If you’re looking to hire a digital marketing agency, you can expect to pay around $5000 to $13,000 a month to develop a strong online presence. 

This may sound like a lot until you break down how much work is required. And, in the long run, if your marketing is done well, this will convert to a decent cost of sale. 

Digital marketing is continuously changing at a rapid pace. To attract visitors, you need a great website with lots of relevant visual and written content. An engaging site will push you up in the search engine rankings. 

But, that’s just the beginning.

Your site will be competing with lots of other websites so you need a team of people dedicated to testing, monitoring, reporting, and analyzing visitor data. This data will highlight areas of the site that perform well or underperform.

1. Get results

If you’re going to hire a digital marketing agency, you should only use a company if they can show you that they get results.  If a company isn’t able to provide you with honest statistics on successful marketing projects, don’t hire them. A digital marketing agency should have a portfolio of successful campaigns with visual evidence of increased web traffic.
This is your number one consideration. If they can’t increase traffic to someone else’s site what makes you think they can do it for you?

2. A great team

The major difference between a successful marketing agency and failure is having the right team on board. 

There’s a lot involved in driving traffic to a site, so the work must be divided into areas of expertise. A great team is composed of specialized individuals who focus solely on their area full-time. 

Digital marketing combines technical knowledge with creativity. You’ll have some roles that are more creative and others that are purely technical. 

As you have different types of people working together they must all possess excellent communication and people skills. Being able to work in a team is an absolute must. 

When you go to meet a digital marketing team, observe the atmosphere in the office. There should be a positive friendly vibe and you should receive a warm welcome. All team members should have a great interpersonal presentation. 

Also, check out the company’s About Us and LinkedIn pages. They should give you a good feel for who the experts are in the company and what their skill sets are. LinkedIn is particularly good for checking out an expert’s previous work history, qualifications, and professional memberships. 

First impressions count. 

So what mix of skills do you expect to find in a successful digital marketing team?

A digital growth expert

A Digital Growth Expert helps to develop strategies for a business to get ahead of their competitors. They have in-depth knowledge of all areas of digital marketing, but their talents lie in thinking strategically and leadership. This person will know which direction to take your site to get it to rank high.

Graphic designer

The graphic designer will translate the digital growth expert’s concept into a visual identity. They create graphics for the site, banners for inbound links, and any offline marketing materials such as newspaper ads and leaflets.

Project manager

A project manager coordinates the workflow from start to finish. They tie the whole process together with planning. They implement the strategy created by the digital growth expert. They lead the team and get them to deliver work on time with great results.

Wed designer

The Web Designer will design your website using the graphics made by the Graphic Designer. The back end of your site may need bespoke coding if you’re having a unique slideshow for your products. If you are having an e-commerce site, the Web Designer will ensure that it’s secure from hackers and malicious attacks.

Front-end developer

A Front-End Developer is a type of Web Designer that focuses purely on the technical aspects of the visual side of your site. This may include things like a call to action, pop-up, or contact form.

Content writer

Content is king. If you don’t have content you don’t have a website. The content is vital to attracting and keeping interested visitors. The aim is to get your visitors to buy so it must be useful and engaging. That’s why you need someone who can write for different audiences in a way that captures their attention.

SEO specialist

A website is useless if it is not optimized for search engines. Every digital marketing agency will have an expert in search engine optimization. 

An SEO specialist uses tools to find keywords and long-tail keywords that visitors are searching for to be incorporated into the content and overall brand strategy. 

This person must live and breathe SEO due to the rapidly changing nature of the industry. Google can change an algorithm making your site lose traffic overnight. The SEO specialist must be able to adapt and overcome these sudden setbacks.

Pay Per Click (PPC) manager

Online content promotion is a vital element of digital success. A PPC Manager monitors and tests paid advertising campaigns such as Google AdWords for success. They are responsible for tweaking advertising campaigns to make them more successful. Having someone dedicated to this role is highly beneficial as it generates revenue.

Marketing automation specialist

A savvy marketing agency will have someone dedicated to utilizing email marketing and automated marketing tools. A marketing automation specialist is responsible for analyzing data and tweaking email campaigns to generate revenue.

Automated marketing tools are software programs that marketing agencies use to send pre-written email content automatically depending on certain triggers in order to increase conversion rates and close sales. These tools automate other tasks such as segmenting visitors in order to target more relevant content.

The idea is to nurture and close sales through timed email sequences.

An email marketing campaign consists of different emails that are based on one generic email designed. Each email is targeted towards visitors who are segmented according to age, gender, location or other factors.

When configured, an automated marketing tool sends a particular email sequence when a visitor performs a certain action.

For example, when someone signs up for a webinar from a Facebook ad, the tool may add that person to an email list tailored to a Facebook audience. Or if they signed up from Google they may go on a Google list. The tool will then automatically send timed and targeted messages to each segment.

A marketing automation specialist configures the tool to send a particular email when a goal is achieved, such as getting someone to sign up to a newsletter, ebook or webinar when they visit a landing page.

