According to research by Microsoft, the average human has an attention span of 8 seconds today.
… Don’t stop reading yet.
This is important, especially if you’re a proud business owner looking to expand your brand further.
With the world glued to their screens, digital marketing is the modern-day catalyst for success, and it’s just as crucial to your business as the product itself.
Your online marketing doesn’t just have to be persistent; it also has to be impactful. It needs to make the potential customer scroll up again and take action.
Luckily, a digital marketing agency can do just that for you. With its arsenal of skills, it can transform your business’s internet presence from ‘not worthy’ to noteworthy. It can expose you to the platforms best suited to your audience AND your product, enabling you to win the race for traffic against your competitors. It will craft short-term and long-term strategies that will boost your ROI to giddying levels.
That sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? But the catch is that these results can only be brought about by finding the right agency for your business needs. An inefficient one could eat up your budget while blowing your campaign to smithereens.
So, to find the digital marketing agency that will allow you to conquer the online world, we have prepared a nifty guide for you to follow.
Let’s jump right in.
What Services do Digital Marketing Agencies Offer?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO involves recognizing search engine algorithms to help rank your site’s pages at the top of user results. Effective SEO boosts your page’s authority and relevance by incorporating keywords that match the user’s intent, including the right meta tags, and building authoritative links to your pages from within your niche. It is practically indispensable to your site, as it brings in organic traffic that can later convert to customers and revenue.
Online Reputation Management (ORM)
ORM (also known as Social Media Marketing or SEM) involves promotion via social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube. It is an excellent means of generating customer interest, shares, and, ultimately, conversions. SEM doesn’t mean being equally active on all possible platforms. The trick is to choose the ones where your target users engage the most and actively interact with them to build relationships based on trust.
Content Marketing involves creating short-term and long-term content plans and promoting them using the right channels. Blogs, eBooks, primary research case studies, and interactive content are some of the top tactics for successful online marketing. It is unarguably the most valuable digital solution of this age, with 69% of the most successful B2B marketers having a documented strategy in 2020.
Web Design and Development
If you don’t have a well-designed website, you lack the foundation for a successful online marketing campaign. The website should be devised with your user and business values in mind, having a clearly defined structure for smoother navigation. The site code should also be clean for faster load speed. Moreover, the interface should include relevant calls to action, share buttons, and visual elements for engagement.
Email Marketing involves lead generation by sending commercial messages to prospective customers and subscribers. Companies send promotional offers, new product details, useful blog posts, and shopping reminders to customers via this tactic. It leads to a boost in customer interest, engagement, and loyalty due to the interaction’s one-on-one nature. Email Marketing is so successful that it was ranked as the third most effective digital marketing strategy in 2019.
Online marketing starts and ends with the user, and graphic designing is the centerpiece of user experience. It involves creating interactive content that is pleasurable yet informative and creatively delivers your brand’s message. Website logos, business cards, brochures, posters, and infographics are some of the few visual assets for which this expertise is essential.
A full-time digital marketing agency will offer all these services and craft a complete package based on your business’s marketing needs.
Before jumping into hiring, though, it’s crucial to identify whether you need a digital marketing agency or if you can do these tasks yourself.
Should You Market In-House or Hire an External Agency?
Are you ready? There’s no right answer. Your final decision depends on several factors, including what you’re determined to hold on to, and what you’re willing to let go.
Here are some key metrics that will affect your decision:
It’s essential to figure out what marketing goals you have before hiring. How many leads do you want to generate? What profit do you want to make per customer? Which aspects of your digital marketing strategy do you want to improve?
If you are looking to expand your business’s outreach to a small audience, an in-house hire (or hires) would be the better option, as they would easily be able to handle any small-scale efforts. If they specialize in a particular eMarketing trade, they can reform that strategy and deliver timely results. Such a limited amount of work may not justify hiring an entire agency to run your campaign.
