How to Choose the Best Digital Marketing Agency in 10+ Steps

6 Feb. 2020

Did you just launch an online business? Marketing is an investment which, if done correctly, will reward you for years to come. But digital marketing is a tricky business -- multiple strategies, platforms, objectives, costs, and outcomes -- planning it all can be a challenging task. Here is where a digital marketing company comes into play.

A digital marketing company can help you grow your digital presence, thereby generating more visitors, conversions, and revenue. But, you must have heard of cases where business owners spent $5000 a month on an agency and got nothing out of it. Well, it is certainly possible if you choose the wrong digital marketing agency for your business.

To help you overcome this dilemma, here is a ten-step process to select the best digital marketing company that delivers guaranteed results.

Define your objectives and expectations

Before starting to look for a marketing company, do some homework at your end to avoid wasting your time or ending up in miscommunication. Determine what role you want a marketing agency to play in your business process -- whether it is branding, increased business growth, or B2B partnerships -- you should have your requirements clear before beginning your search.

Marketing requirements

A digital marketing company can offer the following services:

  • Web development and design
  • Content creation and marketing
  • Search engine optimization
  • Social media marketing
  • Search engine marketing
  • Email marketing

Figure out whether you require a specific service or the entire set. Based on your requirements, you can distinguish between a specialized or general agency, along with whether to go for an inclusive or niche-specific one.

Also, be sure to determine the type of relationship you want with the company as well. Do you want it to be an outsourced marketing provider or a strategic partner that works closely with your business? Listing down such details help you narrow down your options, which makes the selection process easier.

Services offered

No matter how good an agency's marketing portfolio is, if it does not provide the set of services you need for your business, interacting with it can be a sheer waste of time. Here is a quick overview of services a standard digital marketing agency should offer.

Search Engine Optimization:

SEO is the process of increasing your website ranking on search results by applying changes in your website design, content, and code.

Pay Per Click:

PPC advertising is the process of creating and running ads on search engines or other websites to get immediate traffic to your site.

Social Media Marketing:

SMM includes promoting a brand on social media platforms -- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn -- to generate website traffic and conversions.

Email marketing:

Email marketing consists of crafting and sending well-planned emails to your target audience to increase website traffic and brand awareness.

Web Development & Design:

Website development & design refers to creating and designing a website, which acts as a hub where your target customers can come and interact with your business.

Copywriting and Content Marketing:

Content serves as the fuel of a website, making it rank higher and generate more traffic. Copywriting refers to writing engaging, persuasive content to convince your visitors to take any action, such as making a purchase or signing up for the newsletter.

Apart from these services, many marketing agencies can offer additional solutions, such as mobile app development, branding, ready-to-use solutions, collaborations, etc. Understand your requirements to determine what services you need to grow your business online.

Technology used

Digital marketing has rapidly changed, and now, it relies on a lot of new technologies, tools, and techniques. Be sure to choose a digital marketing company that is equipped with high levels of technical expertise. Evaluate their equipment and software to ensure they are capable enough to meet your marketing requirements. Here are a few tools every digital marketing company should use:

  • Tag Management Platform
  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Outbound Marketing Tools
  • Inbound Marketing Tools
  • Customer Management Solutions
  • Marketing Automation Tools
  • Analytics Tools

Find a company that understands your requirements

Before approaching a digital marketing company, ensure that it is acquainted with the ins and outs of your industry. For example, if you want to market your newly launched athleisure clothing e-commerce business, you will need to pick an agency that has prior experience in working with sports or apparel companies.

The best way to do so is by examining the company website and portfolio. If the company portfolio consists of work associated with your niche, you can be confident about the knowledge and expertise of the company in your niche. On the other hand, if a company portfolio is filled with healthcare company projects, maybe it excels in the healthcare industry but might not be an ideal pick for athleisure clothing. Therefore, it is essential to pick am an agency that is experienced in working in your niche. You can also get in touch with other companies in your industry and ask for referrals.

Background research

After shortlisting a bunch of agencies in your niche, dive into their profiles. Here are a few points to consider when performing background research of a digital marketing services company.

Google partner status: Google has an amazing partner database that shows the categories in which an agency is certified in -- SEO, PPC, SEM, Analytics -- along with the minimum working budget of the agency.

Review: Check out Google, Facebook, and other review websites to get a clear idea about the credibility of a company.

Check testimonials: Testimonials are a great way to get initial impressions of how a company performs with different clients.

Talk to clients: Get in touch with the past or existing clients of the agency, and ask for their feedback.

Pricing

Most business owners, especially when starting out, prefer to save up pon marketing and spend wisely. Although it is essential to get a good deal, you will need to have a significant marketing budget to get the best services. An agency offering services at $100 per month might not be as good as a company charging $1,000 for the same services.

And, if you are low on budget, follow the golden rule of staying in between, i.e., cross out the cheapest and most expensive options, and pick the ones in between. Instead of settling for a low-cost agency, try negotiating with a reputable agency for a lower fee.

Send a Request for Proposal

Once you have a list of potential agencies, send them a request of the proposal (RFP), giving a brief overview of your business, marketing objectives, and budget requirements. You might not prefer giving a lot of details about your business, but be sure to forward enough information that provides enough understanding of your business model and consumer demographics. Since you are the one that knows the most about your business, it is essential to convey that information to your potential marketing partners via an RFP. A few points to list in a request for proposal are:

  • Background and positioning of your brand and business
  • An overview of your work and business objectives
  • Details of your target consumers
  • Estimated budget
  • Contact details for further discussion

Send an assignment Based on the feedback you receive from the RFP, you will be able to narrow down your options further. Then, send the shortlisted agencies an assignment to develop a free audit and broad strategy report.

Audit report

An audit report gives you a vague idea of the skillset and capabilities of a marketing company. Also, it provides you with insights about the shortcomings in your marketing efforts and what improvements you can possibly make. Moreover, an audit report also gives you an idea of how badly an agency wants to work with you -- the more detailed the report, the more interested are they to work with you.

Broad strategy

A broad strategy report consists of how an agency can counter the pitfalls in your existing marketing strategy. It gives you an idea of how well the company is equipped and how much time you can expect to see the results.

Evaluate the assignment

Once you receive the agency assignments, it is time to review them. Most business owners would prefer getting the assignment on mail, which is not the right way to go. Instead, go in-person or use video or teleconference and allow the company to present its proposal. An agency assignment enables you to evaluate the following points:

  • Expertise
  • Experience
  • Execution ability
  • Measurement of the program
  • Budget analysis
  • Recommendations
  • Expectations

When interacting with the agency, eliminate it if you notice the following signs.

  • Unrealistic claims
  • Lack of punctuality
  • Easy negotiation
  • Unprofessionalism

Meet the team in person

By this time, you will be left with selected options, and now, it is time to go and meet each one of them in person. Here are a few factors to consider when you meet a digital marketing agency team.
  • How is their team? -- creative, business awareness, agency vibe, passionate, professional
  • How do they run their own business?
  • Have they been successful with their past projects?
  • What are their deliverables?
  • What is their pricing model?

The Bottom Line

Robust digital marketing strategies and their effective execution are essential for a business to thrive online. A digital marketing company can play a vital role in accelerating business growth, but choosing a wrong agency can backfire as well, exhausting thousands of marketing dollars for nothing.

Therefore, it is essential to be mindful while choosing a marketing partner that understands your objectives and challenges and is well equipped with the solutions to tackle those problems. Also, pay ample attention to the factors like pricing, experience, and expertise to get yourself the best digital marketing company in India.

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