All-in-one automated marketing tools also personalize emails using dynamic content, merge tags and pre-filled forms to make content more relevant to the visitor. These tools can automatically assess the visitor based on their location, browsing history, and shopping habits and target them with relevant email content to coax a sale.

A marketing automation specialist will be someone with a strong background in data analytics.

3. Communication

Once you’ve found a team you’re suitably impressed with, a major quality to look out for is their communication style with you. 

Clear and open lines of communication build trust. You want an agency that is transparent and honest with you. You should be treated as a partner of the company rather than a client. 

You want to be kept updated on the progress of your marketing campaign, especially if you’re paying them a large portion of your overall budget. 

A decent marketing agency will provide you with regular detailed reports. Be sure to ask them how often they will update you. Will they call you weekly? Or will they email weekly reports? They must be accountable to you. And most importantly they should be available to speak with you or at least return your call if they’re busy.

4. Powerful digital presence

You should be able to tell how effective a digital marketing agency is by their online presence. 

Their website should come up high in certain Google searches.

After all, if their SEO doesn’t rank them high why should you think they will get yours to rank high? 

The design of their site must be bold and interesting. It should reflect fresh creative thinking and showcase expertise in design and technical prowess. Their graphics should be bold and entertaining. 

Like having an active blog, a digital marketing agency’s online presence should be continuously evolving. 

And be sure to examine the quality of the written content on their site. Is it informative, entertaining, and engaging? 

Also, check out their social media activity to get a feel for their marketing style. Look at their LinkedIn page, Facebook, and Instagram. Do they post useful informative videos to a YouTube channel? Do they come across as thought leaders? 

If they stand out from other digital marketing agencies in their own online promotion that’s a good sign. Check that they post regularly with totally fresh and kick-ass content. 

5. Testimonials

Testimonials are important as are results. 

While results show you that the company can market effectively, testimonials will reassure you whether they are an enjoyable company to work with. 

Testimonials can give you an idea of the experiences of a digital marketing company’s services. When someone has written a long glowing review it’s always a good sign. It means you’ve left a great impression on them. 

If you see testimonials accompanied by logos from big brands you know it’s a company that big companies trust. Big firms have a stricter hiring policy than smaller companies. So if they’ve written glowing testimonials there’s a high probability you’ll enjoy working with them too.

6. References

A high-quality digital marketing firm will always be able to provide references on request. Ask them if you can call their referees. If they can’t, you should take it as a warning sign. 

They may say that they are the best in SEO optimization because you see their name everywhere online but this doesn’t guarantee you a great service. 

Dig deep, ask questions and ask their previous clients about the service they received.

7. Tactical thinking

It’s vital when hiring a digital marketing agency that they demonstrate tactical thinking. Tactical thinking is an ability to assess what resources are required and how to use them. 

For example, a tactical person might ask, ‘how much content do we need to build out this site so that it generates enough traffic?’ They may then ask, ‘Who should we approach for the highest quality content for this market within the timescale?’ 

Another way to identify tactical behavior is to ask a digital marketing agency what process they take to procure staff when they are going through a busy period. They should demonstrate that they have people and procedures in place to make things happen when necessary. 

Your digital marketing agency should be able to plan, get the right resources, and make the right decisions to execute your marketing plan effectively.

8. Transparency

Transparency is a valuable quality when your money is at stake. You want transparency as it indicates integrity. 

Many companies don’t make their pricing very clear. 

When a marketing agency creates a quote, it should break down explicitly what you are paying for. Some agencies charge arbitrarily or add hidden costs. 

Go for an agency that is upfront about how much they charge. Always ask what your quote includes and excludes so you don’t get hit with a bill for additional extras. 

It’s normal for a digital marketing agency to get you to sign a contract for 6 months or a year. Anything shorter than that is unlikely to get you results. It typically takes a minimum of 6 months to see your site rank higher. 

But, take care and research the company fully to ensure they know what they’re doing. Make sure the company provides a breakdown of what your contract includes. You want to know exactly what you are paying for. 

A digital marketing agency should also be realistic about expectations. If they promise you they’ll get your site to number one on Google in a week, forget it. 

A reputable company will be honest with you. What you are looking for is a company that can act strategically in situations to improve the ranking of your site. 

This process takes time. It’s part knowledge, experience but also part experimentation. Use the references, results, and testimonials to gauge whether they’re capable of making educated guesses.

Remember, many people know how to sell but don’t know how to get results. 

Don’t take a flash website at face value. Make sure you investigate the company thoroughly before you sign anything or part with any cash. 

Sadly, this has and will continue to be a trap that many fall into. Don’t fall victim to poor companies. 

A high percentage of people get sucked in by talented sales people that can’t deliver results and take your money. 

It may mean that you have to pay more for a service than you expected, but if you choose a company with a portfolio of successful campaigns for big clients, you should be on the road to success. 

About the author

Ryan Jackson is an owner at Jackson Digital, a digital marketing agency based in California. Ryan brings years of expertise in, emerging search engine optimization tactics, inbound marketing, and lead generation. He graduated from Arizona State University where he found his passion for helping people and his love for marketing. You can follow him on twitter @RyanJacksonR