To make the ever-evolving digital technologies an asset to your marketing mix, it makes sense to find a specialist who really understands them – saving you time and money in the process.
An experienced digital marketing agency will take the hard work off your hands, create a digital strategy that meets your needs and allow you to focus on running your business.
So which agency will be your best fit? Here are seven tips for making the right choice…
1. Your digital marketing agency needs to ‘get you’
A strategy with all the hallmarks of ‘here’s one I made earlier’ won’t work. This should be a meeting of minds and a genuine understanding of objectives.
The right agency partner will show a good understanding of your business, brand personality and target audience – and create a campaign that fits your specific requirements.
Based on your marketing performance to date, the ever-evolving digital landscape and the behaviour of your customers or clients, they will advise you on the best media mix to do that. They’ll also have the analytical wherewithal and reporting structures to keep the campaign on track.
Your chosen agency should be as flexible, creative and resourceful as you need to be within your specific marketplace.
2. Can they prove they’ve got the experience?
Unless you’re prepared to be a guinea pig, look for evidence of the experience that will give you peace of mind.
Get intimate with their client list and case studies and let their success do the talking – as well as the testimonials and references. Their previous work should meet your idea of what quality and success look like and their reputation should precede them – in a good way!
Take note of the kinds of campaigns they’ve run in the past and the challenges that they overcame. Were those challenges anything like yours?
Another important consideration is whether they can operate on a scale that’s going to work for your business. Make sure they’ve got the capabilities to run the kind of campaign you’re looking for.
Find out exactly who would be working on your account too. What’s their track record? Are they experienced or a relative newbie?
3. Does their expertise tick your specific boxes?
While many agencies will say they have experience across the board, it’s probably still the case that they do their best work in just two or three channels.
Review those case studies carefully and make sure their expertise matches your particular requirements.
Of course they should be across all the main marketing channels, but what do they excel in? You should also find out how much they do internally and what ends up being outsourced.
As well as technical savvy, they also need creativity. From writing clever ad copy to coming up with compelling designs, their ability to think differently will set you apart from your competitors.
4. Are they prepared to work on a project-by-project basis?
When it comes to agencies, there’s no need to put all your eggs in one basket.
Trying out a new agency needn’t be an expensive affair. Look for one that won’t lock you in with expensive retainers right at the outset so you can test them out.
Many clients today work with multiple agencies, often on a project-by-project basis. As well as keeping things flexible, taking advantage of niche expertise and bringing in fresh ideas, it’s a great way to test out a new relationship. Without the need to pay a retainer or commit to a long-term relationship, you can get to know your new digital marketing partner at your own pace.
5. Are they good at strategy?
A good agency will devise a strategy that delivers a profitable ROI and keeps you one step ahead of your competition.
You need a strategic thinker on your side; an agency that can come up with a plan that meets your needs and even surpasses them, whether that’s for an ongoing, fully integrated, cross-channel campaign or a standalone initiative.
This also requires flexibility. The ability to adapt a campaign, to optimise it, to shift focus to the more effective, cost-effective channels as the performance data starts coming in.
6. Are they keeping up with the latest innovations?
You haven’t got time to trawl the Internet for the latest digital marketing innovations – but your agency should be.
Technologies are evolving quickly, but far from leaping on the current trend or most fashionable bandwagon, you need an agency partner who can spot the genuine benefits of those innovations for your business. They should be able to tell you exactly why that great piece of blue-sky strategy will – or won’t – work for you.
Maintaining a competitive market position means using the right tools to achieve your specific goals. This requires the ability to evaluate, communicate the benefits and potential pitfalls to you and the boldness to go that one step beyond when it’s needed.
7. Have they always lived and breathed digital?
Don’t take the risk of digital being just a bolt on.
Agencies existed before digital hit the marketing world, but when new technologies are seen as a bolt-on to the traditional marketing channels, it’s unlikely your marketing strategy will be heading towards new heights.
An agency that has grown from the digital ground up may well be better placed to create a fully integrated campaign – one that maximises digital potential as part of the broader marketing mix.
So where do you find your perfect digital marketing partner?
There are hundreds of digital marketing agencies in the UK, although in recent years, London has become the hub.
There are various ways to find the right digital marketing agency for your business:
- Personal/peer recommendation
- League tables from the likes of Econsultancy and agency search tools from RAR
- Through intermediaries and membership bodies such as the IPA
- Online resources and guides such as smartinsights.com and searchengineland.com
- And of course, Google is always a useful place to start…
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