Choosing suppliers in general is difficult. There are often many different options and most suppliers are actually good, regardless of the sector or company. If the company was not good at what they do, they would most likely not be around.
Choosing the right digital agency or digital marketing partner can be a very difficult choice for a company.
My theory about why it's so difficult is that when it comes to marketing, there are so many different possible suppliers or partners. In addition, it is difficult to determine which type of agency is right for your business.
This is not only because there are many different digital agencies. Many agencies have different names, although they may do basically the same thing, but they may also have different specialisations.
Digital agency vs SEO agency vs Inbound agency etc
What is the difference between a digital agency, SEO agency, Inbound agency, advertising agency, content agency, web agency etc?
These are just some of the many different types of agency categories that exist and it is not always easy to distinguish between them. It is logical to understand that an SEO agency focuses on SEO but often they work with more than just technical SEO and they often also create content which also a content agency, Inbound agency, digital agency, advertising agency etc. also does.
The point is that it is not always clear what a specific category of agency does. This alone makes the choice of marketing partner more convoluted than the choice of many other categories of providers that a company hires.
Expectations, results and guarantees
Another aspect that makes the choice of digital agency or marketing partner is to look at actual results.
When it comes to marketing, the most important thing is that it ultimately leads to increased revenue. You probably want to be able to recoup the investment you make so that it pays off, i.e. you get a Return On Investment (ROI).
However, it is impossible for a marketing service provider to guarantee increased sales, more leads, better Google rankings, or increased brand awareness.
It is possible to guarantee deliverables, such as blog posts, social media ads, video productions, landing pages, etc. But it is virtually impossible to guarantee exact results.
The best an agency can do is to show previous work they have done and experience from it but even if this has produced extremely good results, it is no guarantee of future results.
The number of parameters that make a campaign or activity successful is often too many to provide any real guarantees. Just think back to when Google made one of their biggest updates to the search algorithms about 10 years ago. Overnight, Google penalized certain types of link building that had previously worked and put many businesses on the first page of searches and then completely removed their results on the same types of Google searches.
Who knows what will happen tonight? How can we guarantee results?
How to choose a digital agency and marketing partner?
This is an extremely difficult decision and one of the most important things to take into account is that not all agencies are suitable for everyone.
It is a unique service that should be tailored to each individual case and even if you initially think you need help with SEO and therefore look for an SEO agency, it may not be the right choice in the end.
Our recommendation is to always start from your end goal. The end goal when it comes to marketing is almost always increased sales. Then there are different strategies to achieve that goal.
Depending on the knowledge available within the company, different types of expertise are needed to achieve the set goal. Perhaps there is no digital marketing knowledge at all within the company and then a full marketing partner, inbound agency, advertising agency or marketing strategist is needed.
It may also be that you have a complete marketing team of 15 people and need specialist help in web development or SEO and then a web agency or SEO agency may be the best choice.
Regardless of the situation your company is in, our recommendation is that before you start meeting with suppliers for marketing, you do a baseline analysis of your company's situation and then make your own list of what types of specialist skills your company needs and what you need to supplement it with in terms of production resources, for example. This will make it easier for you to start navigating the vast landscape of different types of agencies.
Find the best agencies by filtering out those that are not experts in what you are looking for
Once you've narrowed down the final candidates, whether it's a digital agency, marketing partner, SEO agency, content agency or inbound agency, you need to identify the ones that are the best fit for you.Below is some summary advice:
If anyone guarantees results, it's time to look skeptical.
As mentioned above in this blog post, it is virtually impossible to guarantee exact results in terms of number of leads, Google rankings, increased sales, etc. In that case, dare to ask how they can guarantee this.
Dare to ask questions.
If it gets complicated and you don't follow what a supplier is doing, ask them to explain so that you understand. If the digital agency doesn't manage to explain so that you understand, chances are that they don't understand what they can and should do for you either.
Ask for references.
Asking for references is not strange and it should be a matter of course to be able to share the contact details of an existing customer so that you can have an additional source of information to make the right decision. Even better is to ask for a reference where everything didn't work out optimally. It gives a picture of how the company copes with difficult situations and the likelihood is that if you work with a supplier long enough, you'll end up in a situation where something doesn't work exactly as you intended.
Choosing the best digital agency for you or any type of marketing agency or partner is a difficult and at the same time a very important decision.
Make sure to read up on what the agency actually does as it is not obvious despite the categorization such as SEO agency, Inbound agency, marketing agency, advertising agency, content agency etc.
Always start from your company's own situation. Start with a quick analysis of the current situation. What kind of needs do you have? Even if other companies are happy with their agency, that doesn't mean they are the perfect choice for you.
Finally - dare to ask until you understand what the agency can actually do for you.