As we enter into the year 2021, I can’t help but wonder how businesses would allocate their digital marketing spend this year.
Are you as a business owner still thinking – why you should hire a digital marketing agency for your business and get serious about digital marketing, or are you still planning to rely on traditional marketing methods?
Why I ask this question is because of how the world has changed after COVID-19.
Today, we all spend the majority of our time glued to our Laptop or mobile screen.
Even meetings have gone virtual.
I would not be wrong in saying that COVID has changed the way businesses were marketed earlier.
We are in the era of digital marketing.
It is the year when businesses start getting more serious about digital marketing as their customers won’t be coming to their brick and motor store so easily. Instead, the customers would order online or decide on buying by reading internet reviews.
You don’t believe me?
Here is a stat for you – November 2020 was Australia’s largest sho[pping month ever (source: AusPost).
No wonder, Online shopping is an industry that is growing in Australia at an average of 13% per annum (source: IBISWorld)
It is the right time for every business to get serious about digital marketing.
Not that businesses are not serious about it. It’s just that many brick and motor businesses are not used to the idea of increasing their digital spend and think beyond spending a few bucks on digital marketing to maintain their social media presence.
A habit that will hurt them in 2021.
If the stats are to be believed, Digital marketing has already eaten into a substantial budget, earlier allocated to traditional marketing methods such as TV, Newspaper, etc.
If trends follow the path defined in this graph, by 2023, the digital ad spending would be 60.3% of the total media spend across the globe.
The above graphs give us an overview of how marketing spending has changed over the years.
We now have industries allocating more than 60% of their marketing budget on the internet or mobile marketing – all part of Digital Marketing.
Digital advertisement growth has been in double digits in all the major countries around the world, reaching as high as 5.6% in Australia.
You are living under the rock if your Business is not using Internet Marketing to its advantage.
As per Search Engine Land, ‘On average, SMBs spend 46% of their marketing budget on digital marketing.’
Digital marketing is a trend you cannot ignore. It is the present and future of marketing and promotion.
Today, most companies in the business world do in-house digital marketing or contract internet marketing work to an Internet Marketing Company.
Though companies have gotten some small work done in-house, they have preferred to outsource Internet Marketing work to professional Companies.
However, there is always the risk of settling on a wrong digital marketing agency that may not deliver the expected results.
It is always a daunting task to find the right internet marketing company as there are many options available in the market.
I have been helping small businesses succeed on the internet for years.
One of the crucial aspects of helping them succeed was finding the right digital marketing agency for their online campaigns.
I have dealt with the good, bad, and ugly in the world of digital marketing.
The one question I get a lot from clients is ‘Why do we need a digital marketing agency and How to find the right digital marketing agency?’
I usually ask them to search on google.
Well! Most of the times – Google deceives them 🙂
I mean – let’s accept it. Google is prone to manipulation. (All DM companies have a team of ORM experts to paint them as the best in the Business).
However, there is a way to differentiate the good ones from the dodgy ones.
Why should you hire a Digital Marketing Agency?
I have covered a lot of the information around digital growth in the introduction and how COVID has changed the way businesses approach their customers in the introduction section.
Let’s look at the specific reasons why you should hire a digital marketing agency
Digital Marketing Agencies are the present and future:
Gone is the day when your business could rely on traditional methods of marketing to succeed.
I know that’s a very bold statement to make. But hear me out – what is the first thing you do if you have to buy a new product?
Your search on the web for the company or product and read google reviews or reviews on other websites.
We live in a digital era, from finding the direction to stores to reading reviews about a business, we rely on the internet to tell us everything.
How do you ensure that your business is coming on top for the right keywords on the internet?
Or How do you respond to all reviews (bad or good) on the internet?
You do it through digital marketing.
In 2021, your business needs a digital marketing presence to help you succeed. There is nothing better than taking the help of a professional digital marketing agency to help you succeed.
Digital Marketing Agencies help you run cost-effective campaigns:
When was the last time you hired a marketing agency and they gave you a budget of AUD 2000 to AUD 3000/month to run a marketing campaign?
Marketing campaigns (usually) comprise newspapers, TV and channels that are ridiculously expensive and, worst – do not provide measurable results.
By running a traditional marketing campaign, you either make it or break it and when you break it, your small business suffers heavily.
On the other hand, we can efficiently run a digital marketing campaign for a small business at an affordable cost of 2K to 3K AUD/ month and then give clients measurable results.
Again, it would be best to have a digital marketing agency to help run a professional campaign.
Digital marketing agencies help you focus on your business
After running a series of businesses over the years, I have learned to leave it to the experts if there is one thing that I have learned.
