27 Crucial Questions You Need to Ask When Choosing a Digital Marketing Agency
According to the Gale Group, digital marketing currently takes up 14% of the advertising market. This is growing year-on-year as more online businesses start to realise the power of SEO, social and content marketing among other methods.
The main common problem with most businesses is that they know the importance of digital marketing but have little clue how to go about it. This raises questions of cost and efficiency of marketing budgets.
If you plan to have a long a fruitful relationship with your web marketing team then these 26 important questions will help you select the correct digital marketing agency.
- 1 What’s their specialisation?
- 2 Do they look to the short, medium, long-term?
- 3 How do they track results?
- 4 What results did they get for previous clients?
- 5 Can the SEO agency provide previous client results?
- 6 Who will manage your account?
- 7 Do they have good reviews?
- 8 Do they blog?
- 9 What’s the company culture like?
- 10 What’s the price range?
- 11 Is there a contract?
- 12 How many clients do they currently work with?
- 13 What is their availability?
- 14 Do they keep up with trends?
- 15 Are they local?
- 16 How often do they report?
- 17 Do they provide after-care?
- 18 What will be expected of you?
- 19 What makes them unique from the competition?
- 20 How many hours per week will they spend on your account?
- 21 Does their philosophy meet your objectives?
- 22 What size clients do they deal with?
- 23 What are their weaknesses?
- 24 How much combined experience do they have?
- 25 How quick are response times?
- 26 What are the payment methods?
- 27 Do they provide a free SEO audit?
There are different types of agencies ranging from multi-skilled teams adept in everything from on site SEO, content marketing and PPC management to more specialised agencies that focus on one or two skill-sets such as social media management or digital consulting.
If your business is new to the online world then a multi skilled approach may be best as improving your marketing takes a variety of strategies. However, if you’re already aware of where your marketing efforts need improving then a specialised boutique agency could help provide the focus you need.
Do they look to the short, medium, long-term?
Rome wasn’t built in a day and driving more visitors, leads or sales to your online store or business takes time too. If the digital marketing agency is promising to get you x amount of visitors in x amount of time, be very cautious.
An agency that knows their stuff will be setting out short, medium and long term strategies and the potential results to go with each of these time-frames. They should be able to provide a clear picture of your industry, it’s competitiveness of the keywords you want to target and how well your competitors are doing.
Always remember, there are no results guarantees in the digital marketing industry so anybody who promises the world are very optimistic, or lying .. or both.
Any agency worth their salt will be able to provide any metric measurements you require over a given time period. This may include keyword rankings changes, search visibility, domain rank, bounce rates, cost per clicks, click through rates or conversion rates, to name a few. Consider these when choosing an agency.
What results did they get for previous clients?
Make sure the results are inline with your goals. It could be finding out improvements in conversion rates, visitor count, reducing PPC costs, obtaining links, social shares. The list goes on.
Can the SEO agency provide previous client results?
It’s acceptable for the agency to hide certain private information such as revenue, conversion rates and amount of visitors but one of the most basic questions should be “Which keywords did the agency target for their previous client(s) and what success have they had from such keywords?”
Who will manage your account?
Consider who will be the go to person for your digital marketing account. Speak with them and get to know them. Find out if they’ll be a good match for your objectives.
The last thing you want is an agency is using an intern or freelance virtual assistant to answer your questions. If you’re going to be paying you deserve to have somebody manage your account who has extensive experience with marketing and SEO.
*Make sure you know who is managing your account*
Do they have good reviews?
Search around the web and check out the reviews of the agency. You could even go one step further and find the staff on LinkedIn. Do they have good references?
Do they blog?
A blog with helpful information reveals just how much of a thought leader the agency are in the industry. If you find the articles informative then you may be onto a winner. An agency that shares their passion with their community are also more likely to share their passion with you.
Although it’s not always possible to visit their office, especially if it’s a one man business. Go ahead and ask them what their objectives are, how many staff they have, their departments, opening and closing times and if they work open plan or in cubicles. Ok, Ok… the last one may be a bit far fetched but you’d be surprised by the different way your project will be handled depending on the layout of the team.
What’s the price range?
