50% of the small businesses fail in the first year and sadly, if they survive, only 5% of them make past the five years. Small business owners have a low budget, usually lower revenue and great chances of getting on credit. One wrong move and it will be ruined. In that case, they should be careful about where they want to spend their money on acquiring new customers. Digital marketing has become a necessity for all the small businesses out there and most of them don’t have an in-house digital marketing team. This leads to them outsourcing all their digital marketing activities.
It is very important for these small businesses to learn completely about any digital marketing agency before they outsource their marketing activities. They should do proper research before signing a contract with any agency and not fall for fake marketing gimmicks. There are so many poor quality, shady and blackhat digital marketing agencies out there which trick small businesses into making them believe that they have come to the right place. But all they do is eat into your digital marketing budget for their own profits.
As a small business owner, you should understand that digital marketing is not a single activity but rather it consists of different online marketing strategies like Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Social Media Marketing (SMM), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC), Email Marketing, Content Marketing, video marketing etc. Keep in mind that even though every digital marketing agency out there claims to offer these services, it doesn’t mean that you should buy them all. For some businesses, just the basic digital marketing categories like search engine optimization, social media marketing, and email marketing are enough while for others they may need powerful strategies like content marketing, video marketing, and online advertising. It all depends on your business and the budget you have in mind for building your digital marketing strategy. SEO and SMM are always quite on the affordable side for everyone while content, video, online advertisements, etc fall on the costly side. Now, here are some tips for you to help you choose the best digital marketing agency. Keep these points in your mind and you will never be disappointed.
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How does the agency present itself
What good is a digital marketing agency if they can’t advertise themselves properly? Start looking for digital marketing agencies which use innovative ideas and strategies to market their services. If an agency is offering digital marketing services, you can learn how they work from their online web presence itself. Check if they are ranking organically in the first few pages for your search results when you are looking for them. Go through their social media posts and assess their quality – is it convincing enough, are people engaging with them or are they just go into the void, etc.
Have a look at their website – is it completely optimized for visitors and search engines, do they have proper site navigation, is the content on their website convincing enough, how are they pitching their services, are they using a proper call to action for everything, etc. How an agency presents itself speaks a lot about how they treat their customers.
Do they have experience in your industry
In my opinion, it is better to work with digital marketing agencies who have worked with businesses similar to yours previously. If they have the knowledge and experience working with similar businesses previously, I’m pretty sure they would have researched about it and have a good strategy on hand. Moreover, they will be having a basic idea about what you are going to expect from them. It’s even better if they can understand your audience and your competitors.
What’s their process or workflow
There are so many people out there who will ask you to go with a company which offers digital marketing services at affordable prices. There’s nothing wrong in that but when an agency does all the heavy lifting for you including research and produces data-driven content for your business which clicks with your potential customers, they are sure to burn a hole in your pocket. In that case, it is worth spending your money as the results will bring you even more profits. Anyway, before you settle for a digital marketing agency, look into their work process – how do they plan, research and execute their strategy.
Look into their previous work or white papers to understand how they work with certain issues. It will also help you understand how they manage social media, their process of getting information, how they research their clients’ businesses, how far they can go to help clients grow their businesses, etc.
This is very important because a lot of agencies use black-hat or spammy methods to market your business, especially when it comes to link building for SEO. This can provide you with quick results and everything looks good on reports but in the long term, it won’t be worth it and you may get your site penalized. Once Google is aware of something going wrong with your SEO strategy, it will start pushing your site down unless you are quick to find and fix the issue. Be a player, and make sure your agency doesn’t go the wrong way to build backlinks fast for your website. You should know that it doesn’t pay off in the long run.
P.S. Remember that not all affordable digital marketing services are bad and not all costly services are good. Just my two cents
How do they analyze their performance
Another important aspect of assessing a digital marketing agency is looking at how reliable their results are. You would want to make sure that the result reports and performance analyses you receive are worth it for the amount of money you spend on them. Make sure you ask about the tools and services they are using to analyze the performance, assess your website’s ranking and evaluate social media performance and check them online. Also, try to learn how they usually manage PPC campaigns and the list of automation tools they use. This will help you understand how committed they are to their work.
What are the packages offered
Finally, it comes to the pricing. I totally understand that it is hard for small business who are just starting out to survive the hard times when the competition gets really hard. But, cost-effectiveness is always better than going for cheap services. Rather than going for a full-blown package which offers all the bells and whistles, you can request a custom package and choose only the services which you need. Most companies offer custom packages nowadays. But make sure you do some research before you fill in the form for a custom quote. Agencies need to make profits to run their own business but if they are going to be overcharging you, it’s a strict no. That’s why you need to properly understand what digital marketing is before you can speak with someone from the agency on the same.
Tip: Never approach a digital marketing agency with a blank mind or you’ll fall prey to their enticing offers and terms which you won’t even understand. Most of the times, you won’t be needing their add-on packages. Don’t give into their upsell pitches ever and regret later for eating into your budget.
You have all the right to ask these questions in order to choose the best digital marketing agency for the needs of your small business.
There are so many digital marketing agencies online and not all of them are the same – some of them overperform, some of them underperform, some are just okay, while some others are well worth the money. If you don’t know how to choose the right company to put your money in, you won’t even survive the competition without effective marketing.