Choosing a digital marketing agency is easy.
The hard part is deciding which digital marketing agency to hire.
In today's world, anyone with an internet connection can create a website and offer services as a business owner. The barriers to entry are low or nonexistent.
What … makes choosing the right digital marketing agency so difficult.
However, I do know of a few things that can help make the decision-making process easier. In this article I am going to describe what to look for, what to avoid, how to get the most out of your digital marketing agency, and my top recommendations.
But first let's start at the beginning.
Know your goals and desired results
Every company is different, as is every digital marketing agency.
Digital marketing agencies typically specialize in one or two areas. And while many of them are full service, they usually prefer projects within their area of expertise.
The first step in choosing the right digital marketing agency is understanding your goals and what you want to achieve by working with one.
It may be easier to break this down into results, the goal of those results, and the result you want to achieve. Knowing these things will help you communicate what you want to get out of the project.
And when an agency knows what you're looking for, they know if they can actually help you without wasting time.
Here are some examples of how to get your wheels turning.
Imagine you want to hire an agency to develop a content marketing system. Ultimately, you want a blog that will run continuously on the autopilot without you having to work for it.
- Deliverable: a fully managed content marketing plan, strategy, and system
- Goal: Attract more real visitors to your website with high quality content
- Bottom line: a blog that is 100% managed by someone else
From there, you can search for companies that are a perfect fit for you as you know exactly what to look for and how to communicate your desired results.
You might want to create a series of marketing videos to use on social media and your website, but you don't know how to do it or where to start.
They also want someone to coach you through the process.
- Available: a range of in-brand marketing videos and matching visual assets
- Goal: Communicate your new offering to your audience in a fun and engaging way
- The end result: a finished product and the expertise needed to do it yourself
Now you can actively look for digital marketing agencies ready to coach you in it. Coaching is more practical, so not all video marketing agencies can.
But because you know what you want, you can find the right fit for you.
Imagine the disappointment of hiring someone and realizing that they can't or won't give you what you were really looking for.
For this reason, it is important that you clearly identify your goals and desired results before doing anything else.
7 qualities that make a great digital marketing agency
Now you know what your goals and desired results are. So it's time to talk about what makes excellent digital marketing agencies … great.
So look for these traits while deciding who to work with. They help you review top notch service providers from those who say they are the best with no evidence to back it up.
Let's dive in!
1. A large portfolio and / or list of previous clients
Smart digital marketing agencies take pride in who they work with and what work they do. In addition, they usually show their partnerships for the world to see.
You don't necessarily need to know who your previous customers are (bonus points if you do). However, if you can't find a list of previous clients or examples of their work, it may mean they haven't worked with anyone.
Which … is fine if you are on a budget. But not okay if you're looking for the best of the best.
However, some types of services like content marketing and SEO are not easy to display. Agencies specializing in these areas may not be able to present their work in a portfolio.
However, a customer list is a good indication of their experience.
Note: With services like graphic design or website development, you should see a well-put together presentation of the type of work they have done. If you can't find examples, contact a service provider with a portfolio that meets your expectations.
2. Experienced and specialized team members
Regardless of the type of services you're looking for, it's important to make sure that the agency you hire has the right team members for your project.
For example, you wouldn't hire someone to design a logo if they didn't have a graphic designer.
Check the info page to see if the team members are listed there.
And if not, LinkedIn is a great place to look too. Start by finding the agency.
Then click People to see a list of everyone who works there.
Note: This usually doesn't show you any freelancers or contractors to work with. So it doesn't always show 100% who is on your team.
Additionally, some of their team members may not be on Linkedin at all.
But this is an excellent starting point. You can always ask questions during your consultation if you are not sure.
3. Social proof and a strong reputation in the industry
Social evidence like testimonials and previous customer reviews can give you an in-depth look at working with this agency.
Additionally, smart marketers know the importance of showing social evidence on their website. So if you can't find one, they might not have previous customers or understand the industry as well as you would like.
In addition to positive reviews, negative or neutral reviews can also shed light on areas that the agency is struggling with in order to get a clear understanding of its work.
Lastly, you can search Google for in-depth reviews to see what others in the industry (and their past clients) are saying about their experience with the agency.
4. Similar core values and corporate culture
Take a moment to rethink your company's core values and culture.
Why? Because it's important to work with a digital marketing agency that values the same things and works in a similar environment.
This will ensure that they mesh and work well with your team. Ultimately, an agency is an extension of your business. Choosing an agency with the right values and culture is just as important as considering the quality of their work.
The last thing you want is the stress of working with a group of people who don't appreciate the same things or work the same way.
Take a look at the words and phrases an agency uses to describe what they do. Is this in line with your core values and the expected results?
If not, switch to an agency that feels better.
5. A well designed website
Your website is like a cozy entrance where the right people feel welcome.
The best digital marketers know the importance of a well-designed website. If they don't do internal projects well, then why should you expect them to deliver something better for you?
This is especially true if they offer website development or design services.
So check out the website and listen to your instincts.
If it doesn't feel right or seems poor quality, consider reaching out to an agency that values good design and provides exceptional user experiences.
6. You don't make fancy promises
The kind of results an agency promises on their website is a strong indication of how well they understand the industry.
For example, anyone who claims to quickly get to first place on Google doesn't know that SEO is both a long-term and a short-term marketing strategy. Or that it takes continuous work to wait.
This probably isn't someone you should hire to optimize your website.
Pay close attention to the claims and promises they make.
Make sure they match what you know about the industry. And remember that fancy or seemingly impossible promises are a big red flag.
Stick to digital marketing agencies that offer transparency and realistic promises.
7. And they are easy to get to
The best digital marketing agencies make it as easy as possible for potential clients to get in touch with you.