I like to outsource anything that does not form a part of my core business to other companies (for them, it should be a core business).
For example, when I ran my IT Service business – we outsourced our recruitment, accounting, and development work to other companies.
It would cost us extra to outsource this stuff, but it was worth it as it helped us focus on the core aspects of running and growing our business.
To elaborate on what I wrote further – setting up an in-house digital marketing team for a company is not easy.
You need a proper structure comprising team lead and SEO experts, SMM, PPC, and Content space to run a sound digital marketing campaign.
First of all, until and unless you are a multi-million dollar enterprise – you would never have enough work to keep all of these professionals occupied.
Secondly, in addition to hiring the team, you also buy many tools to run the campaigns.
As a small business owner, I would refrain from taking any of the costs as mentioned earlier.
Instead, I would go to a professional digital marketing agency where I would probably use 20% of their capacity and not pay for the tools to share between their different clients.
Also, by outsourcing the work – we contribute to small businesses’ growth that further contributes to a country’s economy.
Steps to help you find the right Digital Marketing Agency
Where to “Search” Them?
I know it’s a dumb question to ask. You have search engines, yellow pages, search engines.
How difficult would it be to find the right internet marketing company on internet? (irony)
To start with, most of the small businesses are as lost as I was, when I started my Business.
Here is how you can use the “already known” methods to better find how to find internet marketing companies for your Business.
- Search Engine: In the modern digital world, you can actually find an agency of your choice by make good use of the search engine. It is advisable to be more specific in your searches to avoid wasting a lot of time going through thousands of results. You can minimise the number of results by including your location in the quest to find agencies near your area. Some of the best agencies that can meet your needs can be found at the top of the results lists.So, how do you do that?The first step is to prioritise your search by identifying the factors which are vital for you to select a internet marketing company.Few of them which comes to my mind when I think of finding a internet marketing company using Search Engine are:
- Cost: Keywords like Affordable should be of help (Do not use cheap. I hate to use the word, and most of the businesses who have used the keyword to find the digital marketing agencies using the keyword have actually found “cheap” agencies in a literal sense. As they say “If you pay peanuts, you will only get monkeys)
- Type of Business (small Business, startup)
- Industry experience (this details the type of industry your Business belongs to – Pharma, healthcare, hotel, etc.)
- Location: If you hate to communicate via internet and want someone you can meet face to face – Location should be a criterion for you to find the right agency.
- Referrals: The good old referral method still works wonders. You reduce the risk of failure by working with someone who has worked with an acquaintance and has done an excellent job for them.
Your acquaintance might tell you beforehand about all the advantages and disadvantages of working with a particular internet marketing company based on their own experience.
Referrals provide you with an opportunity to see beyond the salesmanship and marketing of various digital marketing agencies.
In short, you get to see the True Picture, which is not possible – if you are finding the agency via the web.
Reputable search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing have partner agencies that can come in handy when searching for a internet marketing company.
This method is quite successful when you are looking for specific services like Google PPC, Facebook Ads, etc.
A certified preferred partner from Google definitely has the edge over others when it comes to running a PPC Campaign for your agency.
In addition to the above, Google has a database of digital marketing agencies arranged in different digital marketing categories such as Shopping and Google Analytics IQ, video ads, mobile advertising, display advertising, and search advertising.
You can get the expected budgetary requirements for working with various agencies.
The trust factor and legitimacy of Google makes it a useful tool for finding a competent internet marketing company for your company.
What to consider while selecting them?
By now, you have your list of Digital Marketing Agencies shortlisted for your Business, and now you want to filter them in order of your preferences.
They all look equally good, but you cannot hire them all. Right?
Here are a few points to help you shortlist the ones matching your criteria.
- Credibility: This is the most important thing to consider when looking for a internet marketing company. Any credible agency should have a decent website that provides necessary information about its ownership, location, and services.
An online marketing agency that does not have a website should be avoided as this is a major red flag.You must be wondering “How is it possible that a internet marketing company does not have an internet presence?“
Let’s go a step further than “having a website”. A right internet marketing company must have a website that reflects their brand professionally.
Few important points to help you with the process are:
- The website must have a blog which is regularly updated and helps websites visitors learn something about the industry. Now, this is a must. We are in 2021 and if you find the blog of a website was last updated three months back, take a step back and think “If they do not update their blog, how will they update mine?” The bottom line is “You should not preach what you do not practice”.
- Once you are done checking the basic stuff, time to move to Testimonials and Clients section. You should check whether the website has testimonials and client logos or not. In addition to that, you should also find out if the reviews are from genuine clients or not. I always ask my clients to dig out a bit of history of names, companies posted in the testimonial section.
