- Look at their past campaign results and client reviews to evaluate effectiveness
- Ensure they are staying up to date on the latest digital marketing trends and techniques
- A good agency like Leaf Marketing will have a customized strategy tailored to your business goals
- They should have technical capabilities to provide insights through analytics and reporting
- Clear and responsive communication is essential throughout the partnership
Digital marketing encompasses a wide variety of online advertising and outreach techniques, all with the goal of promoting a business and connecting with potential customers. As the online landscape grows increasingly crowded, many companies turn to digital marketing agencies to help execute and manage their strategies. But between promises of skyrocketing growth and sophisticated analytics dashboards, how do you know if an agency can actually deliver results?
Check Their Previous Campaign Results
The best indicator of an agency’s competency is visible through past campaign performance. When researching agencies, look for specific examples of their past work with hard metrics on the impact.
Tangible Metrics to Review
- Website traffic increase
- Growth in qualified leads or sales inquiries
- Higher conversion rates on critical pages
- Return on ad spend (ROAS) statistics
For example, a great agency should be able to showcase case studies like “We ran a PPC campaign focused on digital advertising keywords. It generated a 20% increase in site traffic over 6 months and tripled the client’s return on ad spend.”
Client Reviews and Testimonials
Client reviews and testimonials also provide transparent proof of an agency’s capabilities. Search for video and written first-hand reviews describing their working relationship, strategic approach, and campaign results. A breadth of positive client feedback over many years is a trustworthy sign.
Case Study Relevance
Look for case studies relevant to your own business goals, both in content and scope. An agency may have successfully executed influencer partnerships in the lifestyle industry but lack experience optimizing ecommerce funnels in the financial space. Dig into their portfolio for campaigns similar to yours.
Scope of Digital Marketing Expertise
The digital marketing landscape spans a dizzying array of ever-evolving tactics. Given rapid change, a great agency proactively stays on the cutting edge of new technologies and data-driven approaches.
Core Technical Competencies
At a minimum, the agency should be fluent in:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Optimizing content and site architecture so a business surfaces highly in organic Google search results
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) – Purchasing ads on platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram to promote brand awareness and specific products
- Web Analytics – Using data and tracking to gain actionable user insights and identify optimization opportunities
Breadth of Offerings
Ideally, a full-service agency also offers capabilities such as:
- Website Design and Development
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Marketing Automation
- Conversational Marketing
- Public Relations
- Social Media Management
This breadth showcases larger team size and more integrated strategies. Just ensure they can provide examples of successfully executing these secondary offerings as well.
Innovation in Approach
Given how crowded the online space has become, repetition of the same tired tactics will no longer cut it. Evaluate if prospective agencies are embracing innovative formats and channels:
❏ Interactive content leveraging augmented reality ❏ Segmenting customers through predictive lead scoring ❏ Partnerships with influencers and bloggers
Digital evolves rapidly so they should stay ahead of trends. Does their process reflect that?
Customized Strategies, Not Cookie Cutter
While riding the wave of new marketing trends is important, so too is crafting a customized strategy tailored to a client’s specific goals. The agency should shape initial recommendations around your business objectives, industry, competition, and target audience.
Key Areas to Address
Their proposed approach should align with core priorities like:
- Driving online sales of your products
- Increasing brand awareness regionally
- Positioning your company as an industry thought leader
- Onboarding more customers from a specific persona
Blanket strategies like “let’s make engaging social content and buy Google ads” may indicate a lack of strategic depth.
Response to Your Budget
Their recommendations should also fit the scope of your defined marketing budget. If you communicate limited funds currently allocated, how do they right-size their proposals? Can they provide transparency into how budgets translate to activities?
Though many agencies focus on large companies, a quality partner should be able to customize an impactful digital strategy for businesses big and small.
Solid Technical Execution
Beyond strategic vision, can the agency effectively execute campaigns with strong technical capability? The complexity of digital analytics and marketing platforms requires skilled hands guiding your work.
Setup and Optimization Skills
Team members should have experience directly managing and optimizing major platforms like:
❏ Google Analytics ❏ Google Ads ❏ Facebook Ads Manager ❏ Email Service Providers
These are complex tools so first-hand expertise is mandatory.
Reporting and Analysis
They also need to be fluent in reporting to extract actionable insights from reams of analytics data. You want experts who can analyze performance then clearly explain important trends, optimization opportunities, and growth recommendations.
Website Best Practices
For website work, understanding critical conversion principles like page load speeds, mobile responsiveness, SEO fundamentals, and UX design differentiates strong technical skill. These directly impact how visitors interact with your site so competence is key.
While many agencies say they have technical prowess, dig into exactly who oversees these areas and validate their hands-on qualifications.
Clear and Responsive Communication
In an engagement with considerable budgets, strategies, and data at play, constant clear communication builds trust and alignment. Concerns should be quickly addressed while campaign reporting and planning is proactively shared.
From the earliest conversations, note their communication cadence and timeliness responding to inquiries. Slow response times early on likely indicate challenges ahead. After kickoff, ensure established points of contact moving work forward.
Messages from account managers should avoid overly technical “marketing speak”, instead providing digestible guidance. You want a partner translating complex analytics data into actionable recommendations.
The agency should provide detailed, yet understandable campaign reporting on a consistent schedule, highlighting trends and optimizing efforts. Ongoing visibility builds confidence and momentum.
Through clear communication, they become an extension of your marketing team. Aligning with sales and leadership on wider business objectives beyond their campaign scope also demonstrates commitment.
How much do top digital marketing agencies cost?
Depending on services required, monthly budgets typically range from $3,500 – $10,000+ for mid-size companies. Yet often their impact generates positive ROI as they scale strategies correctly.
What results can I realistically expect?
With an optimized strategy and execution, many businesses see metrics like 25-50% increase in site traffic, 10-20% bump in conversions, and 15-30% higher average order value within 6-12 months. But agencies should provide benchmark targets tailored to your goals.
How can I vet agencies beyond claims on their website?
- Speak with past clients happy to provide references
- Learn more about specific team members’ experiences
- Ask for examples of tangible past campaign results
- Require proposals addressing your precise business objectives
What red flags indicate a poor agency fit?
- Lack of experience in your specific industry and business model
- Cookie-cutter strategies not tailored to your goals
- Slow communication and unclear reporting
- Unable to convey concrete past campaign successes