Any search on Google will uncover agencies with a strong history of doing great work, agencies yet to prove themselves and agencies who simply don’t deserve your business.
The challenge for you as a client? How to tell the difference. Talk is cheap, and evaluating the best digital agency for your needs takes effort and some smarts. Read on to discover the essential points you need to consider before you pick your next digital marketing agency.
This seems obvious, and perhaps for you it is. But before you consider speaking to an agency you need to be 100% clear on your own digital marketing strategy objectives and what it is you want an agency to help you achieve. It is amazing how vague the brief can be when new prospects speak to us, or how often their stated goals can be contradictory.
Good agencies know they cannot be all things to all people. They’ll be able to tell you what they are great at and what they believe is best done by others. In many cases, a good agency will be able to direct you on to other agencies they know and trust if they can’t help you (at Rocket Agency we do this all the time). Being crystal clear about your goals will help you find the right agency faster.
Be wary of agencies who are quick to throw specific KPIs at you. Predicting how a marketing campaign will perform is notoriously difficult, and speaking to someone who is willing to throw out hard numbers early in a conversation with you should be a warning sign.
Equally important though is being wary of an agency who is not willing to have a conversation around what success should look like for you once they have had time to consider your challenge, ask clarifying questions and do their research.
Without a clear goal or KPI your marketing campaign will almost certainly suffer. It’s critical to have a clear north star everyone is aligned around.
Getting results from a marketing agency is critical, but in our experience clients value the day-to-day experience just as highly. The public face of the agency might be impressive, but chances are they won’t be working on your account. Likewise, the person you dealt with when considering doing business with them is likely to hand you over and move on to the next sale. Exactly what is life after the sale going to look like?
Here are some key questions to ask when hiring a digital marketing agency:
An agency should ask you specific questions in order to understand your business before they propose how they are going to solve your problem. A strong discovery process is a critical part of an agency diagnosing your problem and then prescribing a solution.
Expect to hear things like:
The sales experience should feel more like a trip to the doctor than a trip to purchase a new car. Good digital marketing is not one size fits all service.
A great way to understand what an agency can do for you is look at what they’ve done in the past. Ask them questions about who they’ve worked with, which industries they are familiar with and look for similarities. Ask to hear about the data behind the results. Ask questions like:
And then do your own research:
We’ve written previously about digital marketing agency fees. If you want to understand broad costs and the different ways agencies charge for their services it's worth a read. The most important thing to recognise though is that cost and value are two very different things.
Ultimately, the success of a campaign is about what it changes in the real-world for you. The cheapest proposal might look great on the P&L, but if it fails to hit the campaign KPIs then it’s not delivering value. In comparison, if the most expensive proposal changes the way your business operates, then the extra money is a solid investment in most scenarios.
A great way to think about this is to consider how you or your business will be impacted by a positive versus a negative result with an agency. Take cost off the table temporarily, and consider the value delivered to you by getting this decision right. Once you’ve got the value in your mind, now carefully consider the proposals and costs that have been suggested.
Don’t be afraid to also listen to your gut. If an agency is promising something that seems unlikely or impossible given what they know about you, or the budget you have, then be concerned. If the main selling point for an agency is that they are the only ones who can help because they have ‘the secret’ be wary. There is no ‘secret’, just hard work by experienced and committed marketers. If the agency sounds great but their values don’t align with your values, then keep moving.
There are dozens of great agencies in Australia and a good number of them are going to be perfect for what you need to achieve. Do your research and have the right conversations and your chance of success when it comes to evaluating and appointing the right agency will skyrocket.
David Lawrence is the MD and Co-Founder of Rocket, an award-winning Australian digital marketing agency. He is also the co-author of the Amazon #1 best-selling marketing book 'Smarter Marketer'. David has presented at several events including Inbound, Search Marketing Summit, Mumbrella360, CEO Institute and a variety of seminars and in-house sessions.
David has built his expertise from a diverse career, starting with an economics degree before jumping into all things web in the late 90s.
Today, David is Rocket's Managing Director and is known for his ability to find clarity in the bigger picture. He is highly respected as a digital marketing authority, sharing his expertise with an extensive network here in Australia and around the world.