- I ask them to take that extra pain of going to LinkedIn and find the name of the person whose name is displayed on the website and if you are at the last stage of shortlisting, how about you drop them a LinkedIn message and ask them about their experience? You will have the real authentic feedback from someone who has had first-hand experience with the internet marketing company you are considering.
Few more additions to the website which should help you give that extra point to the agency are:
- Have they published any case studies on the website?
- Any experience from a similar business as your Business should be awesome.
- It would be amazing if content creators in the company are published on some other websites too (remember, digital marketing is now turning into content marketing. The more the content they have published on other publications, the more is the expertise level of their team)
- Check the variety of industries they have worked in and how comfortable they will be in developing content for your industry.
You should take the time to visit the agency’s physical office to determine it’s vibe. In this case, you should engage in casual conversation with some of the company’s employees and study the mood at the office to understand the agency’s vibe.
Find out if the team members are friendly, good communicators, and helpful.
Most people ignore such intangibles and end up hiring agencies that cannot deliver the expected results.
Team members that appear frustrated and annoyed may not do a good job as marketing requires a positive vibe. And check their comfort level in working with your industry.
Trust me, the most difficult part of running a Digital Agency is producing engaging content for fields which are considered boring in the market.
You need a passionate team. The word passion has lost its power because of being overused but is still important when it comes to marketing.
The agency should tell you what excites them about your company and how they feel working for you.
In addition, you should ask them about their favourite industry innovation and what they find fascinating about the industry.
You should avoid a team that is only excited about the money, ego, and awards as this means that they have no passion for what they do.
It is advisable to consider a team that is excited about innovation and has a genuine interest in your Business, as this indicates that they are driven by passion.
What Should You Ask?
- Audit: There is a need for an agency to prove itself as competent and asking for an audit of your Business’s current Digital presence is a good start.I know of a company which got a paid audit done by three companies and selected the one which really understood what they wanted.
They would rather spend money on three companies now than get stuck with a wrong partner and suffer later.
Do you know which internet marketing company they selected?
They selected an agency which did the current audit to perfection and laid out a perfect beautiful plan for the future of their Business.
In the process, they also did some free sample content for clients.
The business owner was really impressed with what he saw. Most importantly, he appreciated the fact that this agency understood his Business better than others.
An audit helps in identifying areas that need improvements when it comes to digital marketing.
Through an audit, a internet marketing company is able to uncover some of the failures in your current system and in the process increase their chances of working with you.
A proper audit will help the new internet marketing company to do a better job as compared to their predecessors when you eventually hire them.
- Their logic of going for a paid audit from 3 companies made a lot of sense to me. As per them, this is a long-term relationship and requires a lot of close interactions and planning to make the project success.
- Experience: For me, the biggest challenge a internet marketing company can take is to set the client’s expectations right and then meet those expectations.
For example, not all businesses will get leads from the internet. Some businesses need digital marketing for exposure.
Your experience should help you set the expectations clear with clients.
A good internet marketing company should have some outside experience as this is very critical in the modern business world that is very competitive.
Previous experience sparks innovation, and that is why it is important to consider diversity when selecting a digital marketing company.
An agency can only provide valuable solutions after they develop empathy from outside empathy.
Another important point while looking at the experience is what is the kind of experience the agency has.
To make a sound judgment, you should know what you want from Digital marketing because Digital marketing is a very loosely used term.
If you look at the offerings in Digital marketing, you will notice Digital marketing comprises of:
- For example, our agency has good experience in Content Marketing, but we are rate ourselves 5 out of 10 (self-criticism) when it comes to running PPC Campaigns.
- An experienced agency has a solid understanding of the daily challenges that organisations face in digital marketing. The need for digital marketing agencies to provide real-life solutions makes it necessary for marketing agencies to have some experience as an agency and client.
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Paid Marketing
Make it a point to ask the internet marketing company, which of the above will hey use to meet your expectations.
This is where the experience of an agency will come into the picture. For example, I ask B2B Companies to focus more of LinkedIn and Quora than Facebook, and I tell them, you should focus more on SEO than social media marketing because that is where you will find your clients.
And before I end, do not forget to map your budget with what they can deliver. The word affordable has a different meaning for everyone in the service industry.
Ensure, you have your expectations set straight from day one in terms of deliverable, money and timeline.
It is important to look for a internet marketing company that suits your specific marketing needs.
I might have missed few points in my blog to help you select the right internet marketing company, but overall the blog has all that I have learned working with a variety of clients and helping them succeed on the internet.