How to choose a digital marketing agency

Practical tips for a business owner and marketing executive
You’re a business owner or a marketing executive and your objective is to grow the number of leads or sales for your business. You’ve heard that digital marketing is the best and most efficient way to do so. 
For starters, that’s true. 
Digital marketing allows you the greatest degree of flexibility when it comes to your investment, accountability on how and where your money is spent, as well as reaching your ideal audience – even if that is coffee-loving, sedan-driving, young parents in suburbia currently looking to book their next beach holiday.
To make the most of this promising marketing channel, you need to choose the right digital agency, which can be a challenge. Your decision will have a significant strategic impact. To read more about this, check out my previous blog on this topic
It would be easy selecting a digital agency if you would be a digital agency… just like choosing the right builder is easy when you’re a builder or choosing the right accounting firm if you’re an accountant. But when you’re selecting an expert service provider from a totally different industry, how do you make the right choice without getting burnt? 

As a former Googler, advising corporates in the digital advertising industry, now running a digital agency, here are my insider tips to choosing a credible agency:

  • Find an agency that values transparency – During my tenure working at Google with large businesses and their agencies in South Africa, it became apparent that some commercial models used by agencies aren’t always ethically sound – taking advantage of a client’s lack of understanding of digital buying processes – profiting from fraudulently increasing click prices, setting fixed click prices or underspending on media budgets.

Whether this is common practice or outright dishonesty, both instances create a bad practice and set a standard in the industry that shouldn’t be tolerated by clients.

After leaving Google and starting up my own performance marketing agency, I was (and still am) very motivated to change this and offer a true, transparent and fair working relationship with clients who are desperately aiming to grow their business.

In the meantime, I have had many opportunities to take over Google Ads accounts from other agencies only to be shocked by the inadequate level of work, and in some instances, a complete lack of work.

If you’re a business owner reading this and are looking to select a new agency,  where do you start?

  1. Regardless of how you find an agency, it is important to speak to some of their clients and find out about their transparency when it comes to their reporting on budget spend and results. 
  2. If you’re already working with an agency, ask to see the Google/Facebook reports of the exact monthly/weekly spend and how that matches up to your allocated digital marketing budget.
  3. Request an overview of the changes they’ve been making in the past month.
    (INSIDER TIP: Google & Facebook have a change log showing the exact changes made for any given period of time)
  • Find an agency that offers real expertise 

The first myth that needs debunking is this: certifications look better on the wall of an agency’s office than in an actual AdWords or Facebook account.

I know, because I’ve been there. When studying for my first AdWords certificate it became obvious that you can fake the system and get to the answers rather quickly, just like an open-book exam, but in this case, you also have the whole of Google.com at your disposal.
The questions asked in the exams are mostly facts of how the ad platforms work but provide no guarantee or safeguard that an account is in safe hands with someone possessing a certificate.

Real learning happens on the job.

If you want assurance that you’re speaking to a real digital expert, get them into your existing account to review a few campaigns and then bring in a 3rd party to verify their work. You can also call me if you need someone to verify, – I love to help!

  • Find an agency that promises real partnership – this comes back to the first two points. You’re looking for a partner that you can trust with your business objectives and your brand, bringing you lots of new business.
    Your agency should be continuously prioritising your business objectives and making that central to your working relationship.
    At Prebo Digital, we take a cautious approach, working to prove that we are competent to do the job first, before scaling up together.

At the end of the day, choosing a digital agency is a strategic decision.
These tips will equip you with the right tools to select an agency that will significantly influence your short and long term success, bringing in new business and establish your brand’s identity with integrity, while you stay in control. 
For any more detail or simply want to chat, feel free to get in touch with me.

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