As marketing your business online continues to become increasingly important in 2020, so does the importance of choosing the right digital marketing agency to help your business succeed. Not only is a new year upon us, but a new decade. The impact that technology has had over the past 10 years is only going to accelerate as we turn the page to this next decade. We believe 2020 will continue to introduce changes for how businesses should position themselves online in order to keep up with the advancing digital landscape.
Did you know the term “digital marketing” was first introduced in the 1990s? Since then, the digital age quickly took off with the coming of the internet, the birth of Google in 1998, the continual development of newer computers, tablets, smart phones and smart devices, the advancement of search engines and social media, and so much more.
Today, it can be hard for businesses to stay on top of changing trends and maintain the right marketing strategy in a developing online world flooded with competition. Here’s where the right digital marketing agency comes into play. A good digital marketing agency will understand your business needs, goals and target audience, in turn creating a plan for your business rooted in solid strategy and designed to generate results.
What should you be looking for to help your business succeed in the new year? Here are 7 things to look for in a digital marketing agency in 2020.
Digital expertise and experience across many channels.
It’s important that you find a digital marketing agency that can wear many hats yet has special focus areas. This means finding an agency who has digital expertise and experience across many channels and platforms. Do you need someone to manage your Google Ads account? What about manage your organic and paid social media campaigns? Create and manage your SEO and Local SEO strategy? Make sure your digital marketing agency not only has proper certifications to manage your accounts but experience to show for it.
Digital marketing encompasses a wide array of tactics, and it’s important that you work with an agency who has expertise and experience in a lot of areas but can align with your marketing goals. Remember, it’s better do a few things well than many things poorly. The same is true for your marketing plan, and your agency should have the knowledge to decipher which digital marketing services will be most beneficial for your marketing goals. If you have a tighter budget, find a team that can help get your business the most bang for your buck using organic tactics and smaller paid campaigns that will bring the results you’re looking for. If you have a larger budget, your agency should still be able to help you decide where to allocate your marketing funds to bring your business the best possible results.
The right tools and the knowledge to use them well.
This one goes hand-in-hand with point #1 above. Not only should your digital marketing agency have expertise and experience, but they should have access to the right tools to accomplish your marketing plan and know how to use them well. Digital marketing tools include platforms on both the paid and organic side of your business. These tools and the expertise to use them can include Google Analytics, Google Ads, Moz, SEMRush, Yext, BirdEye, Databox, and so many others. Not all agencies may have the same or all the tools others have, but it’s important to find one who knows the proper tools you’ll need to use to bring your business the results you’re looking for. And if not, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
If you’re unsure of where to start, ask about competency with free platforms like Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Google My Business as well as paid platforms like Moz Pro and SEMRush (for on site SEO) and Synup and Yext directory listing management (for Local SEO).
Your ideal agency should have clear internal processes to keep their operation efficient and profitable.
Almost all digital agencies price their work based on their time. Therefore, an efficient and well run agency should also be a cost effective option.
A digital marketing agency who places an importance on resource planning will keep your projects efficient, profitable, and transparent. They should be able to deliver a comprehensive explanation of the scope of work, strategy, and timeline. With all of these in place, expectations are precisely aligned. In addition, your business will be able to see each deliverable’s role in the greater strategy.
Speaking of profitability, don’t be afraid to ask a potential agency about how they price their work. Some agencies employ flat rate pricing while some are open to a pay-for-performance model. Having clear conversations about price is an important part of determining if a particular agency is a good fit for your business, and vice versa.
The right digital marketing agency should be data-driven.
We believe that successful digital marketing plans are grounded in strategic thinking, informed by data, and guided by the needs of the customer. Informed by data is the part we want to focus on here because digital analytics provides the foundation for measuring success. A digital marketing agency should know how to collect the right data to help make informed decisions for your business. With platforms like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Facebook Insights, Databox, Google My Business and more, there is a vast array of data available today. Knowing how to gather and analyze data is step one. Turning that data into actionable insights that feed an ongoing marketing strategy is where the data becomes valuable.
The discipline of digital analytics relies on getting accurate and clean data and then using appropriate internal and external benchmarks to measure and analyze the data for risks and opportunities. Let’s take Google Analytics for example. This platform can help us understand customer traffic patterns, behavior, and conversions. We analyze key metrics like bounce rates, exit rates, conversion rates, time on site, pages viewed per session and seek to understand how performance varies across device types and acquisition channels. Ultimately, our digital analytics efforts are designed to help drive more qualified traffic to the site and convert those site visitors into leads and customers.
An agency who takes a proactive approach to thinking will serve your business positively in the long run and give you a competitive advantage. Look for an agency with a greater emphasis on forward-thinking strategic planning, as opposed to reactive strategies. Your agency should be able to help you set a strategic plan at least once a year, or more, depending on your company goals. A proactive digital marketing agency will help you take a broad look at your current position in your industry and how to best position your business for the future. They should have a good grasp on competitor analysis and how to position your business to capitalize on strengths and mitigate risks from weaknesses.
Receptiveness to new ideas and suggestions but a clear strategy in mind for your business.
If you have questions or have been doing your own research, don’t hesitate to ask your digital marketing agency about your findings. A smart agency is not afraid to learn something new or even test something out that could benefit the business. A smart agency will know when a small or big leap is needed, and they’ll be able to decipher between a smart or risky marketing decision. They’ll be knowledgeable about the goals your business wants to hit and the flexibility in your overall strategy and budget. However, they’ll also be able to ultimately help you decide whether a new idea has a strategic path to success or milky waters ahead.
In addition to being receptive to new ideas, an expert digital marketing agency should have the ability to stay on top of trends in both their market and yours. This includes a continual focus on learning, education, and competitor analysis.
A good reputation and client testimonials to show for it.
We believe it always makes things easier to work with a partner that is trustworthy and reliable. In fact, we’d suggest this is even more important than certifications and depth of experience. Experience and qualifications only matter if you can establish a relationship based on mutual trust.
A lot of agencies (including us) talk about the importance of reputation management. This is increasingly important in an online world where a brand is not what a company says about itself, but rather, what the company’s customers say about it. So do your homework on a prospective agency partner. What do Google My Business (GMB) reviews say? How about other online directory listings and client testimonials? And don’t be afraid to ask for a reference from a current client if you want to go even deeper on the research front.
Root & Branch is a digital marketing team with operations in Pittsburgh, PA and Jacksonville, NC. We provide digital advertising and analytics services for B2C and B2B companies, including paid search (PPC), SEO, Local SEO, digital reputation management, digital analytics, and social media management.
If you’re in search of a digital marketing agency to help accelerate your digital marketing efforts in 2020, get in touch with us today.