Looking for a digital marketing agency? If so, then you’re going to need to exercise some up-front due diligence as you evaluate competing companies.
That’s because your success online can (and probably will) depend on the team you select to handle your digital strategy.
Unfortunately, there’sa lotthat you have to evaluate when considering a digital marketing company. So expect the process to take some time.
The first thing you should look for is a company that gets results.
Take a look at the history of the agency’s work. Does it have a demonstrated track record of success? If so, put that candidate on the short list.
Take a look at some of our latest Case Studies.
Your digital marketing agency will be your partner. That means communication is essential.
During the interview process, pay close attention to how the rep from the company communicates with you. That will tell you a lot about the corporate culture and the kind of communication you can expect going forward. Do they have a project management system? How often do they update clients?
Also: ask to speak to the team members that you’ll be working with. Again, pay attention to their communication skills.
Sure, a company might have good results. But sometimes it’s because they just got lucky with a couple of easy projects.
If your online marketing project is complicated, then you’re going to need to see more than just positive results from small website. You’re going to want a company with experience, and people who are working on your account who also have experice.
Go carefully over the resumes of the people who will be involved with your digital strategy. Make sure that their professional experience lines up with your goals.
You can expect that reps from the company you’re considering will happily toot their own horn. What’s more important than that, though, is that some of their own clients toot their horn as well.
Pro-tip: be sure to get a few references just in case one of them is a friend of the company’s owner.
If you’re looking for a particular type of digital marketing (for example, conversion rate optimization), then make sure you partner with a firm that specializes in it.
Keep in mind, though, some larger digital marketing companies have multiple specialists. There’s nothing wrong with hiring a “general” digital marketing firm that has a specialist on staff who suits your needs. Just make sure they have expertise in your area and it is not just contracted out.
How does the company you’re considering market its own brand? That will give you some idea about how the company will market yours.
It’s this simple: if the company isn’t any good at selling its own services, it isn’t going to be any good at marketing your business, either.
Does the company have some high-profile companies as clients? If so, that’s a good sign that it’s a business you can trust. For example, Tony Robbins is one of our large clients. We have done great work for his website for years and that lends credibility to our business.
An important part of digital marketing is SEO. Fortunately, you can get a quick read on how well the company you’re considering does with SEO by just using Google.
Start by Googling “SEO” and the name of the city where the company is located. The business name should show up on the first page of Google.
Also, Google keywords related to the company’s specialties (PPC, CRO, etc.). See how the company ranks for those terms.
If the company can’t rank its own website, it’s not likely that it can rank yours.
When you’re evaluating different companies, their reps should be honest with you about what they can for your business and how they do their work.
If you hear a bunch of vague talk and platitudes during the interview process, then it’s likely you’re just getting a sales pitch and not anything specific.
Insist on details. If you don’t get them, look elsewhere.
Every good digital marketing company uses a variety of tools to complete its objectives.
Ask the company rep about tools that the company uses. You should hear names like “SEMRush,” “Moz,” “Majestic,” “Screaming Frog,” and “BuzzSumo.”
If you don’t hear specific brand names in response to your question about tools, then it’s likely you’re talking to somebody who isn’t very experienced with digital marketing.
Prepare for some bad news: a good digital marketing company is going to cost you money.
That’s the cost of doing business. Consider it an investment (because it is).
So if you hear a company rep go on and on about how his company’s SEO services are the cheapest in the business, then you probably need to move on.
You don’t want cheap. You want quality.
That’s why you should listen carefully for a sales rep to emphasize value over price. That’s a sign that you’re dealing with someone who understands the importance of outstanding service.
You might stumble across a great digital marketing agency that checks all the right boxes. Still, it might not be the right company for your business.
Why? Simply put, there might be a lack of chemistry between the principals of your business and the team members who are part of the agency.
Good chemistry is important. Make sure you partner with people that don’t rub you the wrong way.
How does the company measure success? Does it align with howyoumeasure success?
Here’s a simple interview question to ask a sales rep from a digital marketing company: “How will I know if your work is successful?”
The answer will tell you quite a bit about whether or not that company is right for you.
A good digital marketing company has geeks. That’s because geeks make a lot of great things happen in Internet marketing.
You’ll almost certainly need PHP and MySQL help if you’ve got a WordPress site.
Interviewing a digital marketing company shouldn’t be a one-way street. Whoever you talk to should be asking you questions as well.
If you find that the rep you’re speaking with has a noticeable lack of curiosity about your brand and your business model, you should move on.
You need to work with people you can trust. If you find that, at any moment, reps from the company you’re considering have misled you, it’s time to move on.
Social media marketing is an important part of digital marketing. Take a look at how the company you’re considering promotes its brand on social media. That will tell you a lot about how the company will market your brand.
Go visit the company’s website. Does it have links to case studies?
If not, then the company isn’t doing a very good job of marketing itself.
While we’re on the subject of the company’s website, take a look at its design. Is it professional? Is it easy to navigate?
Even better: look at the website on a smartphone and a tablet. Be sure to use both portrait and landscape orientation.
If the website doesn’t look great on all platforms, look for a different company.
Sticking with the subject of the company website, plug its URL into Google’sPage Speed Insightstool. Take note of the score you get back.
More importantly, take note of thecoloryou get back. It should be green all around. This can be an indicator of what they would do for you.
