5 tips for choosing a digital marketing agency

Ellie Burns Written by Ellie Burns

7 min read   -  15th August, 2023

5 tips for choosing a digital marketing agency

Selecting the right digital marketing agency to partner with can be transformative. Make the right decision, and you’ll boost your profits, increase the reach of your business, and save money in the long term. Make the wrong decision and you risk wasting thousands on ineffective marketing strategies and losing countless hours spent in meetings trying to make up for lost time.

Needless to say, this is a challenging decision to make. We’re here to guide you on how best to start considering who you want to work with so that you can be confident in your selection. Let’s get started!

Set your goals (and your budget!)

As tempting as it may seem to launch right into contacting digital marketing agencies, you need to focus on yourself for a moment. Now’s the time to figure out exactly what you would like any investment in your marketing to achieve. 

1. Be specific with your goals

Maybe you’re looking to attract a new demographic to your business, or perhaps you’re looking to hit a certain financial goal of revenue from new clients. Whatever your goal, the more specific you can be, the better. Digital agencies often specialise in certain areas of digital marketing - be that SEO, , web design, web development, or social media. So, it’s worth figuring out what elements you’d like to focus on before making contact.

2. Be realistic about your marketing budget

It’s also crucial that you set a realistic budget of what you can afford to part with. Realistically, it will take time for any digital marketing agency to set up a new marketing campaign for your company, so expect to see some dips before you get a return on your investment. By choosing a budget that you can sustain, you minimise risk and allow some flexibility moving forward.

3. Your digital agency should fit your goals

Any agency that you eventually reach out to will be looking to win your business, so it’s important to set your goals and budget before they start to influence your decision. That way, you’ll end up with a marketing agency that fits your goals, not the other way around. Bear in mind that many agencies appear to be full service (i.e. they offer a wide range of services) which can look really appealing but they may not be specialists in all of these. It pays to check where their real expertise lies and why. 

Research digital agencies

Now that you’ve got your goals and budget set, find companies that align with those goals. Consider specialist agencies if you only have one area you’re looking to improve in. With so many digital marketing companies available today, you can afford to be specific. 

1. Reputation is king

We’d recommend prioritising agencies with a strong reputation that goes beyond numbers. You want an agency that truly cares about your business, so look past the more basic metrics from the digital agencies that you’re considering and find a company that really matches your outlook on doing business. 

2. Workplace culture speaks volumes 

Consider the workplace culture. You’ll be working closely with these people and will be entrusting a lot to them, so you want to make sure they’re the sort of professionals that you’d trust with your business. Whilst this might not seem as instantly important as other metrics, finding a company that treats its team well, goes a long way in showing how they will care for your digital marketing. 

Evaluate digital agency experience

This step goes beyond the basics. You could take an agency at their word, but we’d recommend reaching out to their past and current clients.

1. Review case studies and testimonials

A good starting point is to look at any case studies and testimonials they have on their site. See what they’ve decided to highlight and consider why these previous experiences have been showcased. Are they showing you strong metrics, consistency and confidence with new strategies? Or are you getting to see how personal their business is, how they collaborate with clients and leave a lasting impression?

2. What’s their style of working?

It’s really worth getting an authentic sense of what they are like to work with. After all, this is a relationship, not a machine for metrics and conversions. You want the people you’ll be working with to treat your business as a bespoke opportunity, not just another number.

3. Ask about their strategies

How might they approach representing your business? What would they do differently to really highlight the unique qualities of your company?

If there’s something you’re curious about in modern PPC (you may be interested in AI, or Google Analytics 4, for example), always enquire about the agency’s view on these latest developments. 

4. Get to know the people you’ll be working with

Finally, it’s important that you get to know details about the team itself. Ask questions about the size of the team, and the experience and technical expertise that they have. Would you prefer to be working with one single specialist for a highly personal service, or a larger team for a more scalable digital marketing strategy?

5. Meet in person

If it’s possible, we’d recommend meeting in person. It can tell you a lot about how much they value the relationship side of the partnership. Will they make the effort to come and visit you - meet your team and see where you’re based (if you have an office). 

