For businesses looking for marketing and sales help, the good news is there’s no shortage of agencies to choose from. 

Conversely, the bad news is that with so many agencies to choose from – each with different focuses and specialties, and varying degrees of effectiveness – picking the right one for you can be challenging.

When vetting agencies, it’s not always apparent what you should be looking for and the types of questions you need to ask. The following eight tips provide insight into both. Use them as a guide to the conversations you should be having to determine which agency is best suited to meeting your business goals.

8 Tips For Choosing
The Right Digital Agency

1. Define Your Requirements

There are a ton of digital agencies, but not all are created equally. A good way to start narrowing down your list is to first take a look in the mirror and ask yourself a few telling questions.

  • Do you want a big agency or a boutique agency? 
  • Do you prefer an agency that works with a select few companies at a time, or one that works with anyone?
  • Is it important to you that the people you work with are experienced? 
  • Do you want to be assigned an account manager or a growth consultant (there are huge differences)? 

When you start speaking with agencies, be sure to have them explain how they work with clients and paint a picture of what your engagement would look like.

2. Make Sure The Agency Practices
What It Preaches

Visit the agency’s website, review its portfolio of work and download a variety of content to gauge the type and quality of work the team is capable of. 

  • How well-written and designed are its offers? 
  • If the agency can’t create excellent content for its business, how will it be able to do so for you? 
  • Pay particular attention to the agency’s website – does it make a strong first impression and give you confidence in the work it can do for you? 

Furthermore, when you meet with an agency, take some time to evaluate your buying experience. 

  • How did you feel when speaking with the agency – confident, confused, skeptical? 
  • How was the sales process? 
  • Did the agency try to sell you or help guide you to a solid decision? 

The answers to these questions are critical – how an agency works with you can reveal a lot about how it will attempt to help you grow. And your buyer journey may very well reflect the type of experience the agency will create for your prospects.

3. Dig Deep

Once you’re actively speaking with and vetting agencies, dig deep into each agency’s capabilities. Ask specific questions. 

  • How many clients does it currently work with? 
  • How many inbound marketing programs or demand generation programs has its team run over the last five years? 
  • What are the typical results of those programs? 
  • What should you expect from your specific program recommendations?

Additionally, make sure the agency is asking you what success looks like. This is an important but often-overlooked question. The answer may provide insight into whether the agency tailors engagements to each client’s goals or employs one-size-fits-all strategies.

4. Meet Your Team

Your point of contact during the sales process may not be part of the team you’ll be working with during your engagement. Even if that person will be, make sure you meet ALL of the people who’ll play a significant role on your team. 

  • Who are you going to deal with on a day-to-day basis?
  • Who is going to lead the strategy work? 
  • Who will help drive conversions and ensure the website is designed to nurture your ideal prospects? 
  • Who is going to suggest improvements to the sales process so you close the leads generated?
  • Who will help craft a compelling and memorable brand story? 

These people and the work they do will impact whether your goals are met. Meet them and get a feel for their experience, expertise and personalities.

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5. Talk About Strategy

Plenty of agencies build websites, write whitepapers and send emails. Random acts of marketing won’t help you grow your company. Ask about the agency’s strategy methodology. 

  • How does the agency help clients with the buyer journey? 
  • How does it help craft a disruptive, compelling and emotional story for clients? 
  • How can the agency help your business stand out? 
  • How does it orchestrate all of the tactics and technology necessary to help you grow?
  • Are the agency’s strategies Agile and responsive to the unique needs of your business?

6. Get Program Recommendations

Before committing to an agency, request program recommendations, then carefully review the scope of work being proposed. If you’re down to a final few agencies, compare their recommendations, which will offer valuable insight into their expertise, approach and capabilities. 

Some questions to consider include:

  • Is the agency suggesting packages? 
  • Did it take the time to learn about your business during the sales process? 
  • Did the agency listen to your guidance? 

Your business is unique, so you should expect personalized program recommendations – and the agency needs to cover ALL of your requirements, not just some.

7. Ask About Timing

It’s perhaps THE question you must ask: How long will it take to get results? 

Make sure the answer aligns with your expectations and plan. If the agency says six months, expect longer. If it says a year, be ready to invest for 12 months before you see any results. 

If speed is important and you want to see results faster, consider agencies that can deliver them quickly through innovative engagement methodologies.

8. Skip The References

Do yourself a favor and don’t bother checking references. Every agency has a few referenceable accounts in its back pocket. Rarely is any value or differentiation uncovered.

Instead, ask for video content from clients who’ve gone on record and produced positive commentary for the agency to use, or check validated references on Clutch.

Working with a digital agency represents a significant commitment and investment. Choosing the best partner for you and your business goals requires thoughtful conversations and careful consideration.

However, using these tips as your guide, you should be able to narrow the field to a handful of agencies best suited to helping you grow your business.

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