However, if you are starting out, or if your digital marketing requires a complete overhaul, hiring an agency is the way to go. It can help you create a much broader customer base by leveraging its specialized tools and knowledge and reducing the cost-per-customer incurred. It will also move beyond an in-house expert’s capacity by thoroughly researching your industry and target buyers to prepare content that hits home.
Hiring an in-house expert would mean payable a sizable salary to a full-time employee, and digital marketers don’t come cheap. An average specialist’s salary is more than $50000, exclusive of bonuses and commission. Of course, if your business is large, you’ll need to put together a team of experts, each specializing in one facet of online marketing. That can bring your monthly bill up substantially.
There are also many specialized software needed for online marketing, for example, SEO tools such as SEMrush and graphic design tools such as Adobe Photoshop. Monthly subscriptions to these do not come cheap.
On the other hand, using a digital marketing agency will cost considerably less, as they charge between $500 and $5000 on a monthly retainer, depending on the services you want. Plus, since the agency will comprise a team of experienced specialists and have the right resources, you’ll get fantastic value for money.
An in-house expert is likely to have smoother communication with you due to a shorter chain of command and clearly defined work targets. You’ll also be able to directly monitor their efforts while not handing site access to a third-party. However, if the employee is irresponsible and disorganized, timely completion of marketing goals will be difficult.
While communications with an agency may not be as direct, it is sure to be professional in its dealings due to its industry experience and a goal-oriented approach. Its liaison will be in constant contact with you, providing weekly and monthly progress reports, and tracking KPIs.
There’s no denying that there are some excellent for-hire digital marketing specialists in the industry. However, they likely specialize in one skillset, such as Content Strategists or Web Designers, instead of possessing complete knowledge of the vast field of online marketing.
Someone who promotes themselves as a Digital Marketing Expert is likely to be a jack-of-all-trades and an expert in none. That is something you need to watch out for since online competition is so high today that the most technical improvements are the only ones that make a difference.
A full-fledged agency employs a team of specialists, with multiple departments collaborating to provide you the digital marketing solutions you need. Although their services are better value-for-money than in-house hiring, the quality varies. You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase, “You get what you pay for.” The same principle applies here too.
An in-house specialist will understand the brand’s values, goals, and unique voice thoroughly since they spend time immersed in its culture. However, there is no guarantee that the employee would incorporate these values into the work they produce for you. That depends on their creative dispensation and expertise and can only be identified by vetting them thoroughly.
An online marketing company will ask many questions to ensure they interpret your business’s objectives and principles. Moreover, since they are seasoned experts, they are likely to be better at devising strategies that align with your culture and implement them properly.
In-house specialists are your employees, and as such, are likely to be focused entirely on your marketing campaign. They can plan and execute a strategy down to the smallest details, due to not having any other tasks on hand. This is especially helpful if you’re a small startup, just entering a big industry.
Digital marketing agencies take on multiple clients simultaneously, which makes some businesses apprehensive about hiring them. They believe that their marketing will not be the primary focus of the company, and it will be as money down the drain, with low traffic and busted KPIs.
However, these companies are result-driven and have their entire ethics built around client satisfaction. They will thoroughly research your business during the initial consultation, identifying your goals, target user, and competition. As a result, each final campaign will be customized and focused on deriving the highest possible ROI.
If you judged that you do need an agency based on these factors, it’s time for the next step in the process: choosing the right one.
How Should you Evaluate a Potential Digital Marketing Agency?
To make things as streamlined for you as possible, we have developed a 5-step test for you to conduct on whichever agency you consider.
1. How good are they at marketing their own business?
It goes without saying that a reputable digital marketing agency should be excellent at the services it sells. The best way to analyze that is by conducting a little research on its online presence:
How high does its website rank in search for relevant terms?
How active is it’s social media presence?
How engaging are its blog posts?
Exceptionally few agencies will be good at everything. Try to assess your potential hire’s effectiveness on the functions you need it to perform for you.
