When you’re planning to spend money on a digital marketing agency, you want to know that your money is going to good use. Navigating the world of digital marketing is a daunting task for most business owners whose time is already spread thin. Many need a trustworthy and competent digital partner to manage their online marketing needs.

Investing in a partnership with a digital marketing agency is critical in today’s fast-paced digital world – but wasting money on an inexperienced or ineffective firm does more harm than good. There’s nothing more frustrating than blowing an already-strained budget on an agency that doesn’t give you the results that you want and need.

Choosing the right digital marketing firm is crucial to your bottom line. The wrong one can quickly drain your budget and negatively impact your branding. So, here is my recommended strategy for finding a digital marketing agency that can help your business grow.

Digital Marketing Agency

1- Understand your needs and your budget

The first step in the process is understanding your needs. The better you can describe your business needs in terms of website, search engine optimization (SEO), advertising, social media, and graphic design, the better your conversations will be with prospective digital agencies.

You should also understand your budget and what you are willing to spend. There is no set price — you are not buying a radiator for your car. A good marketer should be able to work with any reasonable budget and set your expectations accordingly. For instance, a restaurant is going to have a large amount of social media work and not much advertising, while a plumbing business typically has a high spend on advertising and low social media needs.

Understanding your needs and budget is the first step in choosing the right digital marketing agency.

2- Make Sure You Define Your Expectations

Before you even set out to work with an agency, identify and clarify your expectations. Miscommunications hinder results. Now, this isn’t all on you. Your digital marketing agency should have a proven process by which they immerse themselves in your business. Be on the lookout to see if they are asking the right questions to learn about your brand and goals.

Marketing Expectation

3- Demand full transparency

Lack of transparency is the most basic and also the most overlooked red flag. Review an agency’s website and, if you don’t see an address, bios and a client list, then this agency is likely not worth your time. If an agency looks like it is hiding something, then it probably is. It’s that simple. For example, there are many offshore agencies making big promises with cheap rates.

Most of our clients come to us immediately after a bad experience, and more often than not, there is little information on the websites of their previous agencies. Full transparency should be the first criterion when choosing the right digital agency for your business. You can ask them if they are going to give you an access to live reporting or real-time marketing dashboard.

Marketing Dashboard

4- Find an agency that doesn’t make you sign contracts you can’t get out of

Good agencies won’t try to lock you into long contracts. They’ll give you control of how long you work with them. Rather than holding you to a contract you can’t get out of if their marketing efforts aren’t working, they’ll instead do their best to deliver great results in order to keep you around.

“Marketing is an investment, It’s an investment in people and time and money that must be nurtured and worked at in order to be optimized.”

5- Consider the client, agency and technical sides

Most marketers talk about the client and agency sides. You are either on one side or the other. But there is a third side that is often overlooked and often the most important: the technical side.

Understanding website development technologies is critical to any marketing strategy. The website is your mothership and must be built and hosted properly. Ask your potential account manager what sides of this triad they have had past working experiences. If their career has taken them to all three, jackpot! They most likely have a well-rounded view of digital marketing.

Account managers that have had experience working on both the client and agency sides have an advantage in developing digital strategies because of their operational experience. Thinking outside the box is very important in digital marketing and innovative ideas often derive from operational experiences.

6- Try to Meet Face to Face

In today’s world it might be difficult to physically meet with people in your digital marketing agency, but thankfully you should be able to video chat. Set up a time to meet in person or virtually with the experts so that you can know, exactly, who you will be working with. It’s helpful to put a face to a name, particularly to your dedicated account manager.

Digital Marketing Proposal

7- Send a Request for a Proposal

You are an expert in your business, and that’s why it’s important to make sure that your request for proposal contains relevant information that a digital marketing agency would need to develop an effective strategy.

Talk about your brand background and how you’re currently positioned. Explain who your target customers or consumers are, and describe your budget and timeline. A lot of your questions about the agency’s approach should be answered with their proposal.

Find The Value, Not The Price!

The cost will obviously be a consideration when it comes down to your final decision, but you shouldn’t go with whoever has the cheapest rate. The least expensive agency will rarely offer you the best value. Ask instead what you get for your money, and form a clear understanding of what’s expected from each of you. This can help you have the confidence that your money isn’t being wasted, rather invested in your company’s future.