Good digital marketing revolves around one thing: knowing your target audience. In order to create marketing that works, you have to know who your audience is, where they spend their time online and what they focus their attention on. Once you know that, you can create content in the right places with the right messaging.
Pre-internet and even in the earlier days, it was a lot easier. People’s attention was typically focused on radio, newspapers and other offline media outlets. It was enough to simply take out ads on those platforms and get in front of the right people.
Now, it’s more complicated. People’s attention is split across so many different platforms and it probably feels like more come online nearly every week.
The challenge: choosing the right platforms
Let’s say you’re trying to target manufacturing companies in Ohio, then you might want to get seen on LinkedIn. If you’re targeting B2C customers with a product favored by the younger generations, then Snapchat and Instagram are places you’ll want to be. Maybe even TikTok. And nearly everyone can see some ROI through a Facebook presence and some strategically targeted ads.
But how do you know which platform is right or even what strategic targeting is? That’s where hiring an agency can be beneficial to you and your business.
Hiring a team of experts to manage your digital marketing strategy allows you to focus your time and energy on the areas of your business that you enjoy and do best and usually gives you access to a wide range of skillsets that you can’t get with just a single hire.
In this article, we’ll cover how to evaluate a full service digital marketing agency, the questions you should ask and how to make the choice between hiring an outside agency or handling your marketing in-house.
What digital marketing agencies do
To simplify things, marketing agencies help you get more sales by leveraging a number of different marketing solutions in order to attract your ideal customer. Digital agencies like TKG typically prefer to start with setting a digital marketing strategy. This involves getting to know your business, who your audience is, marketing tactics you’ve tried in the past and then setting a strategy for how to move forward to meet your goals. This strategy usually relies on a combination of these services:
Advertising with Google Ads or Microsoft Ads, for example, is a great way to capture your audience right in the moment they are looking for a solution to their problem. With either platform you can do several different kinds of ads and target them to your audience based on a variety of variables, allowing you to reach the right person at the right time.
Video advertising is also extremely effective at reaching people. If the digital marketing company you are working with isn’t talking to you about video, they should be.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social platforms all offer advertising opportunities right on their platform that allow you to reach people where they are spending their time. It’s similar to other digital advertising but also completely different. Your digital marketing agency can help you choose which of these platforms makes sense for your audience.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Content Marketing
Getting your website to rank high in search isn’t just about building brand awareness or getting increased page views. There’s more to it than that. You need to identify the keywords that people use to find businesses like yours and use those words naturally but strategically throughout your content.
There is also a slew of technical SEO things that should happen to ensure that your site is programmed best for search engines to understand what you’re offering. When you do these things right, your content will rank higher in search results and you’ll be able to capture potential customers at the perfect stage in the buyer’s journey – right when they need help!
Whether you’re looking to send out monthly newsletters or emails based on a user’s behavior, email marketing and marketing automation still provides some of the biggest ROI for marketers. You can use platforms like MailChimp for more simple email strategy or a robust platform like HubSpot to really crank up your effectiveness. There are so many opportunities to make email work for you!
Of course, there are many other digital marketing services available to the modern marketer but at the end of the day, the most important thing is to measure the ROI. Are your visitors taking the action you want them to take? For most of our clients this means more leads or more sales. Through a strategic combination of the right user-experience on the website and the right digital marketing tactics, your agency can help you set and meet goals.
Now, before you go picking a digital marketing agency to work with, you have to ask yourself and your potential agency a few key questions.
Ask the right questions
What are your company’s marketing requirements?
Before you begin your search for an agency you have to determine your own company’s marketing requirements.
Do you need website design? Email marketing? SEO?
If you already have an in-house marketing team, ask yourself which marketing tactics and strategies your team doesn’t have the skills or capacity for. Are there tactics that you know you should do but haven’t gotten around to yet?
Asking yourself these questions will help shed some light on what you can potentially outsource to an agency to get more results.
And don’t worry if you really don’t know. Your agency can also work with you to create well rounded digital marketing strategies that will show you where the biggest opportunities are.
How do they run their own business?
Is it a one-person shop where they wear all the hats or do they have a talented team of people who specialize in different areas? Each has their advantages and disadvantages. A one-person shop may be cheaper, for example, but their skills might be more limited. Signing on with a larger digital agency may feel like it costs more but because of the breadth of talent, you may be able to do more and see more results. Whatever route you go, make sure that it feels like a partnership. You don’t want to be a number to your digital agency. You want to them to act like an extension of your team.
How do they measure success?
Don’t be fooled by vanity metrics. Many businesses track numbers that might feel like they matter but offer no real insight into how the business is actually doing. Make sure that whatever metrics you look at, you have an understanding of how they impact the bottom line.
Remember that you’re not paying your agency to help deliver likes, followers or even visitors (although to be fair, these numbers can be good indicators of how performance is trending). To be successful, your digital marketing must lead to lead generation and increased sales.
What results do they promise?
When you’re in an industry that has a relatively low barrier to entry, you will deal with people who claim to know what they’re doing but in reality, have no clue.
Marketing is one of those industries.
There are plenty of digital marketing agencies out there that overpromise and underdeliver. In the worst cases, they keep charging money even with the knowledge that their actions will never deliver results. We hope this never happens to you.
You can filter out these agencies by asking them what makes them different and what’s their strategy for getting results. Ask to see examples of their ROI reports, see examples of their work (i.e. a case study relating to your business and industry) or to talk to current customers. If they can’t or won’t produce that information, it’s a red flag.
What do they charge?
You’ve probably heard the saying “You get what you pay for” and this couldn’t be more true in marketing. Many businesses want to save money, so price tends to be the first thing they ask about. However, if you find an agency that charges low prices, chances are they will deliver lower-quality results too.
While one person shops may be able to charge less because they have less overhead and employees, digital agencies like TKG with a team of 35+ specialized individuals may cost more. But, consider the skill sets you’re getting access to.
Should you go in-house or hire an agency?
If you run a small or mid-sized business, chances are you’re asking yourself whether you should stay in-house or hire an agency.
Let’s start by thinking about what it takes to run a successful marketing campaign:
Before you can run a successful marketing campaign, you need to have deep insight into your customer’s behavior. If you don’t take the time to truly understand your customers and the stories behind their problems, you run the risk of having your marketing messages sound generic and unrelatable. You also need to understand the right tactics and platforms to use to meet your customers where they are at.
Any digital marketing campaign requires a strategic combination of tactics and platforms and knowing how to use these effectively usually requires a strategic combination of skill sets. Will you be able to find this in a single hire or will you get just parts of it and wind up needing to outsource anyways?
It’s easy to write random pieces of content but can you write a quality blog post that speaks to your specific target audience? That’s what separates the decent blog posts from the great ones. Nearly anyone can spin up a WordPress site these days but do you know how to make it do what your audience needs it to do while meeting SEO requirements? That’s what separates the good websites from the ones that drive business.
Last but not least, you should have some experience with designing and running some portion of inbound marketing campaigns.
If you choose to hire an agency, you’ll get a team of experts who work for you every single month to help you achieve your goals. You won’t have to worry about finding the right designer, the right blogger, the right coder. Instead, you’ll have a whole team of people behind you helping to get results.
So, what should you do?
The right digital agency has the potential to generate millions of dollars in revenue for you, give you peace of mind, and allow you to avoid the hefty cost of hiring and training an in-house team. Working with an agency can allow you to focus your time on what you love and perfect what you’re already good at instead of worrying about what you need to improve. But, only you know what is best for your business.
Looking for a marketing agency to work with? We would love to chat to see if we would be a good fit.