How to Evaluate a Digital Marketing Agency

April 23, 2020
April 23, 2020 Dana Driskill

How to Evaluate a Digital Marketing Agency

What makes a great marketing agency? Is it the same thing that makes a great agency-client partnership? If you’re searching for a digital marketing agency to help support your brand or business’s marketing efforts, then you likely have a lot of questions. Can we be frank? If you’re reading this now, you might be looking for an easy guide, like a list of questions or simple formula to determine if your potential agency partnership will be productive. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if there is no cut and dry set of criteria for evaluating a digital marketing agency. The best way to evaluate an agency is to follow our guide below. 

Know Your Goals 

It is important to know what you’re looking for before you start searching. We repeat: Do not start looking for an agency without knowing what your goals are. Before you start looking for an agency, gather your team to discuss the performance-based goals that you’re looking to hit with the agency’s help. After you’ve got your goals set and agreed on internally, then you can truly begin your search for an agency. Be sure to keep track of the goal(s) that you’ve set. They’re important for the next part.

Some common goals that we hear from clients include:

  • “We’d like to reach and maintain a $25 Cost Per Lead for our geo-fenced business. Can you help us reach potential customers in 25 specific zip codes?”
  • “We are a new brand and are looking to discover who our customer is. Our goal is 400% ROAS.”
  • “ We have a new product launching soon. Can you develop and implement a campaign strategy that can best support this product launch?”

Pick The Right Agency Type

E-mail marketing, community building/management, influencer marketing, PPC marketing, display marketing….we could go on and on listing the many channels and areas of marketing. Agencies run the gamut in terms of what marketing channels they cover, so it’s important to look for an agency that will help you achieve your goals. At Eboost Consulting, we focus on performance marketing (paid social, paid search, and Amazon advertising) because we know that we’re really, really good at it. If your business goals are aligned with a specific type of marketing, you should focus your search on an agency that can meet those goals. If your business goals involve building or increasing your advertising presence on Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, or Google, we’d like to learn more about you. Let’s Chat.

Do Some Investigating

If an agency knows the right buzzwords, does it truly make them experts, worthy of your time and valuable ad spend dollars? Maybe. Although word of mouth and direct referrals can give you more insight into what your day-to-day agency partnership might look like, that kind of referral isn’t always available. So if you’re wondering if an agency that sounds great, really will BE great, then independent review websites like Clutch, Google Business Reviews, or even Yelp, can help provide insight into the agency’s satisfaction rates. Since these types of websites aren’t owned by the agency, current and former clients can feel free to share their true thoughts.

Not into review sites? There is another way! Case studies are a tried and true way for an agency to not only show their knowledge but also to show their strategic muscles. In a case study, the agency should walk you through how they tackled a problem or helped a client succeed. While case study formats range from agency to agency, there are a few key things that you’ll want to look for: the goal/problem, the strategy/solution, and the results/metrics. With these sections included, you’ll be able to determine if the brand/business had their goals met by the agency in a way that showed skill and expertise. Check out our case studies.

Evaluate Communication Styles

Communication styles vary widely from business to business. At some large brands, regular voice or video meetings are the norm. At other businesses, e-mail communication is the golden standard, with meetings reserved for only the most collaborative and important topics. When selecting an agency, it’s important to find one that is comfortable communicating in a way that works for you and your brand or business. More than anything, as a client you need to feel confident and comfortable that you will be heard, that the agency will be available for questions/comments/concerns, and that you are available for ideas and feedback from the agency to help improve overall performance.

Know Who You’ll Be Working With

Some agencies operate on a free-for-all structure, where you are randomly assigned someone to communicate with based on who is available at that specific moment in time. In these models, you can speak to a different person any given day of the week. In other agencies, like Eboost Consulting, you’ll be given a dedicated account representative who will be your main point of contact for performance reports, questions, troubleshooting, getting new campaigns or goals in motion, or anything else that you might need. For some in-house marketers, it’s important to have the same point of contact throughout the relationship to maintain a backlog of learnings or brand safeguards. Be sure to get the details on who/what type of relationship you’ll have with the persons working on your account to ensure that it’ll be a great fit for you. 

Understand The Reporting Cadence

The worst possible thing that can happen after you’ve spent the time and energy to find and set up your new agency would be for you to have no insight into what they’re doing day-to-day. While the comfort level with how hands-on you are with your agency will vary from marketer to marketer, if you don’t know the results of your agency’s efforts, then you have no idea if you’re meeting your goals or if they’re performing what they said they would do. When you’re evaluating your agency options, make sure that you’ll receive regular updates and reports in whatever method suits you and your business (e-mail, phone call, PowerPoint, etc.). At Eboost Consulting, we provide each client with a series of reports that regularly update, so they always have full insight into their account’s performance. On top of that, all Eboost Consulting clients receive a weekly email with updates, things we’re working on, and insights and learnings we’ve discovered that the client should know. 

Make Sure That You’re Comfortable With Terms

To contract or not to contract? That is the question. Some agencies only operate based on contracts or terms. Other agencies use a 30 day period, where you can leave at any time with a 30-day notice. There are endless combinations out there. The most important thing to do is to sit with your team (or work it out yourself if you’re the key decision maker) and decide what is important to you. Based on budget allotments and yearly planning sessions, you might be ready to take the plunge into a year-long contract to compare results year over year. Or, if you are looking for marketing support for a part of your business or a new campaign, a different model might work better for you. The most important thing is to just make sure that you have the best terms for your agency’s comfort. 

Now that you know how to evaluate a digital marketing agency to see if they’ll be a good fit, you can begin your search! If you’re looking for an agency that can help you achieve your goals, then we want to chat with you. Let’s get started.

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