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How to Choose a Digital Marketing Agency

A quick Google search for ‘digital marketing agency Australia’ returns a whopping 114,000,000 results. There aren’t millions of digital marketing agencies in the country, but sometimes it can feel like it. For business owners looking for the right partner, it can be overwhelming. 

A good digital agency can take your business to the next level. They will become trusted partners and key components of your success. Choosing the wrong one, though, can result in frustration, lost money, and missed opportunities. 

If you’re searching for the right digital marketing agency for your organisation, here are some tips to help you find the right fit and some red flags to avoid.   

1. Clarify your goals and expectations

As with any good relationship, start by looking inward. What are your goals, both in marketing and for the business overall? Think short and long term. What part of those goals do you need help reaching? 

To really get the most out of your partnership with a digital agency, it helps to start with a clear purpose. Why are you engaging them? 

Do you want to create a website or update an old one? Do you want to understand how to better engage customers on social media? Do you need to build awareness of your new product or service? Try to be as clear as possible about what you hope to accomplish by working with this agency. 

Along with goals, take the time to clarify your expectations. Do you want them to run your social media accounts on their own or work with your internal team? How often do you want progress and performance updates? What does success look like for you? Communicate your expectations and understand theirs to make sure you’re both on the same page. 

These questions set you and your agency up for success from day one. Alignment on these key points indicates a strong partnership.  

2. Understand their unique expertise

Not every agency will fit your needs, and that’s a good thing! Most digital marketing agencies will specialise one or two key areas of digital marketing. This allows them to truly become experts in their field and deliver the best results for you. 

A quick look at their website will usually tell you exactly what their focus is. Some agencies specialise in SEO services. Some offer expert content creation. Others are the best with paid ads. They may offer other services, but these specialities are where they really shine.

Some agencies, however, may choose not to specialise and instead service their clients in all areas of digital marketing. These “full service” agencies are great options for a business that needs support in multiple areas or is just starting out with no existing marketing. 

As you’re choosing a digital marketing agency, look at how your needs align with their expertise and offerings. 

3. Ask for case studies 

Before you sign a contract based on some flashy presentation, you’ll want to know that the agency can actually deliver those results they promise. That’s where case studies come in. 

A quality digital marketing agency should be able to back up their claims by showing you examples of their work. Ask about other companies they’ve worked with who have similar goals as you. Have they worked with others in a similar industry? 

It may not be an apples-to-apples comparison, but case studies should give you an idea of what the agency is capable of, how they work, and what results you can expect. 

At this point in the process, it’s also a good idea to look at online reviews and testimonials. What are other clients saying about the agency’s work? What are the strengths and weaknesses from a customer’s perspective? Do your research before partnering to make sure it’s a good match. 

4. Meet Up 

Emails and phone calls are fine to get the basics, but they’re no match for an in person meeting with your potential account manager. Take the time to meet up with your key contacts at the digital marketing agency you’re considering. 

When you meet in person, or even over Zoom, you get a better sense of a person’s personality, character, and values. It’s business, yes, but at the end of the day we’re all human. We want to work with those we trust. 

You may have heard of the “beer test” in hiring; the concept applies here as well. Who do you want to get a beer with? Who do you enjoy working with and trust on a human level? An agency may check all your boxes but if you can’t stand working with your account manager, the relationship will never work. 

Whether you grab coffee or sit down at the office together, meeting in person should be on your checklist as a deciding factor. 

Red Flags to Avoid 

Choosing a digital marketing agency is often quite a process. You won’t find the right one overnight. You can, however, identify the wrong ones pretty quickly. These red flags can tell you right away if the agency is not worth your time. Keep an eye out for these and save yourself the headache. 

Unethical Practices 

You operate with integrity and your marketing partners should be no different. If an agency operates in the gray area, they aren’t someone you want to work with. 

This is most commonly seen in things like search engine optimisation (SEO.) Unethical practices may get short term results, but they come at a cost. If they promise results that seem too good to be true, they probably are. 

Lack of Transparency

One good indicator of unethical behavior is a lack of transparency. Don’t hesitate to ask probing questions about their tactics and strategies for success. If they can’t, or won’t, answer, that’s a major red flag. 

This extends to your performance data as well. You should have full access to analytics and KPIs anytime you want them, including things like Google Analytics and any social media insights. An agency that won’t agree to that may not be trustworthy.

Inconsistent Communication 

As the saying goes, what you see is what you get. If an agency can’t answer calls or respond to emails before you sign a contract, it likely won’t get much better once you’re a client. Pay close attention to their communication as you’re getting to know the agency. 

Your key contacts should answer the phone when you call, or get back to you quickly. Emails should be answered in a timely manner and you should have only one or two primary contacts that focus on your account. Make sure that their communication style and yours mesh well before becoming partners.

‘One Size Fits All’ Approach 

No two businesses are the same so be wary of any agency that tries to sell you a one size fits all approach. “Pre-packaged” programs or template solutions aren’t effective ways to help your business shine. 

A quality digital marketing agency should take the time to learn about your unique organisation, strengths, challenges, and audience before proposing any solutions. Otherwise, they’re likely trying to sell you something you don’t need. 
There are a lot of options to choose from when searching for a digital marketing agency. A proven agency like Unified Marketing has the knowledge and experience to meet your needs and help you succeed. Check out our services page to learn more about our specialties and give us a call to see the results we’ve delivered to companies all across Victoria and NSW. We look forward to working with you!

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