Choosing the Best Digital Marketing Agency to Help you Grow Your Business
Businesses who want to experience growth in 2022 have so many options when it comes to marketing online. But the world of online marketing changes very quickly. And with a list of ways to market online that include email, SEO, Pay Per Click Ads, blogging, video, social media, podcasting and on and on, it can prove to be a bit much to master it all - and run a successful business.
Struggling to keep up with all of the changes is a challenge that millions of businesses face every day. Fortunately, digital marketing agencies solve this problem so you can focus on serving your customers in meaningful ways.
But how do you choose the best digital marketing agency for your business? Your inbox is likely full of outreach attempts from agencies that want to help you, and your phone is probably ringing off the hook with people trying to sell their digital marketing services to your company. It can feel very overwhelming when you are tasked with choosing the right fit.
If you're like most companies, and you've been down this road before, chances are, you've been burned. So how do you decide which agency is the right one to choose that will lead to the best possible outcome?
Great news! This guide is meant to help you answer that exact question. Let's get started!
Digital Marketing Agency FAQ
Use these links to jump ahead to frequently asked questions about finding the right Digital Marketing Agency:
What Do Digital Marketing Agencies Do?
You may wonder what it is that a digital marketing agency actually does, and why you may or may not need one. Well, here is your answer! Simply put: Digital Marketing Agencies grow your business online. In most cases, a company employs one or more people in their marketing department, to manage the relationship with a digital agency. In smaller companies, the business owner will do this herself.
Digital Marketing agencies differ from Traditional Marketing Agencies in the sense that everything a digital agency works on can be seen online. The list of things a digital marketing agency will do may vary from firm to firm, but for the most part, a digital marketing agency will handle the following areas:
- Website Design and Development
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Digital Ads (PPC, Display)
- Copywriting/Ghost Writing
- Lead Generation
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Social Media
- Email Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Analytics/Performance Metrics
In addition, a digital marketing agency will usually handle some traditional forms of marketing, such as:
- Logo Design
- Brochure Design
- Business Card Design
- Tradeshow Booth Design
The most sophisticated digital marketing agencies will do all of the above, PLUS offer a few premium services to help you grow, such as:
- Strategic Consulting
- StoryBrand Messaging
- Sales Funnels
- Marketing Automation
- Sales Enablement
- Podcast Production
- Video Production
As you can see, the list of services that a digital marketing agency provides is vast. It is far too much work for one or two people to handle in most cases, but it still makes sense for the company to have a dedicated staff member in-house to be fully immersed in the company vision, and then communicate that vision to the agency.
What Is A Digital Marketing Agency?
A digital marketing agency is an advertising agency that specializes in marketing your business online. They typically consist of several people who are experts in a variety of disciplines, including:
- Digital Campaign Strategist
- Search Engine Optimization Specialist
- Graphic Designer
- Web Developer
- Content Marketing Coordinator
- Social Media Coordinator
What Is An "Agency" In Digital Marketing?
Agency simply means a business that provides a service. The root word, "agent" means someone who acts on behalf of someone else. Sometimes the terms can be a bit confusing, but you may find it easier to understand by knowing that you can use the terms "digital marketing firm", "digital marketing company", and "digital marketing team" interchangeably with "digital marketing agency". Therefore, a digital marketing agency is simply a business that does your digital marketing for you.
What Are Some Examples Of Digital Marketing?
Great Digital Marketing Agencies are results-focused, which means they want to know your goals and help you achieve them. For example, let's say you wanted to grow your business by 20% next year. Your current website produces 10 leads per day. Out of those 10 leads, five result in sales. In other words, 50% of your leads will "close". The fancy, digital marketing term for this is "conversion rate". Therefore, a simple way to achieve your goal would be to generate more leads. But, there are actually a few ways to achieve your goal, such as:
- Generate More Leads
- Increase your Conversion Rate (to close more sales)
- Reduce your Costs
A good, results-focused agency will look at the objectives and determine an ideal strategy to execute. The strategy will focus on one, or possibly, all three of the above methods. Trying all three is smart. Because if you're trying to hit a target with an arrow, the more shots you take, the higher your chances are of hitting the target.
So, the digital marketing strategy would include a plan to get from "A" to "B". It will identify several ways to accomplish the above paths:
- Increase Traffic to the Website using:
- Social Media
- Improve Conversion Rates:
- Create Better Offers
- Run Experiments and Measure Results
- Identify Wasteful Marketing Spending:
- Cancel a radio/tv campaign that is producing no leads
- Close More Sales:
- Better understand your buyer's journey, pain points, needs, and expectations
- Survey your customers to measure their buying experience
- Apply their feedback to help new customers have a better experience.
Why Work With An Agency?
When you don't have in-house marketing staff, it often makes sense to hire an agency to handle your marketing for you. When you delegate to an agency, it frees you up to do the things you're good at and enjoy in regards to running your business.
