It can be both exciting and daunting entering into a partnership with a Digital Marketing Agency.
The exciting parts are that it’s enriching to work with a digital partner to hone in on who you are, your goals as a business or organisation, who your target audience is, and how you want to reach them. It’s also exciting to see how an agency can help propel your business forward in terms of enhancing customer reach and achieving return on investment.
The daunting parts are, there are so many agencies out there, it’s hard to know which to choose. There are also so many marketing tactics available, it’s hard to know which will best serve your business.
Here we’ll take a look at what you should think about when you’re looking for a digital marketing agency for your business.
What to consider when hiring a digital marketing agency
Before you hire an agency, there’s a few things to put thought into. Whilst you’ll flesh some of the following out with your chosen SEO or SEM agency, time is money, so the more you can do ahead of time, the less need there’ll be to do it with the agency.
Doing a bit of prep work and thinking about the following points is essential as it will help you choose the right agency for you, and help you refine what it is you want from that agency— rather than going in blind. So, consider the following.
Your marketing budget
How much you can spend with an agency impacts what marketing channels you can employ.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
With a small budget, you might need to focus on SEO, which works towards gaining traction through organic search results, without paying for advertising.
If you work with an SEO agency on this, in terms of cost, your investment goes into setting up your website to be search engine optimised, creating content to drive organic traffic to your website, and towards the continual running and refinement of your SEO strategy.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
For SEM, you’ll need a budget that allows you to pay Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising platforms like Google Ads and Microsoft Ads (formerly Bing Ads) for exposure to your content, on an ongoing basis. (If you stop paying for PPC, your SEM strategy ends.)
When a digital agency runs your SEM strategy, you’re paying not only for those continual PPC payments, but also for ongoing monitoring and management of your strategy.
Neither SEO or SEM are set-and-forget strategies, and both require ongoing monitoring, testing and optimisation to ensure advanced performance. Many businesses and organisations will be best served with a combination of both SEO and SEM. (Your SEO agency is likely an SEM agency as well, and will have specialists onboard to deliver both strategies!)
SEO and SEM aren’t the only marketing channels you might use your budget for. Other effective channels you might consider are:
- SMM (Social Media Marketing) paid or organic - using popular social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, LinkedIn and TikTok to reach a target audience. Read more about the Social Media channels receiving high ROI here.
- Content Marketing - creating and publishing content on your website that is useful to your target audience, such as how tos and white papers, with a hope that customers come to you, rather than you reaching out to them.
- Email Marketing - engaging users who land on your site to consent to receiving emails from your business, with the aim of driving them further down the sales funnel. Email marketing is commonly handled by in-house marketing teams, although a digital agency can do this for you. (When combined with an effective SEO, SEM and SMM strategy, email marketing can be an effective channel for driving conversions.)
- Video marketing - using popular video platforms like YouTube and Twitch to reach a target audience. Video marketing is also the most popular format of ads on Facebook and Instagram.
What is your target audience?
Whilst part of the work you’ll do with a digital marketing agency will be working out what your target audience is, it’s helpful to know as much as you can about your customer from the outset.
So do as much research as you can to identify who is currently buying your products/accessing your services, then think about who you aren’t reaching and would like to.
A digital marketing agency will assist you to refine the picture better, using buyer personas to understand your audience. They’ll help work out the needs of your customer and understand what your customer is looking for, before they develop a tailored marketing strategy.
Knowing your audience is intrinsically important to creating content that is valuable to your customer—content which shows up when they search online.
Who are your competitors?
It’s likely you’re well aware of your competitors. You probably know their digital offering intimately.
Look a little closer.
What is it that they offer that you don’t? What do they do better than you? Why is it they rank higher in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) than you do?
How could you match them by offering an even better online experience? What makes your business different?
All these are questions you’ll need to answer when a digital agency asks, so it helps if you’re ready.
Who do you admire?
What businesses do you aspire to emulate? What websites do you absolutely love?
Having a handful of websites you really dig gives a digital agency a clear picture of what you are striving for. They’ll then be able to give you a realistic idea at the outset of whether it’s something they can achieve for you.
It’s also helpful to give examples of what you don’t like.
To add to this, if there’s an agency that has created a number of the websites you admire, you might want to contact them to see if they are a good fit for you. Generally speaking, a reputable digital agency will say no to a client if they don’t think they’re the right agency for the job (for whatever reason), and they may be able to direct you towards agencies who might better be able to cater to what you need.
What do you think of your current website?
No doubt you have some thoughts about your current website, otherwise you wouldn’t be looking to hire an SEO or SEM agency. It helps if you can make a note of all the things on your website you don’t think are working.
As part of an overall SEO strategy, an SEO company will scrutinise your website and look for things like how long it takes pages to load, and if your site is optimised for both desktop and mobile.
If there are already problems you know of, it’s helpful if you can flag them, especially for those early discussions with the SEO agency, so they know what you’re hoping to achieve and if they can help. You may be surprised to find that things you think are terrible, are actually bringing in traffic!
What are your values?
Whilst you don’t need to share exactly the same values as your digital partner, it helps if you can be on the same page a little. So before you hire a digital marketing agency (or Social media management agency), have a read of their core values on their website, and see if they align with the values of your business.
Another thing to consider is agency size. If you want to work with an agency with a lot of hustle and bustle, one of the larger agencies might suit your vibe. If you prefer something more intimate, a smaller, boutique agency might be a better fit.
Ultimately, you want to work with people you feel comfortable with, as you’ll be spending a fair bit of time together . You really need to feel open about what your goals are for your business and feel comfortable when giving feedback, whether negative or positive. So, it helps if you have a good rapport with your agency.
Who else has the agency worked for?
If you’re investigating a social media management agency, SEO or SEM agency, it’s a great idea to scour their website to see who their other clients are. Then, look at the online presence of those clients. Do you like what you see? Are you impressed with their results?
Online testimonials on an agency website are always worth a read, but you don’t have to leave it there. You can also contact businesses the agency has worked for, and ask them about their experience.
Whilst there are numerous reputable agencies out there, the digital marketing industry is largely unregulated. There are plenty of SEO contractors and agencies who fail to deliver, and if you’re at the receiving end of poor work, there may be no recompense. So tread carefully when making your choice.
Taking that next step…
Once you’ve done all your homework, it’s time to approach the digital agency.
Remember, though you may have a favoured agency in mind, it’s still worth getting in touch with a few agencies to see what they might be able to offer you. Who you thought would be a good match, might not end up being the most suitable.
Here are a couple of tips when it comes to entering into initial discussions.
- Beware of false promises. An agency can never guarantee results. What they can do is clearly outline deliverables before they commence work. Deliverables should include:
- An outline of the exact tasks they’ll complete as part of your overall SEO, SEM, SMM, or other strategy
- how they’ll monitor and optimise their strategy
- how much time they’ll spend on the strategy
- how they’ll relay results to you
- Be certain you’re happy with the terms of any contract you sign with a digital agency. A rolling contract is generally preferable, so that if you’re not seeing results, you aren’t bound to that agency in the long-term.
In saying that, some results don’t appear immediately, particularly with SEO strategies, so it may take some time investing with an agency before you can know if their strategy is working.
We’ll leave it there. Happy Digital Agency hunting!
Consider Salt & Fuessel
If you’re looking to take the next step in working with a well-respected digital agency, Salt & Fuessel have reached success helping clients across a broad range of industries.
We provide a comprehensive range of digital marketing services, including SEO, SEM, Social Media (paid and organic), Email Marketing, User Research and Testing, and Website Design.