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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Digital Marketing Agency in 2024

How to choose a digital marketing agency 2023

Want to know how to choose a digital marketing agency to help grow your business in 2024? 

With so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one.

And since the “robots are taking over”, you may be thinking that you don’t need a digital marketing agency. 

But here’s the thing, AI’s still got a long while to go before it takes over the world (iRobot style). 

And in this ever-changing digital landscape, one thing remains constant…

Human psychology.

As you know, humans are constantly evolving in their tastes, trends, and preferences. But one thing that never changes is the way they behave.

And to that point, AI can’t replace a human when it comes to understanding why people do what they do. 

And that’s why there’s always a need for good digital marketing agencies. 

But, since choosing a digital marketing agency is a lot like choosing a life partner, it takes time, effort, and a bit of luck to find “the one.” 

You can’t just swipe right at the first agency that catches your eye and hope for the best. 

Finding the perfect match requires a meticulous approach, a keen eye for detail, and the wisdom to spot red flags.

In this guide, you’ll learn the important steps you need to take to pick an agency that’s right for your business. 

We’ll talk about things like:

  • Figuring out what you want from your online marketing 
  • Your budget for hiring an agency
  • Checking if an agency is good at what they do
  • Learning how an agency does things and what tools they use
  • Checking how an agency reports on their performance
  • Looking at an agency’s track record to see if they’re proven

So, buckle up because we’re about to embark on a journey to find your next agency partner.

Begin by defining your digital marketing objectives

Before you even start shopping around for agencies, make sure you know what you want first.

So let’s talk about your goals.

It’s important to dream big, but you need to be realistic.

  • Do you want to increase your website traffic by 50%? 
  • Improve your conversion rates by 2%? 
  • Or maybe you’re aiming to get more engagement than the Kardashians? 

Whatever your goals may be, make sure they’re realistic given your current situation.

an image displaying a list of various types of marketing campaigns, categorized by purpose, channel, market, duration, and region. the list includes a diverse range of campaigns, such as email marketing, social media advertising, influencer marketing, and more. understanding the different types of marketing campaigns and how they can be used in different channels, markets, and regions is crucial for businesses to create effective marketing strategies that reach their target audience and achieve their desired outcomes.
Source: Semrush

Next, the metrics and how you measure success

Make sure to identify your digital marketing KPIs (key performance indicators) you’ll use to measure success.

If you don’t have KPIs in mind, you could be led blindly by the digital agency you end up choosing. 

And as a business owner, you’d want to know if you’re making progress or not, right?

So, take the time to really think about what you want to achieve through your digital marketing efforts. 

And then you can easily choose an agency that’s right for your business.

And last but not least, let’s talk about strategy  

This is where skilled digital marketing agencies come in handy.

You have to be clear with your goals so you can find an agency that’s the perfect match for your business.

And remember, just like in a relationship, communication is key. 

Make it a point to get super clear on your goals and expectations right from the get-go. 

Take into account your digital marketing budget

Ah, money — the fuel that drives your marketing efforts. 

Choosing a digital marketing agency is no joke. Your budget could make or break your plans. 

What you really need is an agency that can deliver results without costing an arm and a leg.

Which is often a unicorn in this industry.

Let’s be real; choosing a marketing agency can put a serious dent in your wallet.

So it’s important to remember that good things come at a price (just like coffee). 

That being said, there are ways to make the most of your budget so that you’re getting the most bang for your buck. 

Here are a few tips:

Tip #1: Set a realistic budget

an image of a marketing budget plan for 2023, specifically highlighting the allocation of digital marketing budgets for website services. the plan outlines the various expenses that a business can expect to incur for their digital marketing efforts.

Here’s the thing — digital marketing is not a one-time expense. 

It’s an ongoing investment that requires a budget that allows you to keep buying new customers and scaling your business. 

To set a realistic budget, start by doing some research. 

Look into the average cost of digital marketing services in your industry.

If you’re unsure about your marketing budget, try speaking with a digital marketing consultant first.

They’ll be more than happy to talk with you about your budget, needs, and business goals.

Tip #2: Prioritise your spending

a chart displaying worldwide digital ad spending from 2019 to 2024, showing a steady increase in expenditure from $325.02 billion to $526.17 billion. this data highlights the growing importance of digital marketing and the increasing investment businesses are making in online advertising.
Source: Wordstream

Consider which digital services you value the most and prioritise your spending accordingly. 

For example, investing in SEO can have a significant impact on your website’s visibility and organic traffic.

If you’re leaning towards paid ads, you need to consider your campaign budget and prioritise that over organic marketing.

Tip #3: Avoid agencies that promise the moon

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

Don’t fall for agencies that promise overnight success or unrealistic results.

You’ve likely seen a lot of jokers out there promising guarantees.

Truth is, not all leads and sales are equal. 

The problem with most marketing specialists is that they promise X appointments or leads. 

But when it’s time to speak to those leads, they often have no idea about the offer or what they’re signing up for. 

Makes you feel cheated that you invested in these types of run-and-gun agencies.

Instead, look for a firm that’s transparent and sets realistic expectations.

Look at skills and past work to see if they’re the real deal 

Let’s face it — not all agencies are created equal.

Some will promise you the world and offer every service under the sun.

While others will focus on a few key areas where they really shine.

To put it simply, you’ve got your generalists and your specialists. 

The question is, which one is the right fit for your business?

Before you evaluate an agency’s expertise, think about what you want to achieve first. 

Then take a look at the marketing services they offer and see if they align with your goals

You wouldn’t look for a PPC expert if you’re looking to go heavy on email marketing, right?

