How to Choose a Digital Marketing Agency
What is a Digital Marketing Agency?
At its simplest, a digital marketing agency is a company that provides services to help businesses use the internet to grow their business. But it is very common to get a little lost looking for the right internet marketing agency to help with your online marketing. Every business is different, so every business has a different path to growth. Even if the paths are similar there are nuances to your business that are important to remember. This is important to remember because digital marketing agencies can offer a variety of services, and you need to find one that can help with your specific needs. You also need an agency that can provide an effective strategy, not just services.
There are a few questions you will want to ask yourself when searching for the right firm to work with. Are you a small business or a large organization? Scale and scope make a huge difference. Implementing a national or worldwide strategy is very different from focusing on a local target. The most important thing to remember when looking for a digital marketing agency is that they should be able to help you achieve your growth goals. Growth and your path to growth is also very different when you have only 1 location and are trying to increase revenue versus having 200 location and are looking to expand into different states or countries. Are your customers usually the general public (b2c) or do you sell business to business (b2b)? This greatly changes who your audience is, what their needs are, and how you interact with them.
Digital Marketing Services
There are a lot of services when it comes to internet marketing. Some of these services have different names that are interchangeable and some can seem really confusing to someone who is not familiar with the industry. The services you actually need will be dependent on the goals you have for your busines. When asked “what is digital marketing?” it’s important to know that digital marketing is an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of marketing services that leverage the internet for your business or organization. These services are usually broken up into 3 categories. Web Design, Search Engine Optimization, and Social Media Management. Some services may overlap categories.
-Web Design and Development: Building a website is easy. But building a website the right way requires a lot more skill. The difference between the two comes down to effectiveness and what it takes to be effective. The right agency will have designers and developers on staff who can help create a website that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also coded in a way that helps your website rank higher in search engines.
-Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This is the process of optimizing a website for Google search. The goal of SEO is to rank as high as possible in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for certain keywords or phrases. This process of engine optimization is how you increase your visibility and organic reach. Organic reach is how people discover your company without searching for your company specifically. This is a technical process that optimizes your website for the analytics google focuses on.
-Social Media Management: Social media are various platforms where people can interact with each other by sharing and interacting with user generated content. For a business the goal of social media marketing is to interact with potential and current customers to build ropor while creating content that people will want to share with their own audience. It is the digital version of word of mouth advertising.
-Content Creation: Content creation is the process of making things to put on the internet. Sometimes people make videos or write articles, sometimes they make pictures or different forms of posts. Content creation is important to web design and web development, search engine optimization, and social media management. Creating valuable content has the widest price range but its ROI and longevity is greater than any other ditigal marketing service. Content marketing is an approach that a lot of businesses skip out on which can make this a big opportunity for your business.
– Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising: This is a form of online advertising in which you pay for each time someone sees or clicks on your ad. PPC advertising is one of the fastest ways to get your company in front of a lot of people. Targeting can also be very specific. But this form of advertising can be expensive because it is very competitive, and once you stop paying for ads you stop seeing a return.
There are many other online marketing services digital marketing professionals offer. Below is a list of some other services you may be interested in.
- Email Marketing
- Lead Generation
- Graphic Design
- Reputation Management
- Keyword Research
- Local SEO
- E-commerce SEO
- Link Building
- Link Removal
- Website Audits & Website Analysis
One thing that is often forgotten is that strategy is focused on the long-term goals of the business. This is often thinking 5 or more years into the future. Where do you want your business to be in 5, 10, or 20 years and what is the best route to get there? Strategy will then govern your decision making process. Marketing is far more than selling and promoting. Marketing is also how you position yourself against your competitors. Marketing is driven by analysis and self awareness. So marketing strategy is the process of analysis, business improvement, and positioning to put your business on the road for long term success.
The best digital marketing firms will understand this and help you with strategy. Far too often we see agencies who simply get your website traffic, and they may even get you sales in the short term, but they can’t help you stay in business for the long run. And it is a big mistake to think that sales or traffic are all you need. Increasing internet sales or increasing traffic is not strategy, it is an objective. A full service digital marketing company will be able to help you develop a strategy, which includes objectives, to position you for success years down the road.
