You can learn a lot about a digital marketing agency through its website and reviews.
But even a sleek website doesn’t prove what an agency can really do. And reviews aren’t always as honest as they could be. To know if an agency’s got the goods, you have to schedule a consultation. Phone, video, or even in-person.
Why? Anyone can claim to be a digital marketing agency – and anyone does.
A freelance marketer who’s good with a website builder can give a completely professional impression on their website or social media. But when you dig down to the details, experience makes a difference. A true digital marketing agency will have genuine, substantive answers to even the toughest questions.
Here are a few of them to use when you’re vetting a marketing firm:
1. “What do you know about my industry?”
A digital marketing agency that doesn’t understand your industry can’t help you. By knowing the ins and outs of your market, what makes you special is that much easier to put into context. And that’s what an agency will really need to highlight for those all-important website visitors seeing you for the first time.
Ideally, a marketing agency should have years of experience working with businesses like yours. That’s a crucial part of helping you grow and scale. If they claim to be an expert in your space, don’t be afraid to quiz them on what they know about industry trends and how those might affect your positioning.
2. “What do you know about my audience?”
Service-based businesses function in a relatively small radius around their office – there’s no way around it. Google pinpoints “near me” searches to around 30 miles, for example. You don’t need to appeal to all potential customers everywhere, just to your local audience. How can your agency make it easier?
Bear in mind, it’s not necessary for a digital marketing agency to work exclusively in your area. As long as it has a proven record of success with local businesses – and designated local experts on the team – you are in safe hands. Verify that the agency has a clear picture of what matters to your ideal customers.
3. “How do you feel about online advertising?”
Online advertising can work – but it never ever comes first. Even when a digital marketing agency says all the right things, you can avoid a headache down the line by knowing where ads fit into their strategy. When ads are built on top of solid marketing basics, they can produce real value.
If they come first, propelled by splashy promises of “overnight traffic,” this isn’t the marketing agency for you. The reason is simple: Unless you’re a billion-dollar online retailer, ads alone can’t shoulder the weight of converting visitors into leads or leads into customers. For that, you need a complete strategy.
4. “When can I expect results?”
This is another area where those who overestimate their abilities give themselves away. Nobody should ever promise you’ll see results from a legitimate digital marketing strategy in a day, a week, or a month. It simply isn’t possible (and when those claims rely on online ads, run the other way).
A modern, effective strategy from an experienced digital marketing agency takes time to bear fruit. That usually amounts to about 90 days. From there, results compound from month to month and become far easier to monitor with your data analytics – a tool your agency should introduce you to.
5. “What’s my part in the process?”
Some digital marketers are completely hands-off. They don’t even want to hear from the client between scheduled meetings. Others believe that a business owner is the best spokesperson for their own brand. That leads to trying to get your team involved in everything, especially video storytelling.
At New York Ave, we believe in a middle path. You’ll always be fully informed about how your marketing is working. You can reach us any time and be as involved as you want to be – or choose a “done for you” approach while you stay focused on what you do best. Either way, we provide all the support you need.
6. “What can you do I can’t do myself?”
Comparing your options, you might wonder if freelancers or an in-house team will serve you better than a marketing agency. An established digital marketing agency can save you thousands compared to hiring a marketing director – but don’t let them off the hook. Make them prove it.
At New York Ave, we ran the numbers and we’re confident we can deliver faster and at a fraction of the cost of building an in-house team. And if “do it yourself” means learning digital marketing … don’t. With 1,000 hours of practice to learn just one digital marketing tactic, you’ll be way behind your competition.
7. “What’s the communication process?”
Communication is the lifeblood of any relationship, and that’s just as true with your marketing agency. A healthy dialogue should start on day one, from your first call or email. A reliable marketing team spends more time listening than talking. That’s how they know their offerings will actually address your needs.
At New York Ave, we develop a regular communication schedule that works for you. We parse the data and report what’s happening. We’re here for questions, comments, or ideas at any time. Add a quarterly meeting and a big “end of year” shindig and you’ll always have access to the support you need.
8. “What does a month look like?”
So, a marketing agency wants to work with you. What exactly gets done in a month? What deliverables will be completed, and who’s keeping them on track? How is performance measured, and when do you get concrete evidence you’re moving toward your goals? If things go off-track, what happens?
Digital marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s okay if only a few things happen every month, as long as they’re done brilliantly and consistently. When an agency is ready to turn your requirements into a complete marketing strategy, it should also be ready to break that down into a week-by-week guide.
9. “Who owns the output?”
You should never have to worry if your blog, your YouTube channel, or any other digital marketing asset will disappear overnight because you broke up with your digital marketing agency. A real agency is more than just a team of freelancers: It’s a business that holds itself to the highest standards.
Long story short, you should receive “all access” to every piece of digital marketing collateral. Never sign over total control of social media or other accounts, even if you rarely log in. And make sure you have it all in writing so you can ensure an orderly transition to your next marketing solution.
At New York Ave, we believe in concierge service for all our clients. Contact us to learn more and see if we’re right for you.