Choosing the marketing agency is tricky, and the consequences of a wrong decision can be a catastrophe – this article will tell you how to avoid it.
As a manager, you know how hard it is to find the right partners to grow your business. There are over 55,000 digital marketing agencies on Clutch alone. How are you supposed to know which agency is best for your company?
The hardest thing about marketing used to be that you couldn’t really measure the results. Even if sales went up, you barely had any idea if it was thanks to a campaign you spent all your budget on, or if it was just luck and referrals.
But in the digital world, marketing results can be quantified. You can follow a customer’s journey from the moment they first find you, to the moment they sign a deal.
And yet, a lot of managers are still in the dark. The hardest thing about marketing is not the lack of data anymore. It’s choosing which partners to work with, which channels to focus on, and knowing when to stop doing things that don’t benefit your business.
The consequences of choosing the wrong digital marketing agency
Some of these consequences will sound familiar to you, and hopefully, this article will help you avoid those problems that you haven’t encountered yet.
How do I know about these issues? Because before starting my agency, I spent several years building marketing departments, with my crowning achievement being 3 years as CMO of Deviniti (an international IT company with 250+ employees). We managed to turn it into one of the fastest-growing companies in its market, and by the time I left it, its revenue had grown 4 times in 3 years.
It wasn’t easy, and some of my biggest challenges came from choosing the wrong solutions.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
You don’t want to become a secretary for your agencies
There was a time at Deviniti when I worked with 4 different agencies, and a lot of my day was spent talking to them, managing their work, and trying to glue it all together into a working, repeatable marketing process.
This is not the best way to spend your time as a manager.
You don’t want to become a secretary that connects multiple agencies with different goals.
You should look for partners that free up your time, and don’t require constant feedback and communication to get things right.
It’s hard to build an efficient, repeatable marketing process
Working with different agencies, none of them was able to give me the one piece of information I cared about the most- Customer Acquisition Cost.
So I had to analyze it myself. Not a big deal? Maybe. But think about all the other bits of information you might not be getting from your partners.
How are you supposed to build a reliable process if you don’t have the data to measure if it’s working?
Nobody’s responsible for results
This probably annoyed me the most – agencies that didn’t take responsibility for the results of their work. Which is ironic because they’re in the business of driving results.
At a certain point I found myself in a pickle: the SEO agency didn’t want to take responsibility for traffic, because in their opinion the web dev agency didn’t do a good job with our site. The web dev agency didn’t want to take responsibility either, and ultimately it all fell on my head.
Which is why now I think it’s extremely important to precisely define what the agency is responsible for before you enter into an engagement.
Straining your budget with an ineffective marketing spending
All of the above problems lead to this one. Ultimately, by choosing the wrong partners, you’re spending money in the wrong places.
You might end up generating some results, but you’re not sure what actually worked. If you’re not sure what actually worked, you don’t know where to focus your spending, and where to cut it short.
Now let’s get into the meat of this issue – how do you find the right digital agency for your needs?
Criteria for finding the right digital marketing agency
Based on my experiences, the following 6 key steps are core to finding a digital marketing agency that will be the right business partner for your needs.
#1 – Define your needs
If you want to find the right agency for your needs, you need to first properly define what resources you have, and what you need to grow your company.
It’s rarely easy, so you might actually need an agency that will help you define these things as we do at 0101marketing for our clients.
Take some time to consider your plans. Do you want to grow an in-house team, or do you want to only work with outside partners? If you’re growing an in-house team, what processes do you want to outsource, and what do you prefer to keep?
For marketing to work, you must have your goals defined. Sometimes they’ll be broad, like “define the right marketing channels to focus on”. They can be very specific goals too, like “reduce bounce rate from users finding the blog through SEO”.
With your goals in mind, you can start looking for agencies to work with.
#2 – What services do they offer, and for what industry?
Having goals will help you narrow down your search. If you need to optimize your blog, look for content agencies. If you need to find marketing channels that work for you, look for a 360 digital agency that can audit your company and market.
Look for agencies that focus on your industry. It might be tempting to work with an agency that doesn’t specialize in your type of business, but why risk it?
For example, if you’re in B2B tech, look for agencies specialized in B2B tech. If you run an online shoe store, look for agencies that specialize in B2C e-commerce.
Basic stuff, I know – but surprisingly often overlooked.
#3 – What do they take responsibility for?
As mentioned before, if no agency that you work with is responsible for results, it’ll all fall down on your head. If that’s what you want – great! But you don’t want to be surprised by it.
