How to Choose a Digital Agency

I recently saw a stand-up comedy show where the comedian said about smartphones, “Who knew we would all be walking around with metal rectangles stuck to our hands?” and I thought, it can definitely seem that way sometimes. Everything is becoming digital and more of us turn to mobile devices for work, home and play.

As a result, digital marketing is becoming increasingly important. How your business presents itself and performs online is a big factor in your success. Your brand has to look consistently great, be easy to access, and connect with the right audiences with the right message at the right time – all online.

For many businesses, working with a smart digital partner can mean the difference between growth and decline.

The wrong agency can waste your time and resources and – worst of all – tarnish your brand.

How to Choose a Digital Agency

You need a team that’s worthy of your business. You’re not just signing up another set of hands, you’re entrusting them with your brand reputation and the success of your business.

Whether you’re a novice to all things digital or up-to-speed on the latest techniques, selecting the right agency can be a daunting task. We hear ya!

To make things just a bit easier, here are our six steps we’d recommend you take to help you pick the best match for your business.

Step 1. Define your goals.

Before you begin to evaluate agencies, decide what you’re hoping to achieve. Is there a specific project that you can’t do in-house? Are your online results not what you need for growth? Has your advertising grown stale and you need a fresh approach? Is your marketing across channels inconsistent, with some outperforming others? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you begin the agency search with clear goals.

Step 2: Decide what services you need.

Consider the services an agency offers and whether they actually relate to what you need. The broad definition of a digital agency is a firm that handles all things digital, but there’s a huge variation in core services. A typical agency has expertise in some or all of these: website strategy, design, and development; online advertising; content creation; social media; search engine optimization (SEO) and analytics. Deciding which services you’re likely to need will help you trim your list of potential agencies and find one that offers the perfect mix and expertise that you’re looking for.

Step 3: Get the history.

Many traditional agencies are not well equipped to offer integrated digital marketing. The landscape has evolved so quickly that even long-standing agencies have found it challenging to keep up their expertise. Some now claim to offer digital because they know they should. Try to find out how long they’ve been offering these services. If an agency has only just started offering social media, for example, they will not have a deep understanding of the strategy, pitfalls and advantages that an agency with a longer track record does.

Step 4: Check out the clients.

Most reputable digital agencies have a list of clients on their websites.  They want to show the types of companies they’ve worked with, especially if these are big-name brands. Take a look and see if the agency has any experience in your industry or in a related one.  If it has worked with companies like yours – either in size, product, customer type or industry — it suggests the agency already understands the challenges and opportunities of your marketplace. It’s also is a sign that these clients are happy with the results.

Step 5: Ask for proof.

There are many agencies that claim to be experts in all things digital, but this isn’t always the case.  You can find out by asking for proof of their results. One of the best features of digital marketing is that everything can be measured, from CPL (cost per lead) to CPA (cost per acquisition) to bounce rates and abandoned cart rates. Ask for case studies and find out whether the results they’ve gotten for other clients match their claims.

Step 6: Trust but verify.

Your research should include traveling around an agency’s site. Does this seem like an agency that’s “walking the talk” or one that is all hot air? You want to see that they know how to use the digital tactics and techniques they’re hoping you’ll hire them for. However, this MOZ article also warns against agencies that are too well marketed, with the assumption that that means they’re not busy enough with client work. We’ll leave this one up to you.

The proof is in the pudding.

The Choice Is Yours

The right agency will offer the expertise and the services to deliver innovative campaigns from strategy to execution to optimization. Follow these six steps to choose a digital agency that will help your business thrive.