When it comes to hiring an agency for digital marketing, it’s really important to know how to choose the right one. There are plenty of unqualified marketing agencies out there. It’s up to you to learn how to find the best partner for your business.
Beware agency digital marketing “experts” that aren’t really experts
There are tons of remarkable local marketing agencies out there. But, others are more driven by profits, than people. Your business needs a marketing agency that understands you. That’s how you avoid these common problems that hurt too many small business owners.
- Wasting money on expensive paid ads that only deliver short term results
- Driving potential customers to a website that’s slow and hard to use
- Optimizing your website for search engines, instead of your customers
- Branding that doesn’t clearly show what makes your business unique
- Skipping your free Google Business Profile to rank on Google local search
- Working with a marketing agency that locks you into a long-term contract and then fails to deliver the services you pay for
Plus, if you don’t take the right approach, you’ll run into problems working with qualified marketing agencies too!
Some of the qualified agencies won’t offer the personalized service many small businesses are looking for. Or, they won’t have all the marketing services you want from one agency.
Take the time to figure out which marketing agency is best for you to work with.
You put your trust in a marketing agency to tell your story
It’s no small thing to trust your business with an agency for digital marketing. That’s why these common mistakes are so frustrating.
But, when you find the right agency, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of their experience and expertise—without breaking your budget. Or, stressing out about whether or not they’re ripping you off.
There's a blueprint for the basic steps that drive the best results
Lots of small business owners like you don’t realize proven strategies exist to drive consistent, free leads to your business. Or, that many of the simplest strategies are what deliver the best results at first.
You need an agency digital marketing partner that leverages the easy tactics as you build your brand so you can scale your growth with time.
It’s time you start growing your business online, with confidence! Here are 5 simple tips to ensure you hire the best marketing agency to grow your business.
Tip #1 - Set your goals before hiring any agency for digital marketing
You need to know what your goals are before you can hire an agency to help your business. Your business is unique. So think about where you are, and where you want to be.
Start by asking yourself these 3 questions
What is the current state of my business and my marketing?
What does my ideal future business look like?
Which is a bigger priority for me? Do I need more customers, or better quality customers?
Once you have a good understanding of where your business is and where you want to go, you can find an agency for digital marketing to help.
Most clients that hire our agency for digital marketing have 1 of 2 goals
No two businesses are exactly the same. But there are common themes that we see with marketing goals.
Goal #1 - Drive new leads to your business
The first group of clients hire an agency for digital marketing to help drive more customers to their business.
You can just be starting out, or a well-established business.
If the goal of adding an agency digital marketing expert to your team is to drive more traffic to your business, you fall into this group.
Goal #2 - Drive higher quality leads to your business
The second group of clients are looking for an agency to drive higher quality leads to their business.
These might be smaller businesses that want to make sure they control quality. Or perhaps solo entrepreneurs that don’t want to take on employees.
But, they want to increase margins and make it easier to run their business.
Others that fall into this group might be at capacity for other reasons.
For example, if the only way to take on more customers is to buy a second piece of equipment. Or, a bigger commercial space.
Even though you don’t want to take on more work, your business can grow with the right agency digital marketing partner.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking the only reason to build a Digital Marketing Foundation is to find more leads.
The right marketing strategy, executed for a qualified local business can improve profit margins by finding you higher quality customers.
Tip #2 - Decide how involved you want to be with your marketing each month
If you want to be very hands-on with your local marketing, then you’ll want to choose an agency that is comfortable with that level of involvement.
On the other hand, if you prefer to step back and let the professionals handle things, then you’ll want to find an agency that is accustomed to working with more hands-off clients.
Either way, be sure to communicate what you prefer during the hiring process.
Your marketing is typically more expensive the more you meet with your marketing agency. So when you’re comparing prices, take into account how much face to face time you actually need with your digital marketer.
If your goal is to be successful, it’s crucial you communicate with your agency regularly.
Having a hands off approach for your local marketing is completely fine with the right partner!
In fact, often our clients find their time is better spent doing what they do best. So we handle their marketing behind the scenes while they worry about what really matters.
But, it’s critical that your business provides your agency with everything they need to grow your brand in your market. That means a basic level of regular involvement.
