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  • Have you ever thought about the journey your customers take before ever coming across your business? Knowing what to look for in a digital marketing agency makes more sense when you understand how digital marketing works for businesses. 

    What to look for in a digital marketing agency?

    One way to look at digital marketing is by seeing your business as a central destination that anyone across the world has access to. But the customer journey is a long one full of roadblocks, distractions, detours, and beyond. 

    Digital marketing is a crucial element in the success of businesses across all industries. The entire strategy made simple gives your business a strong digital presence across multiple platforms to…

    • Reach consumers
    • Build a positive brand image
    • Increase revenue

    These are your main goals measured and led by your digital marketing efforts. The problem here is that because most business owners are already wearing so many hats, they have little to no quality time to spend on their digital marketing strategies. Without up-to-date knowledge of best practices in the digital marketing realm, it’s even harder to know what to do next. 

    Digital marketing agencies (like Exults) act as a top-notch travel guide for your business. We will make suggestions (social media posts, paid ads, sponsored landing website pages, etc.) as your target customers road trip or browse the Internet – leading them towards your business on their travels. Again, because most business owners are generally too busy, we give them the marketing services they need to establish and maintain a presence in the digital landscape.

    Many digital marketing agencies make promises but fail to execute results. So how do you choose the best digital marketing agency for your business? Dive into the top 10 things to consider when hiring a digital marketing agency.

    What To Look For In A Digital Marketing Agency

    Want to know what to look for in a digital marketing agency? Questions on how to choose the right digital marketing agency and why hire a digital marketing agency? After working with hundreds of companies, we’ve learned a thing or two about what to look for in a digital marketing agency when hiring (and especially what to avoid). 

    1) Determine Business Goals

    Remember your simplified digital marketing strategy from above? The reasoning behind having a multilayered digital marketing approach is to support your ultimate goals. 

    Whether you’re starting from scratch or power-boosting your digital marketing efforts, the first thing that you need to do is to evaluate your organization’s unique goals. Then you need to tie that to your digital needs to answer the question…What digital marketing services does your business need to reach its goals? 

    Explore these sample business goals:

    • Grow revenue
    • Increase conversion rates
    • Decrease bounce rates
    • Expand lead generation pathways
    • Improve brand image
    • Boost brand awareness
    • Reach a certain number of social media followers

    Keep in mind that narrowing down your ideal business goals also assists in providing you with an accurate budget quote. A successful digital presence requires businesses to be established on several online platforms. This includes having a core website, relevant social media accounts, Google Search Console, and online directories. 

    As you explore your needs, consider digital marketing services that will help you achieve your goals. When looking at this part of your business from the perspective of your “road-tripping” target audience, it helps to think of each actual service as a billboard along the highway. You can also look at your efforts as an aircraft flying with a banner advertisement or a digital pop-up ad that appears as you wait and pump gas into your car. The point of any of these is to grab your attention as you travel and learn more about the business being advertised. In the digital world, those ads look more like the following:

    • Digital Branding
    • Website Design and Development
    • eCommerce Platform Development and Management
    • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    • Social Media Marketing
    • Digital PR
    • Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)

    Digital marketing also requires businesses to engage in regular posting, website updates, search engine optimization, and other creative services. Businesses turn to digital marketing agencies to handle all of these aspects of their online business. It is important to research each agency thoroughly because not all agencies offer a full suite of marketing services.

    2) Performance-Based Results

    Performance-based results are one of the most important elements to consider when choosing a digital marketing agency. Does the agency provide its clients with promised results?

    A reputable agency should gladly share data that demonstrates the effectiveness of its services. Measurable results should be available, including past client ROIs and other analytical data.

    Additionally, we realize that most customers gauge whether they want to try a business for the first time through reading testimonials. The best testimonials a business can offer are ones that are real, honest, timely, and detailed. You should expect the same level of quality testimonials from your digital marketing agency. 

    3) Clear & Frequent Communication

    Regular communication is the key to any professional business partnership. This means choosing a digital marketing partner you don’t need to micromanage. You already don’t have the time to do your own digital marketing, so the digital marketing agency you choose to hire should be a self-starter. 

    Regardless of who you initially speak to, the agency you choose should be open, honest, and available to communicate when you have questions or concerns. Having someone available at all times, via email, chat, or phone to put your mind at ease makes a huge difference to our clients. 

    Don’t forget to look for answers on the agency’s website to commonly asked questions and issues. This gives you extra padding in your communications and saves everyone time as the answer is (usually) readily available and can be answered quickly (or as fast as you can scroll and click).  

    In addition to having a clear point of contact and answers to FAQs, look up whether the agency you’re considering offers additional forms of support through a crafted newsletter, blog, podcast, etc. These tools can offer valuable information, insight, and tips that you can use or learn more about as they’re updated.

    4) Creativity

    Creativity

    Creativity is at the core of all elements involved in digital marketing. Standing out amongst the competition requires creative thinking and original ideas. This requires an agency that employs a team of natural creative thinkers who are knowledgeable in what can set a business apart.