It's about working in your strengths and utilizing the strengths of others — in this case an agency — to obtain maximum success.
Because it's what they do all day, an agency knows A LOT about what works and what doesn't. Working with one can help you avoid costly mistakes and often can get you a return on your investment that you may not be able to achieve on your own.
If you're still deciding whether or not you're ready to work with an agency, check out: What is the Difference Between a Digital Marketing Agency and A Freelancer?
Why Do You Need a Digital Marketing Agency?
Let's face it ... almost everything happens online these days. In fact, Datareportal research shows that people spend an average of 6 hours and 58 minutes online every day. When they need something, they search for it online.
A digital marketing agency helps them find you when they're searching.
But, of course, that's not all.
In addition to more consumers finding you — increased traffic and more new leads for your business — you're also likely to get better conversion and retention rates when working with an agency.
A digital marketing agency helps make sure that you're implementing appropriate strategies that will yield the results you need. They do the work required to maintain your current digital marketing initiatives and help you launch new campaigns as needed. And they stay on top of the tracking and metrics that tell you what's working and when you need to make adjustments.
You need a digital marketing agency because they have specific knowledge and skills that you may not care to learn. And they have the time and staff to put that expertise to work on your behalf.
How Does Digital Marketing Grow My Business?
Since digital marketing allows you to attract and engage with customers online, it can help grow your business in three key areas:
- Getting more leads
- Closing more sales
- Increasing customer retention / selling more to existing customers
- Set up automation for efficiency
Strategies for growing a business in these areas with digital marketing can be used whether you’re selling products, services, or even your professional knowledge and expertise.
Digital marketing is cost-effective and can be targeted to reach an ultra-specific audience so that you attract more of your ideal customers. And because results can be tracked and analyzed immediately, you can implement changes quickly when you need to.
To learn more about growing your business using digital marketing, check out this resource: Your Guide to Growing a Business with Digital Marketing.
Is Digital Marketing Proven To Work?
Digital marketing — when done right — is a proven method to reach potential customers as well as to engage with existing customers.
However, there are many digital marketing strategies to choose from. Some are better for achieving certain results than others, so it’s critical to implement digital marketing strategies that align with your business goals.
Even more important than knowing digital marketing is proven to work in general, though, is the fact that you can track and measure how it works for you. Proving not only that it works, but also just how well it works … specifically for you … is an important benefit of digital marketing.
Does Digital Marketing Generate Leads?
Lead generation is one of the results that can be achieved through digital marketing, but it is not the only measure of success. Therefore, if generating more leads is the goal, you must implement the appropriate tactics to do so.
For example, digital marketing tactics that specifically result in generating leads include:
- SEO (search engine optimization)
- Content marketing (regular and ongoing original content including blog, podcast, and video)
- Social media marketing
- Paid ads
- Lead generation built into your website
How Much Does It Cost To Do Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is a broad discipline. And different digital marketing strategies vary in cost to implement. So the most accurate answer to this question of how much does it cost to do digital marketing really is “it depends.”
It depends on the scope of the project. It depends on the complexity of the strategy. And it depends on the current systems you have in place to launch and manage your digital marketing efforts.
Depending on the specific digital marketing you’re implementing, you may be paying hourly rates, per-project fees, and/or monthly retainers.
The average cost for digital marketing services in 2023 ranges from $2,500 to $12,000 per month, $50 to $500+ per hour, and $1,000 to $7,500 per project for small-to-midsized businesses.
Because of all the factors involved, it is always best to consult with a digital marketing expert and get a proposal based on your company’s individual needs.
How Much Should You Spend On Digital Marketing?
While your accounting department may classify digital marketing as an expense, it is perhaps more accurately seen as an investment in the growth of your business. The amount you allocate to that investment varies depending on your industry, your growth goals, and your in-house skill and talent.
That being said, the U.S. Small Business Administration used to say that businesses with annual revenues of under $5 million should allocate 7% to 8% of their revenue to marketing. However, more current studies show that the average spent on marketing ranges from 7% to 12% or more of revenue.
Another thing to note is that initial implementation investment in digital marketing may be higher than the ongoing costs. So you should expect to adjust your budget accordingly.
For more information, check out: "How Do I Decide Where to Spend My Digital Marketing Dollars?"
How Do You Measure Digital Marketing ROI?
The simple equation for measuring digital marketing ROI (return on investment) is this:
Increase in Revenue minus Cost of Marketing divided by Cost of Marketing equals ROI
So, if you saw a $10,000 increase in revenue after spending $1,000 on digital marketing, the equation would look like this:
$10,000 - $1,000 / $1,000 = 9
Since ROI is typically expressed as a percentage, 9 = 900% ROI.
