibility of a rebrand or site migration ?
- How often are you acquiring new companies?
- How fast is your team growing?
The right digital marketing agency should help you not only reach your digital marketing goals, but also your overall company goals. If the goals can’t be reached, the agency should be able to help develop and meet an alternate goal.
What are your goals for your digital marketing efforts?
Once business goals have been set, you should make sure that you have specific, outlined goals for what you want the agency to provide. Whether that’s SEO efforts that will drive an organic traffic increase of 40% by next year or cutting your CPL in half for paid search campaigns, these goals should be reasonable and well-defined by your internal team before coming into the agency meeting.
What current marketing resources are available?
What level of support do you need?
A key factor to consider when it comes to available resources is manpower. This revolves around the current bandwidth, capability, and level of knowledge of your internal team when it comes to digital marketing. Whether you have a dedicated digital marketing resource or no internal marketing team at all plays a big factor in the choosing the right digital marketing agency for your business.
For example, Unfair Advantage is a digital marketing agency that focuses on companies with little or no experience in digital marketing. This means that we offer more support in terms of overall marketing strategy, customized digital marketing strategies, and task implementation for our engagements.
However, our sister company (un)Common Logic focuses on digital marketing for businesses with more extensive digital marketing experience . This typically shifts the level of support away from how to get started and grow in digital marketing more toward partnership support on strategy, deliverables, optimizing for peak performance and strategy shifts, and communicating with the executive team.
In order to have the best partnership with your potential agency, the digital marketing agency you choose should be able to provide you the level of support that you need to succeed.
How much are you willing to spend on digital marketing?
As much as we don’t want it to be, money is always going to be a factor when it comes to hiring the right digital marketing agency. Your team should be ready with a budget in mind. While it shouldn’t be the only factor, you should have a good understanding of what your company can reasonably afford – especially if it’s going to be a long-term partnership.
With this budget in mind, be sure to have an open communication with the potential digital marketing agency to talk through your team’s needs and what the digital marketing agency will provide. How will you get the best bang for your buck?
How do you like to communicate with your agency?
Do you prefer a local or remote agency?
With the rise of remote working, it’s no longer unusual for agencies to meet completely online. This casts a much wider net on the applicant pool for a new digital marketing agency. However, if your company is the type to love an in-person meeting and stay in the same time zone, a local digital marketing agency may be the best bet.
On the other hand, if your company is all about the work-from-home, remote workstyle and doesn’t mind matching up different time zones, opening up to remote digital marketing agencies may be a better option. (p.s. it’s also a great excuse to take a work trip to a new place!)
Frequent or infrequent?
Whether it’s a zoom call, an in-person meeting, or an email, how and when you communicate with your digital marketing agency should also be considered. Take some time to talk through the process that the agency takes to communicate or implement changes. Some questions to ask may be:
- How often do we meet?
- What is the process for communicating changes and implementing them?
- What is the typical turn-around time for answering emails?
- What is the preferred method of communication?
- How does your agency handle ad hoc or “emergency” cases?
What kind of partnership are you looking for with your new agency?
How and when you communicate with your digital marketing agency is a big part of the type of partnership you want to have with your agency.
Are you looking for an agency that will explain what they’re doing throughout the engagement or are you looking for a completely hands-off type of partnership? Depending on your goals, resources, and state of your business, either one could be extremely effective when handling your digital marketing. What works best with your team?
Does your data disappear into a “black box” or does it belong to your business at the end of the day? How transparent do you want your agency to be about what they’re doing for you and why?
How does the agency respond to changes: are they able to pivot quickly when you have, for example, a surge in new business which then leads to a product shortage? What are the criteria for making changes and when will you know about those changes?
Is the agency a good culture fit for your team?
Do you gel?
At the end of the day, no one likes to work with a team that doesn’t gel with your internal team. Keep in mind that this new digital marketing agency is going to spend hours with your internal team every month. Out of all the agencies out there , some will be a better fit than others. When choosing the right agency, be sure to consider if your team would genuinely enjoy working with the team. This will allow your team to work as a well-oiled machine with productive communication and full trust.