13 Overlooked Criteria When Selecting a Digital Marketing Agency Partner
When it comes to selecting a digital marketing agency to partner with, there are often overlooked criteria that can make all the difference. We’ve gathered thirteen insightful responses from CEOs, Marketing Managers, and other industry professionals. From harnessing SEO with one keyword to learning why you should prioritize quality over quantity in content, this article provides a comprehensive guide to help you make an informed decision.
- Harness SEO With One Keyword
- Value Industry-Specific Expertise
- Assess Cultural Fit With the Agency
- Build Trust With Transparency
- Consider Niche Experience Beyond Testimonials
- Look for Chemistry in Agency Selection
- Beware of Long-Term Packages
- Choose an Adaptable Learning Agency
- Ask for a Referral Contact
- Seek Agencies With Creative Vision
- Emphasize the Importance of Data Analysis Expertise
- Find Time Zone Alignment for Seamless Collaboration
- Prioritize Quality Over Quantity in Content
Harness SEO With One Keyword
As an SEO consultant who worked in an agency environment, I’ve seen many cases where my “expertise” was put to good use. From a new website redesign that had the no-index box checked (that’s a common but easy fix) to hacked websites, there are plenty of elements to consider.
One story that comes to mind is a client who wanted to offer a special product, service, and maintenance in a specific location. They had the authority; they had everything a website would need, minus a page that actually addressed that keyword in that specific location.
I was surprised to see that page ranking as the first result within hours since we published it. The intent/demand existed; the clout was there. SEO doesn’t need to be complicated. One keyword, one page, one service, and one location can do wonders.
Value Industry-Specific Expertise
One often overlooked criterion when selecting a digital marketing agency to partner with is industry-specific expertise. It’s important to evaluate an agency’s experience and effectiveness in overall digital marketing campaigns.
However, if the agency has worked in a similar industry, then there are many benefits. One significant advantage is that agencies with industry-specific experience are more likely to understand the audience you want to target, the pain points, and behavior patterns, which can lead to effective marketing strategies.
Besides, agencies familiar with your niche will likely have better insights into your competitors’ strategies. This will help us understand the competitive landscape and find better methods to overtake competitors.
Some industries have specific rules and regulations that digital marketing campaigns must adhere to. An agency with expertise in such an industry will likely be aware of such regulations.
Assess Cultural Fit With the Agency
While it may not be immediately obvious, the cultural fit between your company and the agency can significantly affect the success of your partnership. To assess cultural fit:
Interview key team members: Speak with the agency’s team members, not just the sales representatives. Get to know the people who will be directly involved in your campaigns.
Ask for case studies: Review case studies and examples of past work to see if the agency has experience in industries or markets similar to yours.
Talk to references: Contact the agency’s references or past clients to gauge their experiences and how well the agency integrated with their company culture.
Have open discussions: Clearly communicate your company’s values, work culture, and expectations, and ask the agency to do the same.
Build Trust With Transparency
Transparency! I want case studies, customer reviews, and details about any claims. All that, in addition to contacts to verify past successes. A good marketing agency will be happy to back up their claims with data. Transparency is key to really believing an agency can deliver on its promises.
Consider Niche Experience Beyond Testimonials
When choosing a digital marketing agency, it’s vital to look beyond the testimonials featured on their website. These are naturally going to be positive. Instead, try to find unbiased reviews and feedback elsewhere—perhaps on social media or industry-specific forums.
As an agency employee, I’ve noticed prospective clients who have done their homework in this way often feel more confident in their ultimate decision. Don’t underestimate the power of a thorough, objective review.
But beyond reputation, be sure to ask about their experience in your specific niche industry. Different agencies have niche specializations. This can make all the difference in understanding your unique target audience and crafting effective campaigns.
Look for Chemistry in Agency Selection
One frequently overlooked criterion is the “spark”—the intangible connection that makes communication seamless and collaboration a breeze.
Selecting a digital marketing agency involves more than just reviewing their portfolio, expertise, and pricing. Often, people underestimate the importance of the intangible chemistry that can exist between your team and the agency’s professionals. This chemistry can significantly impact the partnership’s success.