Ask the right questions

In the getting-to-know-you stage, here are some good questions to ask a potential digital agency when reaching out:

  • How do you report and track your progress?
  • Are you able to scale with me as my business develops?
  • Do you offer anything extra-special in your services?
  • What makes your digital agency different from similar ones?

Double-check the small print

Once you’ve got a shortlist in mind of companies that you’d like to partner with, it’s time to go over the small print in detail. Consider contract terms, duration, and payment plans. If you’ve taken the time to slowly make your decision of who to partner with for your digital marketing, the last thing you want is to be caught out by a detail in your contract that slipped your mind. 

Frequently asked questions on choosing a digital agency

Q: How do I know what the right digital agency is for me?
There’s no hard and fast rule as to what digital marketing agency would be the right fit for your business. However, if you’ve set your goals, and budget and understand the kind of people you work well with, that’ll make your decision a lot easier. Those things need to align for the partnership to succeed. 

Q: What should I consider when choosing a digital marketing agency?
Before you embark on working with a new digital agency you should consider a few key things and make sure they fit with your expectations: 

  • What their culture is like - you can tell a lot about your working relationship from this and if they’ll fit with your business. 
  • Any case studies and testimonials they provide, how recent they are, and if they’re willing to let you talk to any of their customers directly to get feedback. 
  • What their payment models and terms are like? Does this fit with your budget?
  • If they specialise in the services you’re looking for. Check these aren’t just on a list of things they offer but don’t have a huge amount of experience in them. 
  • Ask what experience they have that relates to a project like yours. 

Q: How to hire a digital marketing agency?
Once you’ve made your decision on the digital agency you’d like to work with, you’ll need to make the hire official. That’ll involve signing contracts and setting terms of business. It’s important to first look at their pricing models and payment terms. Do they offer one that fits with your budget and goals? Being specific on the scope of your project(s) will go a long way to making sure you don’t get stung later on down the line. As well as going through the contract with a fine tooth comb. Then you sign on the dotted line and your partnership begins. 

Q: Are digital marketing agencies worth the investment?
Whether a digital marketing agency is worth the investment or not depends on the goals of the project and how much budget you have to allocate. Marketing isn’t always an exact science but any digital agency worth their salt should be developing strategies that deliver you a return on that investment. They should also outline in detail what specific activities will lead to the return and why they believe those to be the right course of action.

Q: How much does a digital marketing agency cost?
How much a digital agency will cost you depends on what project(s) you’re working on and the pricing model that the agency uses. The main thing to consider here is the return on your investment. Obviously, you want that to be positive, over the long term. Not all work will deliver on day one but expectations should be set at the start about when that return will be realised, so you can evaluate if you’re business can sustain the cost. 

Q: What are the benefits of a digital agency over an in-house team? 
Whether you’re better off hiring a digital agency or an in-house team will depend on a variety of factors. Things to consider include if you’ll have enough work over a sustained period for an in-house hire. What you spend on an agency can be flexible around peaks and troughs in workload. It’s worth bearing in mind that you also benefit from the expertise and experience of agency teams that you can dip in and out of - who for a full-time hire can come at a high cost. We go into this in more detail in our article on ‘Agency vs. in-house team’.

Summary of choosing a digital marketing agency

Choosing a digital marketing agency is a substantial decision for any business that can really help elevate your revenue, reach, and influence. There’s plenty that you can do to inform your choice, so take the time to get your goals and desired outcomes set in your mind. Reach out to a variety of companies and see what they can offer to help you reach your goals. Then, trust your instinct. At the end of the day, you know what’s best for your business.

If you’re reading this because you’re considering working with us, we’re one of those agencies that do make the effort to get to know you, your team, and your business. And we’ll go the extra mile to visit you in person. Get in touch if you’d like to see how we could help you take your business forward.

It starts with discovery

Speak to us today and let’s start growing your business.

Get in touch Get in touch

It starts with discovery

Speak to us today and let’s start growing your business.