– sending photos and videos of recent work each week
– communicating specials, offers or promotions that your marketing should include
– updates to products and service offerings when needed
– info about the products and services that are most profitable
– feedback from your customers about their experience working with your business
– reminding your customers how much you value their online reviews
– changes to business hours
Plus other critical info any agency for digital marketing will need to help you stand out in your community.
Before you hire a digital marketer, make sure you:
- Decide if you want a hands on, or hands off approach to your local marketing
- Figure out who is going to manage your relationship with your local marketing partner and track the results
Tip #3 - Just say no to agency digital marketing jargon
This is where so many small business owners go wrong.
Don’t make the mistake of feeling embarrassed if you don’t understand
The whole point of hiring an agency for digital marketing is that you’re not the expert. You’re great at what you do. And your small business is your baby.
That’s why you need to understand your marketing strategies. And, trust who you hire.
So here’s what I want you to do. And I promise, you won’t even feel embarrassed.
Simply say, “Wow, it seems like you have a lot of great knowledge to share that can help my business grow. I’m one of those people that learn better when I see an example. I want to make sure I completely understand the benefits of working with you.”
If they don’t take you through an example next, raise the red flag.
Trust your gut and avoid the red flags
If an agency is using a lot of industry-specific language that you don’t understand, it’s a red flag. They should be able to explain their services in plain English.
Anytime you don’t understand what an “expert” is telling you about your marketing, take a pause. Ask them to give you some examples. Plus, show you the results you can expect. It’s critical that you understand the framework and the reasons an agency is recommending a specific strategy.
Avoid high pressure sales
Some marketing agencies will use high pressure sales and words that sound good. Really, they exist just to pressure you into signing a long-term contract.
Don’t fall for it. Always take the time to think. As a Certified Fraud Examiner, I can tell you most bad financial decisions are made under pressure.
Before I shifted from white collar crime investigator to full-time digital marketer, I investigated hundreds of financial scams. Each one involved high pressure sales.
When motivations are pure, people understand that big important decisions take time. If you feel the pressure to make a decision, it is worth considering if you need more time.
You have a big decision to make, take the time to do your research
If an agency doesn’t understand your decision will take time, they’re probably not the right fit. At least from our perspective.
Take the time to learn and understand how your marketing agency will help you grow. And, what’s best for you.
Do the agency's recommendations fit your business?
- Make sure when you hire an agency for digital marketing, they take care of the basics before adding more advanced strategies.
For example, “SEO” or search engine optimization really means using strategies to build your website and content that help your website rank in local search results.
But, if your marketing agency is recommending SEO, or other tactics like “PPC” (aka paid ads) before building your Google Business Profile and online directory listings, that should be a red flag.
Google gives us the basics that we have to take care of before those advanced strategies will work well.
- Google Business Profile
- Accurate online directory listings
- Mobile friendly website
And really, these simple strategies are the ones that deliver you the free leads. The reason, you start capturing attention from multiple places on the internet. But, you have the dual benefit of building out your presence on Google. Google starts to make the connections that your business looks to be qualified.
So don’t let the jargon push you down a path you regret, stuck in long-term contracts that don’t deliver results.
Tip #4 - Decide if you need more than one agency for digital marketing
If you’re a small business, you might get away with using one agency for digital marketing. But, if you’re a larger company, you might need to hire multiple agencies that have different specialties.
Whether you need multiple agencies, or one agency for digital marketing will depend on your business model.
Here’s an example
We offer our clients a complete local marketing strategy that uses Google Business Profile, local directories and a fast, mobile friendly website to optimize the experience for their customers. Plus optimize for Google at the same time.
That’s the core of any successful local marketing framework in our experience. So most small businesses owners are able to only work with our agency.
We also offer advanced strategies like content creation.
But, if a potential client is looking for an agency that provides 3D graphic design, they’d have to turn elsewhere. Or, if they wanted an agency with experience managing Yelp ads, we might not be the best fit.
So in that case, the client has to decide if it’s okay to go with a few different agencies that offer specialized services.
Other small business owners like you might feel strongly that you want one agency to handle your marketing.
So you can eliminate any agency that doesn’t check all of your requirements.
Understand the longer-term marketing strategy
We like to build our client’s marketing strategies one step at a time. But, we always know where we are going. That’s the best way to ensure everything you do feeds into the next phase of your marketing. It’s a strategy adapted into our framework from the book, The One Thing.
