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7 Proven Steps to Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency for Your Business

by David Lawrence on 
November 29, 2021 | 
Digital Marketing Strategy

Let’s face it, there are low barriers to entry when it comes to calling yourself a digital marketing agency.

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.

1. Set very specific goals before going to market

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 goals 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.

  • Do you need an agency to build your digital marketing strategy?
  • Are you looking for someone who can fill gaps in your team or provide scale for when it’s needed?
  • Is it a single channel you need help in?
  • Are you looking for assistance to launch a new offering or reach a new market?
  • Or do you need an agency who will act as your complete outsourced marketing function?

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 we do this all the time). Being crystal clear about your goals will help you find the right agency faster.

2. Agree early (and mutually) on what success looks like

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.

3. Understand what your post-sale experience will look like before signing anything

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:

  • What does the journey look like for your clients? What are the key touchpoints to expect?
  • Who’s my day-to-day contact? Who else is working on my account?
  • What is the experience and background of these people?
  • How often can I expect to be in contact with my account manager/specialists?
  • What happens if after a certain period of time the campaign is not performing as expected?
  • How often are results presented and what form does this take?
  • How is the agency structured in terms of client management, strategy, and channel specialists?
  • Is any work outsourced or done offshore? If so, describe how this works.
  • Who owns the agency and what’s their involvement in the day-to-day?

4. Ensure the right problem has been diagnosed

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:

  • Can we access your existing campaigns and platforms to see how they are performing?
  • What’s your budget?
  • What does your perfect buyer persona look like?
  • Explain your offering and how it delivers value to your customers?
  • In terms of generating revenue what is and what is not working in your digital marketing currently?
  • What marketing assets do you have to support your campaigns?
  • What role does marketing play in your business?
  • What does success look like to you?
  • What’s your forecasted/ideal ROI?

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.

5. Assess the agency’s track-record carefully

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:

  • Can you share case studies relevant to my campaign?
  • Have you won awards for your work?
  • Who else do you work with who markets to a similar audience or solves a similar marketing challenge?
  • What’s worked well in the past for these sorts of campaigns?

And then do your own research:

6. Buy based on value not cost

We’ve written previously about what a digital marketing agency costs. 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.

7. Back your gut

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.

If you’re in the market for a new agency and you like what you’ve read, then we’d love to have a chat. If we’re not the right agency for you, then there’s a good chance we’ll know someone who is. Leave us a message and we’ll contact you, or call us on 1300 059 620.

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