Digital Marketing Agencies.

You have heard of the term digital marketing or maybe SEO but when it comes to figuring out how to hire a digital marketing agency, what to ask, whether the pricing is fair and what to expect – well, it’s enough to make most people put the topic off.

In determining which digital marketing agency to choose, there are a number of criteria you can put into place before you start making inquiries. Criteria can include pricing but pricing will vary depending on the agency’s experience and the scope of service you are in need of. Like anything else, the amount of time invested in marketing your product or service requires ‘x’ amount of man-hours. The more time you need or request, the higher the cost of the service.

Right now you may be saying, “I have no idea how many hours I need to increase business.” You are correct, there aren’t any magical numbers here. Implementing digital marketing isn’t a one-shot buy-in that will double your business in days or even a few months. Digital marketing is like sales or customer service, you must budget for the service and remain consistent with your application.

Technology changes daily as do customer buying behaviors. People aren’t using Google or Facebook like they may have just a few months ago. Knowing these subtle changes is what you pay your digital marketer for. Taking these subtle changes and implementing them across channels and platforms is then required which could vary in the amount of time and energy required to shift your strategy from one day to the next.

Digital Marketing Retainer Fees

Because information is consistently analyzed and scrutinized on your behalf along with pivots and strategy redesigns, many digital marketing agencies require retainer fees.  Based on your budget and the consultant’s advice, a retainer fee can be agreed upon.

Retainer fees can contain your hard costs such as advertising dollars used for Adwords or social media ads in addition to service costs. When a digital marketing agency asks what your marketing budget is, they aren’t trying to shake you down for the largest amount of money – they are simply trying to determine what they can do for you within your budget. Determining the most critical fixes first and then working down the list is a digital marketers role – I like to call this digital marketing triage. If a client comes to me with a budget, I determine the top essential solutions I can apply to their company based on what they can afford to spend.

If you are like most people, you really don’t know what you should spend on marketing. In this case, ask around, try and find out what people in similar markets such as your own are budgeting for online advertising and digital marketing. If you can’t find this number, you can hire a digital marketing agency to snoop around for you through a variety of methods including the use of software and their own expert opinion. Search will include what the digital marketer observes within other companies, what the company has accomplished, how optimized their site is, what they are doing in social circles and how much they are spending in Adwords.

In my experience, if you aren’t spending between $2,500 and $5,000 a month in digital marketing, you probably won’t move the needle much. Of course I have clients who spend less than this, but their gross income is smaller than the larger clients who can put on a full court press. There is room for everyone in digital marketing but if you want to market your company fully and professionally, expect to budget in this cost as a part of doing business.

Hiring In-house or Outsourcing

Now you may be saying to yourself, if I’m going to budget this kind of money, why wouldn’t I hire somebody in-house? Depending on the type of business you own, this could be quite feasible. Finding one person who can do all things a digital marketing agency can, is often tricky. Experience, knowledge, use of tools, and application are critical.

Many companies combine the concept of hiring one person in-house and contracting with an agency. In this situation, an agency can specialize in complex matters such as strategy, advertising and set-up and train in-house staff to oversee other established tasks.

The cost of hiring someone in-house including wages, taxes and benefits is often equal to that of an entire group of people within an agency. With this, using an agency as the marketing arm of your company gives you a strong long term solution without the worry of maintaining employee’s continuing education or monitoring work that you are uncertain of.

hiring a digital marketer

Criteria in Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency

Once you have decided on the fact you need a digital marketing presence and have a number in your head of what your company should be investing, you can begin to collect digital agencies to contact. Try the following criteria in your search.

  1. Referrals from friends may be an option but remember many businesses are secretive when it comes to sharing their unicorn and may not confess they’re using digital marketing agencies at all.
  2. Finding a company that you feel congruent with is important. Just as each manager or owner has their own style and personality, so do digital agency managers and owners. Finding someone you feel you can trust and who will be around for the long haul is critical. Call and talk to the person who owns the agency and if the agency is large, you may have to speak to the project manager. Make sure your personalities mesh and your communication style is the same.
  3. Experience is important here but doesn’t have to match exactly. A savvy digital marketer can easily translate their services into almost any industry. Because the number of industries vary so greatly, having flexibility and imagination along with a whole lot of experience and expertise, will go a long way. If you hire a strategist straight out of graduate school, you may get a lot of numbers but not as much creativity and experience around what could go wrong and how to pivot when it is necessary.  This is critical and undervalued. It may be easy to hire a company and then hope they come through on your bottom line, but expect to be involved and to communicate clearly and consistently with your digital marketing agency. If a digital marketing agency doesn’t return your calls or emails or even gives you the run around when you need something done – this is a good red flag that the company is disorganized and probably inefficient.
  4. Establishing what type of communication you require ahead of time is also important. Many clients will only want to talk to their agency at the end of the month after receiving reports on their account. Other clients may want to check in bi-weekly with their agency. Be sure to establish your requirements ahead of time so that the agency can calculate the cost of extra communication and strategy building between one another, into your budget.
  5. Problem Solving. Every company will have its own unique set of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that must be discussed with your digital marketing agency. A strategic digital marketer will develop a road map unique to your business and a route that needs to be taken. Analyzing your competitors, market share, marketing message and Key Performance Indicators (KPS) that you are seeking to achieve all tie into the development of this road map. If you aren’t clear about any of these elements, not to worry. A Digital Marketing Strategist will be able to help you define each of these areas.

The costs involved in hiring an agency are not as simple as matching time to dollar. Understand that you are hiring a professional and their years of experience in strategically assisting you and your company.

When choosing your digital marketing agency, remember, that the relationship should be mutually beneficial, backed with trust and with an expectation of longevity.