The One Thing teaches you how to create an efficient strategy for the longer-term, while focusing on the one most important thing right now.
You need short-term results, that help create long-term growth
Our marketing agency puts the focus on delivering results.
But, we believe the strategy for the future is critical. The little things you do right now help grow your business. But the longer you have the best practices in place, the better the results get.
Understand the long-term strategy so your marketing evolves as your business grows
Make sure to ask any marketing agencies you meet with about their overall strategy.
Otherwise, you might find out later that the digital marketer you hired doesn’t offer all the services you thought they did.
Or, even worse, you waste money because of an agency digital marketing partner that doesn’t plan your growth efficiently.
As you can see, it’s important to understand what you need and want from an agency before you hire them.
That will make it easier for both you and your agency to provide quality digital marketing help.
Tip #5 - Hire an agency for digital marketing with a proven track record
When you’re looking to hire an agency for digital marketing help, be sure to look for one with a proven track record. Don’t ever just trust a marketing agency. Not even Pillar Digital Marketing Agency.
We’re going to show you how to verify that your marketing agency gets the job done.
There are a lot of agencies out there that claim they deliver results. But not all of them do.
Vetting a marketing agency’s testimonials and case studies
It’s kind of like what I used to do when I investigated stock fraud. All the information is out there to verify the facts you’re given. Maybe not as many as I had working for the government, but there are plenty of tools to help you.
A good way to vet an agency is to look at their case studies and see what they’ve been able to achieve for other clients. If the company you’re considering doesn’t have any case studies available, it’s worth reaching out to some of their previous clients and asking about their experience. You don’t need flashy, you need to see what the results are and how they’ll benefit your business exactly.
Hire an agency for digital marketing with resources: It’s also important to hire an agency for digital marketing help that has the resources necessary to provide support where your business needs it most. Your marketing agency should also have experience working with businesses in your industry. Look beyond what they tell you about past results.
You don’t have to trust a marketing agency ever again!
So many digital marketing agencies skip the simple steps that get you the best results. And, they’re the most important steps to build a Digital Marketing Foundation for future growth.
These 5 simple tips tell you what to do, but you need more.
So here’s our 4 favorite tools to inspect our clients digital marketing foundations. These tools come from Google, and other trusted marketing companies. You can use these easy to use tools to help you assess how well a marketing agency executes for their clients.
It’s the best way to hire an agency for digital marketing success!
BONUS TOOLS: Discovering The Truth Behind Marketing Agency Client Testimonials
We believe you deserve a predictable path to grow your business and understand if you’re getting results. Here’s what it comes down to.
Overwhelmingly, people love personal referrals for local businesses. Our research shows the second most popular way people like to find local businesses is on Google.
We ran two surveys:
- Survey of 100 Respondents from New York About Experience With Local Contractors
- Survey of 71 Respondents from NY About Experience With Local Contractors
Google is a business.
Google’s customer, the person searching, is your potential customer too.
If Google doesn’t deliver a spectacular search experience, their customers will turn to other search engines. The last thing Google wants is people turning to Bing.
Google wants to rank the best businesses in local search
Think about it.
If people go to Google, search for local businesses like general contractors, and Google returns 3 local contractors that are unlicensed, and unqualified…
will people keep going back to search on Google?
Of course not.
That’s why Google tells us exactly what to do to establish your business as a reliable, trustworthy source for local services. It’s not a secret if you put the pieces together.
Google even gives us the tools to test our marketing (or a competitors) without having any special skills or knowledge.
Inspect an Agency for Digital Marketing Before You Hire Them
Trust is a good thing. But, your small business is just too important to trust without verifying. Here’s how you run an easy checkup before you hire an agency for digital marketing.
Inspection Tool #1 - Google Opportunity Finder
Visit Google’s Opportunity Finder tool. Anyone can type in the name of any business. Then Google tells you what you’re doing well on Google Business and where you need to improve.
You can click through the page as Google checks the most critical components of your local listing:
- Claimed and verified Google profile
- Complete profile with all relevant fields filled in
- Products and service lists with descriptions
- Frequent new photos of your best work
- Offers and update posts to keep your potential customers engaged
- Continuous new reviews with responses from the business owner
- FAQs to start off your customer journey and save you time with answers to the most commonly asked questions
- A brand story that helps show your qualifications, establish your authority as an expert in your industry and start earning trust online
If an agency digital marketing proposal includes your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) optimization, you should check for yourself if the agency is executing for their existing clients.
