As a business leader, you recognize that you need digital marketing to grow. Your decision to take digital marketing seriously is a good one. But are you at a loss to figure out how to find a digital marketing agency?
Here’s a guide to get a Digital Marketing Agency, especially the agency that understands your needs.
There are many digital marketing agencies. And because digital marketing hasn’t been around for as long as print, TV and radio advertising have been, you may be at loss to understand which one to hire.
So, the question staring at you is, “How do I hire a digital marketing agency?”
Different agencies specialize in different things. Some of the agencies you may have come across have outstanding creatives. Others seem to have won awards for their work. Yet others have specialized in your industry.
If you’re confused, we empathize. But out of all these agencies, which one is the right one? THE one for your business?
The answer depends on who is asking.
Broadly speaking, there are 3 types of business leaders that venture into finding digital marketing agencies:
1. Digitally Aware (The ones with a Digital Team or a Digital Marketing Head)
2. Digitally Naïve (The ones with a Marketing Team or a Marketing Team Head doubling up as a Digital Marketing Team/Head)
3. Digitally Unaware (The ones with themselves, or a family member unfamiliar with digital marketing, or a Sales Team/Head forced to wear the digital hat)
In order to get a digital marketing agency that understands your needs, you need to understand which type of business you are. Let us look at each type one by one.
1. Digitally Aware:
Digitally aware business leaders understand what digital marketing is. That is, they have a dedicated digital marketing team. They invest in digital assets. They spend on digital advertising.
a. Exposure Level of Digitally Aware Business Leaders:
These leaders have exposure to different aspects of digital marketing and different agencies that cater to the niche:
2. Web development
3. App development
5. Affiliate Marketing
6. Social Media Management
Digitally aware leaders know what they are looking for. Because they have a centralized CRM, they can ask for specific goals like a certain number of leads because they know their sales funnel. They know how many leads their team can handle in a given amount of time.
b. What Digitally Aware Businesses Look for:
They look for an agency because they face a specific problem like that of scaling. When such business leaders look for a digital marketing agency, they look for:
1. Best Case Studies: The past work by the agencies detailing the kind of problems they have solved for various businesses.
2. Industry-specific Case Studies: A level deeper into their search, they look for the agencies that have experience with clients from the same or similar industry.
3. The Team at the Agency: Digitally aware business leaders examine the people at the agency. Who runs the agency? Who is the founder? What is the credibility of the team likely to work on their account?
c. Decision-Making Criteria for Digitally Aware Business Leaders:
Digitally aware business leaders use the filter of strategy to shortlist agencies.
Such business leaders shortlist the agencies and take a decision on the basis of the agencies’ pitches and the cost.
d. If You Are a Digitally Aware Business Leader…
If you are a digitally aware leader, your path is likely to be a straightforward one. You’d analyse what different agencies are promising you and narrow down on the agency that comes closest to the working on the business challenges you face.
2. Digitally Naïve:
Digitally naïve leaders do not quite understand what digital marketing is. It is something that they aspire to do. They do not have a dedicated digital marketing team. They depend on managers with traditional marketing knowledge for ideas and resources to be applied to their digital marketing plans.
a. Exposure Level of Digitally Naïve Business Leaders:
Such leaders have heard of the names of top advertising agencies (and even digital agencies) but they also know that they cannot afford these agencies.
They do clearly understand traditional ways of reaching their audiences. They also have heard of the digital ways of advertising:
1. Traditional advertising: print, TVC, radio
7. Google Academy (but they do not quite invest in taking the courses)
b. What Digitally Naïve Business Leaders Don’t Know:
Digitally naïve business leaders do not have a thorough understanding of various aspects of what it means to have a solid digital presence. Some of these no-knowledge zones consist of:
2. Discoverability of a website
4. Relationship between social media management and ROI
5. Difference between Digital Marketing Agencies and Semi- or Pseudo-Digital Marketing Agencies
Consequently, digitally naïve business leaders feel challenged when it comes to evaluating an agency. They feel overwhelmed because they are not sure how to make sense of the case studies of an agency.
c. Decision Making Criteria of Digitally Naive Business Leaders:
Digitally naïve business leaders use the filter of execution to shortlist agencies. They judge agencies on the parameters of:
1. Agency fees
2. Design options being offered
3. Number of posts being offered
4. Immediate leads
5. Gut feeling
d. Questions Digitally Naive Business Leaders ask the Agencies:
The reason why digitally naïve business leaders seek to rope in digital marketing agencies is that while they would like to take their business to digital sphere, they do not have the people who can help them. They end up asking the agencies questions like:
1. Will you manage my social media?
2. Will you manage my website?
3. How long will you post?
4. Can you get me leads?
e. If You Are a Digitally Naïve Business Leader…
If you are a digitally naïve business leader, your path is to finding a suitable digital marketing agency is likely to be a slightly convoluted one.
