We think that many business owners would agree, especially after the last year of craziness, that having a digital presence and strategy is no longer optional. Consumers are doing more business than ever online, and companies that don’t take digital marketing seriously are feeling the impact.
It’s also unlikely that most business owners have the know-how. Let alone the time, to put together an optimized digital marketing strategy. This is where digital marketing agencies come into play.
Spend any time on social media or YouTube, and you’ll see a plethora of ads for agencies that claim that they can teach you in as little as five minutes how to drive $1 trillion in online sales. Well, here is the truth: if it sounds too good to be true, chances are that it is too good to be true.
With that in mind, how do business owners choose the right digital marketing agency? The sheer volume of agencies out there can make the process daunting.
While we won’t pretend to have all the answers about what agency is the best fit for your business, there are some basic questions we encourage you to ask BrandCraft and any other agency you’re considering. These questions can help you find out if you’re ready to take the next step with an agency and which agency is right for your needs.
Am I ready to work with a digital marketing agency?
One of the most common misconceptions that clients have when partnering with a digital marketing agency is that signing means their job is done. While there are agencies out there that are happy to take your money every month without driving any meaningful results (you know who you are), a successful partnership involves efforts from both sides and working toward a common goal.
Some of the questions to ask yourself are:
- Do I have the foundation in place? Does your website look like it was built before the first dot-com craze? Do you have a way to track what users are doing on your site?
- Do I have an adequate budget? One of the most frustrating things for us as an agency is to invest time into a client only to find out that they don’t have the budget to support their goals. Before meeting with an agency, take the time to ensure that you have the budget available to make an impact in your market.
- Do I have the time to partner? For any relationship to work, there has to be time invested by both parties. Entering into a partnership with an agency without investing any time is the quickest way for that partnership to fail and to waste both time and money.
- Do I have realistic goals? This goes hand in hand with budget considerations. You can meet with an agency and tell them that your goal is to drive 100 new leads a month when you don’t have a matching budget, but the most you’ve ever produced is 10 leads. Be realistic with your goals. Like most great things, success comes with time.
The proof is in the pudding.
Once you’ve determined that your company is ready to work with a marketing company, the next step is finding the right agency for your business. One of the best ways to determine if an agency is worth investing into is to review how they do their own marketing.
If an agency can’t market themselves, how do you know they can make a difference for your company?
- What does their website look like? When you visit their site, does it remind you of something that was in a late ‘90s hacker movie, or is it something that inspires you to engage and learn more?
- Are they actively creating content for themselves? When was their last blog post published? Does the copy on their site look contemporary and up to date? Again, if a company isn’t willing to invest in their own content, then you might question whether they can give the right amount of attention to your site’s content.
- Are they active on social media? Was their last post on Facebook six months ago? Is every message on their page a pitch to try and get work? Do they understand that social media is intended to be social? Social media profiles provide a great representation of a company’s values. The way an agency interacts on social media can indicate whether they’re a good match for your own company’s values.
- What do they guarantee? We’ll be really honest here. Any digital marketing company that “guarantees” they can provide specific performance is a big red flag. Anyone who has spent a good amount of time in this industry understands that while we can accurately predict campaign performance based on experience, and we should always have confidence in our abilities to drive performance, there are too many factors involved in most campaigns for us to make any guarantees. We suggest proceeding with caution if an agency is quick to make a guarantee.
What do others say about them?
It’s fair to say that we have all seen websites where companies make themselves sound like the second coming of Gandhi when they’re actually more like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.
Find out what others are saying about those digital marketing agencies online to get the full picture of who you are dealing with before you start the conversation.
Don’t just take the agency’s word for it.
- Do they share testimonials on their site? I know, I know. I just told you not to trust everything on their site. That still stands, but if a client doesn’t have client testimonials online, it can indicate a larger problem. Take a look at their testimonials. But remember that these are typically the happiest clients if they take the time to share. Take that into consideration.
- How do they interact with clients on social media? A great indicator of how an agency treats their clients is how they interact with users on social media. Do they take negative comments head on and work toward a solution, or do they leave problems unanswered? Do they engage their users through comments? These interactions give you a glimpse into the agency’s values.
- What do online review forums say about them? Similar to how they interact on social media, how does the company deal with online reviews across different sites (like Google)? Do they have reviews? We all understand it’s the Internet, and some users just wake up in the morning and choose violence. But there are also some great company insights in reviews. Remember that the truth is most likely in the middle.
- What do their employees say about them on sites like Glassdoor? Want to get a peek behind the curtain? Look at what their employees are saying about them online. Does the company care about their employees? Chances are that if they don’t treat their employees well, your company won’t be treated much differently. Values start from within. If a company doesn’t match with your values in terms of how they treat their staff, they’re most likely not the best fit for you.
There you have it. These are by no means all the factors to consider when engaging a digital marketing agency. However, they’re some great starting points to determine if an agency is a good fit before investing your energy–and especially your time and money.
Ready to partner with a digital marketing company that has your best interests in mind? BrandCraft is a top digital marketing agency with offices in the Tri-Cities and Spokane. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today to talk to one of our specialists.