How to Choose a Digital Marketing Agency for Your Small Business

Hiring a digital marketing agency to support your business needs is no different than hiring an employee to fill a position with your company.

Their specialties, experience, technical skills, reliability, quality of work, even personality (or in the case of a company, their culture) all matter. And, just like a bad hire, the stakes of partnering with the wrong agency can be high.

The hardest part about choosing a digital marketing agency, however, is that these organizations are professionals at promoting their product. How does a company decide which agency to partner with when faced with this important decision?

Here are some tips to consider when comparing one digital marketing provider to another.

1. Dig deep on their website

When choosing a digital marketing agency, take a hard look at its own digital marketing. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. When you look at their website, how do you feel?
  2. Is the website clean and clear?
  3. Do you notice any typos or broken links?
  4. Is it hard or easy to navigate?
  5. Are there multiple types of media like informative images and video?
  6. Do they have a regularly updated blog? Can you subscribe?
  7. Do they have offers to download or free consultations?
  8. Are there links to social media?
  9. When you’re all done digging around, do you want to buy in?

When hiring a digital marketing agency, you really can’t (and shouldn’t) expect it to do more for you than it would for itself.

If you don’t want your online marketing to look like theirs, move on.

2. Read reviews and check references

How to Choose a Digital Marketing Agency for Your Small BusinessBecause hiring a digital marketing agency is no less important than hiring an employee, next do a pre-employment background check.

First, go to all the major review sites — Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, and especially, the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Read a few of the five-star reviews and a few of the one stars, but spend most of your time in the mid-range reviews. Oftentimes, these have the most information and tend to be more realistic.

If all you see are five-star reviews, the company is probably pretty fantastic at managing their online reputation. While this may not give you an authentic idea of what doing business with them is like, it will tell you just that — they are good with online reputation management — and in these times, that is definitely an asset.

If all you see are one-star reviews, take note. Then, dig a little deeper. Notice whether or not the company responded.

Though other review sites offer the company an opportunity to respond, the BBB supports companies in mediating negative claims and, essentially, issues a judgment based on both sides of the story.

Finally, and especially if you’re unsatisfied with what you have learned from looking through the agency’s reviews, ask for references — real, human ones.

Many companies will offer up testimonials on their websites, which is another great marketing tactic you’ll want to employ, but if they have customers who are happy to talk to you about their services, that’s a good sign!

3. Look at matching specialties and budget

Look at matching specialties and budgetNow that you know more about the marketing companies you’re researching, make note if the digital marketing agency is a good match for what your organization needs.

For example, some agencies specialize in certain industries. If you notice an agency provides a lot of downloadable offers for law firms, and you are a home builder, you may or may not be a good match.

But if they have some offers for law firms, and some more general offers — especially offers that caught your eye — they may not really “specialize.”

Additionally, many online marketing agencies offer packages and services a la carte. Does their services page provide pricing? Consider your budget.

The goal, like hiring an individual, is to be able to sustain a partnership with the company. You don’t want to have to let a good thing go because you can’t afford them anymore. Make a smart hire the first time, and do it only once.

4. Ask the digital marketing agency for sample work and proof of results

Finally, if you feel good about the website, if the reviews and references check out, and if you think the agency is a pretty good match for your company, ask for more.

When you talk with a representative of the agency about its services, get a sample of reports as well. Reports are how you will determine whether the agency is meeting your marketing needs. Be sure to also ask if you will have a dedicated individual to explain those reports to you and guide you moving forward.

Finally, in addition to reporting, and somewhat in conjunction with it, ask to see results. Most marketing companies can provide you with case studies from their actual client base.

Ask if there is another company in your industry — perhaps the same size or with similar marketing challenges — in their client base that has gotten good results.

Ask the digital marketing agency for sample work and proof of resultsWhen the agency provides that information to you, make note of what programs or services the case study used and determine if similar digital marketing services would work for you.

The once-niche world of digital marketing agencies has officially boomed, peaked and, some would argue, become saturated. And now, with so many of these service providers in the marketplace, jostling each other for a chance to work with your business, companies big and small have their work cut out for them when it comes to choosing the one that will best meet their marketing needs.

Choosing a digital marketing agency as your partner in building your company doesn’t need to be so hard. Just follow the tips we’ve shared and you’ll be in the right track to make your small business a success.

About the Author

Above the Fold Media prides itself on delivering the best marketing service, newest technology, and sharpest strategy to all clients, regardless of their size. Where other agencies try to maximize profits by doing less and charging more, Above the Fold believes in building enduring relationships through hard work, respect, and results.

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