When trying to determine how to hire a digital marketing agency several factors come in to play. We have previously written about hiring for a singular service category such as How to Hire an SEO Agency.
When it comes to a broader skillset such as Digital Marketing in general, the challenge becomes much greater. There are several considerations we must make. We will lay all of these out in the trusted Pre-Work, Interview and Final Selection Categories.
Before reaching out to a digital marketing agency you must first determine what your goals are in having an agency partner Digital marketing in a general sense is a broad skill set. So, let’s start there:
What are you trying to accomplish by hiring a digital agency? The answer to this question is unique to each client. Are you looking for more digital leads by any means necessary or do you have a more specific set of requirements? Helping potential agencies to understand your goals will ensure that you receive more detailed proposals.
A true understanding of your skillset, and the skill sets of various internal team members will go a long way when determining responsibilities. Depending on the resources and skills you have at your disposal your agency may suggest a full-service approach or a more collaborative approach. It is always in your best interest to be open and honest. When trying to establish an effective partnership all parties need to know what they are bringing to the table.
Your budget will be the single most important factor when determining how much an agency is able to take on. If your budget is limited, an agency will be able to provide you with a complete proposal including prioritized recommendations. For example, an agency proposing SEO, PPC, Paid Social, CRO, and Landing Page design may place more emphasis on one or two items from these potential service offerings based on budget restraints. Providing your budget early will ensure that the plan is designed with your specific restraints in mind.
The process for designing and proposing a complete digital marketing strategy typically takes much longer than that of a single service. Expect your agency to take 1-2 weeks while keeping you informed along the way. This is a great opportunity for you to begin your evaluation of the agency and how they are serving you during this process.
Understanding Your Needs + Goals
We mentioned above that you need to be honest about your skills and goals.
- Does the agency demonstrate an ability to understand those needs/goals?
- Are they going to build a plan that suits your unique requirements or are they simply supplying “package” pricing?
- Are they willing to dive into your marketing mix and look for opportunities?
These questions go a long way in determining whether they are a sound partner or just a generic vendor.
It is important to determine how experienced the agency is in each element of the marketing mix. It is rare that you will find an agency that has been doing everything since day for. For example, Search Engine People started as an SEO only agency. Over the years we quickly evolved into a full-service digital agency offering new services as they become available to the market.
Does the agency you are interviewing have experience across the entire mix? If so, what are their strongest attributes and what are their weakest? Do they offer complete solutions to other clients and can demonstrate success?
Putting it All Together
A digital marketing plan is not a series of individual tactics working in tandem. It is a series of strategies working to support each other. Is the agency able to explain how one element of the plan will positively/negatively impact the other?
For example, CRO recommendations to move a page from the main navigation may increase conversion rates but it could also reduce traffic.
Finding an agency that understands how to delicately utilize each of these elements to their maximum ability is key.
You have likely spent a couple of weeks and quite a few hours going through calls and proposals at this point. You have narrowed down your list and now it is time to select a partner. At this point your decision will weigh heavily on final details.
Was the agency able to build a plan that suits your budget? If not, do they have a reasonable explanation as to why that is the case
- If they are over your budget can they demonstrate additional value?
- If they are under, are they still confident they can hit your goals?
We all have budgets to work within. Determining your agency's price, value, and ability to hit goals will all play a large role in your final selection.
What happens when it is time for a change or a pivot. Every strong digital marketing agency knows that strategies are built to be changed.
- How long does your agency envision utilizing the current strategy?
- How often is the entire engagement reviewed?
- Are there additional costs as the strategy evolves?
It is worth noting that changes within the agreed-upon strategy should not come with additional costs. Changing media spends dramatically, adding new tactics/platforms and/or products and services will likely come with additional fees.
Who will be working on your account? Any agency that you hire should be confident in their team. Do not be afraid to ask to meet the team but do not be surprised if that takes a couple of days.
Agencies work within capacity limits and want to make sure the person they assign are prepared to give your account the full attention it deserves.
Some agencies may provide a few options, not for you to select but for you to see the candidates based on timing. An agency that can showcase several team members that fit the bill is a plus.
How to Choose a Digital Marketing Agency: The Final Word
When trying to determine how to choose a digital marketing agency using the above-mentioned questions and categories to determine the ability of a digital marketing agency to deliver on your expectations. Pick the agency that is able to earn your trust and demonstrate a clear understanding of both your needs and abilities. Always look for an agency that is prepared to evolve with you. If you go through this process, your chances of finding the right agency are significantly higher.