How To Choose The Best Digital Marketing Agency
One of the most asked questions I get as the head of the agency is “how should I choose the best digital marketing agency for my business?”
Like most agencies, we spend our time trying to convince (sell) our agency as the best option for a client. Like most agencies we try to downplay our weaknesses, and highlight our strengths. It would be highly disadvantageous to speak to our clients as if they were our friends or family. Where you can be candid and not worry about losing business. This article is just that, a reflection of what we would say if they were indeed our friends asking for advice about how to choose the best digital marketing agency, rather then a potential client.
This article assumes a very “iffy” hypothetical. We assume that you know your business and more importantly you know what you don’t know about your business.
Here’s and example of a client who does not know about their business. You might hear similar questions or comments to these.
- How much will it cost me for SEO?
- How long will I need an agency to help with marketing
Lets assume that you know your metrics, and a baseline about how marketing works!
First Thing First…
The digital marketing profession is about [if nothing else] KPI’s (key performance indicators). We live, eat, breath metrics. It is the way that digital marketers are able to showcase their otherwise invisible work.
When choosing an agency you want to get a sense of how well they can move those metrics. Ask for previous examples. Make sure the examples are based on a broad timeline. For example over 6 month or a year or more. Its not hard to have a 2400% increase in traffic the first month, if you are coming from 0. If you overlook this critical step, you have already let the agency sell you, instead of you choosing them.
The next important thing to take into consideration is the strategy that the agency will use to achieve the metrics promised. You can learn a lot about the path you can expect from an agency by looking at how they have executed on previous challenges. The most important question to ask yourself is “do they understand my industry? followed by “are they interested in learning about my industry?”
Each industry presents challenges that experienced agencies will know how to address based on the past.
Not surprisingly most businesses will start with price for obvious reasons. However I would caution against that. For the most part we all charge around the same for the same quality and quantity of work. SEO is not a one time fee if you want it to be useful, neither is any other facet of digital marketing, so consider that you will be charged an hourly fee. These fees range between $75 per hour to $500 per hour. As with anything in life choosing the lowest rate doesn’t guarantee you will save money, and choosing the highest doesn’t mean your get the best result.
Example: I know a client who hired an agency which showed great results at $60 per hour, so what was wrong with this scenario. Well the company used blackhat marketing tactics that were then needed to be reversed. This cost even more money then if they had paid $120 per hour the first time.
For small businesses or startups, you are probably in a position where you can’t afford a $15,000 monthly retainer at the beginning. Start small. Instead of setting your goals to moving up the ranks on 20 keywords, start with 5. This is how you can reduce the hours an agency needs to work to achieve those goals. This will also allow you to grow with your agency.
This one is a bit less black and white. You want to find marketers that are not “yes men”, but that are also so disagreeable that it becomes hard to work with them. For the most part because agencies want to make money and keep their relationships you will be dealing with mostly people that will bend over backwards to keep your business. This means they are most likely going to continue telling you what they think you want to hear. Trust has no metrics and can only be achieved through working together and building it up over time. This is why you shouldn’t fire your agency if they didn’t deliver the numbers to your expectation [once]. If they are constantly under delivering you should look at the budget and time allotted to get the job done. If you feel that even with ample resources and attempts they are not getting you to your goals, it might be time to sever the relationship.
The best digital marketing agency for your business will not find you, you will need to find it. The good news its very doable! The competition between digital marketers is only increasing, and there is a lot of us. The things you want to hear from your potential agency is their willingness to understand your pain points. Discovery is so critically important for a good marketer that we at GorillaAd offer it for free. The way we see it is; Your friends do not charge you for getting to know you, why should we?
Before choosing the right digital marketing agency for you, know your metrics, more importantly know your goals to improve those metrics. Most of digital marketing is revolved around leads and conversions. When you speak with an agency and they are not talking about some type of conversion, they are not serious about your bottom line. Take this opportunity to scream NEXT… as loud as possible.
Lastly, take a look at how the agency gets to the number of leads or conversion they are promising. In the case of digital marketing and analytics, the math will show you the path, especially one that doesn’t smell like Bull Sh*t.