Digital Marketing is a complex sea of packed ice. One wrong step and you can be underwater fast. Running marketing ‘in house’ is basically impossible now. While your in house staff get up to speed, the competitor has partnered with a lean and mean digital agency that comes with a full set of experts. The landscape of digital marketing has become far too complex to transect without a seasoned guide.
So, how do you find a digital marketing agency you can trust?
Here is a simple checklist you should consider when trying to choose an agency.
1) How long has the agency been in business?
I am not talking about stories of industry work. The brand you are about to partner with, how long have they been consistently running? This is a simple risk aversion. If the business is less than three years old, the fact is that it will not be here to see its 3rd Birthday. Statistics say 95% of startups fail before three years. Of the 5% that get through only 10% of them will see five years. The straight fact is if the agency you are partnering with is under five years old, it is very unlikely they will be with you for long.
2) Ask and investigate their staff attrition
Nothing worse than the agency changing account managers and your contact at the agency every six months. Every time this happens, you lose the communication thread and a portion of the historical knowledge is lost. Who works at the agency? How long have they worked there? Try looking at about us pages and meeting the team pages. Stalk the staff a little on LinkedIn and get a picture as to the likelihood of you getting consistency with your project manager. High staff turns over might tell you something about the ethic of the business you are engaging.
3) Look at their current client performance
Ask the agency to provide you with some case studies of their best work – zero to hero stuff, where they brought the rain to a parched business. You want to see the creative, you want to see Google analytics reports, historical rank improvements, social media historical reports and you might want to talk to the principal contact at that business. Naturally, they are going to be showing you their best work. Keep that in mind.
4) Look into the Agency’s marketing and their Brand Values
If you want to know the people you are partnering with are passionate about marketing, take a close look at ‘why’ they are in business. Forget comparing services and USPs. Most agencies are making all this stuff up anyway. Ask your contact at the agency ‘why’ their agency is in business. You want answers like.
– To create great marketing.
– To make a difference to our clients.
– Complex problems with beautiful solutions is our passion.
– We thrive on turning clients into fans.
– Making simple, beautiful, and impactful marketing is our priority.
These are great reasons to let them play with your marketing.
5) You need a full-service agency
There is simply no room for specialists anymore. SEO agency, not talking to the Google ads agency, not talking to the Social media agency and none of them talking to the website design agency. Partnering with multiple ‘specialist’ agencies will leave you with disjointed marketing. The buck will get passed around. Providers will hold back with suggestions, particularly if the suggestion is outside their contracted area.
You want to partner with an agency that has you covered for all your needs. If things are going well or if things are going poorly, you know where to look. The agency will have full interservice communication. They will be keen to share all their intellectual property with you. You will likely be a higher value client, and they can provide you with a better service. Find a full-service agency that has specialty departments that all flow together as a team, it is merely the best way.
6) You need to trust them
The straight fact is the agency and the people in it should know lots more about digital marketing than the marketing manager and probably the business owner. You find an accountant and follow his/her instructions. You find a lawyer and follow his/her instructions. Well find a marketing agency that you are prepared to follow their instructions. Before you start a relationship, ask yourself would you be happy with the agency and the representative they sent making marketing decisions around your marketing. If the answer is, you would have to manage and control the direction of things. If you feel you could not trust them, or you do not want to follow their suggestions or will feel the need to manage them. You have partnered with the wrong agency. This is not to say you should not be adding value to the relationship.
Marketing managers and business owners have industry knowledge, the marketing agency can never have. Provide the knowledge as needed, but then let them do their thing. If you are with the right partner, they will make your marketing great.
I really hope this shortlist might help clients find the relationships they need with marketing agencies that are genuinely trying to create fantastic marketing for their clients.