Digital Risk Management Tactics in 2021

What to Look For in the Right Digital Marketing Agency

These days, it’s nearly impossible for you to run a business without leaning in to digital marketing. Around 85 percent of Americans spend at least some time online daily. That makes digital marketing one of your best opportunities to connect with your target market.

Unfortunately, marketing digitally isn’t a static endeavor. The rules, expectations, and even channels evolve on a regular basis.

For most businesses, keeping up with all the changing information proves too time-consuming. That’s where a digital marketing agency can step in and help keep your digital marketing current. If you’re not sure what to look for in a digital marketing company, keep reading for some tips on what to look for in one.

Experience with Your Kind of Business

Digital marketing companies tend to specialize a bit. Some agencies specialize in a handful of related industries, such as physicians, hospitals, and pharmaceuticals. Others specialize in businesses of certain sizes, such as SMBs or enterprise-level customers.

Specializing lets them tailor their services to industry expectations or develop expertise on tools that work well for businesses at a certain size.

Let’s say you run an auto repair place. An agency that specializes in construction firms that average $20 million a year in revenue won’t understand your needs well. You must look for digital marketing companies that minimally specialize in SMBs and preferably one that specializes in auto-related SMBs.

Technical Proficiency

Modern digital marketing isn’t just about writing good marketing copy. It’s also about working with a wide range of marketing technologies. A good agency brings technical proficiency to the table.

For example, a good way for you to evaluate the effectiveness of a website or product page is through session replay technology like Decibel. Session replay lets you watch and analyze customer interactions with your site or page, which tells you if your user experience works as planned.

Similarly, good digital marketing relies on good analytics. Updating content or altering your site design is all well and good, but it doesn’t mean much if you can’t see how it affects on-page time, clickthrough, or orders.

Specialized Expertise

Digital marketing is something of a catch-all term for a lot of different activities, some of them with little to no overlap. That means that no one person can possible maintain expertise in all areas of digital marketing. Some of the areas of digital marketing you might need help with include:

  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • Pay Per Click
  • Inbound Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Email
  • Content

That list includes areas that touch on everything from writing copy and the technical setup of websites to advertising bid strategies. You need an agency that employs people with specialized expertise in specific areas of digital marketing. Otherwise, you risk getting generic or ineffectual advice.


You wouldn’t hire a general contractor without asking around about them, checking out their websites, and looking for reviews. You shouldn’t hire a digital marketing company without doing a similar level of research.

Look for social proof, such as testimonials, as well as reviews on third-party sites. Check their profile with the Better Business Bureau, if the company has one. You can even ask for formal references.

If they provide references, call them and ask some meaningful questions, such as:

  • What was their process like?
  • How was their communication?
  • How did they report results?
  • Would you hire them again?

These kinds of questions can help you get a sense of how the agency operates.

Within Your Budget

It’s natural if you want to work with the best agency you can find, but it’s not always realistic. Marketing agencies with great results typically don’t want for clients. Really busy agencies will even turn work away, rather than deliver subpar results.

That also means that top-tier agencies typically charge a lot for their services. Premium results mean premium pricing.

Before you go too far down the rabbit hole of research, you need a clear sense of what kind of budget you can really apply to your marketing efforts. That budget will define what kind of agencies you can realistically afford. It also means you may need a scaled-back version of your marketing plan.

Good agencies will help you narrow your focus onto the essential areas for your business. Even so, they need at least a hypothetical budget to figure out what they can do for you.

Solid Online Presence

Checking out an agency’s online presence is one simple test you can run before you ever call them.

Is their website well-organized? Does it provide visitors good navigation menus?

Does it offer all the information you need to understand who they are, what clients they serve, and how to contact them?

Is their social media presence clearly targeted to their identified client base? Did they show up on the first or second page in your search results?

If the answer comes up no for these kinds of questions, it’s a red flag. It indicates they don’t execute well on their internal projects, which bodes poorly for external projects.

Reasonable Performance Claims

Digital marketing companies will often make incredibly bold claims about their results. The reality is that no marketing effort is a silver bullet solution. Most digital marketing operates on a building-up process that happens over time.

You build blog traffic with a steady stream of quality content on a regular schedule. You build site traffic over time with a combination of good content, good SEO, and good paid marketing.

Any agency claiming they can deliver instant results is typically inflating their effectiveness. Look for agencies that make reasonable claims.

Picking Your Digital Marketing Agency

Picking the right digital marketing agency for your business means taking the kind of steps you take when picking any important service provider.

You look at their website, check reviews and testimonials, and ask for references. You evaluate whether they serve your kind of business and if they fit your budget needs. Then, you make sure they can provide you with the right specialized expertise and technical proficiency.

Looking for more digital-related tips for your business? Check out the posts in our Tech section.