A digital marketing agency helps its clients develop marketing strategies and build campaigns to deliver tangible business results. Since every business is different, they require a unique approach to internet marketing. Although most of the agencies claim to provide customized services, not all of them possess the expertise or have the bandwidth to walk the talk. However, there are a lot of digital marketing firms which create a real difference to their clients’ businesses through a sound strategy and its flawless execution.

As a business owner, how will you choose the right agency which is the best fit for your organization?

Here are some tips which can help you spot the right company:

Bigger is not always better

The safest way to choose an agency is to select the industry leaders. However, the majority of businesses can’t afford their budget. Moreover, their style of working may not be compatible for small and medium size businesses. Ideally, you need to find the agencies which can become an integral part of your internal team.

Thus, your focus should be the “right fit” and not the big name.  Hire a firm which has a flexible approach and ready to adopt your style of working.

Know your requirements

Define your objectives of hiring an online marketing company. The objectives could be to increasing traffic, generating more leads, improving search engine visibility, social media branding, etc. You may even require all of these. However, you need to prioritize the goals and define your immediate as well as long-term requirements.

Also, define the outcomes which must be delivered by the agency to justify the investments.  If you don’t know your requirements, then it is good to state this clearly to the agencies and ask them to come up with a plan based on whatever you have in your mind.

How to find agencies

Searching on Google is the most obvious way to find out companies. You can also find a plenty of digital marketing firms on freelance marketplaces such as UpWork, Freelancer, Guru, PPH, etc. Since most of these platforms offer a rating system, you can easily find out the work history and track record for the digital marketing firms. However, you must follow a due diligence process before hiring freelancers or agencies on these platforms as the ratings can be easily manipulated. Also, a lot of entities on these platforms are one-man shops who outsource the task to local freelancers. Thus, many times you may get an inferior quality work despite choosing a high-rated freelancer or an agency. Follow the tips mentioned in this article to scrutinize the firms before hiring and don’t go just by their rating on the platform.

Shortlist two to three firms

Always shortlist two to three companies before making a final decision. Compare their quotes, activities and expected outcomes. Don’t make price the only criterion to compare two agencies. Cheap marketing services are usually quite expensive for the clients.

Ask Questions

Ask everything that you have in mind. You can even ask a few questions related to your industry to check the company’s understanding of your business. Some of the must ask questions are:

  • Who will work on our projects? – Remember that the quality of work will be as good as the quality of people working on the project.
  • Do you outsource the work? If yes, then which part of the task is outsourced? – Avoid agencies which outsource the entire job. In fact, such companies work as brokers and hardly understand the nuances of building effective marketing campaigns.
  • How will you communicate with our internal team?
  • What all do you need to get started?
  • How much time will you take to deliver results?

Follow the Process of elimination

Use the answers to the abovementioned questions to eliminate the agencies which don’t fulfill the basic criteria such as budget, experience, deadline, etc. Some of the red flags to spot the bad apples are extremely low price, promising big results, giving unusual guarantees, not answering your questions directly, etc.

Make an agreement or contract

Once you finalize an agency, make a contract. It is important to define the terms and conditions, and activities that need to be done as a part of the campaign for achieving the expected outcomes. A written contract helps both the parties to set expectations and avoid surprises during the project. It also works as a reference document if a confusion arises in the future.

Conclusion

Choosing a vendor is not a straight line process. It requires serious deliberations among the stakeholders. While hiring an agency, do remember that you will work with the people and not with machines or software. Thus, use one rule of thumb – don’t work with agencies whose initial conversations didn’t make you comfortable.  In other words, choose an organization only if you are comfortable dealing with people who work on your project and not just with the salesman or the agency owner. The effectiveness of the campaign will entirely depend on the quality and experience of people who work on the project and not on the name or size of the agency.