How to choose a digital marketing agency for your business

Prasanna Hetti Arachchige

Prasanna Hetti Arachchige

It is critical that you choose the right partner because the wrong one would end up draining your money and time. Therefore, I am going to help you with the criteria to assess an agency more objectively and make a more informed decision.

The digital marketing landscape is continuously changing, and it is daunting for most business owners whose time is already skinny, to navigate successfully. That’s why the most business needs a trustworthy and competent digital marketing partner. But do you know how to choose the right one for your business? , I could be even more confusing to select the best digital marketing agency for your business when there are plenty in the market.
It is critical that you choose the right partner because the wrong one would end up draining your money and time. Therefore, I am going to help you with the criteria to assess an agency more objectively and make a more informed decision.

Benefits of working with an agency;

First, let’s look at some of the benefits of working with a digital marketing agency;
Instant access to expertise and tools: Agencies are flexible and experienced at adapting to new business challenges. It could take years and cost much money to train people in-house to the same level. Agencies pool their client revenue streams together to buy tools for use across several clients. You can get access to this.
New ways of thinking: An agency will see your business, propositions, audience, and challenges in a different light to you, which can lead to better thinking, fresh insights, optimized approaches, and new opportunities.
Scalability of service: You only buy what you need. As you grow, you can incrementally increase the agency resource you require or downsize if necessary.
Cost-effective: You are efficiently committing to an hourly allotment of time that meets your exact needs, so you are not paying for the time that you don’t need.

How to Choose the right agency;

Understand your needs and available budget: Explaining what you’re trying to achieve allows the agency to match their skill set to your needs. It also allows you to work with suitably specialised agencies. Being transparent with your budget allows the agency to show you what they can deliver for that budget, i.e. what’s in it for them.
Ask them what they believe is their USP/core strength: Sense checks this against your own beliefs and look for recommendations from associates and on LinkedIn to verify their agency proposition.
Awards are not always the best good indicator: While awards look great, dive into the detail of what they’ve won, for who and how. Be wary of industry awarding members of that industry, as there are more important things to indicate agency suitability than this kind of recognition. Look for more solid indicators of the agency’s track record.
Research their clients and global/local/industry specialisms: Have they worked with others in your industry, associated industry, similar business models, and companies you admire? Ask what they’ve learned and can bring to the table for your business to match your objectives?
Are the agency’s fees calculated by the hour (management time) or as a percentage of media spend?: management time payments are generally better suited to performance, as the agency is encouraged to put time and effort into your campaign rather than increasing media spend (regardless of return). Also, be aware that not every agency price based on the time base model, alternatively some can price for the expertise and results. In other words, they quote you a price to deliver your marketing objectives.

What is your available budget after media and production costs?: It would be best if you worked with your agency to understand what can be achieved for your budget. Sense check this by looking at previous campaigns and ask for a justification of hours and costs as line items in their pricing documentation.

How often are you invoiced? What is the contract duration, and are there SLA/performance penalties and break clauses included?: Be aware of how long your contract lasts, consider including your SLAs to drive accountability, and understand break clauses and sentences for this. You may find including penalties for poor performance or missing SLAs.

Is there transparency about costs versus outputs and time investment: Use time trackers, phone calls and email updates to ensure billed hours are being delivered. For paid media, it’s possible to check the change history to see how often activities are being actioned on the accounts and campaigns.

When you have answers to the above questions, it should inform you to make a better decision. Once you have selected a digital marketing partner, it is crucial that you move towards a consultative partnership model. The time when you consider digital agency as a third party executor is less common now. It would be best if you were prepared to involve them in the formulation of the strategy. I will talk about how to manage agency relationship in a separate blog in future.

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