After much research on whether to hire a marketing specialist or a digital agency for your business needs, you’ve now made the decision to hire a digital agency – congratulations! And this is where the many questions start, especially if you don’t have much experience in the sea of digital channels the market has to offer. In the following lines, we have tried to structure the most important questions to ask yourself, and to help you in the process of making the best decision.
Let’s start with you and the needs of your business, as these will determine what type of agency to go with.
- What are your needs right now? What marketing and business goals have you set for the next 3-6 months, year?
The answer to this question is not always entirely clear. It depends on many factors, starting with what type of business it is, what phase of its life cycle it is in and how it is positioned in the market – who the company is and whether it is known to the audience, what the industry is, who and how many competitors there are and what they do. It is very important what the product /service/ is and how the decision to buy it is made – how long it takes and what is the financial investment by consumers. These are defining points in shaping the communication approach in a digital environment and building the overall customer journey.
If you are new to the market and are starting from scratch to build your digital presence, then you need to approach an agency to build a comprehensive strategy to enter the relevant product category through the relevant digital channels.
This involves many different processes, some of which are:
- Setting marketing and advertising goals
- Determining the right target audience and relevant buyer personas
- Choosing relevant communication channels and formats to reach out through
- Formulation of key messages and brand values, key benefits for communication to the audience (USP’s)
- Create a slogan /if you don’t have one/
- Developing a proposal for brand guidelines and tone of voice
- Creation of visual materials – banners, videos, email marketing materials, etc.
- Media planning
- Advertising campaign management and optimization
- Analysis of results
.. and more!
We can distinguish several different types of agencies, according to their specialization only this far. You always have the option to work with different subcontractors for different activities, depending on the type of service offered, but practice shows that the process is more complicated when you have to coordinate the work of several different teams. That’s why we recommend that you approach an integrated digital marketing agency that has different departments for the areas listed above, and will be able to provide a quality, comprehensive service.
However, if you already have an established business model and have a digital presence, the questions would already be oriented towards what purpose do you want to hire a digital agency for? With that, we move on to the next point.
- Why hire a digital agency? What type should it be?
The answer to this question will give you a clearer indication of what type of agency to look for. Write down all the points you need help with, the problems you want to solve and the goals you want to achieve. If you don’t know how to put them into words them, here are some examples:
- Want to increase your online store sales?
- To better position yourself on social media and better engage your audience?
- You have a very specific product and you want people to find you in search engines?
- Want to reach B2B customers?
The scenarios are varied and the formulation of clear objectives will be key in selecting the most appropriate partner.
Here’s how we can broadly divide digital agencies into types, according to the specific need:
- Creating a strategy
- Social media content and maintaining a company profile on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, TikTok, etc. – Content management and/or creative agency
- Building a brand image, creating visual content for different types of digital activities – Creative and/or PR agency
- Manage advertising across different channels to achieve specific results – awareness, sales, lead generation, etc. – Performance marketing agency
- Media planning and buying fixed price advertising on major websites and media groups – Media Agency
- Website building and maintenance / SEO support etc – web and/or SEO agency. While these services are not advertising, they are an integral part of the digital presence of many companies
- Do you have a marketing/advertising department?
This point is crucial for good planning and execution of your digital activities and campaigns. Having someone on the team to communicate with the agency and assist in the communication and smooth execution of your joint projects makes it much easier for both parties to work together.
If you don’t have such a person and you will be responsible for the whole process yourself, it’s a good idea to find a digital agency that will assign an account or project manager specifically for you as a client. He will have the responsibility:
- to keep track of deadlines
- to receive timely information about upcoming activities
- provision of materials
- to work with individual teams within the agency and possibly with other marketing and commercial partners, and to deliver on commitments overall
You can expect a similar process and the presence of an experienced account management or project management team from a large enough agency that operates multiple teams and has an established project coordination and management process.
When working with freelancers, or with smaller agencies that specialize in one particular area – for example, managing and maintaining social media accounts, there’s a chance you’ll be working directly with the team/person who is taking care of your project. This is excellent in the relevant area because that person or team has strong skills in that particular area. But then you can hardly expect the strategic approach and planning that is gained as experience and competencies when working on more integrated projects and with more significant marketing goals that are achieved when using more channels.
Budget for advertising and digital services is an issue you shouldn’t overlook when planning to work with an agency. Apart from the advertising (media) costs that go directly to the providers of the respective services – for example for the Google ecosystem, for the Facebook ecosystem, for websites and platforms, you should also consider the other ancillary costs, such as:
Depending on the terms and conditions, this can be a fixed monthly fee for certain services included, or a % of the advertising budget if we are only talking about ad management. Everything is strictly individual and generally a matter of agreement between agency and client.
Creation of communication materials and digital assets – banners, videos, PR materials, landing pages, special formats for social networks, etc.
If you don’t have a design team and you don’t produce your materials in-house (i.e. in-house), then you will most likely use the services of an agency or other subcontractor.
Consultations and other additional services beyond the standard ones.
- Expertise, agency vision and client feedback
Last, but certainly not least, we also put a few points regarding the agency itself, to finally confirm our choice.
Agency profile and expertise
Based on the various services offered and the actual team of professionals at the agency, you will easily get an idea of what kind of professionals work there and what the agency specializes in.
Outside of specializing in different areas of digital marketing, you can explore:
- what clients the agency works with and what experience it has with businesses like or similar to yours
- whether it is focused on FMCG customers or is more business oriented with experience in B2B communication
- from the client portfolio you will quickly get an idea of how much experience she has, whether she relies on long-term relationships with her clients, in what areas and whether she would meet the needs of your business
This will make it easy to check for relevant experience, and you probably have friends to ask if they recommend this agency
Speaking of a digital agency, there is no way not to consider its positioning on the market, online and among other competitors in the industry. Many times we have heard it said that the shoemaker walks with torn shoes. However, if the digital agency has an unmaintained website, no comprehensive information about its services, and unmaintained social media profiles, this should be a red flag for you and you should do more detailed research:
- whether they are overloaded and have no time to perform online
- whether they don’t see the potential and sense in positioning themselves online (it would be strange for an agency providing just such a service)
- whether they rest on their laurels
- whether they just say they do a lot of things for a lot of companies, but if so isn’t it strange not to announce them publicly
You can easily check on Linkedin how many employees and with what competences this agency has. It’s not difficult during a meeting to ask about the agency’s new clients or specifically what services they provide to clients cited during meetings.
Customer feedback, testimonials and case studies
No matter how much we brag about ourselves, the best advertising for an agency is satisfied clients and their feedback online. We add to them the information about successfully implemented projects in the form of case studies, videos and presentations. This complements the company’s image perfectly by validating the information of its own assets. So don’t neglect this aspect when selecting the finalists. Publicly announced projects and case studies, publicly available lectures and case study presentations of the agency are … public.
If we were to sum up the most important in a few words we would say:
- Objectives (long-term/short-term)
- Company needs
- Type of agency
- Image and reputation
We hope we have been helpful, good luck with your choice!