As 2020 comes to an end, most businesses across various industries have realised that digital marketing is not optional anymore.
Operating on the web is going to be critical to success for almost all businesses in the future and having the right resources to successfully market themselves to the right audiences is going to be a major differentiating factor.
While hiring new marketing resources can be expensive and after the year we have had, even impossible for many businesses, working with a web marketing company seems like a viable solution to this problem.
With that said, outsourcing any function of your business can turn out to be a difficult decision. When the function you are outsourcing is marketing, something that is responsible for presenting your business in front of potential customers, outsourcing can feel especially daunting.
However, outsourcing marketing to a digital marketing need has almost become a necessity for most businesses. In such a scenario, the only thing you can do to improve the likeliness of a positive outcome is to be diligent about the marketing agency you choose to work with.
Sure, doing so may sound like a straightforward task, the reality is that the market has been populated by thousands of players. Like most other industries with a low barrier of entry the digital marketing industry now consists of thousands of agencies that claim to have the marketing expertise that businesses need today.
But the harsh truth is that not all marketing agencies are created equal. Not all of them have the equal number of resources or the same kind of expertise. Finding the right fit for your business may be difficult, but at the end of the day, making the right decision is only in the hands of the business owner (you).
To make the process of selecting the right digital marketing agency for your business a little less painstaking, we have written this article.
In the following sections, we will be talking about the skills you must look for, when picking a digital marketing agency. We will be discussing the skills that go beyond the basic skills that marketing agencies need to be called marketing agencies (like SEO, social media marketing, web design capabilities, etc.).
We will be discussing the skills that differentiate amazing marketing agencies from the crowd. Without further delay, let’s begin.
The phrase, “if you are selling to everyone, you are selling to no one” fits very well for marketing agencies.
One of the most in-demand skills when it comes to choosing marketing agencies is niche expertise. As the name suggests, the term refers to expertise built in serving one specific niche. With so many agencies in the market, niche expertise has kind of become one of the unique selling points for many agencies, and for good reason.
Having expertise in a particular niche reflects that the agency has spent time and put some serious efforts in understanding the businesses operating in that niche, and the customers they are targeting. It also means that niche experts have identified the strategies that are most likely to drive results for businesses in a specific niche.
When looking at agencies that work exclusively or regularly with businesses in your niche, it is a good idea to further filter your options by the kind of projects they have worked on.
However, to do this, you must have a clear marketing objective in mind. For instance, if you are a B2B business that is seeking marketing help for launching your unique new product, you should look for agencies that have worked on similar projects in the past.
If you are able to find multiple options, you can compare the results they have driven for their existing clients, along with the number of similar projects they have successfully delivered.
Filtering your options by niche expertise, and then by their experience with projects that are similar to yours will help you pick an agency that can replicate the results they have driven for similar businesses in the past.
While this may not absolutely guarantee a positive outcome, it will surely improve the likeliness of getting one.
The ability to predict results
No, we are not talking about the ability to predict the future. However, when you approach a marketing agency (or are approached by one), they usually make at least a few claims about the kind of results they can deliver for your business.
At this point, if any agency is offering you results that are simply too good to be true, they probably are. You can verify the same by asking them about the details of the plan they will implement to deliver the results they are promising. If they are able to lay out a detailed plan before you, you can consider working with them. However, if an agency and its representatives are giving vague answers or dodging your questions, consider it a major red flag.
On the other extreme, if an agency promises you rigid bottom-of-the-funnel revenue numbers, it is an enormous red flag.
You may be thinking that you are spending all that money on marketing only to get better revenue numbers, so an agency promising a rigid revenue boost should be good. However, the truth is that it is nearly impossible for agencies to predict something like this.
The truth is that when it comes to marketing results, a lot of variables are at play. For instance, if you are in a competitive market, getting the desired results will probably take a long time. So anyone offering you quick results should be further investigated.
Think about this: proving the ROI of digital marketing involves many hurdles. Even when an agency has access to all the tools that measure the ROI of various marketing activities, there is hardly any technology that can accurately calculate the ROI of social media interactions and content generation. When measuring the ROI is so difficult, how can anyone predict the results they will deliver?
Looking at the past experience and the work of an agency is the only way to set vague expectations of the results you can expect from them.
Tracking and reporting capabilities
As mentioned in the previous section, for businesses operating in competitive markets, getting results will take a long time.
In fact, besides advertising on the web, most organic strategies will take at least a few weeks to deliver results. Over this time, your prospects will be treated to an entire experience designed to convert them into paying customers.
While the ability to create such an experience obviously matters, many business owners tend to overlook the other part of this equation.
Since the agency you work with will be implementing different strategies and tactics at different stages of the prospect’s journey to becoming a customer, they will need to track different metrics to evaluate the success of each stage of their grand plan.
For instance, for top-of-the-funnel strategies like generating blog content, there is no direct correlation with revenue. However, producing quality content is a critical part of most marketing strategies, so measuring the effectiveness of your content production efforts is important. At this stage, the most commonly tracked metrics are related engagements, that is, number of comments, likes, and shares. Some agencies may even go a step further to measure the number of visits and the average time per visit.
Knowing which metrics are important at different stages of a prospect’s journey, and having access to the knowledge, skills, and tools to track them is thus one of the most important attributes for any marketing agency.
Most agencies know this and track standard metrics. However, their ability to build marketing strategies that align with your business goals can only be measured by the level of customisation they are willing to offer in their reports to you.
If they are willing and able to track the metrics that are most important to achieving your business goals, you may want to consider working with them.
If, however, they quote the same metrics as everyone, or are unable to specify exactly how they will tailor their services to your unique needs, it is best to move on to other options.
With the presence of so many agencies out there, finding the right one can be a time consuming process. Add considerations related to budget and the scope of work to the mix, and one quickly realises that choosing the right agency is easier said than done.
While we hope that the advice shared in this article will help, we want to wrap up with a final and perhaps the most important piece of advice: don’t settle.
Keep looking till you find the absolute perfect agency for your business. Cutting corners or rushing into decisions has rarely brought about positive results. As mentioned earlier, the agency you choose will be responsible for presenting your business to the world.
That’s why, you must not compromise on even one attribute or quality when you look for the ideal agency for your business.