Does the company do a great job at promoting its own brand with content marketing? Visit the blog section of the agency’s website and browse through the articles.
While you’re still on the company website, look for images and videos. If you see a well-designed site with lots of multimedia, that tells you that the company takes a comprehensive approach to online marketing. That’s a good thing.
What’s the “message” you get when you look at the company website? Does it complement with the message you hear when you talk to the sales rep?
Is the company website sprinkled with calls to action? Do the articles on the blog have clear calls to action?
Remember: you’re looking first and foremost for a company that marketsitself. Companies that know marketing use calls to action.
Does the company run an email list? Is it prominently promoted on the company website?
If not, then that’s a sign the agency isn’t very good at digital marketing.
Does the blog content look like it was written by a professional writer who’s knowledgeable about online marketing?
That’s going to be important if content marketing is part of your own digital marketing strategy.
Take a look at the overall tone of the company website. Is it more about the company’s clients or the company itself?
Look for a company that emphasizes what it can do for your business on its site.
The company website should practice internal linking. That’s a great SEO strategy for any business.
Have you ever visited a site and got frustrated because you couldn’t find contact info, such as a phone number?
If you have that problem on the website of a digital marketing company, go look for another company.
Does the company have a Google My Business (GMB) page? That’s an important part of online marketing, especially for companies that specialize in Local SEO.
Social proof is important from a digital marketing standpoint. Any company that doesn’t offer testimonials on its own homepage isn’t doing a very good job of advertising its brand.
You will likely do your brand more harm than good if you sign on with a blackhat agency. All you’ll get for your money is a bunch of linkspam and some trouble from Google.
Stick to a slower, but far more reliable, digital marketing strategy that’s going to get you ranked without falling out of favor with the search engines. Play by the rules and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.
As a rule of thumb, it’s a great idea to sign on with a company that has experience with businesses in your industry.
If you’re running a local hardware store and the company you’re considering only has experience with optimizing for software-as-a-service sites, it’s probably a good idea to look for another agency.
Your website is probably going to use some kind of a content management system (CMS), such as WordPress. That’s why you should make sure that the company you’re considering has experience with what your software.
If you’re using WordPress, you’re probably going to have more trouble finding a company thatdoesn’thave experience with that CMS than one that does. It’s by far the most popular option out there.
On the other hand, if you’re using Drupal, you’ll need to make sure that your digital marketing agency knows how to work with it.
Simply put, digital marketing is too labor-intensive to be handled only by humans. That’s why the company that you’re considering should have experience with marketing automation.
Talk to any reps you’re interviewing about their company’s approach to automation. Ask them how they use it and which tools they prefer to use.
Here’s another fun interview question to ask: once you’ve gone over your business model, ask the marketing company’s rep to explain your target market.
If the company has experience with a variety of industries, then a good sales rep shouldn’t have any problem giving you at least a broad overview of your target market. It’s okay if he or she doesn’t know all the details, though.
On the other hand, if the rep has problems even describing your target market, that should be a red flag.
Once your sales rep has explained your target market adequately, it’s time to probe a little deeper. Ask the rep about market segmentation.
You could very well give your business a competitive advantage with proper segmentation. That’s why you should pay careful attention to the answer you get.
The proverbial “sales funnel” doesn’t mean the exact same thing to everybody in marketing. However, the sales rep for any great digital marketing company should be able to explain the agency’s approach to a sales funnel.
One of the best ways to get an understanding of how a digital marketing company will perform is to request a complimentary audit. You’ll get back a report highlighting where your site could use some improvement.
Compare audit reports from competing companies and shortlist candidates with the best feedback.
Digital marketing, in spite of its name, isn’t just a science. There’s an art to it as well.
That’s why you should consider the creativity of any digital marketing agency that you’re considering.
Take a look at some of the graphics that the company has produced. Pay attention to the videos that they agency has created as well.
Also, take a look at the work of the company’s copywriters. It’s likely that those copywriters will be writing ads for your site, so you want to be sure they know how to use words that sell.
Another great way for companies to promote their brand online is by creating and distributing infographics. Ask sales reps to share the URLs of infographics that their companies have created.
Also, check out how often those infographics have been shared on Pinterest. That’s an outstanding social media site for infographics.
What’s the company’s history with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising? If that’s going to be an important part of your digital marketing strategy, you should align yourself with an agency that has a proven track record with online advertising.
Make sure you go beyond just looking at ads that the company has created, though. Be sure to ask about different ad networks and bidding strategies as well.
Ask about the company’s approach to search engine optimization (SEO). Specifically, ask about how the company prefers to move your company’s website up in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Does the agency prefer to build a healthy backlink profile? What about guest-posting? Long-form content?
Make sure that you can talk directly with people who will become a part of your digital marketing team. All of those folks should be available by phone, email, and preferably Skype as well.
Last but certainly not least, ask about the kinds of reports you can expect to receive. What information will they contain? How often will you receive reports?
Be sure to look at reports the company has produced for other clients so you know to expect.
When it comes to selecting a digital marketing agency, there is a lot to know. But do not be intimidated. It is all about clearly understanding your goals first and then performing a series of interviews until you find the right partner. Most digital marketing companies do a decent job, as it is a competitive industry, but if you take the time you will find one that will perform the best for you. Keep these tips in mind during your search and feel free to reach out to us for more information.