Sep 15, 2015
How to choose a digital marketing agency
How to choose a digital marketing agency.
Have you been told that you absolutely must have a digital marketing agency to succeed in business nowadays? And have you been hearing that from… digital marketing agencies?
All of the noise and hubbub surrounding digital marketing agencies can be difficult to sort out, especially if you’re not sure what a digital marketing agency does, why you need one, and how you find one.
Don’t fret, though. This article will explain what a digital marketing agency is, why you need one, and what criteria matter during the selection process.
Digital Marketing Agencies: A Definition
In order to understand what a digital marketing agency does, you need to know what the term “digital marketing” means. The Financial Times defines “digital marketing” as “the marketing of products or services using digital channels to reach consumers.”
Simply put, a digital marketing agency is a firm that uses digital channels (such as laptops, desktops, tablets, smartphones, social media, digital signage, and search engine marketing) to attract, engage, and retain customers. How do they do this? Marketing specialists develop strategies to determine who your customers are and how best to reach them.
Why Do You Need a Digital Marketing Agency?
You might be asking yourself, “Can’t I just reach out to customers on my own without having to pay someone else to do it?” The answer to that question is yes. However, the situation is similar to giving yourself a haircut. You might be able to hold a pair of scissors, but wouldn’t you rather trust your appearance to a professional?
Digital marketing isn’t your business’ core competency. Yes, anyone can tweet or post an update to Facebook. It takes someone with a deep knowledge of best practices for digital media to do either of those tasks effectively, though. And if you’re just focusing on Facebook and Twitter, you’re missing out on a wealth of opportunities to interact with your customers. Digital marketing specialists (should) know where your audience “hangs out” online and what to say or do to catch their attention.
What to Look for in a Digital Marketing Agency
There is no shortage of digital marketing agencies out there. How do you know if you’re choosing the right one, though? There are several questions you should ask:
- How much experience does this agency have? Let’s go back to the example of the haircut. You could let your Aunt Ida, who watched a couple of YouTube tutorials on the subject, cut your hair. Or, you could go to your local barber shop and allow a trained professional with years of experience do the job. Although digital marketing is a fairly new field and many of the rules are still being written (and rewritten), there are people who have a firm grasp on the principles of what makes a digital marketing strategy successful.
- Does it have experience in my sector or industry? A digital marketing firm might have been in business for the past ten years and run dozens of successful campaigns. If the staff has never developed a digital media strategy for a firm in your sector or industry, keep looking for someone else who has.
- Is an intern going to be working on my account, or will I be getting an account manager? Returning to the issue of experience, you want someone who knows what they’re doing to develop your digital marketing strategy. While it’s great that an intern will be involved in the project, you don’t want him or her running the whole show.
- How long does it take the contact person to respond to emails or phone calls? It’s important to remember that you’re not the agency’s only client. But, a turnaround time of two days is unreasonable. Moreover, if the contact person goes on vacation or gets sick, the agency should have a plan in place for who will take over and answer your questions and work with you.
- What services does the agency offer (and which do you really need)? Some firms specialize in paid search. Others offer SEO and analytics. And there are full service digital marketing agencies that provide a wider range of options. The strategy that works best for you might be some combination of services. You’ll only find this out when you meet with representatives from a few agencies.
- Is the agency a good fit for our business? You might think that this question is related to how much experience an agency has, or whether it’s handled many accounts in your sector or industry. Well, it is and it isn’t. Those things are crucial. However, you also want to ensure that your digital marketing agency is a good cultural fit for your business. Are employees driven by the same values you are? Are they advocates and cheerleaders? Do they put your interests first? Those are the questions you need to ask.
Where to Find a Digital Marketing Agency
Now that you know what to look for in a digital marketing agency, you need to find one. How do you do that?
There are a few paths you could take. First, you could go to Google and type in the phrase “how to find a digital marketing agency.” You’ll get over 63 million results, with the first results being digital marketing agencies that are in your geographic area.
Next, you could go onto Twitter. Twitter can help you in either two ways: you can write a tweet asking for someone to recommend a good digital marketing agency, or you can look at the Twitter feeds of local digital marketing agencies (or those that specialize in your industry or sector).
A third method would be to look at LinkedIn. Much like with Twitter, you could either post a status asking for recommendations, or you can review the LinkedIn company page. An agency’s LinkedIn page should contain updates on projects as well as links to articles demonstrating thought leadership.
The best way to find a digital marketing agency is through referrals. Ask representatives from other companies in your field who they would recommend. Don’t be shy about asking any marketing agencies you’re talking to about providing references.
A digital marketing agency can inject new life into your business, if you choose the right one. Being hasty can lead to the wrong decision. Take your time and think carefully. Patience and commitment to the process will yield positive results.