How to Choose a Digital Marketing Agency

two women working at a digital marketing agency

So you think you need a digital marketing agency? Why? Does your brand need more recognition? Does your website only serve as a brochure and not as an active participant in your digital and sales strategy? With so many agencies out there offering a range of services, from web design, content creation, social media marketing, and more, it can be hard to determine which one will best meet your business goals and objectives—not to mention help you maximize ROI.

Whether you’re just starting out on this journey or are already well-versed in selecting businesses to partner with, this blog will impart valuable insights into what makes for a successful PARTNERSHIP, because that is truly what this is.

Know Your Business Goals

Before you get caught up in web design, content creation or social media marketing tactics, take a step back and ask yourself what it is you’re looking to achieve. Are you hoping to increase your leads? Boost sales? Establish brand awareness? All of these require a different strategic approach. It is not a one size fits all and knowing your business goals will help focus your search for a marketing agency.

A high-quality agency will always start with data from research and discovery to build a strategy around your business goals. Asking questions is the best way to determine if they are a strategy-first agency or all tactics and fluff. 

Watch for Red Flags

When choosing the digital marketing agency to partner with your business, be sure to keep your eyes open for red flags. The old saying “you get what you pay for” applies to the marketing industry in spades. Some common red flags in our field include:

1. Lack of Communication

Effective communication is the linchpin of any successful partnership. Imagine sending out an important message, about a new project or service only to hear crickets in response. Lack of communication is a significant red flag when dealing with a digital marketing agency. An agency that fails to keep you in the loop or responds slowly could lead to frustration and missed opportunities.

2. Over-Promising Results

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” This is especially true in the world of digital marketing. An agency that makes wild promises of overnight success or instant page-one rankings is likely on a path to over-promising and underdelivering. A reliable agency sets realistic expectations and provides a transparent roadmap to success. While digital strategies can yield impressive results, they require time, patience, and expertise.

3. Lack of Transparency

In the digital marketing realm, a lack of transparency can signal hidden costs, unreliable vendors or questionable practices. You should have a clear understanding of the practices and strategies being employed on your behalf, the progress being made, and the results being achieved.

4. Tactical vs. Strategic

A red flag arises when an agency focuses solely on tactical executions without a comprehensive strategy in place. I’m going to be honest, this one we harp on a lot. Effective digital marketing isn’t just about posting content and running ads; it’s about aligning these actions with a well-defined strategy that drives toward your business goals. An agency that lacks a strategic approach might create a rush of activity but fail to steer you toward tangible and impactful results.

5. Not Data Driven

In today’s data-rich environment, insights into user behavior, engagement, and conversions are invaluable in refining strategies and maximizing results.If an agency isn’t using data to refine and optimize your campaigns, it’s a red flag that they might be relying on guesswork rather than evidence-based strategies. Look for agencies that not only collect data but also translate it into actionable insights that fuel continuous improvement.

I have always been told, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.” This is true when hiring a digital marketing agency as well. The majority of these red flags will make themselves known in the early conversations and are clear signs that you need to go another direction.

Confirm They are Who They Say They are

When you are looking to outsource your digital marketing efforts, it is vital that you do your due diligence and make sure you are dealing with a reliable and experienced agency that understands your business and services.

Start with your network. Ask people you know and trust who they have used and who they would recommend.

From there, it’s always essential to ask for the agency’s credentials before you get too far along in the hiring process – if they can’t provide evidence of their relevant expertise or a high-quality portfolio, chances are you should look elsewhere. Any experienced agency should have case studies and client testimonials easily available on their website. 

Good vs a Great Digital Marketing Agency

There are many good agencies out there, finding a great agency has less to do with their experience and more to do with “are they a good fit” for you and your team. 

Your digital marketing agency is not a vendor, they are a partner and it is key that there is a cultural fit between you and the agency. Do they respect your point of view? Are they open to creative solutions? Do you and they have a good rapport? As an agency, we ask these same questions of our potential clients as well. Why? Say it with me… its a partnership. 

Partnering with an experienced and professional digital marketing agency can make a world of difference in helping you reach your business goals. Ultimately, it requires some research and dialogue to find the right digital marketing agency that fits what you are looking for, but getting it right will help build long-term success and create new opportunities for your business to succeed.