You’d analyse what different agencies are promising you and narrow down on the agency that comes closest to promising great and on-time execution.
3. Digitally Unaware:
Digitally unaware business leaders understand that digital marketing is what their competitors are currently doing, and in order to do better than these competitors, they too must advertise on digital media.
They do not have a dedicated digital marketing team. They do not have a traditional marketing team either.
Instead, they depend on their sales team or sales team head (or a family member uninitated into digital marketing) to think digitally for them. Needless to say, they do not invest in digital assets.
Digitally unaware leaders first try to do the “digital thing” on their own. Because they assume that digital marketing is about posting best wishes on their social media accounts, they do not think it involves serious thought and effort.
a. Exposure Level of Digitally Unaware Business Leaders:
Digitally unaware business leaders look at the digital media through the lens of what is available to them as consumers. They see metrics like:
3. Likes and followers = immediate ROI
4. Seasons’ greetings to people during festivals
5. Digital = Print in soft copy (no contextual expertise required)
b. What Digitally Unaware Business Leaders Don’t Know:
Digitally unaware business leaders tend to be suspicious of digital methods because, typically, in the past, they seem to have invested in blogs or festival wishes to everyone on their social media accounts but have failed to see any results. They conclude that social media posting doesn’t work. They don’t know:
1. The criteria behind choosing a design for any kind of creative or post
2. The difference between a blog, a whitepaper, and an ebook
3. The fundamentals of content marketing
4. The power of organic reach
5. The strategy behind sponsored content
c. Decision Making Criteria for Digitally Unaware Business Leaders:
Digitally unaware business leaders are severely challenged because of budget constraints. This does not mean that their businesses cannot afford to spend on the digital media. This is more likely an indicator that they do not have faith in investing in the digital media.
While deciding whom to hire for their blogs, they turn to freelancers. They are willing to spend an amount of Rs 1 or 2 per word for a blog.
So, more often than not, they don’t end up going to an agency at all. When they do, they tend to go to agencies that have no digital assets credibility of their own.
d. If You Are a Digitally Unaware Business Leader…
If you are a digitally unaware leader, your path to finding a suitable digital marketing agency is likely to lead you to individuals who don’t have any accreditations either in traditional advertising or digital marketing.
You’d analyse the rates different agencies are promising you and narrow down on the agency that puts the least amount of thought and effort into ideation and execution for you and comes closest to promising on-time execution.
So, Who Needs a True Digital Marketing Agency?
Digitally Aware as well as Digitally Unaware business leaders manage to take care of their digital needs.
For the digitally aware ones, the stakes are too high. And because they’re already well-versed with the digital methods, they hire consultants who do the digital footprint analysis, digital assets analysis and digital audit for them from time to time.
Their consultants help them understand what they should be focusing on for brand building in the digital space. The consultants also help them take care of their social listening findings and also help them integrate their CRM, buyers’ persona and buyers’ journey with their content strategy.
So when digitally aware business leaders talk to digital marketing agencies, they know what exactly they’re looking for. Sometimes, the consultants also help them find an agency that understands their needs.
For the digitally unaware ones, the stakes around investing in digital marketing are too low. Because they do not feel the need to do digital marketing, they are at least a year or two behind understanding the relevance of digital marketing, and a couple more to see the urgency of it.
It is the digitally naïve business leaders that are affected the most. They understand that digital marketing is important but are not quite sure about what such an agency is supposed to do. That’s because the term ‘digital agency’ is the overused and most abused term being thrown around in corporate circles today.
How to Get a Digital Marketing Agency That Understands Your Needs
If you do your thorough research about digital marketing before searching for an agency, you’d find it easier to understand the agencies’ pitches that typically fall under aspects like:
1. Why hire us?
2. Domain expertise
3. Innovative campaigns done in the past
4. Impact of campaigns on leads/reach (depending on the purpose of the campaigns)
5. Awards won
The basic questions you should ask the agencies revolve around your needs. Here are some indicative questions you should use to understand if a given agency is a good fit:
1. Have they worked in my industry or domain?
2. What’s so innovative about their innovative campaigns?
3. How good are the creatives?
4. How good are the analysis or insight team?
5. What percentage of growth do their case studies show for other players?
The questions get simpler when the relationship with the agency is an old one.
You may not be sure which category of leadership you fall into: digitally aware, digitally naïve, or digitally unaware.
Irrespective of the category, it is good to understand the digital ecosystem as a whole. As a thinking business leader, you know you’ve got to be armed with the right kind of information before making any decisions.
So, what have been your experiences while dealing with agencies? Have you found yourself battling these kinds of questions? What do you wish you knew before hiring a digital marketing agency?
What further information would you like to be empowered with? Let us know in the comments below.