Let’s face it, your marketing needs to be on point in order for your business to be successful. Today, the bulk of that marketing is happening online. Establishing and growing your digital presence has never been more crucial. This puts more importance on having a clear digital marketing strategy.

Developing and executing a sound digital marketing strategy is not only very time consuming but also complex. You need to stay relevant with emerging trends, you need to be constantly learning new technologies, and you need to be always expanding your digital skill set. All of this can be difficult, especially when your trying to juggle running your business at the same time.

Today’s business owners need a marketing partner to drive their digital efforts. One who possess the knowledge, tools, and skill set to effectively strategize, execute and manage their digital marketing ecosystem.

Choosing the right marketing partner is crucial. Select the right one and watch your business flourish. Select the wrong one and damage not only your bottom line but your brand as a whole.

The explosion of digital marketing and its projected future growth means that there are more digital agencies in operation than ever before. This can make the task of choosing the right one difficult.

So, how do you choose the right digital marketing agency? Here are some tips to make sure you find the perfect fit for your digital partner.

 

Understand your needs

Before you embark on this hunt to find your cinderella agency you need to first uncover your marketing problems. Once surfaced, it will help you realize what kind of professionals you are pursuing.

Are you looking for an expert in one area, for example Facebook Ads? Or are you looking for a more well rounded agency that can apply a multifaceted approach to your entire digital marketing strategy?

Profiling your dream agency needs to be the first step of this process. I can’t stress enough how important this step is. You need to know what you are looking for before you can start your search.

Even go as far as listing out the characteristics you want in an agency. Transparency, great communication, proven track record, etc. Reference this brief during your hunt to ensure you don’t deviate from what you set out to find.

 

Review their track record of success

Let’s face it, you want an agency that gets results. And rightfully so, digital marketing is a results driven industry.

Start by reviewing the agency’s track record. Check out their portfolio. What’s their success history look like? In some cases they will have a page on their website dedicated to case studies for past and current clients. If not, request it directly from a rep at the agency. They should be more than happy to talk about their wins to a prospective client. If they can’t provide you with some successful case studies, red flag.

Also, give them bonus points if their wins are within your industry. This means they already have a great understanding of your niche and how to effectively market to that audience. This isn’t mandatory, but it could be a decision making factor later on in the process.

 

Research their credibility

At this point you have weeded out agencies without any proven success. Next, evaluate the  agency’s credibility and experience. After all, the wins don’t necessarily paint the full picture.

You want insight on their relationships with their clients. Read through client testimonials on their website, see how they engage on social media, and analize mentions on review sites. This will give you a better understanding on the relationships they have established with clients and how they engage with them. It’s important to get an idea of how they work with their customers. After all, you may end up being one.

 

Do your styles align?

Your going to want to find an agency that fits your style. An easy way to determine if they’re a match is to evaluate their own digital presence.

Do you like what you see or is it underwhelming? Are they effective at promoting their own brand and services? Is their style inline with your business? Did you enjoy the user experience of their website? These are all great questions to ask.

Keep in mind that “style” is also more that the aesthetics. Go deeper than the surface. A great deal of an agency’s style can be defined by their culture. Are you a very professional corporation, then maybe hiring a very laid back agency isn’t a good fit or vice versa.

This can be key when trying to establish a long term working relationship.

 

Understand The Full Value

The key here is to ensure you find the best value, not the best price. I know choosing an agency with the most attractive price can be tempting. After all, when operating a small to medium sized business you’re constantly looking for efficiencies. You need to resist this temptation.

Shift your focus from cost to value. Instead of choosing an agency based on the best monthly retainer choose one based on the value you will receive from the partnership. Cost will no doubt be a part of your final decision. However, don’t simply hand the win to the agency with the cheapest rate. Remember, price is usually a reflection of value. Choosing the agency with the most attractive rate won’t necessariyl result in the highest value.

Making an impulsive decision based on cost has usually resulted in wasted time and money.

There’s a saying, “It’s usually more expensive to hire the cheapest option.”

I.e. You hire. Get upset. Search again. Hire again. Spend a little more this time. Maybe it doesn’t go well again. Finally find a great fit. Lots of time & investment that may have been avoided if cost wasn’t the only factor.

Treat the early stage as an investment in the future of your business.

 

Can you establish rapport?

By this point you should now have a short list of agencies you are thinking of hiring. Each with their own unique set of reasons as to why you think they’re a good fit. You may even find that they each meet all of the requirements you are looking for. So how do you differentiate them? Talk to them.

Having discussions with representatives from an agency is a great way to get insight into what your working relationship would be like. You can gain a lot more from a discussion then from any research online.

How do they treat you? Are they upbeat and positive? What is their tone? Are they short with you? Are they personal or stricly business? Do they seem to care about your business?

Prepare a list of questions beforehand that you want answered. How they answer some of those questions can be very revealing. There is so much to learn from this conversation.

Remember, you’re looking build a long term relationship with your marketing partner. So, at the end of the day you are also going to need to get along with the individuals that represent the agency. That’s not to say you need to be best friends in order for the partnership to be successful. But, you will need to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Make sure you do your homework. Start by weeding out all of the agency’s you don’t think are a good fit. This will allow you to put together a shortlist of ideal agency’s. Before you decide you want to be 100% sure of your choice. Your due diligence during this process will not doubt have a positive ROI.