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Digital marketing has become an essential piece of success for any small or local business in the 21st century. No matter what industry you're in, people use the internet to find you. Rather they search for a need on Google, scroll social media sites, or come across companies via paid ads, 81% of shoppers research online before making a purchase of some sort.
The opportunity is out there. The challenge comes when you start diving into how your brand can reach these internet searchers. It takes a google search and all of 5 seconds to feel completely overwhelmed by the world of digital marketing. Small and local business leaders especially end up discouraged when they feel they can't put the effort into such a critical strategy. They want the advantages of digital marketing but don't have the knowledge or the resources to get started.
That's where a marketing agency comes in.
What is a marketing agency, what do they do, and who do they serve?
A marketing agency is a company that partners with other businesses to plan, strategize, and implement a number of marketing efforts. The hiring company essentially contracts the agency to function as an outsourced marketing department.
Different marketing agencies do different things. You might find some that focus solely on a specific discipline like advertising, analytics, creative work, or content. These specialized agencies usually partner with companies that have some sort of marketing team. The agency comes in and fills the gaps where needed.
Marketing agencies serve a variety of clients, from large organizations looking to outsource specific needs to small local companies with too much on their plate already. They are particularly helpful for businesses that have a limited marketing department. Restaurants, medical professionals, online or physical retailers, and any other customer-focused company can benefit from partnering with a marketing agency because it allows them to reap the rewards of the marketing without requiring them to hire a team or do the work themselves.
What is a Traditional Marketing Agency?
A large majority of marketing agencies, especially those working with small and local businesses, focus on advertising. They manage a company's Google and social ads or their PPC campaigns, helping build recognition to draw in more customers. It's likely that the agency would come up with the ads' content and monitor all the analytics that come with that – views, impressions, conversions, click-throughs, and so on. They'll use all the data to make informed decisions as they plan and strategize future ad campaigns.
The traditional digital agency works great, but like anything, it does have its hangups. Take for example the fact that most ads require a landing page or another piece of content to direct customers to. Traditional agencies help customers get there and track things like how they got there, what they did on the site, how long they stayed, and other pieces of insight.
However, these agencies don't create the actual content the customers engage with. They either subcontract the work to a company the hiring company does not know or the hiring company contracts a separate company, like a design firm, to do that work.
Navigating through these different companies can put an extra burden on the hiring company. The same company that hired an agency to relieve the burden. That's why more and more businesses have started partnering with all-inclusive marketing agencies in recent years.
Advantage of an All-Inclusive Marketing Agency
All-inclusive marketing agencies offer a range of done-for-you services that help small and local businesses develop full-scale marketing efforts. They operate similarly to traditional agencies except for one key difference. Instead of specializing in a single discipline, they balance multiple strategies at once.
Like a full-scale marketing department, an all-inclusive agency's work can entail anything from design to development to data management. Options might include disciplines like...
This doesn't mean that the hiring business has to use every option available. Some all-inclusive agencies provide customizable plans for their clients, allowing them to choose which items fit into their overall business plan and offering guidance when needed. The agencies that are willing to work with your company give you an added bonus of retaining some sense of control and say over the marketing decisions without requiring your company to do the heavy lifting.
What to Look For When Considering a Marketing Agency
Doing a simple Google search for marketing agencies will yield thousands of options. Picking the right one can feel almost as daunting as doing the marketing work yourself, but it doesn't have to feel so terrifying. With the right things to look for, you will be able to evaluate the options and make a strong, informed decision. Here are a few of the most important things to consider.
Do the services this agency offers connect to my marketing goals?
Each agency will offer specific kinds of work, but their skills might not meet the needs of your company. If you're looking for outstanding design work, for instance, a PPC agency won't be able to help you. Save yourself some extra phone calls by checking out what they offer before you contact them. See if they can help you meet your marketing goals before you get too far in the process.
Where is the agency located?
There are plenty of large-scale agencies that operate nationwide. For some small businesses, that sounds big and impressive, but others see how it could interfere with quality service. You may never have the chance to meet face-to-face with their representatives. It may even be difficult to get a call with them. Local agencies, on the other hand, can dedicate the time to their clients and make sure they have an excellent experience overall.
What clients have they worked with in the past?
Any credible agency will have a visible portfolio available for visitors to browse. Take the time to look through their work and evaluate it. Pay close attention to the kinds of businesses they've worked within the past. Do they have experience with your specific industry? If so, they probably are already aware of some best practices and basic information.
Have those clients had positive experiences?
You can often find reviews or testimonials of agencies on their personal websites. What kinds of things are people saying about them? Looking at the specific feedback will help you know exactly what to expect from them. If every testimonial talks about timeliness, communication, and customer experience, you can assume you'll get that same kind of treatment.
Do their prices match my budget?
A little transparency here: it can be difficult to estimate marketing costs. Each company has specific needs, making it difficult to predict specific amounts before an initial conversation. Even with that, though, most marketing agencies can give an idea or at least a range of prices for their services. Have a look at those numbers and see if they align with what you're able to pay.
Are they easy to contact?
You want your customers to easily reach you, right? Well, there's no better way to judge an agency's ability than by looking at what they do for themselves. Think about it: they're marketing their content to you. If something about it intrigues you, you are experiencing what they can deliver firsthand. By making it easy for you to contact them they show two things.
Both of these are big wins.
Picking the Right Marketing Agency for Your Brand
By now, you have the information and tools to find the best marketing agency for your company's needs. Having a clear idea of what you're looking for will help you sift through the noise and make a more informed decision in the end.
For 20 years, Think Donson has partnered with small and local businesses in a variety of industries. As an all-inclusive agency, we've got everything from a complete start-to-finish package to an easy-to-use reporting dashboard that helps you track and improve your results.
If you'd like to talk more about how we can help solve your digital marketing puzzle, schedule a call with us today.