As a business owner or operator, your livelihood hinges on your ability to develop a winning digital marketing strategy. While this task may sound fairly simple, knowing how to choose a marketing agency from among the thousands of agencies in the United States can quickly become overwhelming. Fortunately, you can simplify your selection process by using an organized step by step approach. Below is your seven-step guide to choosing a marketing agency.
The path to an outstanding digital marketing strategy begins with a clearly defined budget and set of goals. The agency you choose will need to understand how you typically generate opportunities for sales and how much you can afford to spend on your marketing initiatives. If you are struggling a bit to narrow your focus, you can ask yourself these three questions:
Defining your marketing budget is a bit more complicated because the amount of money you allocate to marketing efforts should reflect your company's size and target audience. For example, the U.S. Small Business Administration notes that B2C services companies spent an average of 11.8% of their revenue on marketing, and that B2C companies typically need to spend more than B2B companies. B2B product companies typically spent 6.3% on marketing, B2B services companies spent 6.9%. They also reported companies in their formative years of operation can typically expect to spend even more money on marketing. The problem with these percentages if you are just starting our or if you have not invested enough in marketing in the past, is that you may need to invest even more to put all of your campaigns and marketing tools into place.
Once you have outlined your key goals and budget, you need to understand how the agency will work with you. Some agencies look great on the surface but they routinely assign work to interns or outsource key projects to overseas providers who know nothing about your business or industry. An easy way to avoid these pitfalls and understand the agency's process is to ask the following "Who, what, when, where, how" questions:
Your business is unique. And you deserve a personalized digital marketing plan. Unfortunately, there are many agencies that will try to apply a generic, cookie-cutter approach to your business. You can avoid agencies who use a cookie-cutter approach by looking for the following clues that show a commitment to helping your business succeed:
The truth about digital marketing is, to have success you need to have an analytical mind because not everything will work. Keep in mind that your business is competing with every other business in your industry and region. Overall, the digital marketing methodologies should accomplish:
A successful digital marketing strategy will drive customers to your business through helpful content, automated scheduling, and a responsive website that is easy to navigate. Ask prospective agencies to define the specific tools they plan to use to accomplish your key objectives. Here are a few points of emphasis frequently referenced by top agencies:
"Measurement is what makes marketing a science, rather than a superstition...Your ad could be a resounding hit, flooding you with thousands of new interested customers, or it could be a seeming dud, wasting your time and money. Solid metrics give you the insight to overcome this hurdle of unpredictability." - Jayson DeMers, Founder and CEO of AudienceBloom
The most solid digital marketing strategy in the world holds little worth if an agency fails to monitor and measure key performance indicators (KPIs). The agency you choose should employ analytics tools to measure how well your digital marketing campaigns are having a positive impact on your sales. KPIs will vary according to your goals and business type, but here are a few examples of key metrics that should receive focus:
Most agencies will not proactively raise the issue of accountability when meeting with you. When an agency is trying to secure your business, they frequently put a positive spin on their presentation and focus on their successes. So it is up to you to ask prospective agencies how they intend to produce results.
Keep in mind that success involves your agency and your company and how well the two work together. An agency cannot succeed without your involvement so businesses should understand how their role affects success. Who in your company should be involved? If you do not have the resources to produce the required content, consider outsourcing it.
Here are some questions to ask that will help you address the agency accountability and how your involvement enables overall success:
The agency you select should proactively outline the answers to these questions.
Doing your homework is critical when hiring a marketing agency. In addition to researching online reviews and ensuring that the agency has a stellar reputation with HubSpot and other partners, you should carve out some time to request a list of references and then call them. Ask each customer to rate their overall satisfaction with the agency and ask how the agency handled challenges and problems that arose. Most importantly, find out whether the agency delivered on their promise to regularly communicate results.
As outlined above, there are some key issues that you should explore before you choose a digital marketing agency. This process requires time and effort, which you may currently lack as a business owner who wears many hats.
If you would like to condense the seven steps above into a single, easily attainable step, then simply contact us at Bristol Strategy. When you speak with our marketing specialists, you will discover why clients trust us to handle their digital marketing initiatives. As a HubSpot Top Digital Agency in Boston, we offer more than 25 years of marketing experience and more than 10 years of inbound experience. We look forward to helping you exceed your goals by transforming the way you market your business! Request an inbound marketing assessment today to transform the way you attract new clients and grow your business.
Bristol Strategy is a full funnel inbound marketing agency and inbound sales agency offering a complete complement of Inbound Marketing services that enable our clients to surpass their business objectives by transforming the way they engage with their buyer online. Reach out to us to learn more about how our experience and capabilities can help your business grow.