2. What clients have they worked for in the past?
References matter. Ask the agency which businesses it helped grow by orchestrating successful marketing campaigns. Don’t just take its word. Probe a little further by following up on referred clients and requesting a review of their services. You can also check the online presence of those brands to determine whether the agency was efficient.
Most internet marketing companies have their past clients listed on their homepage for credibility, so it’s really easy to rate their quality without contact.
3. How much do they charge?
This is unarguably the most important question since if it’s out of your budget, it’s out of your league. Top digital marketing agencies charge a lot more for their services than smaller companies because they have great talent, high expertise, and specialized software. As the logic goes, really low pricing is a red flag, as it means that the agency won’t have the right resources to offer you the ROI boost you want.
However, you don’t need to spend 60 grand a year to get results. There are many agencies offering reasonable pricing and free consultations while nailing KPIs (such as GoDigitalWorld).
Each agency will specify an expected cost for the campaign it tailors to you. Discuss your options and decide on the one that gives off the most value for money.
4. What results do they promise, and how do they plan to deliver them?
If they promise you 80% traffic growth in 2 months, or a number 1 spot in Google rankings within a week, chances are they don’t even know what they’re doing.
Vague and exaggerated promises mean that the agency is just trying to land a client, instead of focusing on helping them. They may not possess the expertise or resources needed to deliver results and will keep draining your budget without returns.
At the same time, an agency that promises minimal growth is no good either, simply because its efforts may not be value-for-money. In that case, it doesn’t matter if it lays out an entire action plan for your campaign. They offer too little gains to justify the investment.
The right agency will strike that sweet balance in the middle, by promising results that are precise, deliverable, and realistic.
Ask specific questions from each agency to assess their reliability. For example, “How will you plan our content strategy?”
A detailed answer that specifies resources, duration, and planning exhibits trustworthiness, such as:
“We’ll begin by first conducting a content audit of your site. Our SEO experts will optimize the content that is doing well to pull in more organic traffic. We will also dispose of any content that underperforms online to redistribute your crawl budget.
Based on your site size, this stage will be completed within two months. We will then move on to creating new content. This is an ongoing process that will involve our own content strategists’ recommendations and your valuable inputs into the topic. We will create a short and long-term publishing schedule that will detail each type of content to be developed, including infographics, blogs, and eBooks.”
An answer such as “Our SEO experts and content team will create a long-term content plan that will guarantee traffic” is too imprecise and should make you walk right out the door.
5. What KPIs do they track?
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are metrics tracked after implementing a strategy to determine its effectiveness. Amateur digital marketers often do not recognize the right KPIs to follow, leading to incorrect assumptions of success.
For example, the number of social media likes is not a good ROI indicator, since likes do not translate into leads. Instead, it better defines the business’s social outreach and engagement. The appropriate metrics to track for ROI would be social referrals and conversions.
By asking the agency which metrics it will track and why, you would gain insights into its work process, and understand whether its promises will actually be delivered.
The digital marketing company that really knows its stuff will pass the test with flying colors. Of course, the decision ultimately rests with you – on your budget, timeline, and work needed.
Over to You
The task of determining the right agency isn’t an easy one – it takes time and analysis to scrutinize each from the host of options available.
Before you begin, be sure to outline your marketing goals, expected growth, and word method. Do you want to expand your customer base or better cater to the existing ones? How much of a traffic boost do you expect in the next quarter? Are you comfortable giving site access to a third-party?
It’s also a good idea to take up free digital marketing consultations. They help you get a peek into the agencies’ plans and reevaluate your campaign needs based on their expert advice. For example, at GoDigitalWorld, we craft a custom package based on your target buyer, industry, and projected growth at your first consultation.
Also, remember to not fall for the ‘we are the best in the industry’ trap. The best agency is the one that fits your requirements, not necessarily the one with the best credentials.
On that note, we hope this guide helps you make an informed and intelligent decision regarding your digital marketing agency choice.
Good luck, and happy searching!