This is why, before you start working with an agency, you want to have a clear understanding of what they will deliver for you, and what they’ll take responsibility for.
A content agency contracted to do 1 blog post per week based on your briefs will not take responsibility for the results that these blog posts generate. It seems simple, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking “the agency does X, so they’re responsible for the results”.
So do you need just some content or results generated through content? To avoid misunderstandings, you need to specifically define their responsibilities and your expectations before you enter into an engagement.
#4 – Portfolio
This is the most obvious part. So obvious that it’s often overlooked. You might check the portfolio, see that there are several projects, and move on.
But if you want to make sure you’re choosing the right agency, spend a bit more time on this step. Read their case studies thoroughly. Are they delivering the type of results that you need?
You can go a step further, and contact the companies from the portfolio. Ask about the agency, how the cooperation went, and whether there were any challenges.
#5 – Customer service
When you start contacting potential agencies, take a look at how they handle customer service.
Do they respond quickly, or do they leave you hanging? Do they provide all the information you ask for, or do they speak in riddles?
Most importantly – do they try to force you to make a quick decision? This is the biggest indicator that something might be wrong. If you feel increasingly uncomfortable communicating with agency representatives, it’s a sign that you should probably look elsewhere.
When should you hire 0101marketing – Digital Marketing Agency?
If you’re interested in working with us, I want to be completely transparent and tell you when it will make sense.
For the last 15+ years, we have been growing our experience in working with IT and tech companies. Cooperating with analytical people is our faculty because our main driving force is our ability to analyze data, and make decisions based on it.
If you are responsible for marketing processes in your IT&Tech company, such as SaaS, software house, cybersecurity, testing, etc. – then you might be the perfect client for us.
Our ideal engagement is when you’re starting to build your marketing process, as well as when you’ve already tried different strategies but aren’t sure what works best.
You need someone to:
- Create a detailed marketing plan,
- Decide which channels you should invest in,
- Streamline and optimize your marketing to focus on what generates the most ROI.
Our services and responsibility
STEP 1: Audit and plan for 6 months
Our work with clients always starts with the creation of a marketing audit and plan for 6 months.
We carry out the audit and marketing plan in 10 – 20 working hours. During this time, we ask for access to your analytical tools. Google Analytics, Google Ads, Google Search Console and others. With access to the data, we can suggest customer acquisition processes that have the greatest chance of success.
We don’t want to be a company that reads the “whole restaurant menu” and makes you choose. Or worse, a company that sells only “products” – “Facebook Ads”, “Google Ads”, “SEO” – that are in a typical agency basket, regardless of whether these solutions will generate the results you need.
There are 19 customer acquisition channels thanks to which it is possible to acquire new business. We don’t want to offer them all at once. Especially when most of them won’t work in a specific sector. We want to choose those that will work best for your company, so we can deliver the best results.
We believe that a long-term relationship between two companies is only possible
when both sides earn money.
- Create business model canvas,
- Where we define what is unique in your service/product, who is the target customer, what problem it solves, and so on.
- Conduct competitors and market analysis
- We use marketing analytics software to learn what activities your competitors are doing in order to win on the market, which actions are the most successful in their case, and what we should use.
- Prepare a plan for the next 6 months
- A spreadsheet where every action has its estimated number of working hours, budget and time of realization.
We take this first step to sign an NDA and transfer all the copyright for our work to you. Thanks to this, you can do what you wish with the audit and plan.
When the plan is ready, you can let us execute the plan in 100%, or use our knowledge and experience to execute the entire plan internally with your team. We can also meet in the middle – some tasks will be done by us, the rest by your team.
At this stage, our key responsibility is to define what marketing activities you should invest in.
STEP 2: Marketing outsourcing
After we go over the plan together, we can sign another agreement, detailing our KPIs (the main one is usually leads or trials) and activities we will take to reach the goals.
We’re agile – we report the progress of our work during sprint meetings, where we plan how many hours we’ll work, and what we’ll be doing in the next period.
During this meeting, we present which customer acquisition channel works best, how many potential customers we have acquired, and how much investment it took.
If we sign the contract, we take responsibility for how many leads we generate for you, plus for any additional KPIs stated in our agreement.
We always include a clause in our agreements that allows you to terminate the deal immediately whenever you feel that it’s not going well. So far none of our clients decided to use that clause which, to be honest with you, I’m very proud of.