Navigating their website shouldn't feel like a maze.
In a perfect world, your contact information is no more than a click away, regardless of which page you are on. And they offer a clear call to action so you know what to do next.
Additionally, your first step should be painfully clear. Do they want you to arrange a consultation? Perhaps you should fill out a contact form for more information or an individual offer.
If it's not obvious or you're struggling to figure out how things work, you should choose a digital marketing agency that will make the process easier.
How to work with a digital marketing agency
There are a few things you, as a client, can do to maximize your results and get the most out of your strategic partnership with a digital marketing agency.
By doing these things, you create the conditions for effective and successful collaboration at every stage of the project.
Prepare your team and do your homework
It is important that everyone is on the same page. So meet with your team and let them know the scope of your new project or partnership. Take enough time to prepare for it.
If you owe the agency something, spend time on it and do it well. You need to learn the pros and cons of your business and this is your chance to put it all on the table.
This sets priority for the rest of the project. So don't rush to get it done.
Understand the scope, process, and timeline
Before starting the project, make sure everyone involved agrees on the scope and schedule before proceeding. This is your job as well as that of your agency.
In addition, most digital marketing projects go through these four phases:
- Discovery and research
- Project planning
- Review, results and offboarding
Plan the details of each step with your team and agency so that everything is crystal clear before starting the project.
Don't expect any hands-off experience
The best digital marketing projects work closely together.
Additionally, your contributions, thoughts and ideas will help move the project in the right direction to meet your desired outcomes.
Some agencies and projects work more cooperatively than others. So make sure you understand what they will need from you throughout the project.
It can be helpful to have a dedicated contact person and a team or team member ready to manage the project. Having someone around you can make sure that things don't hold up.
Be ready to lose control
It's important to remember that the agency you hired is great at what you do and that you hired them for one reason – their expertise.
This means that they have complete control over certain aspects of the project so that they can do what they do best. It is also important to listen to what they are saying.
If they have a reason to do certain things, remember that they are the experts.
You don't necessarily have to agree, but it's worth staying open.
If you've never worked with a digital marketing agency before, you will see and experience many new things.
And it's perfectly normal if you don't understand everything that is going on.
It's best to ask questions.
You may not know why they chose this color over this one. Or there is data that you are not getting. Maybe someone said something that doesn't make sense to you.
There is nothing wrong with not knowing. However, asking about the things that you are not sure about is an excellent opportunity for everyone to learn more. It also helps remove uncertainties.
How to find the right digital marketing agency for you
There are countless full-service agencies that offer every imaginable service under one roof. Which … sounds great, but I don't recommend hiring them.
Why? It makes more sense if you think about other industries.
example 1: Would you prefer to hire a general contractor or a custom-made porch specialist to build a custom-made aft deck for your home? The specialist, right?
Example 2: Who Do You See When You Have Certain Medical Problems That Need Attention? A specialist in this particular problem. Or you will be referred to one by your GP.
The best digital marketing agencies stand out for a thing or two, with their other services being add-ons or secondary options.
So choose a niche digital marketing agency that specializes in the types of services you are looking for to get the best results and the best bang for your buck.
The 6 best digital marketing agencies
Now you know what to look for and how to choose the right digital marketing agency for your next project. To get you started, these are my top recommendations from the agency for different types of projects.
1. Neil Patel Digital – Best for SEO and Content Marketing
Neil Patel Digital is a holistic digital marketing agency specializing in content marketing and SEO for brands interested in disrupting their industry.
Our goal is to change the way brands think about the content they produce.
And we also make sure that this content gets the attention it deserves.
Our team of highly skilled content marketers and SEO experts are armed with my proven digital marketing strategies to help your business deliver the right types of content at the right time.
2. Storm Brain – Best for Social Media Marketing and Advertising
Storm Brain specializes in helping brands of all sizes generate more leads and leverage social media through organic and paid campaigns.
They go one step further by looking at customers through an audience's lens to gain and deliver long-term experiences that would otherwise not be possible.
3. Action Rocket – Best for email marketing campaigns
From workshops and online courses to comprehensive email campaign creation services, Action Rocket is an expert in email marketing.
The team specializes in email strategy, design and coding so you don't have to worry about planning or designing your campaigns.
You can also rest assured that your email code is in line with today's best practices.
4. Pop Video – Best for visual content marketing
Pop Video is a visual content marketing agency specializing in video and visual content marketing, bringing together visual assets for digital brands of all sizes.
They know the importance of close collaboration between clients and their team, which is why they refer to themselves as a video partner – not a video producer.
At Pop Video you see yourself as an extension of your team that works in parallel to provide iterative content for every step of the customer journey.
5. Mad Mind – Best for ecommerce brand design
Online shops and e-commerce companies face different challenges. So you need a digital marketing agency that does other things to overcome these obstacles.
The Mad Mind team understands the importance of visual brand and product development, from the look and feel of your website and social media profiles to the intricate details of product packaging.
6. Cubicle Ninjas – Best for branding and website / app development
In a perfect world, your website is your main seller. However, it's no secret that we're not all web developers with a keen eye for design.
But that's why we hire experts, right?
Cubicle Ninjas is a digital marketing agency that specializes in developing custom apps and websites. They use modern design, humor, creative thinking, and the latest technology to create great customer experiences.
The best digital marketing agency is an extension of your team
Every project, large or small, deserves the attention of a true industry expert. However, choosing the right digital marketing agency is often overwhelming.
With tens of thousands of agencies, this is no surprise.
But now you know what to look for, what to avoid, and how to prepare your team. Next time you're looking for a niche digital marketing agency ready to bring your ideas to life, use the tips and traits we talked about.
What do you consider before hiring a digital marketing agency?