There are dozens… of millions of articles on what to look for in digital marketing agencies. They are all legitimate things to look for but they rarely go into detail. What vs. why is what we will try to cover in this article. Ask these questions of your current agency and keep them in mind when looking for a new one.

#1. Does the Agency Actually Know What They Are Doing?

digital marketing agencies

It’s an obvious one so I’ll keep it short, do they actually know what they are selling? That seems like an easy one, but I’ll be honest in two ways here, sometimes they don’t and the reason isn’t as short as I thought it would be when I started writing.

This is rarer when dealing with larger or more established agencies. However, if you choose a smaller agency, for whatever reason, understand that they are probably at a point in their business where revenue is key to their existence and stretching the truth in their knowledge and capabilities isn’t as farfetched as potential clients would think. These agencies will have a combination of enough practical knowledge and buzzwords to seem legitimate.

How do you get around this? The best thing to do is include a member of your team with enough knowledge to not fall for it. Easier said than done of course, but you can also do your own digital marketing research and ask lots of questions. Questions are the agency’s kryptonite when trying to keep something, anything really, from a client. The other thing you can do is ask question #2.

#2. Is the Agency Fully Transparent?

transparent digital marketing

Transparency as a concept seems to be an obvious component of the reports you receive at the end of the month, but take it from someone who has been around the block a few times when it comes to dealing with clients (as well as having heard some truly horrific stories), numbers lie! Well, that would depend on how the numbers are presented and a client’s access to the raw data.

Do you, or will you, have access to your Adwords (or any other channel for that matter) account? While not the case for ethical digital marketing agencies with integrity, there are those who will actually lie and/or fabricate numbers on reports. Whether it is inflating actual numbers because a budget was not properly spent, or because the account didn’t run due to agency financial issues (refer to #1), without access to the raw numbers, there is no way to prove them right or wrong.

Reports exist to paint a picture and consolidate the data you, the client, should already have access to rather than digging through the data source. There are many reasons for reports, but don’t let fancy charts and color patterns fool you into thinking everything is great. Keep a close eye on where your money is going even if you don’t fully understand it. It also does not hurt to get a little familiar with navigating through your account’s interface, even if only to verify the more important data on your report.

#3. Do They Have Your Best Interest at Heart?

wasting marketing budget

“Heart” may be a strong word. Let’s face it, business is business and each respective party needs to make money, period. With that said, a good agency wants to keep your business because that is good for their business. In order to accomplish that, they should make sure that they are good for your business as well.

Every business charges clients differently and no way is right or wrong but there is an incentive when fees are based on a percentage of spend. Because of that incentive, agencies that charge this way tend to, well, spend more. Increasing spend is not always the best strategy and the decision to do so should be based on the goals set forth. Otherwise, you are extremely likely to end up with a wasted budget. Be wary of the impression share KPI (key performance indicator) is all I am saying. There are other ways to “create” more opportunity (i.e. more spend) and location targeting is also something to keep a close eye on. Also, just to add one more example (because the rule of three is something we’ve all heard of), new campaigns! Why? Ask this question (remember they hate it) and get a thorough answer if it comes up with your current agency.

These 3 simple, yet complicated, questions come from experience. One of the main reasons REEF DIGITAL was started was to strive to be better than the agencies that would trade in their ethical obligations for smoke and mirrors. On the upside, there are also many digital marketing agencies with only the best intentions for there clients. We only hope the information in this article can bring you closer to finding the agency that is perfect for your brand.

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