When there’s a “spark” between both parties, communication becomes efficient, ideas flow naturally, and problem-solving is a collaborative effort. It’s this interpersonal dynamic that often determines how well the agency can understand your brand, goals, and values. Overlooking this criterion might cause a strained working relationship, even if all the other checkboxes are ticked.
Beware of Long-Term Packages, Consider Alternatives
Digital marketing agencies sell 12-month packages that deliver consistent services or products. Especially regarding paid media management and SEO/content marketing, agencies serve clients a la carte.
It’s often hard to make adjustments and be agile. SEO often requires big efforts in the setup and should be considered a project. Only established websites really benefit from a monthly deliverable of, let’s say, set pieces of content and link building.
If your website is not ranking well yet, adding one or two blog posts per month for the next 12 months will not get you SEO hockey stick growth. Rather, allocate the budgets to a three- to six-month project to get your SEO in shape.
The same goes for paid media services. Setting up the campaigns handles 90% of the results. Agency models often focus on long-term agreements, rather than on your specific needs. Freelancers and consultants are often the better alternative.
Choose an Adaptable Learning Agency
When picking a reliable digital marketing agency, most people obsess over portfolios, client reviews, and costs. One detail many miss is their adaptability. I mean, the agency’s ability to embrace continued learning in a fast-shifting digital world with new trends flashing in and out.
You don’t just want an agency that’s good today; you want one that will provide you with results that help you succeed even when algorithms change tomorrow. I would suggest you look for a team that is ahead of others, constantly up-skilling and diving into the latest insights.
I recommend always asking them how they adapted to the last major update, the last thing they learned, or a recent workshop they attended. Depending on the answers, you will understand whether the team meets your expectations.
Ask for a Referral Contact
An overlooked criterion is a referral contact from the digital marketing agency. A solid digital marketing agency will be happy that you can contact their client directly. The client can tell you how their digital marketing campaigns are going and the working style of the team.
Seek Agencies With Creative Vision
I have to say that one of the most overlooked criteria for selecting a digital marketing agency is the ability to think outside the box. Many people think that digital marketing is just about what you can do on social media, but it’s so much more than that.
It’s about understanding how technology works and how you can use it to your advantage. So, when you’re looking at agencies, make sure they have some sort of vision for what they’re doing—not just a list of services they offer.
Emphasize the Importance of Data Analysis Expertise
When choosing a digital marketing agency to work with, an often-overlooked criterion is the expertise level in data analysis. While many businesses focus on creativity, strategy, and technology, they often overlook analyzing data effectively.
A proficient agency should have the skills to interpret data and derive valuable insights to make informed decisions and optimize marketing campaigns.
By considering this often-overlooked aspect, businesses can ensure they work with an agency that excels creatively and strategically and has the analytical skills to drive a successful digital marketing program.
Find Time Zone Alignment for Seamless Collaboration
One often-overlooked criterion when selecting a digital marketing agency to partner with is ensuring that both you and the agency operate within the same time zone. Do you have to be in the same time zone? No, but you need to find a way to consistently connect and meet in order to get the most out of a partnership with an agency.
Time zone alignment is crucial for seamless communication and collaboration. When working in the same time zone, you can hold real-time meetings, address urgent issues promptly, and maintain a more agile and efficient workflow.
It also aids in meeting project deadlines and ensures that your marketing campaigns respond to time-sensitive trends and events. Choosing an agency within your time zone can significantly reduce delays, enhance productivity, and foster a stronger, more productive partnership.
Prioritize Quality Over Quantity in Content
People often overlook the “quality over quantity” marketing approach when selecting a digital marketing agency to work with. In an age where we want everything to be prepped and ready almost instantaneously, many companies aim to work with an agency that can get them content immediately and keep plugging away on that hamster wheel.
The quality of the content created for their brand or business is what business owners overlook. Sure, an agency may promise you five Instagram Reels in a week and five-story sets, but has their past work been vetted for its quality?
Marketing should not be about the amount of campaigns, posts, or other materials produced in a short time, but rather the quality of those materials. All that content won’t help a company if it doesn’t perform and harness growth the way the brand hopes for. Skip out on the “we must post every day” strategy and look for an agency that prioritizes your content’s performance.
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