Here are a few examples of different types of digital marketing expertise:

  • PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
an image with five arrows pointing to different areas of digital marketing expertise: seo, content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and mobile marketing. each area represents a distinct discipline that businesses need to understand to build an effective digital marketing strategy.
Source: TSCFM

When you find a good firm, ask for case studies or examples of previous work they’ve done in your industry. 

This will help you get a feel for their zone of genius and the results they’ve brought in for other clients.

Don’t forget to do your homework and ask around for references.

If you can, reach out to other businesses that have worked with the agency to get valuable insight.

But listen up; even the best agencies don’t hit home runs. 

So look for an agency that’s upfront about their successes and failures.

If they’re happy and want to work with you, they’ll find solutions that work.

Research the agency’s approach to digital marketing

When choosing an agency for your business, you want to make sure they’re on top of the latest trends and technologies.  

In this fast-paced and ever-growing landscape, agencies must stay on top of their game if they want to keep up.  

As you look for a service provider, it’s important to know what processes and tools they have in place to generate results for your business.

 So, get to know the different types of tools and approaches that they use and how they can benefit your business.  

Here are a few examples:

Example #1: Automated marketing tools

These nifty tools can streamline your marketing processes.

They can save you time and help you focus on what matters for your business. (e.g. improving your automated emails).

Here are some examples:

Example #2: Analytics tools

Using data to make decisions has become the equivalent of fortune-telling. 

When you use analytics tools, you can learn more about the people who visit your website or use your products. 

You can also see how well your ads and promotions are working. 

It helps you understand what your customers like and how to make them buy more.

If an agency can’t help you learn more about your audience, that’s a red flag.  

Examples of these tools include:

  • Google Analytics
  • BuzzSumo
  • SEMrush
  • Google Search Console
  • And Hotjar.

Example #3: Personalisation tools

Personalised marketing is no longer a luxury — it’s an expectation. 

Look for an agency that uses tools and technologies that can help you personalise your marketing messages. 

You wouldn’t want your customer to feel like they received an email that’s meant for everyone, right?

Examples of these tools are

The bottom line is an agency’s approach to digital marketing can make or break your success.

So, don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

However, don’t get too caught up in the tech jargon.

Some of them could be just fluff that could make them look like an expert in your eyes. 

Instead, focus on understanding how the tools and technologies they use can benefit your business.

Take a close look at how the agency communicates and reports metrics to you  

Transparency is key in any relationship, and your partnership with a digital marketing agency is no exception. 

You need an agency that will keep you in the loop and provide you with detailed, insightful reports. 

These reports give you information about your campaigns, answer questions, and address any concerns. 

So, when evaluating an agency’s communication and reporting, consider how much they speak with you and the level of detail in their reports. 

Here are a few tips:

Example #1: Frequency 

If an agency emails you more than your mum, they’re probably doing it right. Look for an agency that communicates often. 

The ones who are always keeping you in the loop on the status of your campaigns and any issues that arise.

Example #2: Clarity

If an agency’s reports are more confusing than IKEA instructions, run for the hills. It’s a clear red flag. 

Look for an agency that provides reports that are easy to understand and clearly outline the performance of your campaigns. 

Remember, they’re the experts.

They must be able to translate those numbers to you so you can make result-driven decisions.

So, look for someone who communicates effectively and understands your business goals.  

Check out what people are saying

an image comparing positive and negative reviews, with statistics showing their impact on consumer trust. according to the statistics, 75% of consumers are more likely to trust a company with positive reviews, while 60% of consumers say that negative reviews deter them from using a business. this highlights the importance of managing online reviews and maintaining a positive reputation to attract and retain customers.
Source: Reputation X

You wouldn’t go on a blind date without doing a little snooping first, right? 

The same goes for choosing a digital marketing agency. 

Investigate their reputation and reviews to increase the chances that you’re getting involved with a winner.

However, the internet is a double-edged sword — it can make or break an agency’s reputation (and ruin your search history).

On the one hand, you can find an agency’s work and establish its credibility to you through positive online reviews and social media presence.

But on the other hand, a few bad reviews can quickly tear the good reputation they have built over time. 

There will always be a few dissatisfied clients with unrealistic expectations, that’s for sure. 

If you’re down to this last step, you can find reviews of the agency you’re interested in below:

Example #1: Google reviews

Google reviews are the new Yelp. They provide an unbiased look at an agency’s performance and can help you determine whether they’re the right fit for your business.

Example #2: Social media reviews

Instagram stories, Facebook reels, or even Tiktok videos are the new word of mouth. Social media reviews can provide a glimpse into an agency’s work and its ability to connect with its audience.

While it’s important to check an agency’s reputation and reviews, it’s also important to take them with a grain of salt. 

Remember, not everything you read online is true. 

Look for patterns in the reviews and use them to inform your decision, but don’t base your decision solely on them.

All set for how to choose a digital marketing agency?

We’ve come to the end of our ultimate guide to choosing a digital marketing agency for your business. 

Choosing the right one can be a daunting task, but with the right approach, you can find a proven agency that you can trust and work with. 

But before we bid adieu, let me leave you with a final thought. 

Digital marketing is still about connecting with people, even with new technology popping up each day.

So, while you’re scouring the internet for an agency with the perfect AI tools, don’t forget that human touch in mind. 

After all, the robots may be watching, but it’s the people behind the screens who will ultimately determine your success.

Josiah is a multi-award-winning digital marketing consultant and former journalist for the Australia Times. He now helps 6-7-figure brands as a Fractional CMO to generate predictable leads and sales growth.​

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