How to Choose the Right Digital Marketing Agency for Your Business

bad-apple-1024x397Don't get stuck with a bad apple.

Marketers are relying more and more on digital agency expertise to capture the elusive, new B2B buyer. In fact, the 2014 State of Digital Marketing reports a whopping 50% increase in outsourced SEO and SEM programs last year.

Why are many brands choosing to supplement in-house staff with outside agencies? Three main factors appear to be at play:

1. Traditional in-house marketing teams often lack the structure needed to support digital.

A CEB and Google study contends most companies fail at digital implementation due to the limits of traditional team structure forcing digital channel specialists to work in silos.

Digital agencies, on the other hand, are built to move fast and adapt quickly. Cutting-edge digital capabilities and creative are the lifeblood of agency brand reputation and revenue.

2. Many marketers falter at digital ROI reporting.

83% of marketers still struggle to measure ROI of digital channels like SEO.

Agencies recognize data analysis is a key component of digital marketing success. Whether agencies build proprietary solutions or enlist a third party to supplement shop technology, the ability to make data-driven decisions and deliver clear ROI reporting is critical to agency business.

3. Bringing the right talent in-house is expensive.

Most agency retainers cost $25,000–$100,000+ a year with global enterprise agencies on the high end and boutique agencies on the mid-to-low end. It might sound steep at first, yet the average SEO manager makes $68,000 a year. This brings you more than half way to the yearly cost of an enterprise agency, and covers just one piece of the digital marketing services spectrum.

Ultimately, finding the right marketing solution typically includes both in-house and agency support.

The question now becomes: How do I choose the right agency for my business?

Knowing the right questions to ask is half the battle. Use our list of hard-hitting question to vet your agency prospects.

  1. What separates you from other digital agencies? What’s your value prop?
  2. How long has the agency been in business?
  3. Do you have a specialty focus?
  4. Will I have an assigned account manager? What team members will work on my account? How many other accounts do they work on? (If feasible ask for an onsite tour.)
  5. How often will we have calls with our account management team?
  6. What is your typical reporting structure? Do you provide ROI reporting? (Ask for a sample report.)
  7. How do you avoid potential conflicts of interest? (For example, going after the same set of keywords for two different clients.)
  8. Is your agency a certified Google partner? (Applicable for AdWords and Google Analytics.)
  9. Do you have any client references we can speak to?
  10. Do you have experience in our industry? Do you have any case studies we can refer to? (Remember question #7. Industry experience is a fine line. You want your agency to demonstrate industry knowledge, yet they shouldn’t be knowledgeable as a result of representing your competitors.)
  11. Can you help me quantify what I will get out of this investment in the way of leads and sales? When should I expect to start seeing results? (Note: Agencies should be able to make intelligent results estimates and projections. This is distinctly different from guaranteeing exact results.)

Make sure the agency you choose is worth every penny.

The evaluation process takes time, but your diligence will be well worth the effort once digital leads and sales begin to flow. In our experience, pairing agency expertise with in-house brand knowledge drives incredible digital results.

Looking for more tips on choosing the right agency? Download the complete Digital Marketing Agency Buyer’s Guide.