To learn more about digital marketing metrics, and measuring return on investment, click here.
What Is The Most Profitable Form of Digital Marketing?
There is no universal answer to what the most profitable digital marketing tactics are. The answer is different depending on factors like industry, audience, size of business, etc.
Statista reports the following marketer responses to a study of digital marketing tactics and ROI:
Content marketing is a strategy for getting new customers to come to your website and business by creating and publishing valuable content that’s relevant and helpful to them.
In doing so, you rank higher in search engine results, you get more brand awareness, and you build trust and credibility for your business. Over time, content marketing can also give you other benefits like better conversion rates and more sales.
While seemingly similar to content marketing, inbound marketing is more of an overall business method based on a commitment to building and maintaining relationships with customers.
One way to implement inbound marketing is to create and publish valuable content (through content marketing), but it isn’t the only way.
What Is Inbound Marketing In Digital Marketing?
The digital marketing tactics that you can use to implement inbound marketing and build relationships with your customers include the following:
- Customer/buyer personas
- Lead nurturing
- Lead generation and follow-up technology (such as a CRM)
- Conversion rate optimization
- Pay-per-click ads
- Email marketing
- Web analytics and data analysis
What Is The Relevance Of Inbound Marketing For Digital Marketing?
With its focus on building relationships, inbound marketing not only pulls people to you to generate more leads and close more sales, it also builds brand loyalty, generates repeat sales, and encourages more referrals. Inbound marketing is a way to make your digital marketing — and your business — more human.
Since your website is so often someone’s first impression of your business, web design is a critical part of your overall digital marketing efforts. It goes beyond whether your website is “pretty” or “cool,” web design must be strategically implemented to accurately portray who you are as a business and how you help your customers.
Search engine optimization — SEO — is the process of improving your website so that more people find it when they’re using search engines like Google, Bing, and others to find products, services, or answers to questions related to your business.
Good SEO makes your website more visible to people who need what you offer by improving your search engine ranking. The goal is to get your web pages to rank high enough to show up on page one of the search engine results page (SERP) for search queries related to your business.
Marketing Automation / CRM
Marketing automation is the practice of using software and technology to automate certain marketing tasks. Automation can be used within email marketing, social media marketing, live chat and chatbots, to name a few.
Automation makes marketing more efficient for your company while also using data to give your customers and prospects a more personalized experience.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and it refers to the software and technology used to manage customer information, communication, and interactions. CRMs are used to build and nurture relationships with customers and prospects.
Social Media Marketing
Social media can be a strategic place to focus your digital marketing efforts to build your reach and engage your audience. But you do have to be strategic about it and choose the right social media platform for your business.
Some of the social media platforms you may consider using include the following:
What Is SMM and SEO?
SMM stands for Social Media Marketing on any or all of the platforms listed above or others that aren't listed here. SEO is Search Engine Optimization.
Email marketing is the digital marketing strategy of using email to stay in touch and communicate with your customers and prospects who have given you their contact information.
Email marketing campaigns can consist of single promotional broadcasts, planned follow-up sequences or series, and regularly published e-newsletters to provide value and build relationships with the people on your email list.
Pay-Per-Click Ads / Search Engine Marketing
Pay-per-click (PPC) ads, as the name implies, are paid for based on the number of times people click on the ad. Google ads and Facebook/Instagram ads are common PPC ads.
Search engine marketing is the practice of using paid advertising to get better visibility so that your website is more easily found on the search engine results pages.
How Many Digital Ads Are There? (What Types Of Digital Ads)
In addition to ads placed on search engines, other types of digital ads include display ads, social media ads, video ads, remarketing/retargeting ads, mobile ads, email ads, native ads, and audio ads.
Podcasting is a great way to market your business and reach a huge audience of listeners. In fact, Statista reports that as of 2022, 62% of U.S. consumers listen to podcasts. And Buzzsprout reports that 26% (80 million people) listen to podcasts weekly
What Are The 3 Types Of Digital Media?
A well-balanced and effective digital marketing plan combines a strategic mix of the 3 types of digital media — owned media, earned media, and paid media. Let's look at each in a bit more detail ...
Owned media is just what it sounds like — digital assets that your company or brand owns and has full control of. This includes your own website, blogs, email marketing, and the content you publish on social media.
Through your owned media, you tell your brand story, create a customer experience, and build your authority.
You don’t have any direct control over earned media. Examples include customer-generated content, reviews, online mentions, backlinks, social media mentions and shares, etc. You can think of earned media as being free word of mouth advertising.
Earned media — because it’s what others are saying about you — increases your credibility and builds trust.
Paid media also is what it sounds like — digital media that you directly pay for. This includes both pay-per-click social media and search engine ads, as well as display ads in website banners and sidebars, pop-up ads, podcast and video ads, etc.