How much does digital marketing cost for small business
Digital marketing is an investment, and the cost of digital marketing will depend on the size and scope of your marketing campaign. How comprehensive do you want your marketing campaigns to be? Answering that question will help determine the expected cost. You can spend as little as $150, one time, for a quick and easy adjustment or you can spend thousands per month on a full scale campaign that includes a brand new website, seo services (including seo, ppc, and link building), social media marketing, email marketing, and content creation.
That being said, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the overall cost of digital marketing. If a digital marketing company approaches you to be one of their case studies then the cost will likely be far lower, making the value to you very high. A newer or smaller internet marketing agency may have lower overhead and leaner margins which drives down costs. They may also be more willing to work hard for your business in hopes of building a reputation. But there is also a value to experience. So it is important to weigh out the trade-offs.
It’s important to note that not all online marketing services are created equal. Some services are more expensive than others, and not all services will be a good fit for every business. The costs and results from a campaign focused on brand awareness and engine marketing may cost more to implement and will take longer to see a return on investment (ROI), but the return is often greater, and the results last longer. A PPC campaign or click funnel can be cheaper, but the results are very short and the growth doesn’t compound like other strategies.
It is also important to remember that some agencies are able to produce better results than others. Some may focus a lot on the short term and neglect a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. Doing so may get you results now, but often times short sighted performance marketing tends to get penalized heavily by google and is better to avoid. The cost must be worth the benefit. A good marketing agency will be able to explain the financial and non-financial costs, the benefits, and drawbacks to any strategy or service. These costs are often just as important as the financial cost.
How to choose the right digital marketing agency
When choosing the right digital marketing agency, it is important to consider a few factors. The first factor to consider is what services you need. Not all agencies offer all services, so you will need to make sure the agency you choose offers the services you need. It is wise to understand what you need from the agency and if you don’t make sure to get a proposal so you can weigh the options.
The next factor to consider is price. Digital marketing can be expensive, but it is an important investment that can’t be skipped. So you have to make sure to choose a digital marketing company that fits your budget. Some agencies offer more comprehensive services than others, and some agencies are more expensive than others. It is important to weigh the cost of the services against the benefits to see if it is a good fit for your business. Does the interet marketing company you are considering offer a custom plan that fits your budget or are you limited in price and service options?
Another factor to consider is size and experience. A digital marketing agency with an experienced staff will likely be able to produce better results than a company with less experience. But this doesn’t mean bigger is better. A smaller company may have staff that is just as skilled but be more willing to work hard for your business. Some smaller companies are also more willing to do custom work, which is a much better long term approach. We have deal with numerous clients where a cheap digital marketing agency has offered a “great deal” on a website where months later the agency can’t be reached. This left clients with cookie cutter websites that often don’t produce results, and if they did they can’t be updated because the clients never actually owned the site, so they are left to start over.
How familiar are they with your industry and location? The importance of these cannot be understated, but it does not mean an agency can not be effective if they are not familiar with your area or industry. If they understand how to highly skilled at marketing, have a marketing background, willing to learn and do the research, and have a good understanding of digital marketing channels, they should be able to do well. Conversely, there are some agencies that focus on a specific industry or location but get so ingrained in an industry and scaling that they miss out on the cutting edge marketing opportunities. Because we are highly proficient in applying marketing principles and have many years experience in marketing we have been able to adapt to a variety of industries and locations.
Finally, it is important to consider the reputation of the agency. A digital marketing firm with a good reputation will likely be able to produce a better service for you. A good reputation shows both how good they are at getting results and how good they are at working with other companies. Good customer service will play an important role in who you choose to provide your services. You are still their customer how they treat and deal with you will be just as important as the results they are able to get. You can read online reviews or look at their prior work to gauge their quality.
Is Digital Marketing Worth the Investment
Marketing is always an investment in your business, it is one that can make all the difference between success and failure. It is a worthwhile investment for any business, particularly if you set aside a budget for it and stick to it. A full service digital marketing agency also should be able to scale the services to you and make it affordable. This sometimes means scaling back or focusing more on certain services like social media, local seo, or ppc. They aren’t exactly interchangeable but adjustments can be made to fit your budget. It is far better to have a small budget versus no budget at all. But investing in marketing is investing in your own business and your own success. If you have questions about budgeting for your marketing needs contact us for a complimentary strategy session. Even if you don’t sign up for services you will walk away with a plan that can be used to achieve lasting success for your business.