How to Hire a Digital Agency: A Buyer’s Guide
In today’s day and age, where the internet has not only changed the way business owners and customers offer and look for products and services but the entire way we live our everyday lives, not having a solid online presence can mean the death of an otherwise promising business idea or prospect.
It’s not that all companies would simply go out of business without a good digital marketing strategy (some definitely would), but the lack of one will probably hold them back in generating the revenue they otherwise could.
With the internet playing such a crucial role not only in the business world but in our private lives too, the impact of a strong online marketing strategy shouldn’t be played down.
In the old days…
In the glory days of internet marketing, business owners had it much simpler. Running a company page on Facebook was easier, there were no paid budgets and you could get away with a few sloppy behind the scenes shots of the office and coworkers because the accent was more on your products and services and not on your brand’s capabilities of storytelling.
Also, search engines and algorithms were less sophisticated, there was no voice search, no in-content purchase options… All in all, more tech-savvy business owners could get the hang of a few handy online marketing practices which could help them become more prominent in the digital realm, reaching more people and thus, generating more revenue.
Enter present day
A lot has changed since the dawn and the glory days of online marketing and today, business owners would have to do the work of at least five or six professionals to prepare a winning online strategy.
May that be basic web design, SEO or social media marketing skills, graphic design, content marketing paid ad management, automation or online sales-funnel creation, business owners must be on the top of their game in all these areas if they want their online sales strategies to yield good results.
This WILL get overwhelming if they want to pull this off by themselves. Luckily, along with the evolution of digital marketing strategies, purposefully formed digital marketing agencies have shown up too, who offer their expertise and services for businesses.
How to find the right digital agency?
With such a huge emphasis on digital marketing today, a lot of entrepreneurs seem to struggle with finding the right agency to work with. Why? Well, for starters, the pool of marketers has never been larger, meaning that there’s more room for people whose chops aren’t up to par, to put it politely.
However, it’s not just about expertise. While it’s true that the market is getting saturated, it’s also true that a lot depends on the business needs of the entrepreneur, the industry they are working in and the results they are looking to achieve.
That is why in this article we are going to look into the dos and don’ts of hiring a digital marketing agency.
In most cases, companies look for digital marketing agencies when they
- Want to induce growth in the company
- Need the necessary tools to build a better online presence
- Clean up the mess of the previous digital marketing agency
It’s needless to say that this last problem is the most embarrassing one and one of the most common.
Don’t get us wrong, hiring a digital marketing agency is crucial for your business’s success, however, hiring the right agency can sometimes be difficult since business owners seem to get sidetracked by great agency sales pitches and other selling tactics that work — but mostly on paper and before sealing the deal.
So, what to look for?
1. Ask yourself: Am I ready for this?
Before you get started, this should be your first question. Do you have the budget to run different ads on different platforms? Is your website up-to-date? Is your team ready to support the improved online presence? Are you ready to sometimes “take orders” or criticism from a group of people you pay to strengthen your brand on the internet? These are all important things and if you find yourself struggling to accept them, you might be better off leaving digital marketing out of your overall business strategy or do what you can by yourself.
2. Look for an agency with a good reputation and results which could be backed up.
It’s easy to fall for all those shiny SEO presentations with dozens of infographics that you don’t really understand, to begin with.
A digital marketing agency has the tools and the knowledge to create a flawless advertising strategy showcasing and magnifying all their assets. However, when you see an agency investing so much in their own marketing you should get the feeling that something’s fishy.
Instead of a legion of salesmen, look for an agency with a legion of professionals. This might mean you won’t understand all the tech-talk they use at first, but at least you know that their work is being done and you don’t have to deal with a brand development manager who’s sugarcoating everything.
Also, be critical when you hear their offers too. Some agencies tend to go overboard and promise things they know they can’t deliver.
3. Know your needs and do your research
This one is pretty much self-explanatory. If you already know that you need an agency, then you probably know why. Is it because you need a new website? Do you need SEO? You need somebody to run paid ad campaigns and/or social media? Are you looking for automation options or sales-funnel implementation?
If you only need one or two services, chances are, you won’t have to close a deal with a boutique agency that will charge you a significant sum of money for their entire package that you don’t even fully need. If you know what you want, look for specialized agencies that operate exclusively within the borders of your industry and expertise. Sometimes, a smaller agency, specialized for only a few things can give you better results than a complete digital marketing plan. If you know what you’re after that is.
Doing your research is also crucial. Don’t solely rely on your first Google-search to find your agency. Ask other entrepreneurs, check out more agencies, set up meetings, go through case studies, and look for testimonials (both fake and real). Put in the necessary time and reading. You want your money to be well spent.
Also, don’t hire an agency just because they’re local. First of all, a good agency can dominate any market since the internet allows them to, making the need to go local SEO a bit obsolete.
4. Good things won’t come cheap
If you want quality, chances are, you’ll have to pay for it. Most low-cost agencies use black hat technologies and tactics to achieve their goals which aren’t guaranteed to work in your favor in the long run. Cheap, keyword-stuffed, unreadable content, paid links and fake likes may work in the short term but will fail to bring true value.
What can a good agency do?
We’ve been talking a lot about online presence and growth but failed to mention other key points. When you find a great and reliable agency, you can afford yourself to focus solely on your business or the offline aspects of your business.
Your overall costs will be less, you will become more recognizable online and you’re working with a group of professionals which can always lead to new business ideas and potential partnerships.
At the same time, it gives you and your team a great opportunity to learn more about everything digital and to turn online leads into customers.
Putting it all together
Hiring a digital agency shouldn’t be rocket science but in order to make the right decision, you need to put in the necessary research. Get to know the industry, get to know your online needs and see if you can get up-to-date with the latest digital trends.
The more you know about what you need the easier it will be the hire the right agency in the right price range. Making educated decisions is never a bad thing and in the case of digital agencies it wouldn’t only mean the opportunity of scaling your business, but the possibility of creating new partnerships and even achieving further growth.