It has been around 7 years since I started my digital marketing agency. Although it did not hit full stride until 2017, there are just some things that have remained constant throughout the years. These constants are not only important with business in general, but also with digital marketing agencies. Myself and my team probably spend a good amount of time educating our clients and prospects about digital marketing, and although the industry has progressed, sadly enough, many agencies have not progressed with it. Whatever the reason, whether a tendency to rest on laurels, or a knee-jerk response to what is popular, many businesses are still clueless as to what to look for when hiring an agency. Hopefully, this will give you some sound direction and food for thought when deciding who to hire for your digital marketing needs.
Do They Have A Comprehensive Knowledge of Digital Marketing?
One does not call Bridgestone or Michelin and ask them to build a car for them. That is ludicrous! The same holds true of hiring a digital marketing agency. Many agencies start off specializing in one area, albeit SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or Social media or website design. Usually, they will branch off into other areas as they become more popular because this is seen as a revenue generator for them. The common practice is to hire a specialist, who only understands that singular component of digital marketing. The old saying is that no one wants a generalist, they want a specialist. Well, in digital marketing, that no longer is true. A 2015 study conducted by Fractl and Moz revealed that most digital agencies are having a hard time finding qualified talent due to a lack of combination of three critical skills; creativity, an understanding of all digital marketing components and lastly, business acumen. These are words taken from the conclusion of the study.
” Remember that brands are looking to create a T-shaped team in order to optimize results. Companies need marketers who possess a broad skill set and an understanding of how focused tactics such as SEO and content marketing connect to a larger picture to drive bottom-line results.
This conclusion was reached after analyzing thousands of Indeed job profiles and applicants. Additionally, current data reveals that most digital marketers are unable to correlate business results to digital marketing campaigns (outside of paid advertising). The explanation is simple. Most digital marketers are not versed in business operations or lean operations or profit margins etc. These skills are critical to building a well-designed digital marketing strategy. Any organizational development consultant will tell you that it just makes sense. Yet most digital marketers go after the shiny objects (like the number of followers or a shiny website or Google ads) without any regard to how this is going to affect the bottom line of the business client. Therefore, it is critical that you ask your digital marketer just how they approach their strategy and how it is going to affect your bottom line.
Do They Walk the Walk?
This one really bothers me. Many agencies will tout that they do social media marketing. This is akin to going to a doctor that has not had the proper training or demonstrated proficiency in their field. The solution here is simple. Do your research. Take a look at their following and their social media profiles. It is not enough to jump on the social media bandwagon and then propose to build a social media strategy for clients when your own social media presence is less than desirable. You may be saying to yourself that it is only recently that social media became popular. Therefore, it is understandable why a company may not have a strong social presence. That brings me to the next point.
Are They Able to Predict Trends?
We live in a society where prevention is the preferred mode of action. We try to prevent ourselves from getting sick , becoming overweight, or in business, preventing a slump in sales. People have been arguing for years about the role of social media in SEO. Think of it this way. If Google sees content as king for ranking your website, and social media is made up of applicable content, then wouldn’t it make sense that one’s SEO rankings would increase? Well, Hootsuite conducted a study that proved just that! Or doesn’t it make sense that video was going to become the preferred mode of content delivery, since we already knew that people have the attention spans of a goldfish? Your agency should not be operating in a bubble nor be reactive to trends. They should be able to see the trends and be proactive in their approach. After all, the key to success is differentiation and consistency. You CAN have both. Is your agency following the established rules or are they able to see the future trends and give your business a leg up on the competition? This is something that you should research about your agency. What are they doing online? Are they saying the same things as everybody else but just in a different way? This is key, because it gives you some insight into their thought process. This thought process will ultimately work its way into the digital strategy for your business. And ask yourself this question. Do you have the time or money to experiment?
These are three constants that I have seen in my years as a digital marketer. The hard part is witnessing businesses that have lost thousands of dollars because their agencies did not possess the foresight or skill sets that I mentioned above. Find an agency that genuinely cares about affecting your bottom line and one that has the skills to do so.