An effective marketing strategy will encompass many things beyond creating a strategy- copywriting, website development, website maintenance, SEO, social media, email marketing, landing pages, sales support, blogging, graphic design, digital ads, and reporting. To execute these things well, you need a team of experts.
Often as a business grows, handling marketing in-house no longer makes financial or practical sense. For the cost of just one full-time marketing professional to work in-house, it could be possible to hire an an external digital marketing team.
There are several factors to take into consideration and it can be time consuming to vet every agency. In order to be able to compare apples to apples, it's important to go through a list of similar questions with each one.
Here are the questions to ask when considering a digital agency.
1. Ask to review work. Doing so will give you insight into what their strengths and weaknesses are. Start by visiting their website. Many agencies display highlights of their work or a list of their clients on their website. Make a note of what you like or don't like. Visit their client's websites- especially if you're considering having the agency build a new website for you.
When you meet face-to-face, ask for examples of work specific to your marketing needs. For example, if you you're consider running some social and retargeting ads ask to see ads they've run in the past and their analytics.
2. Do they blog often and what topics do they cover? While this isn't necessarily a question, it's a step you should take in your research process. A company's blog can give insight into what their processes are, their strengths, as well as if they practice what they preach.
3. Ask about their processes. A good agency should have established processes for how they handle each project. Having an understanding about how your projects will be handled both internally and what your involvement will be is important in setting your relationship up for success.
4. What questions are they asking you? While you're in the process of trying to decide if an agency is a good fit for you, a quality agency will be doing the same for your business. Along with trying to sign you, they should be asking their own set of vetting questions in order to understand if they are a good fit for you. If they conclude that they aren't the best fit, they should be able to recommend an agency who is.
Beyond that, they should be trying to get a solid understanding of your business. No digital marketing strategy should be one size fits all. The digital agency you're considering should ask about your AOV, CLV, your sales process, your buyer's journey, what you think your strengths/weaknesses are, and your goals.
5. How will success be measured? This one is important. A good digital agency will want to prove their success to you each year when it comes time for retainer renewal. In order to do this, they should be regularly reviewing metrics, comparing them to your SMART goals, and reporting back to you. Ask about what reports they will provide to you how and how often. If it becomes obvious that a campaign isn't working, how will that be handled?
Arguably the most practical benefit of outsourcing digital marketing to an agency is that your business has far more flexibility when expanding or scaling back your digital marketing strategy. If digital marketing is handled in-house, changes in your business would involve hiring new (and probably expensive) internal staff.
If you want to execute digital marketing in the most effective and efficient way, hiring a digital marketing agency is often the way to go. Agencies are competitive with each other so they are constantly making efforts to enhance their skills and innovate in new ways. Contracting with one often means you're getting access to to the latest and greatest. But you need to take steps to make sure that you're working with a quality agency that is right for your business.