More than 70% of customers who look up a business near them end up visiting a store within five miles.
That kind of firepower is the driving force behind digital marketing. And if any business owner was still doubtful, the COVID-19 pandemic has cemented the mission-critical need for online marketing, no matter your operational scale.
It’s therefore not surprising to discover many entrepreneurs making their first foray into hiring a digital agency with little understanding of how things work.
Here’s a look at six impactful issues to expect as you approach a digital marketing agency to grow your online visibility.
1. Legitimate Advice
It may sound funny to learn that honest advice is one expectation you should hold as you hire an agency for your online marketing needs. However, entrepreneurs with horror stories can demonstrate that getting such advice isn’t a guarantee.
For example, if you look for agencies to help you build your links, you’ll be in for a rude shock if you don’t know what to look for.
Black hat agencies will win you over with short-term gains, and you’ll feel unusually fortunate. Until the other shoe drops and you have to build your business from scratch because of the search engine’s punitive actions.
As long as you work to recruit a dependable agency, you can expect honest advice. Will you have to pay a handsome fee for it? Of course. But over time, you’ll realize that above-board advice is an investment that pays back in spades.
2. Specialized and Generalized Skill Sets
As digital marketing has dramatically risen in importance, so has its budget allocation for many firms. Inevitably, many traditional agencies have pivoted to include a digital arm of their business.
And that’s where things get tricky.
The problem is that agencies dealing with traditional media and offering a digital service on the side may not provide as specialized a service. On the other hand, a marketing agency offering 100% digital services may have the capacity and focus to dig deeper into the field and gain traction, even with niche target audiences.
Thus, whenever you approach any digital marketing companies, expect this dichotomy. You’ll have to decide right off the bat where your priorities lie, as that guides who you end up working with.
3. Only Products Are Guaranteed
If you had a conversation with many firms in confidence, you’d be shocked to learn that these companies regard digital marketing as a near-magical tool. Put some dollars behind it, and they will come.
To make it worse, some agencies you approach may even pitch you in a way to imply guaranteed results. Nothing can be further from the truth.
There are many variables in digital marketing, and even the best-laid strategy is but an expert guess. Your goal is to work with a firm with a track record in making more spot-on guesses than not.
To do that, you have to delineate products from outcomes. Part of your expectation should be the agency can guarantee what the service you’ll receive can look like, but not whether it wins over clients.
Wherever you go through a proposal with an agency, ask them to point out what part of their approach is driven by speculation. Every proposal rests partly on speculation, so that shouldn’t worry you.
The only red flag you should look out for here is an agency that guarantees you sure results every time. It’s pretty likely that such a firm isn’t being upfront with you and that the results over time may prove ineffective.
4. Patience Is Critical
So many entrepreneurs underestimate how long digital marketing takes to deliver results. Some elements – like paid ads – will give you instant feedback. For the most part, though, digital marketing needs a patient approach.
Expect a digital campaign to grow slowly at first, then slowly gather steam.
For example, search engine optimization (SEO) services take time to garner results. That’s because organic traffic, by nature, doesn’t happen overnight like paid traffic.
However, once your SEO hits a certain tipping point, you’ll find yourself sitting back and letting the traffic come to you, for the most part. Any tweaks you make at this stage will be minor, and you’ll keep getting traffic for quite a while.
Therefore, when you see little results in the first few months, don’t fret. Chances are, your strategy may be quietly gathering steam. With that said, if there’s no general improvement in your approach after the first six months, consider reviewing your plan with the agency.
5. Commitment to Your Business
The mark of a good agency is a commitment to your operations. Such an agency makes you feel like it’s an extension of your team. If you are to get this level of service, you must expect excellent communication.
Whenever there is progress, or the agency faces a stumbling block, you should be in the know. That will add value to your collaboration for a more excellent result.
6. Value Matters More Than Time
The most popular pricing model for digital marketing agencies is the hourly rate structure. While it may sound reasonable, it doesn’t deliver on the incentive you crave as an entrepreneur looking for outstanding value.
When you pay an agency per hour, you’re essentially rewarding them for taking as much time as possible to handle your project. In some firms, they can be an unspoken bias to drag a client’s project out.
Furthermore, the agency’s staff will, over time, care more about clocking in and out than the value they ship. Using a different model can help you, and the agency better align your incentives for a mutually beneficial relationship.
Value-based pricing is an approach that can help achieve such a balance for better service delivery.
Have the Right Expectations When Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency
The kind of digital marketing agency you hire influences the degree to which your online marketing succeeds. It’s therefore critical to know what expectations to have so you can get the best value from your online marketing partner.
If you are to succeed in the free-for-all that is digital marketing, you’ll need exceptional skills. Our website publishes articles to help entrepreneurs figure out how to get the right digital marketing expertise. Check out more of our content to learn how you can make online marketing work for you.