Taking the right decision in hiring the right digital marketing agency is a difficult task. But I’ll make it easy for you.
If you are in a business, you require someone or a team to work for all your marketing necessities. You may either hire some in-house marketing professionals or depend on an external marketing agency. If you’re not a large business, it’s generally not possible to bear the heavy burden of the salary of the marketing professionals. When it’s about digital marketing that requires skilled and experienced people in multidimensional specialization, you can’t afford the full-time salary of the entire team. Ultimately, you have to outsource a marketing agency on a term or project basis.
The vital question is – how can you find the right digital marketing agency that can help you the best in your business growth?
You can find tens of thousands of digital marketing agencies on the internet. They will tell big things about themselves. But how can you know that what they advertise for themselves on the internet fairly represent their reality?
The most critical aspect of choosing the right digital marketing agency for your business is how well it can work for you.
To solve all your difficulties in choosing the right digital marketing agency or consulting firm for your business, here is the simple six steps guide. Follow the steps and believe me that you’ll get the right agency that can fulfill all your digital marketing needs.
1. Prepare Response to Some Basic Questions
The questions are – what accurately you need to achieve, in which way, and in how much time? Your budget is also a crucial aspect.
You might have a ton of reasons that you are looking for the best digital marketing partner. But you need to be specific so that your marketing agency can help your business grow. A marketing agency needs answers to specif questions before handling a project. Such information will help them plan for the campaign. It’ll also help you properly access your company’s marketing requirements. Therefore you need to keep handy the answers to the following questions before proceeding to outsource a digital marketing agency:
- What are the goals and objectives that you want to help with your upcoming digital marketing campaign?
- In a defined timeframe, how much can you invest in your digital marketing campaign?
- What is the actual time frame you want to achieve your goals with your allocated budget?
2. Do Adequate Background Research
Naturally, there are many good digital marketing agencies around you, and there are many swindlers too. There is a big difference between promising and delivering. You require to avoid fake promises. But the question is how to know who is right and who is wrong. The internet is full of high sounded words associated with the phrase ‘digital marketing company.’ Everyone will tell you that they are #1 or the best. In a highly complicated situation, you have to outsource the right digital marketing agency for your company. The cute thing is that it’s not a difficult task to find the best in the jungle of advertisement.
What did I tell? It’s quite easy to find out the suitable digital marking agency (or company) for your business. It’s easy to separate the reputable agencies from the cash grabbers. You only need to do some background research by using the following clues:
A. Search Throughout the Internet
‘Marketing’ is a common requirement for all business types. Marketing agencies also do marketing for themselves. As it’s about digital marketing agency, it’s about online marketing on the internet. The digital marketing agencies that have a high percentage of occupancy on the internet have some real credibility. Note down their brand names and web links, but be careful. There are also many wrong ways of promoting the self on the internet. There are hundreds of good practices in digital marketing and equal or more amount of damaging methods too. Immoral practices may bring you immediate success, but in the long run, it can completely ruin you. Therefore, you have to separate those who are practicing genuine digital marketing from those who are unethical in their marketing activities.
B. Find out the Honest Digital Marketing Agencies
Do you think that distinguishing ethical marketers from unethical marketers is a tough task? No, it’s not. Just follow the easy clue to differentiate honest digital marketing agencies from the dishonest frauds. The sign is how the agency does Search Engine Optimization for themselves.
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a prominent aspect of all digital marketing activities. It helps you rank your website high on search engines like Google or Bing so that your web content (a product or a blog post) can be visible on the first page of a search engine. SEO is the generic or free form of digital marketing but needs adequate involvement and concentration from the concerned marketing professionals. A reliable digital marketing agency usually assigns SEO responsibilities to senior-level professionals who have enough skills, competencies, and experiences in the domain. In other words, as the competition is concerned, gaining success in SEO is not an easy task. It creates an impression that the digital marketing agencies that have a high ranking on search engines are reliable. But be aware!
There are both good and bad SEO practices. Good or ethical SEO is known as White Hat SEO in the industry. The opposite is known as Black Hat SEO. With white hat SEO, you’ll gain success in ranking high, but it takes time. How much time it’ll take depends upon competition, involvement, and concentration. The result is also long-lasting. You can reap the fruits for years for your good practices. In opposite, you can achieve quick success through black hat SEO. But the result is temporary, and search engines can penalize you for the corrupt practices. It can spoil your entire money and hard work.
