What to Expect When You Hire an Online Marketing Agency

So your business is looking to hire an online marketing agency. What should you expect?

So your business is looking to hire an online marketing agency. What should you expect? If you’re used to hiring more traditional marketing agencies, or if you’ve never hired a marketing agency at all, you may have no idea where to set your expectations for success.

I’ll start by saying this: Digital marketing is a very broad discipline that covers hundreds of activities. There’s not one particular digital marketing strategy that will work for everyone, so setting quantifiable expectations can be difficult when painting in broad strokes. That said, it’s extremely important that you, as the client, calibrate your expectations with your digital marketing agency. Your agency never wants to upset or disappoint you, but sometimes a lack of communication can make this inevitable. It can usually be prevented by setting realistic expectations from the onset of a campaign.

Before you sign on the dotted line, here are three things that you should make sure your online marketing agency has.

Your Online Marketing Agency Needs Vision

First and foremost, your online marketing agency needs to be smarter than you. It’s not your responsibility to provide the vision for your digital marketing strategy. You need to partner with an agency that can take your business’s mission and values and turn that into an actionable digital marketing plan.

They should also have a solid understanding of the platforms they recommend and what results you can expect from these platforms. Ideally, these expectations are effectively set at the beginning of a campaign and you have a solid understanding of what results you should see and when you should see them. That said, oftentimes, those who hire digital agencies are doing so because they don’t understand the medium. If that’s the case, ask a lot of questions and stay in close touch with your agency early on to ensure that you understand their methodology.

Here are a few questions to ask your digital marketing agency to see if they have the vision you need.

  • What’s the big picture of this digital marketing strategy? How will it help me achieve my overall business objectives?
  • Why is this strategy better than alternatives? What other mediums are you ignoring to pursue this strategic direction?
  • What are realistic outcomes that we should see 30, 60, and 90 days out?

If your agency is able to answer these questions with ease, it should have the vision to manage your digital marketing.

Your Agency Should Provide Direction

The funny thing about digital marketing is that it doesn’t exist in a silo. Effective online marketing touches every aspect of your business, so you need more than an “advertiser” you need a coach and a teacher. Your digital marketing agency should be able to provide direction to anyone on your team who touches their marketing strategy. If you have a sales staff that inbound leads will be going to, your agency should be able to coach them on how to follow up appropriately. If you have an IT team that needs to be briefed on website changes or updates, they should be able to effectively communicate with them as well.

Before you hire a digital marketing agency, you should run through a list of all the stakeholders on your team and see if you get any pushback. If your agency isn’t comfortable working with someone on your team, that’s a big red flag that they may not be a good fit for you.

Your Agency Should Be Transparent

Finally, every digital marketing agency should be transparent. Because everything in the digital world is quantifiable, there’s no excuse for a digital agency to withhold information on web traffic, advertising effectiveness, or how much effort they’re putting into various tactics.

That said, there’s definitely a case to be made about information overload. If you’re hiring an online marketing agency, you’re likely doing so because you’re not an expert in the space. This means that emailing them daily asking how things are going may not be an effective use of your time. Instead, try to focus on weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly check-ins. At MilesHerndon, we like to communicate with our digital marketing clients at the very least at the following intervals:

  • Weekly: We like to check in once a week to provide quick updates and insights into their campaign. Usually, this occurs in the form of a light, simple email.
  • Bi-Weekly: Every other week, we like to provide a little more insight than usual, including some high-level numbers and key wins or challenges.
  • Monthly: Every month, we provide a PDF that runs through all the results we’ve seen, key wins, key obstacles and any other relevant information. This is usually presented during a phone call or in-person meeting where our client can ask more questions.

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