Hiring A Digital Marketing Agency? Take These Steps To Avoid Getting Burned

Sam Zastrow

Sam Zastrow

Sam Zastrow has worked in digital marketing for 9 years. He's a generalist with particular interests in B2B lead generation, analytics, and keyword strategy. Outside of the office, he enjoys hiking, travel, and following Aston Villa FC.

Hiring a digital marketing agency shouldn't be a stressful process.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of illegitimate "SEO experts" and "SEO agencies" out there that promise to deliver results and come up short. If you've ever been burned in the past, you're probably wary of hiring another firm to help market your business.

Keeping up with current digital marketing trends can be an all-consuming job that marketing managers or business owners simply don't have the time or experience for, which leads to the need to partner with a trustworthy and performance-backed agency.

With all of the marketing and sales tactics in play, how can you figure out which agency to trust with your business? Read on for four strategies you can use while evaluating an agency to determine if they're a good fit for your business.

Determine what's important to your business by evaluating challenges and goals

Not all digital marketing agencies are the same. Some excel at branding and design and others focus on SEO.

Identifying areas where your business needs additional help can help you quickly eliminate agencies that don't match your needs.

Participate in the agency's lead generation or nurturing campaigns

Marketing agencies are businesses too, which means they need to have some processes in place for marketing and selling to leads.

When you're evaluating different agencies, why not enter into their marketing funnel yourself? Try subscribing to their blog or downloading one of their content offers and see what happens.

You may be entered into a well-thought-out nurturing sequence or, on the other end of the spectrum, ignored completely.

Reviewing a marketing agency's digital processes from a buying perspective is a way for you to take a look under the hood into some of the strategies they might implement for their clients.

One thing to note as you're reviewing an agency's marketing materials: as with any service-based business, servicing clients is the top priority. This can lead to focusing less on their own program. Outdated marketing may not be the red flag you think, however. It could simply mean the agency is in-demand and doesn't have the resources to spend on updating their own materials.

Ask to see examples of previous work or case studies

Nothing says more about an agency's ability to fulfill your needs than similar work they've already completed. Many legitimate agencies display their portfolios (or at least a good chunk of them) right on their website, which makes this easy. But even if they don't, they should be able to provide you with work examples if you ask them. If they don't provide examples, or the examples are low quality, keep moving.

Case studies are great for showing what an agency can do, but don't just take the agency's word for it. Contact the business featured in the case study and ask if they'd actually back up what is said about them. By nature, case studies come with "spin" from the party that's being promoted, so do some research of your own to make sure they're legitimate.

Ask for deliverables and transparency

A "good" agency will be able to lay out exactly what they're going to provide to you along with what is expected of you, the client. Depending on what type of work you'll be partnering on, you may need to be available to provide information about your company, products, and services. But knowing what's expected of both parties up front can lead to a long-term partnership. Not knowing, on the other hand, can lead to disappointments due to misunderstood expectations or requirements.

Along with deliverables, do your best to understand the agency's processes. If someone's offering you a service but won't provide any details about its execution or steps along the way, that's a red flag.

Additional Resources

It's no secret by now that you're on a digital marketing agency website. We take finding the right clients very seriously, and hope our clients are putting the same consideration into making a decision to work with us as well.

For an honest look at what it's like to work with us, we've put together the following resources. Check them out, and if you like what you read, let us know.

In-House Digital Marketing vs. Hiring an Agency: A Guide to Smart Decision-Making. This guide is a straight-forward review of the pros and cons of working with a digital marketing agency vs. implementing a digital marketing program in-house.

The Complete Digital Marketing Checklist. For companies who want to set up their own inbound marketing campaigns, this is a comprehensive checklist with explanations of how and why each item is important.

The Guide to a Successful Agency Kickoff. Once you've chosen an agency, there is still more work to be done. Preparing for your initial kick-off meeting helps your chosen agency do better work, leading to more success for your business.

Topics: Working with an Agency