Never outsource an agency that is indulged in black hat practices for itself. But the question is how to identify such black hatters. There are hundreds of black hat practices, but some methods are more common. Little fundamental ideas of this type of exercise can help you in keeping out theses black hatters from you. The following is a funny example of black hat SEO in the category of keyword stuffing.
Here is another example of keyword stuffing –
C. Review the Content Quality of the Agency
Equally with SEO, content plays a prominent role in digital marketing. It’s an indirect marketing approach that simultaneously affects the purchase decision of the visitors of the website and the search engines’ algorithm to rank high your website. Equally with SEO, content plays a prominent role in digital marketing. It’s an indirect marketing approach that simultaneously affects the purchase decision of the visitors of the website and the search engines’ algorithm to rank high your website. Good content brings good result and bad content brings the bad. Good content refers to the relevant, authenticate, expertise, trustworthy, and high-quality blog posts, podcasts, videos, images info-graphics, look-books, etc. All the irrelevant, non-authentic, not trustworthy, and of bad quality comes under the array of bad content.
Have a look at the agency’s blog posts, videos, and podcasts and review the quality. Posts with less than 900 words, repeated keywords, full of advertisement, bad language, errors, and other negative aspects are bad content. Never outsource an agency those don’t have adequate quality content in their blog section.
D. Review the Social Media Presence of the Agencies
Social Media are very powerful digital marketing platforms. Digital marketing agencies that have more followers than their competitors on social media are better skilled in digital marketing. Never outsource an agency those have few hundreds or few thousands of followers. The following is an example of such a low credible agency.
Like page followers, you can also check page transparency to get more insight into the agency’s credibility. For example – for a Facebook business page, you can also check page transparency to get more insight into the agency’s credibility. For example – for a Facebook business page, look at the page transparency box on the right side of the homepage of the agency. Click on the ‘See More’ option to know details of the date of the page like creation, history of the page, name changes, paid advertisement status, etc. In general, agencies having social media pages for more than two years are more trustworthy. Similarly, those don’t frequently change their names are better trustworthy. It also indicates the branding status of the marketing agency.
3. Request for a Proposal
Your background research will help you to find some trustworthy digital marketing agencies or companies around you. Shortlist and request each of them to send you proposals as per your digital marketing needs. Almost all digital marketing agencies have ‘Request for a Proposal’ pages on their website. Fill the required information asked in the request form. There might be some compulsory fields, such as, your name, company name, email id, phone number, office address, etc. There can be some optional fields that you may not fill. But provide information as much as you can. Try to fill all fields. The more information you provide, the agencies will help you with better proposals. Age and size of your business, annual turn over, marketing goals, tentative budget for the upcoming marketing campaign, expected result, etc. can help the agencies to draft the proposal more effectively.
4. Review and Compare the Proposals
Once you get all the proposals in your inbox, start reviewing and comparing the proposals. The primary three factors you need to review in a digital marketing proposal are –
- Processes of the marketing assignments
- Cost factors of the marketing campaign
- Terms and conditions of the services
Reviewing the Processes of Marketing Campaign
Steps and processes of a digital marketing campaign is the primary concern that you shouldn’t overlook. If this phase is absent in a digital marketing proposal, never proceed further. Only consider the proposal that clearly mention the steps and processes the agencies have to undertake for your marketing requirements. Consider the followings steps of a digital marketing campaign:
- Initial observation report before the proposal was prepared
- Summary of your company profile
- Initial observation report of digital competition in your target market
- Outline of your present position on the internet
- Suggestions to improve your position
- Additional notes
- Detailed marketing research proposal
- Proposal to conduct detailed survey
- How the research can improve your digital strategy
- Methodology and processes of the research
- Detailed cost factors
- Digital strategy building and marketing planning proposal
- Basic introduction
- Methodology of the strategy
- Steps to follow
- Advantages of the plan document
- Additional notes
- A/B Testing or Split Testing
- What is A/B testing and why it’s required
- Processes and channels of A/B testing
- Execution of the Campaigns
- Executive summary
- Tentative dates and duration of different campaign
- Cost Factors estimation
- Expected Result
- Additional notes
- Estimated total budget and duration
- Terms and conditions
The steps and processes can vary from agency to agency, but it should be an integral part of each digital marketing proposal. It can give you a primary idea of how the agency will work on your behalf. Digital marketing is nothing about posting on social media or advertising on search engines or writing some blog posts. It starts with thorough research, strategy building, and detailed planning. Reviews and adjustments in strategies are its lifelines. Delivering the result is its primary objective. A true understanding of the customer accusation journey is a crucial requirement.
