Finding the right digital agency can be difficult. It can be very overwhelming to look at website after website to determine which agency is the best fit for you.
It’s essential to find someone whose work you love, but also someone who you can trust with your business. Making the right choice is crucial. If the wrong choice is made, it can drain your finances, impede the trust you’ve built with your current customers, and hurt your brand’s authority.
Follow these steps to find a digital agency – and the right one
Align your goals
Each business is unique, and your marketing strategy should also be. It’s essential to take some time to get clear on your goals. Do you want growth? Or would you prefer to increase brand awareness? Write down a list of 5-10 necessities. This will make it much easier to find a digital agency.
For example, your list could read:
- Someone who specializes in social growth
- Creative website development
- Kind and collaborative employees
- Someone who has worked in my industry
Since each digital agency will have different specialties, getting clear on what you need will help you rule out those who can’t support you.
If you can, also create a list of desired deliverables. Once you meet with your chosen team, they may advocate for different ones, but at least you have an idea of what you might want.
Then once you meet with a prospective team you can decide if their goals align with yours. Do their goals seem realistic? Do they promise you 150% growth in followers in the first month or a top Google ranking in the first week? If so, it might be too good to be true.
Align your values & work style
When you visit their website, how does it make you feel? Does it align with your brand’s values and general aesthetic? If your brand is absolutely minimalistic, but their website is the opposite, it might not be the best fit. Additionally, if your brand focuses on accessible and equitable work, but their team lacks diversity, they may not be the right people to help you reach your clients.
Then, once you meet with them, ask yourself how you feel? Did they make you feel heard and understood, or did you feel rushed? Did they communicate well and take the time to get to know you and your business, or did they immediately start pitching ideas without considering your unique needs? Take all of this into consideration, as you will be working with these people regularly.
Make sure they walk the walk
First of all, make sure they are transparent with you during the get-to-know-you process. Ask them to share some of their results, about the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) they chose and how those pieces of data prove success.
Ask them to also share the strategy behind each of their wins. If the wins they share are all related to SEO and paid search, but that isn’t one of your desired tactics, then the success isn’t relevant to your brand.
If you’re in a specialized industry, ask them to see industry-specific examples. Some industries need specialized services, and you want to ensure they can support you. If they don’t have experience in your industry but that’s not a dealbreaker for you, ask how they would approach this new industry.
Also, ask if they have examples of difficult and possibly unsuccessful accounts and how they pivoted to make it a success.
Who is on the team?
Find out as much as possible about their team members. If this information isn’t on their website, make sure to ask about the expertise of each employee that would be working on your account. Each person on the team must have expertise in the areas you want to grow. Especially if technical elements, like website development or email automation, are involved. It is important that someone on the team can handle those tasks with skill.
Then ask for their portfolios to review their past work. It’s important to know what each team member brings to the table. That way, you can collaborate better and have better expectations about what will be achieved.
Most importantly, you’ll want to make sure you work well with the team members working on your marketing strategies.
Align your budget
This is possibly the most crucial part. Although costs can be adjusted somewhat during the process, it is important to know your budget to receive the most accurate proposal from the agency.
Cost can also be a dealbreaker, so it’s good to share your budget as soon as possible. This way you don’t waste hours working with an agency, only to find out they are too expensive.
Check their reviews
It’s essential to learn what clients are saying about the agency. While reviews on the agency’s website are valid, looking for other reviews can be more helpful. Website reviews are typically curated and often don’t tell the whole picture.
If possible, look at their website, social media profiles, and other marketing channels for the agency’s past clients. A list of influential clients will often be listed on an agency’s website for you to peruse, but if it’s not, ask for it.. See if you like what you see on the client’s page, and if you don’t, it might be best to part ways.
Make sure you receive a specialized proposal
So, you’ve found a digital agency which you like the look of, have a proposal from them, are ready to review it. Look for evidence that this proposal was created just for you. They might not be the best fit if you mentioned certain things during your previous communications with the agency but don’t see them included in the proposal.
For example, if you mentioned that you hate posting videos of yourself talking on social media. However, they still create strategies based solely around you creating informational video content; they aren’t serving your best interest.
But, if you mentioned you loved TikTok but were scared to try it and they pitched a TikTok marketing plan, then they are ready to invest and support your unique business needs.
Sometimes agencies include tactics and strategies that might not align with your initial ideas. Still, when this happens, they should include an explanation as to why they believe it is essential. Additionally, they should be willing to take the idea off the table if you decide you don’t want to pursue it.
Be sure to ask questions before and after you receive the proposal. Some questions you can ask are:
- How long do you keep clients? What is your attrition rate?
- What results are guaranteed vs. aspirational?
- How will ROI be measured?
- Can you provide testimonials from businesses in my industry?
- What are your core services?
- Why should I hire your company?
- How will you measure success?
- How will you make collaboration a priority? What systems do you have in place to aid collaboration?
- Are there any additional fees outside the costs I have been quoted?
- When will it be reasonable for me to start expecting results?
Making the final decision
So, now you know the basics of how to find a digital agency, let’s narrow down the list. First, shorten your list down to the top candidates. Then run those candidates through the “must-haves” list you created above.
Don’t forget to audit your must-haves as you go. After speaking with digital marketing experts, business owners sometimes change their minds on what their business needs, which is entirely normal. If you initially wanted someone who excels in social media growth, but now you believe it would be more important to grow your email subscriber list, it’s not too late to make that change.
Once your list only includes agencies that meet all your criteria, ask yourself how they made you feel. Hopefully, this agency will be a part of your business journey for a long time. Make sure you are selecting people that make you feel good. Whether that means they inspire you, they push you, or they simply communicate very clearly—find what works best for you and your business.
Then, of course, take a second look at their skills and what they can offer your business. Then make a decision!
Decision checklist for finding a digital agency
- Do they meet all (or most) of my must-haves?
- Will I enjoy working with them?
- Have they got the skills needed to get my business where I want it to be?
- Does their proposal fit in my budget?
- Does their timeline work with mine? Will I see results in a reasonable timeframe?
- Do their goals align with mine?
- Did I learn something while speaking with them? (hopefully, you did!)
- Do I have a clear picture of what the next steps would be?
- Do they have good reviews?
If you’re researching how to find a digital agency, we know a good one – us! We’re a UK/US-based digital agency specialized in web design, branding & digital marekting. See more about us on our home page.