How to Choose a Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company

How to Choose a Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company

As digital technology continues to shape our world today, digital marketing has become an integral part of every business—big or small.

A digital marketing strategy can help you build connections with your target audience, outrank competitors, and increase your brand’s visibility. In short, it can help you accelerate growth for your brand and increase your revenue.

Digital marketing comprises a broad spectrum of channels and tactics, including search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, email marketing, paid media, and content marketing.

If you’re unsure where to begin, partnering with a digital marketing agency can help you devise a social media strategy tailored to your company. This means you can reach out to your customers more effectively and ultimately grow your brand.

The right digital marketing agency will have in-depth marketing knowledge, industry experience, and resources to help you leverage social media tools depending on your business needs.

Keep reading to learn more about the various aspects to consider when selecting a digital marketing agency.

Consider your goals

Your primary business goal is one of the most important things to consider when hiring a digital marketing company.

Some businesses want to increase their website traffic, others want to grow their customer base, and still others want more leads, sales, or brand awareness. Whatever you're seeking from a digital marketing agency, make sure that they understand what you want so they can deliver the best results possible.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as a business leader:

  • Do I want to focus on lead generation?
  • Do I wish to promote my brand’s online presence?
  • Am I looking to engage our target audience?
  • Do I want more sales?
  • Do I want more visibility through online platforms?

These questions will help define your marketing objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs)—if your agency doesn't know where you're coming from, how are they supposed to help? Having a clear game plan and effectively communicating it to a potential digital marketing partner will help set you up for success.

Set a budget

Having an allocated amount for your marketing strategy is crucial for your brand’s longevity and long-term growth. Other than your specific objectives, you should also set a budget for your marketing efforts.

Your marketing budget will be split between different social media channels and tactics depending on your industry, business type, and objectives.

For instance, a local shop owner would want to increase awareness in their specific location. This means they’ll spend most of their budget on targeted local ads and local SEO to help people find the shop easier. On the other hand, someone running an online e-commerce store should focus on retargeting and email marketing, which are critical for converting website visitors into customers.

Here are a few factors to consider when determining your budget.

How much do you want your company to grow?

No big surprise here: Your company's expected growth is one of the most important factors when choosing an agency.

If you want to expand into new international markets or increase your brand’s penetration in current markets, look for an agency with experience in omnichannel marketing. They should be able to handle your marketing efforts end-to-end, from online advertising to email marketing and website development.

On the other hand, if you’re a local business aiming to establish local awareness, then an agency specializing in social media management and targeted ads might be exactly what you need.

Do you want a long-term partnership?

Some agencies offer long-term contracts, while others prefer shorter ones. It depends on what makes sense for both parties involved in the partnership. You might also want to consider asking about their payment terms before signing anything official so there are no surprises down the line.

Other factors will also affect the cost of your digital marketing agency, such as your projected media spending and the markets you want to target.

A good agency can give you a clear breakdown of costs and explain how much each service or area of work will cost. If the agency you’re thinking about working with isn’t open to discussing costs upfront, it might be best to consider a different agency.

Research different options

Now that you've figured out what you need and have a budget that makes sense, it's vital to research the marketing agencies specializing in those areas of digital marketing.

With more than 6,000 digital marketing agencies in the U.S. alone, there's no need to settle. Here are some options to consider.

  • Advertising agency. Digital advertising agencies are internet marketing firms specializing in the management and implementation of paid marketing plans and advertising campaigns, such as Facebook, YouTube, and search ads. Most advertising agencies also oversee the brand’s advertising strategy and provide suggestions for growth.
  • Digital agency. Digital agencies are usually full-service agencies that help create a digital marketing strategy and content for your websites, social media accounts, and more. However, they often go a step further by helping their clients optimize their sites through services like web design. This helps businesses rank higher on SERPs like Google or Bing and focuses on web traffic conversion. This way, potential customers will find them when they are looking for specific products or services related to what your company offers.
  • Promotional agency. Promotional (or sales) agencies usually offer a limited range of services, such as SEO, PPC, or email marketing. These agencies know how to build a brand, drive traffic, and convert leads into customers. Look for this type of company if you want an agency that thoroughly understands the different promotional tactics for driving growth.
  • Social media agency. This type of agency will help you manage all aspects of your social media presence and strategy. They provide content creation and scheduling services, monitor comments, respond to questions from followers, and find ways to engage potential customers through quality content for social media interactions on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Public relations agency. PR firms focus on generating positive press coverage (e.g., news releases, press releases, speaking engagements) for their clients by leveraging relationships with journalists working for newspapers, magazines, and websites across all industries. They also work with bloggers and influencers with large audiences who trust their opinions when making buying decisions.