    While creativity is one of the more subjective factors to consider when hiring a digital marketing agency, it’s crucial to determine what’s important to you in this category. 

    Are you searching for…?

    • Diversity in design
    • Scale of deliverables for a given client
    • Uniqueness 

    5) Flexibility

    Digital marketing is an ever-evolving industry. An agency must be flexible and able to adapt as changes occur. Look at the recent developments in AI…That’s changed the landscape for digital marketing agencies around the world. 

    An exceptional digital marketing agency will be able to identify emerging trends and adjust campaigns accordingly. This puts your business at the forefront of the latest digital marketing trends.

    How do you determine whether an agency has flexibility? Evaluate the conversations they’re having on their blog, podcast, social media, and/or in meetings.

     6) Specialized Team

    An innovative and passionate team of marketing specialists is a crucial element in every successful digital marketing agency. A reputable digital marketing agency should employ a team of experts who specialize in each of the elements of effective digital marketing.

    The last thing you want is to hire a full-service digital marketing agency that is a one-man show. There is not enough time for them to be a master in every service they offer. 

    A full-service marketing agency should have a team, including social media marketers, search engine optimization (SEO) specialists, and skilled account executives. This vast range of skills is essential for effective web marketing.

    7) Transparency

    Transparency is crucial for all business relationships. It’s the starting point for building trust and rapport between the client (i.e. you) and the agency. 

    First, check the agency’s website. A website that seems too good to be true, does not provide enough information, or otherwise seems sketchy is probably not legitimate. 

    Then, trustworthy digital marketing agencies should provide prospective customers with complete transparency. This includes honest pricing, easy-to-understand contracts, and customer testimonials. If there is anything that you considered sketchy in your search, ask them about it. Their response will tell you a lot about whether you can trust that agency with your business’s marketing.

    Finally, a reputable agency will also be happy to review documents with prospective clients before any commitment is made.

    8) Data-Driven Services

    How data is measured is often a frequently asked question and rightfully so. It’s incredibly hard to track progress without having any way to do so. Effective digital marketing campaigns require advanced tools, technologies, and skilled professionals. All of these, are not typically available or easily understood by someone unfamiliar with digital marketing.

    When searching for a digital marketing agency for your business, you should ask them how they measure data and whether they can track your digital marketing progress in real-time. One way an agency might do this is by offering data and analytical reports to keep their clients abreast of any major changes or trends. 

    Furthermore, frequent data tracking is the best way to adjust your campaigns as needed to maximize your budget for optimal success. True professionals should use analytical data to drive decision-making processes that generate results.

    You may also ask about tracking your digital marketing progress on your own time with client dashboards. These dashboards will keep you informed about the progress that the agency’s services are providing. An added advantage of having a client dashboard includes quick and easy ways to get in touch with your team should you have any questions.

    9) A Strong Focus on Business Revenue

    A full-service digital marketing agency is the best way to ensure your web presence reaches its maximum potential. Some agencies focus solely on lead generation, website traffic, or other web goals. While these are important elements of a successful digital marketing campaign, this is not the end goal. The right digital marketing agency will work to plan beyond these initial elements of marketing and focus on the end goal of increased revenue.

    Marketing’s purpose is to generate quality leads that turn into sales. 

    That starts by improving your brand image and building a greater reach into your target audience. 

    Beyond that, marketing needs to funnel leads so that your company can see a significant increase in conversions.

    NOTE: Marketing is not sales, so you must have an effective sales process to close the quality leads your marketing efforts provide. 

    10) Attractive Web Presence

    Finally, evaluate the strength and reach of any prospective digital marketing agency’s web presence. A reputable company should appear highly on search engine results pages and regularly post on social media. They should not fall under “the cobbler’s kid goes shoeless”. 

    You want to choose an agency that has invested in and successfully established its own digital presence before hiring them to handle yours. There are several reasons for this:

    • Their website is the cornerstone of their entire marketing. 
    • Agencies should use their website as their personal portfolio.
    • They are most likely testing different marketing strategies before trying them out with your brand.
    • If they can’t generate leads through their website, how will they be able to generate leads for you? 
    • Their ability to invest in their marketing indicates their willingness to invest in other areas of their business (i.e. technology, personnel, continuing education, etc.).

    Exults is a full-service digital marketing agency that provides our clients with a range of results-driven services. Explore our services below:

    4 Questions To Ask When Hiring A Digital Agency

    4 Questions To Ask When Hiring A Digital Agency

    Wondering how to choose a digital marketing agency? Ask these questions when interviewing agencies. 

    How Does Your Digital Agency Track Metrics? 

    Every digital agency should hold itself accountable for the leads they are generating for businesses. However, that is not always the case. So ask how and what metrics they track. You may also want to find out if they will provide those metrics to you so you can hold them accountable. 

    How Do You Adjust When Things Aren’t Going The Way We Want It To? 

