The choice between hiring a digital marketing agency versus going in for a full-fledged marketing team in-house can be like walking-on-a-thin-rope. It is because there are innumerable agencies out there. It becomes even more daunting because there are effective ones, effective and good ones, and really good ones.
Remember choosing the right digital marketing partner is crucial – one because your time is already quite stressed out; and, secondly, because choosing the wrong digital marketing agency can further drain your already strained marketing budgets.
What is a Digital Marketing Agency?
Being online has become essential for all brands today. Why? Because all your customers – a majority of them, at least, are online and expect the same from brands that they use! Online is the right medium to reach out to a larger customer base effectively and most of all, you can measure the performance of your marketing efforts in the digital medium.
The reasoning behind hiring a digital marketing agency is that you need competent professionals to handle the uber complex world of the World Wide Web. From making your online presence optimized for search engines, to paid advertising on social media, to website designing, content marketing, video, and mobile marketing, there are many areas that the digital marketer will get into action – areas that are still unknown to you or your marketing team; gamuts where you are still not confident of navigating through without stumbling and going off track.
7 Steps to Choose the Right Digital Marketing Agency
- A self-analysis of your brand needs and expectations from the digital agency
One of the right places to start the process of searching for the right digital partner is about identifying your business needs or goals. Why is that you need an online presence? What role can a digital marketer play in the achievement of business goals? And on!
To ensure proper identification of the business goals, it is always good to break the goals into achievable and measurable deliverables or practical bits so that there is a roadmap, well-prepared for the agency to base their work on.
Goals could be varying – no two organization is the same; so, the business goals will differ too. Some examples of goals are:
- Redesigning the website – this entails more work on the designing and revamping of the site.
- Getting more traffic to your site – this entails SEO, SEM, and other similar strategies.
- Informing your market about a new launch – this will be more of email and social media marketing.
- Next, make your estimates and understand your budget
There are digital marketers of all types – expensive, cheap, affordable, and so on. How do you know which one is the right one for you?
For this, you need to do your internal estimations, forecasting, and budgeting. Remember, a typical budget should answer three questions – what is your affordability, what is the return that you expect by hiring the digital marketing agency, and, what are the goals that you need to meet. The last question has already been answered in step number 1, above. The answer to the first question will come in from your finance team, and the second from your internal marketing team.
- Which type of agency do you want to work with?
There are different kinds of digital marketing agencies. One distinguishing factor is the expertise – do you want a specialized digital marketer or do you want a conventional agency that has a digital branch. Another area that differentiates digital marketing agencies is in the niche that they work – some are experienced while some may not be from your industry and yet they are creative and have delivered some exceptional out-of-the-box solutions to their clients. The third distinction is usually based on the digital marketing agencies reach – local digital marketers are well-versed with local laws and thoroughly aware of the local market; and global marketers can help you reach out to foreign markets too.
- Decide on the type of working relationship that you wish to have with the agency.
Since the relationship between a brand and the marketing agency is usually perceived as nothing less than a marriage, you need to decide beforehand the kind of commitment you are looking at from the agency.
How do you want them to work with you? As a partner, as an extension of your marketing team, or do you want a contracted vendor that makes itself available when you want? This is one relationship that cannot go wrong – your brand ethics, ideas, and values need to match or complement that of the agency.
- Check their reputation in the industry
If the agency is good and doing commendable work, you will not have to dig too deep to get feedback about them! One medium is the virtual platform where you can collect social proof – look into their social media profiles, read online testimonials and reviews, check their SEO performance, and so on.
- Meet them face-to-face, speak and listen to them
It is a good idea to meet the shortlisted agencies face-to-face. It gives a platform for better interactive discussions. It is also the ideal way to judge them through presentations, questions and answers, brainstorming, etc. What many people do during such meetings is they say what they want. You should, however, use this time to listen to them if you wish to find the right digital marketer. When you listen, you will realize if they are claiming to do too much or making outlandish promises or do they seem real and earthly.
- And finally, ask them do to pass a small test
Sample testing is done in most places. Why not do it with the short-listed digital marketing companies? Give them a small real-time assignment and see upfront how they fare. When you have two or more agencies, you can compare the quality of work to make a better decision. The objective is to evaluate if the proposals and the strategies being suggested are in line with what you want or wish to achieve. It will help you understand how well the digital marketing agency has understood your requirements.