It has been, sometimes, misunderstood that any company or agency or individual having skill in designing a website or a web application can do digital marketing. It’s a big misconception. Although developing and designing websites, web applications, mobile apps, etc. parts of digital marketing, digital marketing, in itself, is a broader concept. It requires analytical and visionary brains to do research, analyze, build strategies, draft the plan, implement, and review. Strategy, technology, and creativity are three equal wings of digital marketing.
While reviewing and comparing the digital marketing proposals by different agencies, you have to emphasize how they put strategy, technology, and creativity in the proposal. Research and analytics must be crucial elements in the proposal. Choose the agency that clearly defines its strategy in connection with your marketing objectives.
While you review the proposals, most of the agencies mightn’t qualify as digital marketing agencies in real sense. Now, you’ll find very few who have the credibility to serve your marketing requirements.
Reviewing the Cost Factors of the Campaign
Money matters, and it matters deeply for business. You have to invest wisely in your marketing campaign. Therefore, check whether the pricing details mentioned in the proposal corresponds with your budgetary capabilities. There might be proposals that seem to be favorable for your budget, and there might be proposals that can go beyond your budgetary planning. It normally happens. In such situations, never take a hasty decision. You have to also consider other factors like the competencies, skill levels, trustworthiness, reputations, delivery guarantees, and legal terms and conditions of the services. You can also discuss details of the pricing policies with the concerned digital marketing agency. Furthermore, you can also ask for discounts and cost adjustments.
You shouldn’t compromise with quality for the cost factors or pricing. Well reputed and established digital marketing firms generally charge higher than the average and new agencies. Normally, the service charges of digital marketing agencies are based on an hourly rate for a specific skill level.
Service charge by an agency or firm isn’t everything that you have to invest in your digital marketing campaign. It normally comprises 25% to 45% of the total cost of a marketing campaign. Your direct payment to ad and marketing platforms like search engines and social media really matters. It depends upon many external and internal factors. Although your digital marketing agency doesn’t possess any control over the external factors like competition and business environment, it can minimize the budget by controlling the internal factors like ad quality or landing page quality. The wise decision is to choose the agency that can help you in minimizing the ad cost by controlling the internal factors. paying a higher service charge to such an agency will be a reward.
Reviewing the Terms and Conditions
Terms and conditions in a business or marketing or service agreements count for legal accountabilities. It means, both the parties signing on the terms document are bound to honor it. After signing, in no condition, except violation by the other party, you can’t tell that you disobey it. Therefore, thoroughly read the terms and conditions attached to the digital marketing proposal by the concerned agency. Before accepting or signing the same, think twice. Only agree with the terms and conditions once you realize that it equally protects both parties against any violation.
Now, sit relaxed. With the next few steps, you can make the right decision in choosing the best digital marketing agency for your company.
5. Fix Appointment and Talk on the Proposal
Once you could shortlist two or three dependable digital marketing agencies that have adequate abilities to handle your marketing affairs, you need to discuss with them before finalizing. If the agencies are in your city or proximity, you can invite them for meetings, or visit their offices for the purposes. However, as the presence of decent digital marketing agencies in 2020 in India or in many countries concerns, you may not find the right agency in your won city. In such a situation, a physical face to face interaction may not be possible. However, you can adopt a digital way, i.e., an online conference or video calling.
During the interaction, whether it’s physical or digital, talk on the proposal in detail. Ask the marketing agency in concern about their credibility. Verify with counter questions. Ask for special discounts. As well as, let the agency to clarify their abilities to help your business grow.
6. Finalize Your Digital Marketing Agency
You have all done. It’s time to finalize who can do better for you. You have already proceeded up to 99%. The issue is very simple. Just choose the digital marketing agency that has stood number one throughout your decision-making process. If you have been adequately careful throughout your journey, you’ll definitely find the best digital marketing agency that can help you in the growth of your business.
I hope you have found the right answer. Now you can decide whom you should outsource for your company for all digital marketing activities.