The reality is that not all digital marketing agencies do an equally effective job. And of those agencies that do excellent work, not every reliable marketing agency will be the right fit for your business. Here are our top seven things to look for when shopping for an online marketing firm:
Ability to Track Results
Collaborative Tools and Processes
In-depth Knowledge of Marketing Analytics
Great Reviews and/or References
#1 – Ability to Track Results
Like most businesses, you probably have marketing objectives – increased sales, more brand awareness, etc. Quality agencies will take your objectives seriously and break those goals down into milestones, or marketing KPIs.
The reason for this approach is simple. Success must be tracked. The right agency will want you to see how your campaigns are progressing. Furthermore, they can show you how views turn into clicks, and clicks turn into conversions, and conversions turn into loyal customers.
Each milestone in your marketing program is trackable, and the best marketing agencies will take those results seriously on your behalf. Furthermore, reliable marketers can use those KPIs and results to help you identify your customers’ buyers journey.
#2 – Client Retention
Digital marketing agencies with high turnover may have performance issues that merit concern. On the other hand, agencies that retain clients for years are most likely doing something right.
A great question to ask an online marketing firm you’re considering working with is, How long have you been working with your oldest client? And, on average, how long do clients work with you?
#3 – Industry Experience
Most reliable marketing agencies specialize in 1-3 industries, such as eCommerce, tourism, B2B, etc. If you come into contact with a strong marketing business that has very little experience in your field, they will most likely tell you so and refer you to another agency that does.
This industry experience is crucial. Agencies that narrow their market to specific fields often have a better grasp of consumer/buyer behavior. Online marketers with industry experience also know which metrics are the most important.
Digital marketing tends to be a trial-and-error process. But with more industry experience, the shorter that trial-and-error process will be.
#4 – Collaborative Tools and ProcessesEven for those companies that simply want their marketing agency to “handle everything,” the best agencies will care about input from their clients. As such, these agencies set up the necessary collaboration tools to streamline operations. That’s not to say that the best marketing agencies are software “junkies.” But it does mean that they will do what it takes to help you make informed decisions as efficiently as possible.
For example, good working relationships between businesses and digital marketing agencies include regular conference calls, proposal delivery, as well as definitive approval and reporting processes. In most cases, a modest application of virtual tools can streamline each task so that project management is as pleasant an experience as possible.
#5 – Impeccable CommunicationPoor digital marketing agencies leave their clients in the dark or pester them. What you need is an online marketing team that knows how to ask the right questions from the beginning and update you consistently per your schedule and preferences.
It’s also critical that your online marketing team not agree to your every whim and opinion. Digital marketing has become a highly complex world, and you likely are only seeing a small piece of the bigger picture.
As such, you want your agency to be able to disagree professionally when necessary. At the end of the day, you are the boss of your business, and they will follow through with the plan you want. But if you feel confident that your marketing team will share an alternative perspective when necessary, you know that they are being transparent with you based on the information they have in front of them.
#6 – In-depth Knowledge of Marketing AnalyticsAs noted above, the world of digital marketing is vast. Some analytics experts spend decades acquiring graduate degrees in statistics and marketing research. Thankfully, most critical marketing analytics information exists in software, but it still takes a seasoned marketer to know how to use that analytics software effectively.
“Marketing analytics is any effort devoted to measuring the effectiveness of any and all marketing tasks.” – STM, Marketing Analytics Basics: A Beginner’s Guide
It’s not feasible for digital marketing agencies to explain to you every detail of the analytics from your website, social media, and paid advertising. But they must be able to gather this raw data, organize it, and then communicate actionable conclusions to you in a way that you can understand. A solid understanding of marketing analytics often makes the difference between agencies that can deliver a 1.5x or 15x ROI.
#7 – Great Reviews and/or ReferencesYou should be able to find recent reviews on the digital marketing agencies that you’re interested in. Additionally, it is perfectly appropriate to ask an agency for a few references. This third-party feedback will give you some objective insight into whether or not an agency is a good fit for your business.