What to consider when choosing a digital marketing agency

It’s important to consider several factors when choosing a digital marketing agency. Below are some major considerations to help narrow down your initial options.

  • Previous work portfolio. The first area you want to check out is their portfolio. You can visit their website and look at past projects, which will give you an idea of their services and how they bring measurable value to previous clients. The section of the website you need to check is their case studies and testimonials. You can evaluate how they approach projects and compare them to your business goals. If the agency does not have any previous work for your industry or sector, this could indicate that they are not familiar with it and may not be able to provide quality services for you. Their portfolio should also show their capabilities in different areas of digital marketing, such as SEO, PPC advertising, or social media management.
  • Cost of services. You’ll want to have a good understanding of the costs involved before embarking on a new partnership. Ensure you’ve reviewed the deliverables included in your price quotation to avoid any future surprises. Anything on top of that will be an additional charge.
  • Reputation. By knowing what past or current customers think about their work, you’ll get an indication of how the agency ranks in terms of performance, trustworthiness, and collaboration. Spend some time reading reviews and testimonials from other clients and going through the company’s case studies.
  • Client options. Different agencies offer different packages based on what they can provide your business. When choosing a digital marketing agency, make sure they offer packages that fit within your budget and cover your needs. It’s important to understand each package to get the most value for your money.
  • Customer service. Customer service means something different for each of us, but responsiveness, courtesy, and a positive attitude are key qualities. An agency that ranks well on these qualities will be able to understand your needs better and work with your team in an efficient and collaborative way.

Choose more than one prospect

When looking for a digital marketing agency, choosing the first one that comes along can be tempting. But you don't want to choose your digital marketing agency based on price alone.

The best way to choose a good digital marketing agency is to have multiple options.

Why is it good to have options?

Because it enables you to further control your budget and helps you make sure that your brand gets the right type of service. In other words, different agencies come with diverse expertise and experience (as well as different prices), so it pays to shop around before signing on the dotted line. Moreover, vetting several agencies will allow you to find the one you have the best rapport with, which is crucial for good alignment and effective collaboration.

Here are three additional reasons it's good to have options when choosing a digital marketing agency.

  • You can compare services and prices
  • You can find an agency that best fits your needs
  • You can negotiate terms and conditions with each agency separately

Ask as many questions as you can

It can be hard to know where to start when narrowing down your digital marketing agency options. Asking the right questions and knowing where to find the correct answers makes it easier.

  • What's your availability? With any business relationship, you want to ensure you can reach your partner when you need them. If their availability isn't ideal for your needs, ask if they have other agencies or freelancers who can fill in when their primary employees are unavailable. Do they have a team that can work on your project? These days, it's rare to find one person who can do everything—especially in digital marketing.
  • What can we expect in a 30- or 60-day period? Knowing what kind of results you can expect from an agency within a specific time is essential. You want a marketing firm that can deliver results quickly to see how well they perform and whether their marketing tactics work for your target audience. Ask about specific campaigns and their performance over time.
  • How was your experience with previous companies? Asking a prospective agency about their experience is a great way to get an idea of how they work. A good agency will have worked with other companies in the same industry as yours and can provide insight into the challenges you might face.
  • What's the unique value you can provide to our company? You want to ensure their services are tailored to your business's needs instead of applying a one-size-fits-all approach that may not be right for your company.
  • What's the average cost of similar services? Most digital marketing agencies serve a wide range of clients, from small businesses to large corporations and everything in between. So, they typically have more than one price package and marketing strategy. Ask about the average cost of services similar to yours so you know what to expect.
  • How do you measure success? ​​An elite digital marketing agency should readily provide metrics showing how successfully their digital marketing strategies and campaigns generate leads and sales for their clients. Not providing this information is a red flag, and it may be best to keep looking until you find an agency that can give you concrete data about how well their strategies work for companies like yours.
  • What is your process for creating content? Every agency handles the content creation process differently. Ask how they can generate content for your brand, how they do their research, and what platforms they use for disseminating content.

Find the best digital marketing agencies

Working with the right digital marketing agency can help you reach out to your audience more effectively and accelerate your growth.

Upwork boasts a broad spectrum of digital marketing professionals ready to help you reach your marketing goals. Through Upwork Project Catalog, you can browse categories like SEO and social media management to find top independent talent for your business needs.

You can also find more helpful info in our blog posts about how to hire independent professionals on Upwork.

Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.

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How to Choose a Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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