If an agency digital marketing proposal doesn’t even mention your Google Business Profile, that’s a whole other problem to think about. If it seems a marketing proposal skips the simple, free sources of leads, ask yourself why that might be.
Inspection Tool #2 - Use Moz's Local Directory Listing Tool
Local directory listings are still a critical component of a secure Digital Marketing Foundation.
There are several reasons why claiming and listing accurate business contact info in online directories is critical.
- Google connects all of your listings using your name, phone number, website and address. If the information is not all exactly the same, Google can’t make the connections that help you build your complete local search results
- Google looks to the “domain authority” of your website to help figure out how trustworthy your business is. The more complete, professional presence that you have online
Moz Local offers a service starting at $14 a month that will automatically manage most online directory listings from one dashboard.
You don’t necessarily need every listing out there. And you want to make sure you’re only listing on reputable business directories. But you definitely need to be in the top ones as a local business. Directories include social media profiles.
- LinkedIn Company
- Angi (as a local contractor or service business)
- and many more
What are the risks if you don’t claim your directory listings?
Not only will claiming your listings help you rank in local search. But, not claiming your directory listings put your business at risk of fraud.
Scammers frequently hijack unclaimed listings. And often, they use your listing to pretend to be your business. They provide inferior services to your potential customers. Your business reputation suffers.
Make sure that any marketing agency you hire maintains accurate online listings for their existing clients by searching businesses from their reviews and testimonials.
Here’s a secret for you that every agency for digital marketing will hate us for sharing
Most of the time when your agency digital marketing proposal includes local directory listing management or NAP listing management, your agency is likely using Moz to manage your listing.
So they pay $14 a month, and probably charge you much more than that. For your online directory listings, if your contact info doesn’t change, they rarely need to be updated.
When paying an agency for digital marketing online listing management, peel back the onion a bit. Ask them if they use an “online directory listing management service”. Or, if they manually complete the profiles for you.
If they manually do it for you once, that may offer better value than paying a monthly fee as long as your business exists.
Visit Moz Local to search your business name and address to discover if a business has properly claimed and completed their online listings.
Moz even tells you if the business is using Moz’s listing management service.
So it’s a great way to understand if your marketing proposal is just marking up a lower priced service.
It makes sense that a marketing agency will charge you for taking care of this for you. Even if they’re using Moz because it does take time.
But you deserve to understand how your directory listings are managed. And, what the markup is on the actual service you receive.
Inspection Tool #3 - Google PageSpeed Insights
Run Google’s PageSpeed Report to flag any issues with your website that hurts performance. Pay close attention to the mobile results.
Green is good, orange is okay and red means you need improvement.
Keep in mind whether you’re looking at the real world results, or Google’s testing environment. The testing environment should be used to spot and fix issues on a website. Real world data is better to judge page speed.
Make sure the page “renders” (translation: loads) clean and fast. If you see white images of your page loading, that may indicate a problem.
However, you need a certain amount of website visitors to start collecting real world data. So for a lot of small businesses, use the “diagnose performance issues” data to understand where the issues may be. If you fix them, there won’t be issues to affect your real world user experience.
Use this tool and other website testing tools like GT Metrix to help determine if there are issues for a specific website.
If you see issues for a agency’s existing clients, you may want to learn more about the diagnosis. That way, you can ask the marketing agency for their strategy to address the issue when it arises.
Inspection Tool #4 - Ubersuggest.com
Website optimization check, keyword research & training tool available online.
The best tool for you to use to check a website is the website SEO audit. It helps spot any issues that may impact “search engine optimization” on a site. Remember, that really means optimization of your customer experience.
This is a wonderful resource to check important website information, track your keyword rankings, performance, and competitors.
Plus, there is a wonderful library of resources for marketers. So, I encourage you to use Ubersuggest.com to also learn more about marketing before you hire an agency for digital marketing.
Nobody but you will know the right agency for digital marketing help for your small business. It’s important to take your time, pick the right agency and understand any contracts you’re asked to sign.
By following these 5 tips, and using these 4 tools to inspect your digital marketing agency’s past clients, you’ll make better decisions as a small business owner.