How can you tell if a digital marketing agency is right for your business? How do you determine if they are worth whatever price they have provided? How should your small business compare multiple providers against each other?
When assessing a digital marketing provider, there are a number of qualities that will determine if the agency or provider is right for you. Even if you know nothing about digital marketing, websites, SEO, or any other digital tactic, executing a comprehensive assessment of a digital marketing agency only requires a little bit of time and an examination of the following attributes.
For many small businesses or start-ups with limited budgets, this is one of the most important factors. Outside of simply finding providers that fit within your budget, it’s important to understand what you’re paying for. Here are the factors that commonly influence rates:
Size of Agency/Provider: Often when working with agencies, the more employees they have, the higher the prices. This is because of greater overhead and expenses that result in each project having to hit a certain threshold in order to be worth the effort. Smaller agencies and sole-proprietors have the ability to be extremely price competitive due to fewer costs.
Technical Needs: Technical work like specialized or highly customized website coding or tech integrations, will result in higher prices due to the technical know-how required. On the other hand, straightforward projects and work won’t. Get a sense of what you need first, so agencies don’t try to sell you features you don’t need.
Price Is NOT a Proxy for Quality: If you’re comparing proposals from various providers, just because one is higher than the other, it doesn’t mean you are getting more or better quality work for your money. Make sure it’s clear what you’re paying for line by line, but if everyone is within your range, don’t get hung up on price. At that point you should assess other qualities of the agency in question.
Quality of work is somewhat subjective in nature, but you’ll know it when you see it. The opposite is true as well. If you’ve selected a group of agencies to pick from, they must have done something right to even be in the running. In order to assess the quality of work of an agency you should look at the following things:
- The agency’s website and digital channels
- Request work samples if there aren’t already some online
- See what kind of reviews the agency has online as it relates to the quality of work
- Look at the proposal itself. Is it compelling, professionally crafted and personalized?
Online reviews have transformed how people make purchase decisions. If the agency or agencies in question don’t have a strong set of online reviews, then you should request contact info for past clients. Many won’t or can’t share this kind of information due to non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). However, those that have built strong personal relationships with their clients will be able to get permission from them to share their contact info with you if you request it.
Like an interviewee brings references to a job interview, agencies should be able to connect you with past clients. If not, at the every least make sure they have strong online reviews.
While many digital marketing agencies will sell you websites, social media management, blog writing, SEO, email, etc., many don’t practice what they preach. Look for the agency that is engaged in digital tactics for themselves and assess the quality of these efforts. Do they know what they’re doing? Is the content compelling?
Additionally, many agencies know how to sell their services, but that doesn’t mean they know what they are doing or are effective. Beware of the proposal that is full of jargon and marketing catchphrases that you don’t fully understand. Ask for explanation if need be.
Also, check out the agencies blog (if they have one) and see what kind of content they provide. Is it all just self-serving content? Or do they actually provide interesting ideas and insights? You’ll want to work with a knowledgeable provider that is connected with the latest developments.
When you start working with these providers and getting quotes, you’re going to get a gut reaction around how they conduct themselves, how knowledgeable they are, what kind of service they can provide, etc. Listen to your gut, but don’t solely base your decision on this.
Sometimes our impressions or intuitions are wrong and require more analysis. That is why it is important to assess all of the attributes listed in this article, not just one or the other. With all of this in mind, you can definitely make a choice you should feel comfortable with.
If you’re in need of digital marketing help, we’d love the opportunity to supply a customized proposal based on your needs. Contact us today to get started.
Joe is the owner and chief digital marketer at Rithm Marketing. He has been building websites and executing digital marketing strategies for about 10 years. Previously Joe was an analyst and director of marketing for a prominent digital marketing trade association.