Which is the best Digital Marketing Agency for you?

How to choose the best digital marketing agency…

In our recent article How to Get Hired we gave some pointers as to how a digital marketing agency can give themselves the best chance of being selected by a potential client.

In today’s article we’d like to turn that around and look at the hiring process from the client’s point of view. How can you ensure that when you are selecting a digital marketing agency you choose the right one for you?

Below are 25 factors that we recommend you consider when meeting with a prospective digital marketing agency. They span the range of services that any reputable agency should provide for you, and will help you determine whether the particular agency will deliver the quality that you expect and deserve.

  1. Search Engine Rankings: Beware of an agency that promises you the earth. It takes time and effort to see consistent improvements in search engine rankings so you need to understand the process that the agency will use to do this. Avoid agencies that use any so-called black hat techniques that are designed to try to trick search engine algorithms to do this; for example keyword stuffing, clickbait or low-quality links.
  2. Realistic Lead Time for Improved Ranking Results: Leading on from the above, beware an agency that gives you unrealistic estimates of how long it will take to see improved ranking results. A truly effective SEO strategy will usually start positively affecting your site in about three to six months.
  3. Google Webmaster Guidelines: Make sure your intended agency is fully conversant with and adheres to the Google Webmaster Guidelines. This means that they will follow authorised ways of helping Google find, index, and rank your site and will help your site to avoid penalties.
  4. Google Penalty Recovery: a Google penalty refers to a restriction placed on a website to prevent it from ranking highly in search rankings. Penalties usually occur when SEO or link activity either violates Google’s quality guidelines or does not fit with a Google algorithm change. You need to ask the agency whether they have ever helped a site recover from a penalty and how that process works.
  5. Writing Samples: Given that your agency will be producing content for you, it is important for you to look at samples of their current content work so that you can get a realistic idea of what they are able to deliver.
  6. Types of Content: As well as written content it is also essential that you get a clear picture of what other types of content the agency can provide for you. For example are they able to produce multimedia content such as videos, animations, infographics, eBooks and email campaigns? You may find it helpful to refer back to our article Create a Buzz With Ephemeral Content to see how your agency measures up to the demands of producing fresh content on a regular basis.
  7. Business Sector Experience: When considering types and styles of content, it will also become apparent that an agency with experience in your industry is going to be a tremendous asset to you. They will already understand the sector you are in and they key issues and competition you are facing. This will enable them to hit the ground running. It would be good to look at case studies of existing clients to get a realistic idea of what they can do.

    If they do not have experience in your sector it’s not necessarily a non-starter but you do need to ask them how they would go about acquiring familiarity and expertise in your business sector.

  8. Site Publication Options: Check carefully whether the agency will take on the responsibility for publishing and formatting new content on your site or whether it will be up to you to do this. If this is not part of their service you will need to make sure that there is someone in-house who is able to do this and can keep your website fresh and looking good.
  9. Website Maintenance: Also check that your agency offers ongoing maintenance once the site goes live. You need to feel confident that they will be able to handle troubleshooting effectively post-launch, rather than completely losing interest in you once the site goes live.
  10. Content Optimisation Strategy: You need to find out how closely the content team work with the SEO team to ensure that all content is optimised both for reader engagement and search engine keywords. Your agency should work as one close knit team rather than in separate silos that don’t pool their intelligence effectively.
  11. Google Partner Badge: It is always good to check that your agency has relevant qualifications and professional memberships. If they have a Google Partner Badge, it means that their employees will be certified in Google AdWords and will be up to date with the latest AdWords innovations.
  12. Which PPC Platforms: As well as Google AdWords ask your agency if they also offer services across multiple PPC platforms. Google is still be far the most widely used search platform, but there are also others to consider such as Yahoo, Bing and Baidu that average between 5-10% market share.
  13. AdWords Spend: For Google Adwords your agency should be able to show you exactly where your money is going and what results are being achieved.
  14. Reporting Metrics: There should also be various performance metrics included in the regular reports that you will receive from your agency. Reports should be easy to read and make it clear how your paid search campaigns have been performing in terms of CPC, CTR, ad positions, and conversion rate of keywords and landing pages.
  15. Examples of Websites: If you need a new website designing then make sure you look at lots of examples of existing websites that your agency has already designed. You don’t want yours to be identical to these but it will give you an idea of the kind of design aesthetics that you are likely to get.
  16. Website Design Methods: Also ask your agency whether they work from a website template or will custom-design your website. A template website will be cheaper but may look a bit too similar to various other websites. If you really need a unique site that will stand out – and is therefore more likely to generate leads or sales – you do need to find an agency that can offer custom design services.
  17. Flexibility of Website Design: Whatever their design method,make sure that your agency will give you plenty of input into the design of your website. You need to have visibility of what is being done and be able to influence it, and change the things you don’t like.
  18. Responsive Website Design: Also check with your agency that they will use responsive design to ensure that your website will look good on all screen types and sizes, from smartphones to tablets to desktop monitors.
  19. Ecommerce Provision: If you have any kind of ecommerce business, then it is essential that you find an agency that has expertise in the latest ecommerce facilities, including shopping baskets, handling multiple payment types and currencies, easy price updating, and the ability to synchronise with other channels such as email marketing for special offers and following up of abandoned baskets.
  20. Website Security Features: When considering ecommerce it is also essential to build in the appropriate security measures. Is your agency able to set up a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate to establish a secure connection for traffic between the web browser and server.
  21. SEO-Friendly Website Design: When creating a new website, make sure that SEO is an integral part of your site design. Will there be SEO-friendly features that are easy to update such as page titles, meta tags, and a crawlable link structure? Will the content your agency produces be keyword-optimized to achieve best possible results?
  22. Google Analytics: Tracking is important for a new site right from the start. This enables you to view and get to understand behaviour and performance metrics. So make sure that this is implemented right from the beginning – when it is easy to change things as needed – rather than being added on later as an optional extra.
  23. Website Conversion Rates: Whether you are having a new website or keeping an old one, you need to know from your agency how they will improve your site’s conversion rate. Not only do you need increased visibility and traffic, but also the corresponding conversions and sales to make it all worthwhile.
  24. Regular Communication: It is very important to understand the frequency and type of communication that you can expect from your agency if you work with them. You need to know who your day to day contacts will be, what is the best means of communication with them, how often you will normally have contact with them, and how quickly you can expect a response from them should something urgent arise.
  25. Monthly Progress Reporting: Finally, as well as the ongoing working relationship you should expect some formal progress reporting every month. You need to know whether this will be in terms of documentation or a face to face meeting or a scheduled conference call – or any combination of those. Make sure you will be getting what you want before you commit to anything.

We hope that the above factors enable you to make an informed decision about the right digital marketing agency for you. At Xcite Digital we like to think that we tick all the above boxes: so if you are looking for a digital marketing agency then do always feel free to get in touch to see how we can help.