It goes without saying that you want to find a digital marketing agency that provides value for money. That said, you want find an agency that suits the size of your business too. If you’re a local plumber in need of SEO and you choose an agency that deals with large corporate clients you may be barking up the wrong tree. Read the company About page to get a better picture.
Is there a contract?
There are different types of agency agreements with clients.
Hourly. This method is usually for smaller tasks or development work.
Monthly/Annual Contract. The most common digital marketing agency method. Contracts are usually set on a 3, 6 or 12 month period.
Pay Per Month. This is the method we offer at Rank Easily. It means no contracts and continual reviews.
Results Paid. You only pay after you see the agreed results. E.g. Ranking a website for a keyword to a particular search position.
Which one you choose depends on your needs and cash flow.
How many clients do they currently work with?
A larger agency may be able to afford large advertising budgets and shiny salesmen to seal you into contracts but with more clients may mean less time focused on digital marketing for your business. On the other hand, a smaller agency, especially a smaller local agency will more likely understand your needs better providing you with more attention.
What is their availability?
Most agencies are 9pm – 5pm but some go above and beyond to answer your emails or calls out of hours which can be a lifesaver if you have an SEO emergency!
Do they keep up with trends?
Find out which blogs they read and if they have any certifications. Do they seem like they know what they’re talking about? Can they reference popular journals and articles in the industry?
Are they local?
A local internet marketing company will be easier to contact and also may have strong relationships with other local websites and businesses helping you with your local SEO promotion.
How often do they report?
A usual reporting schedule is on a per month basis. If you need to keep track more than this you should specifically request it. An agency that reports only once every three months or even greater may be a sign that they are overrun leaving no time to work on your project.
Do they provide after-care?
You’re now receiving more visitors after the completion of a 6 month SEO project only to realise there is another keyword you would like to target. A few tweaks of your meta information would do it but you have no idea how. Will your agency do it for you, gratis?
What will be expected of you?
It’s not a one-way process when dealing with an agency. You may need to provide your business goals, main competitors, logins to analytics, CMS and email and explain your own expectations.
What makes them unique from the competition?
Is it affordability? No contracts? Transparency? The skills of the team? The locality? Take a look around their website and ask previous clients about what makes them unique.
How many hours per week will they spend on your account?
Be specific. Although it’s difficult for an agency to pinpoint the exact amount of time the itnernet marketing company will be working on your account a rough ballpark figure can help you work if you’re getting value for money.
Does their philosophy meet your objectives?
An agency that employs grey hat techniques such as “buying” backlinks and using blog networks to post your content may gain quicker results but does this fit with your long term business goals? The last thing you want is to drop out of the search engine because some SEO guy bought 10,000 links for you from dubious domains and now Google is penalising you for it.
What size clients do they deal with?
If you’re a small to medium sized business that chooses an agency that deals with larger clients and larger budgets there is a high probability they will put less time and energy into your project. Bear this in mind.
What are their weaknesses?
This can be an uncomfortable question to ask but a question that can reap insightful answers. An web marketing agency that is even aware of their weaknesses could be a good choice.
How much combined experience do they have?
Experience comes in many forms but a digital marketing team that covers a wide array of skills over a decent amount of time (at least a few years) will help you as there should be at least one person in the agency who can answer your questions at any given time. It also means the team probably share their experience with each other creating a powerful combination to achieve results.
How quick are response times?
Are you left hanging on the phone for 15 minutes on your first call? Not a good sign. Sure, they’re probably busy but too busy to deal with you. Find an agency that answers the phone quickly, response to emails quickly and can provide support in a digital emergency.
What are the payment methods?
The more payment methods on offer the better. If you’re on a pay monthly basis a direct debit can save you a lot of time and effort of having to send manual bank transfers.
Do they provide a free SEO audit?
If an agency is charging you to audit your website you’re probably getting ripped off. An SEO audit should be free. There are two reasons for this.
- It helps the digital marketing agency gain a better understanding of what needs doing and provide you with an honest quote.
- It provides a better insight for yourself on what needs doing
Try our SEO audit and find out where you can improve, it’s free too!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Have you had any experience with choosing a digital marketing agency? Was it difficult? I’d love to hear from you.
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