    Leading into our second question, the data may show that things aren’t going the way they should’ve gone. Although marketing does require a level of testing and experimentation, it should also have an iterative process. The most important thing is to search for in an agency is someone who will be transparent and proactively provide the next steps to circumvent a negative trend. 

    What Involvement Do You Need From Me As The Client?

    Depending on what your digital agency proposes, your involvement may vary. When you ask this question, you also need to communicate if you can be involved at any level. 

    When Will I See The Results? 

    This is a great question because it sets expectations for both parties – the client and the agency. 

    The agency will be able to see how quickly you’re expecting leads. That may impact their recommendations. For example, if you want leads yesterday, they may offer paid ads instead of SEO (which can take a couple of months to produce meaningful results). 

    The client, on the other hand, will be able to set their personal expectations so they aren’t hounding you for results.

    6 Factors To Consider When Choosing A Digital Marketing Agency

    Beyond what to look for in a digital marketing agency and questions to ask when hiring a digital agency, you also need to consider the following factors:

    • Experience
    • Expertise
    • Communication
    • Budget
    • Reputation 
    • Business model 

    1. Experience

    Based on what you’re trying to accomplish, you need to know that the digital agency you’re considering has the experience to take you where you want. For example, if you want a digital agency to create an omnichannel marketing strategy that includes SEO, public relations, social media, billboards, and paid ads, you don’t want a green agency that has experience in only one or two categories. 

    Take inventory of what experience you require from an agency.

    Then evaluate their work – either through clients listed on their website, case studies provided on their website, or even blogs outlining what they’ve done for themselves. 

    2. Expertise

    Paired with experience, the next factor to consider when hiring a digital agency is expertise. Your agency needs to be able to know how, when, and what they need to do in the specific marketing strategy they’ve pitched you on. 

    As your prospective agency about the team members that will be assigned to your business. What are they skilled in? Why should you trust them with your business?

    3. Communication 

    This is a big one. Communication can either be the key to a successful partnership or the demise of one. While you may not be able to get a good read in the sales conversations alone, there are a couple of things to look at: 

    • Responsiveness via phone, email, and/or text
    • Do they answer your questions (or skirt around them)? 
    • Welcoming messages to get you excited about partnering together
    • Recap emails from meetings or conversations
    • Follow-through on action tasks

    4. Budget 

    Do you have those narrowed digital marketing goals in mind? You need to know if your budget aligns with the agency you’re evaluating and what services you’re requesting. Some agencies have minimum monthly retainers. Others have no floor or ceiling for monthly budget requirements. 

    5. Reputation

    Another factor to consider when hiring a digital marketing agency is its reputation. What do clients say about them on Google or social media? What do employees say about them on sites like Glassdoor? 

    When evaluating reviews, here are a couple of things to consider:

    • Recency. Throughout the lifetime of a business, there may be rougher seasons. That may not tell the current picture though. So it’s imperative that you look at the most recent reviews to see what people are experiencing right now. 
    • Detail. Evaluate the level of detail a reviewer is providing. Too much detail may be as much of a red flag as too little detail. If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of the testimonial, check out the reviewer’s other comments. 
    • Response. There will always be bad reviews. But what matters is how the company responds to those reviews. Are they being gracious, understanding, and proactive? Or are they blaming the reviewer and leaving a bad taste in your mouth? 
    • Your Gut. As always, take a gut check when evaluating the agency’s reputation. If something feels slimy, you may be avoiding a potential disaster of an agency relationship.

    When searching online, be sure that the digital agency you’re looking into has testimonials readily available on the marketing agency’s core website. You can also search online for reviews from previous clients. You should also pay attention to any agency-given responses to customer complaints or praises. However an agency chooses to respond to their customers online can say more than you may think about their daily operations.

    6. Business Model

    Depending on the agency and your personal preferences, one type of agency may be better than another. 

    First, there’s a more boutique approach where every strategy is designed around the client. Because of their uniqueness, they may take on fewer clients. There may also be a little more experimentation here, but the results could take you into the stratosphere. 

    Then there is the other approach where the agency has a proven formula for marketing success. While there may be a little less customization and flexibility here, it’s no less effective. And you’ll see amazing and more importantly, consistent results!

    Determine what style and results you’re looking for and keep that in mind when choosing a digital marketing agency to hire. 

    Expand The Power Of Your Digital Marketing Strategies With Exults

    Digital marketing campaign

    There’s far more to a successful digital marketing campaign than meets the eye. Where you see social media posts, we see a number of clicks, copy that converts, and eye-catching images. When you’re browsing through blogs, we see relevant and real content with custom copy optimized for the right audience. And where you see your website as it is, we see a ton of measurable results that change daily.

    If it sounds like a lot to be responsible for, you’d be right. This is why we partner with businesses and entrepreneurs like yourself to help you stand out among your competitors, promote your brand and voice, and give you access to higher-quality leads.

    Are you ready to elevate your customer journey with digital marketing solutions?

    Contact Exults Digital Marketing today if you are interested in rebranding your company for the digital business world to spark meaningful engagement and online sales. Visit the Exults website or call 866-999-4736 for more information.

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