A New Discipline
With the advent of the digital age, many companies now focus a lot of time and resources to achieve visibility on the Internet. All traditional advertising and marketing agencies now have digital marketing agency divisions targeting these companies. In addition, a number of new agencies have sprung up to deal solely with web-based businesses. These services are increasingly important. One study indicates that over 80 percent of all initial contacts with a company come from online searches by computer, tablet or smartphone.
In the earliest days of Internet marketing, the discipline of search engine optimization was a simple process tied to website construction. However, the activities today go well beyond SEO and continue to evolve. Companies must have expertise in email strategies, social media traffic, and a host of other area. It is far too complex an effort to rely on internal company resources. Accordingly, most companies turn to these digital marketing agencies for assistance and guidance with their Internet activities.
Finding a Competent Digital Marketing Agency
With the constantly evolving market, companies must take time to select an agency that can deliver the goods in a timely, competent and affordable manner. Below are 10 questions for you to ask any potential agency to evaluate their ability to meet your needs.
1. How will you determine what channels are best for my needs? One of the mistakes made today is that agencies will take a shotgun approach to getting traction on too many channels. Multiple outlets for your message are important but, as always, it is as much about quality as it is about quantity. Everyone has a budget and trying to maintain a significant presence on all platforms is simply beyond the resources of most companies. Ask the agency how they determine which channels will be right for your needs and how the decisions are made about allocating resources among them.
2. What are your examples of content and campaigns the agency has created? Everyone involved in the process today understands that it is all about relevant and unique content. Browsers spend only microseconds deciding whether to stay on a page or to read your message. The key to success in any effort involves all the traditional elements of effective marketing applied at lightning speed. You will evaluate the agency on creative and technical competence and the best way to judge creative is to study examples of their work.
3. Did the campaigns you consider successful meet the client’s objectives and needs? It is easy for agencies to sometimes focus on their awards and creative success without relating to specific client success. Ask hard questions about the measures important to your company, such as increases in sales, number of new followers, and the overall visibility online achieved for the client.
4. Who will be my contact and how and when do we communicate with the agency? Working with an agency requires clear and frequent communications. Bringing a creative concept from the whiteboard to practical implementation is a process where there are many opportunities to miss the mark. You want someone specifically and directly responsible to you for the timely response of the agency.
5. Is the agency’s work done by full-time staff or freelancers? While there are situations where it is okay to have freelancers involved, the existence of experienced staff provides more consistent production and reliable resources to get your job done.
6. Who has creative control of the content and final materials? In the final analysis, the work going online represents you and your company. Make sure you will have final say in the process and that both your brand and products/services are represented as you desire.
7. Who are your best and worst references? Every company has good and bad clients. Sometimes, you can learn as much about a failure or a bad client as you can about successes and glowing recommendations. Evaluate how the agency handles difficult situations.
8. How quickly will we know that the strategy for your company is or isn’t working? Metrics are an essential part of the Internet world. Increasingly sophisticated tools are available to gauge the relative effectiveness of any marketing strategy. Ask if the agency is competent and experienced in using these measures of success.
9. What reports will we receive and at what frequency? Ask how and how often your contact at the agency will provide feedback concerning the success of any strategy and program. Inquire as to how modifications and adjustments will be made to correct any issues that are observed. Remember, it is your money that is being spent and you should expect a good rate of return on the investment you make with the agency.
10. What are the billing and payment policies? Don’t make the mistake of paying for all or most of the work before it is done or you see how it is implemented on the web. Establish some form of progress payments and even an incentive to achieve your specific, pre-agreed objectives. A digital marketing agency can provide significant help in achieving Internet success. Take the time to choose the right one with the above and many other questions.
Daniel Johns writes for Bouncing Orange, a leading Digital Marketing Agency in Perth, WA.