Paid media can quickly increase your company’s visibility and reach. It’s measurable, targetable, and scalable. The ROI is easily calculated, and you can start and stop paid media as easily as opening and shutting the valve on a garden hose.
Should I Hire a Digital Marketing Agency, or Go In-House?
Many business owners and managers are tempted to handle their digital marketing in-house with their own employees. And if your business is big enough to support a full-time team of digital marketing specialists, that may be the right route for you.
However, in most cases, the employees you delegate your in-house digital marketing to have other responsibilities. They wear other hats and have other key tasks to attend to. And they may or may not have the expertise and experience with digital marketing to deliver the best results.
On the other hand, when you hire a digital marketing agency, you’re getting experts who “do” digital marketing all day, every day. They keep up to date with all the new strategies and best practices.
They know what’s working now, and they know how to put what’s working now to work for you to get you the results you expect and deserve.
In addition to being more results-effective, hiring a digital marketing agency can actually be more cost-effective as well. You can count on the job being done right the first time … and in a time-efficient manner. And you can keep your employees focused on running your business and taking care of your customers.
And the business expense of digital marketing through an agency doesn’t include the taxes and insurance expenses that are associated with in-house employees. Yet another cost saving!
What are the Right Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency?
There are a multitude of questions you can ask before hiring a digital marketing agency. There are no “right” or “wrong” questions, as long as you get the information you need to make an informed decision you are comfortable with.
With that being said, the 10 most important questions to ask so that you can gain that peace of mind and know whether the digital marketing agency you’re considering working with is one you can trust are these:
- How will you help me reach my goals?
- Are my expectations realistic?
- How will we measure success?
- How quickly will I see results?
- How will you communicate with me?
- Will I have a dedicated point of contact?
- Do you have case studies and/or testimonials I can see?
- Do you work with other businesses in my industry? Is that a conflict of interest?
- What marketing software do you specialize in? Will I have to change what I already use?
- How do I know the digital marketing strategies you propose will work for me?
You will need to ask additional questions specific to what you’re hiring the digital marketing agency to do for you. Ask as many questions as you need to. It’s important for you to trust the agency, the people that you hire to work on your behalf to help you grow your business.
Are There Disadvantages to Digital Marketing?
While digital marketing has tremendous advantages and can produce impressive results, there are some things that may be considered disadvantages to take into account as well.
For example, digital marketing is technology driven. And technology is evolving constantly. That means digital marketing is ever-changing, too. You have to keep up with the changes if you want to remain competitive.
Speaking of competition, digital marketing has leveled the playing field when it comes to reaching your target audience. That makes it a highly competitive space.
Like the ongoing need to keep up with changing technology, security and privacy issues also must be addressed and managed on an ongoing basis.
Digital marketing isn’t a one-and-done kind of thing. It’s an ongoing, ever-evolving endeavor. It’s a long-term commitment if you’re going to keep reaping the rewards.
Is it worth it to deal with these issues?
What Types of Companies Use Digital Marketing?
All types of companies can use digital marketing of one sort or another. From e-commerce to local brick-and-mortar shops, there are digital marketing strategies for any kind of business you can think of.
For example, this is a partial list of the types of companies that WorldLight Media serves:
- Emerging Businesses
- Established Businesses
- Medical Practices
- Law Firms
- Service Providers
- Non-Profit Organizations
- Universities and Schools
- Real Estate
- Coaches and Consultants
If you want to attract and engage with customers online …
If you want to generate more leads, close more sales, increase your customer retention, and sell more to your existing customers …
Then digital marketing is for you, whatever type of company yours is.
What Companies are a Good Fit for Digital Marketing?
As we’ve said above, digital marketing can work for any type of company that wants to attract more customers, clients, and patients … companies that want to keep growing.
Digital marketing also is a good fit for companies that want to improve their customer retention and maximize their up-sell, cross-sell, and repeat-sell opportunities.
Additionally, companies that are a good fit for digital marketing are those with realistic expectations regarding results and those that are willing to look at it as a long-term, ongoing commitment. With the ever-changing nature of digital marketing, companies utilizing it must be willing to keep up with the evolution.
What Companies are not a Good Fit for Digital Marketing?
All the things that make companies a good fit for digital marketing are true in reverse for those who are not a good fit.
For example, if you’ve decided to close your business or if you don’t want any new customers, clients, or patients … then digital marketing probably doesn’t make sense for your company.
You’re also perhaps not the best fit for digital marketing if you can’t make it an ongoing commitment or if you have unrealistic expectations about the results you’ll see.
Otherwise, while one digital marketing strategy might not be the best fit for you, that doesn’t mean that digital marketing as a whole won’t work. There more than likely is another strategy that makes a lot of sense and can greatly benefit your company.
You just might need to talk to a digital marketing expert to uncover the strategy that’s best for you.