Commitment can be scary both in your personal and professional lives. Once you choose a digital marketing agency, you may find yourself wondering what could have been. What if another agency knows the secret to get better results faster and you’re missing out?
The grass-is-greener syndrome — the worry that another path could be better than the one you took — can hit in all areas of life, whether rational or not. And you may especially be susceptible to it if you get an email from another agency promising No. 1 spots in Google or hundreds of new Twitter followers.
But a good digital marketing agency is well worth sticking with. Here’s how to tell if the agency you have now is worth committing to for the long term.
For digital marketing to be effective, it can’t be a collection of disconnected tactics. Even if every piece of marketing an agency creates looks impressive on its own, if the pieces don’t all work together, you’ll struggle to get the results you need.
And that’s especially true for B2B companies, where it regularly takes multiple touchpoints to land a sale. A prospect may love the first blog post they read of yours, but if nothing ever convinces them to return to your website or think of your brand again, what have you accomplished?
The Content Marketing Institute’s annual research consistently finds that having a documented strategy is an important factor in online marketing success. In 2018, 65% of the most successful content marketers said they had a strategy, as compared to only 14% of those who said their marketing wasn’t successful.
A digital marketing agency that understands the value of taking a thoughtful, strategic approach that ensures all your tactics and campaigns support each other knows their stuff. Don’t be in a rush to leave them behind.
Your company is unique and so are your marketing needs. A lot of marketing advice talks about best practices in black-and-white terms, as though there’s one right or wrong way to do it. But you don’t need an agency that does marketing the right way for someone else. You need one that takes time to understand your audience and goals, and then crafts a strategy that makes sense for your unique situation.
The best digital marketing agencies take the time to really talk to you about your needs and make sure the work they do is designed to meet the goals that matter to you. When an agency gives you that kind of personal attention, instead of trying to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to your marketing efforts, they’re showing you they care enough to do the work that will get your company results.
Those emails promising top spots in Google or huge increases in your social following may look alluring. But promises that look too good to be true usually are.
Agencies that make those kinds of promises don’t know any hidden marketing secrets the rest of us haven’t figured out. What they know are sleazy tricks. It’s easy to increase your rankings for keywords no one is searching for or to artificially inflate your follower count by paying to add bots as followers. But none of that adds up to real results.
For a ranking to be worth it, it needs to lead to relevant traffic. Social followers should lead to engagement with your brand. A digital marketing agency worth working with won’t make grand promises that deliver empty results. They’ll be transparent to keep your expectations reasonable. And they’ll focus on the marketing results truly worth getting, even though they may require more time and work.
For a digital marketing agency to successfully help you sell your products or services, they need to understand them inside and out. A top-notch digital marketing agency takes time before they create their first deliverable to become experts on your brand.
That process typically includes:
An agency that’s already put the time into becoming experts on your business, audience and industry has made an investment in your brand that it would take a new agency months to match. And by committing that time to learn about your business upfront, they’ve proven their intention to do the hard work that gets results for you in the long term.
One of the main values of hiring a digital marketing agency is that they can afford to hire specialists in all the different channels and tactics that their clients need. Instead of expecting one person to learn a little bit about everything, you’ve hired a team of experts that each knows a lot about a specific area in which they excel. And you’re able to do so at a rate that’s manageable—hiring a team of different specialists individually in-house would cost you considerably more.
And because all those different experts are accustomed to working on strategies together, they can work as a unit. You don’t risk all your marketing tactics being done in silos; each member of the team will know how their part of the process connects to the larger whole.
When you work with an agency that hires well and values teamwork, you not only get the benefit of the skills each individual at the agency has, you get more valuable results that come from a cohesive team pooling their knowledge to work together. And you get those results at rates you can afford.
Does your marketing agency steadily produce a stream of deliverables? Creating marketing content and setting up ad campaigns all take time and effort. Producing the amount of work you’ve agreed upon in the schedule discussed is no small feat. And it’s not one all marketing agencies pull off.
An agency that consistently sends over strong deliverables in a timely manner has demonstrated the ability to stay productive and get the work done. Strategy is important, but an agency worth sticking with shows they can follow it up with execution as well.
Of course, producing deliverables is only one part of the equation. The work they deliver also has to be good.
If you like the creative aspect of the work they do, that’s important. A good agency should always bring new ideas to the table, ones you know you wouldn’t be able to come up with in-house. And when you can tell their deliverables are smart and well-researched, they’re more likely to resonate with your audience.
What’s even more important is that they also supply meaningful analytics that proves their marketing campaigns are meeting your goals. An agency could send over 10 blogs a month that you like, but what matters more is if your audience likes them. Getting four blog posts that drive relevant traffic is worth far more, and an agency worth keeping around understands that and works toward it.
You may hire a digital marketing agency to provide skilled expertise, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely hand over all your marketing decisions. A good digital marketing agency will treat you as a partner and take a sincere interest in any feedback you provide.
If your digital marketing agency proactively solicits your feedback, checks in regularly and—most important of all—puts your feedback into action, then they’re well worth keeping around. When your agency is willing to listen, almost any reservations you have with them can be solved with communication.
Your agency should absolutely care about your feedback, but they shouldn’t see your relationship as simply one of taking orders. You aren’t just hiring them to execute on what you think you want, they should proactively work to shape your strategy and supply new ideas.
If you suggest a tactic their research suggests isn’t a good fit for your audience, are they willing to tell you that? Even better, do they provide alternative suggestions their expertise shows will work better? An agency willing to speak up and be honest with you is far more valuable than one that simply falls in line.
A digital marketing agency confident in their work won’t push a restrictive agreement on you. They’ll see your relationship as a partnership, which means it doesn’t do either of you good if you feel stuck with them.
Does the contract with your agency allow for flexibility? If they allow you to modify the terms of your strategy when your needs change, that means they care about investing in the relationship. They’ll work with you to keep providing what you need at the level you need it, rather than pushing deliverables on you that aren’t working based on old contract terms.
Digital marketing is a long game. The more time you give your current marketing strategies to play out, the more you’ll see the results they yield. An agency you work with over a number of years spends untold hours analyzing what works for your brand and audience. They have dozens, or even hundreds, of opportunities to learn from past tactics and apply that knowledge to new ones.
Even if a new agency you consider has a lot of marketing knowledge, they won’t have the specific knowledge about how marketing works for your brand and audience. They can learn, but it will take time. And that time will cost you, both financially and in the disruption it causes while your marketing campaigns are put on hold.
A good digital marketing agency is hard to find. When you find an agency willing to actively work with you to meet your particular goals, you’ll benefit from sticking with them for the long term. Once you’re in a good relationship, staying with the agency you have costs less in both time and money than shopping around for a new one. And by sticking with the strategies you’ve developed together, you give them more time to yield results.