Choosing a digital marketing agency for your business can be overwhelming in London. However, with these steps you will not only pick the right digital agency for your business, but also a great team willing to make your business successful.
Just like when hiring a member of staff, the process of selecting a digital marketing agency should be the same. Although the relationship may differ, the selection process and criteria are similar.
Digital agencies are ubiquitous in London, it’s true. A great starting point would be to shortlist the agencies, looking for specific skills within the team and making sure they have relevant qualifications and expertise in the area of the business you want to improve.
Build your agency shortlist
When looking for a digital marketing agency for your business, their website is probably the first thing you will stumble upon. Aside from getting valuable information about the agency, there are signs to look for which can greatly increase the chances to hiring the right team for your business.
Check these signs on their website before you add them to your shortlist:
- Branding – Sufficiency
- About page – History and expertise
- Their team – Diversity and experience
- Portfolio – Quality of their work
- Previous and current clients – Especially in the UK
- Contact page – Make sure they have a physical office in London
- Social media presence – Activity and engagement
Although you may search for digital agencies in London on Google, there are a few online agency networks and platforms that list the top agencies in the UK. You may have a look at these platforms to speed up the selection process while you’re shortlisting the best agencies for your business.
Digital Agency Network
Digital Agency Network (DAN) is a global network of carefully selected, highly talented, independently operated marketing and communications agencies with digital DNA.
DAN has a comprehensive list of the digital marketing agencies in London specialising in web design and development, digital marketing, social media marketing and mobile app development services.
By arming a global community of marketers and ecommerce professionals with a wide range of research, data, analysis, training, consulting, events and online resources, Econsultancy enables organisations and individual professionals to succeed online.
Econsultancy’s supplier directory contains profiles of organisations, including agencies who provide digital marketing or ecommerce services, solutions or technology.
Agencies use RAR to receive ratings from the people they work with and allow brands to find them. RAR also offers a performance-based search tool to find the right agency for your business in UK.
Contact the agencies
It’s time to send emails to your shortlist and schedule calls. If you call instead of sending them an email, you may end up talking to someone who’s not in charge of new business development.
It’s a better approach to send an email, summarising the services you need and your overall goals. You can set a phone call or a face to face meeting as soon as they reply back to you.
Ask probing questions
Digital agencies are usually adept at pitching for business as they will regularly face the same questions from prospective clients. Often a potted history of the agency with a client list of recognisable brands will be enough to create confidence in their abilities.
Once you’ve told the agency what you want them to do, and how much you have to spend then your digital cards are laid out on the table.
If you’re going to determine whether the agency is right for your business, then you need to ask probing questions about their team, experience and competence. The aim is to understand how the relationship will work and what the likelihood is of them delivering on your goals.
Make a list of questions. If you’ve never worked with an agency before, here are the must ask questions that should be on your list to select the best digital agency for your business:
- How often do you communicate with clients?
- Give me an example of how you helped a client see success with X tactic.
- What can I expect in terms of analytics and reporting?
- Do you offer consulting time with your services in addition to the actual campaign implementation? If so, how much?
- How are services billed? When am I to be billed?
- How will you get to know my business and industry?
- What is your campaign implementation process like?
- How does your team get familiar with my brand, services, and products?
- Will I have a dedicated account manager to work with?
- How long are your contracts or service agreements?
- What ability do we have to renegotiate contracts during a campaign?
- What services do you offer and can they be customized to my business?
- Have you worked with a business like mine? If so, describe that experience?
- How is your team trained? What expertise do they have?
Prepare your brief
Before engaging a digital agency, it’s important to have considered the following:
- The specific problem you want them to solve e.g. “We want to increase brand visibility” or “We don’t have enough website traffic”
- How you will measure their success e.g. sales targets or KPIs
- Your campaign or project budget
Budget can be notoriously difficult for SMBs to define as often they want to invest based on expected ROI. It’s a mistake to hold back on revealing the available budget to an agency, as a campaign or project can be delivered with varying degrees of quality based on spend. It’s important to focus on value, not just cost.
If you’re clear about what you want the agency to do, and the impact that will have on your business, then you should be able to put at least a guide price on what that service is worth.
Outsourcing is not in itself a bad thing at all. If work is being outsourced to specialists then it’s more cost effective and scalable than hiring permanent staff without compromising quality. The challenge for the agency (which you should explore) is how well they can maintain these freelance relationships to ensure a continuous level of service to their clients.
Campaign or Project Tracking & Reporting
There aren’t many brands that want their digital marketing agency to disappear into a black hole as soon as they sign the contract. Requesting specifics on the project management and progress tracking including tools, frequency and metrics will give clarity on the working relationship.
Too often, the day to day management is glossed over at the pitching stage in lieu of assessing the agency’s ability to deliver the end goal. Asking questions about tracking and reporting demonstrates that you’re focused on delivery and value and an agency should respond positively to this.
The only time you’ll ever wish you checked an employment reference is when a relationship goes wrong. Make sure you speak to the agency’s references in London, before signing a contract.
Today, almost all digital marketing agencies in London work with clients from all around the World. You should be checking their local references in the UK, as your business is located in London.
The right time to check references is at final stage of selection, when you have two or more shortlisted agencies. Asking for references at an earlier stage can be unfair to the agency if you’re not yet serious about signing them up.
Be mindful that delaying reference checks until you’re ready to sign a contract can be too late, as your decision is practically made. This bias in them being the only option on the table means there’s a strong chance you won’t review their references thoroughly.
Negotiate a fair contract
Contract negotiation is something you either love or hate. Often those who love it try and fight the cost up or down without considering value, and those who hate it just pay the list price in order to avoid conflict. Either scenario can end up with a poor deal.
The best negotiation tactic is to be flexible to get what you want. You do this by being clear about your deal breakers, but have a list of concessions you’d be willing to make to get these terms. For example, if the quote is above your budget then that’s a deal breaker. You could bring it down by agreeing to a longer contract term or no break clause.
It’s a very good idea to insert a break clause within the first campaign as a project progress checkpoint. This will tend to be 3-6 months, but should be realistic based on what the project is.
If the agency don’t hit their target at this point, and there’s no break clause then you’re forced to continue to hire an agency that isn’t delivering. This can be a serious, limiting situation and costly to rectify. If there’s justification for the missed target, then the decision to continue or not rests in your hands without having to go through a messy contract termination.
Get past the sales pitch – Meet the team
Much like checking references, you should ask to meet other people at the agency when you feel confident in their abilities to deliver. Visiting their offices, and meeting the people who’ll be delivering your work means you get to test the competence and professionalism of the team as a whole.
One of my clients recently made a decision not to sign up a digital agency at final stage on the basis that on a visit to their offices, they were unable to get a laptop up and running to present to them.
Many agencies will involve their delivery team at the pitch stage, but for those that don’t it’s good to know who you’ll be working with if you sign up.
Research the types of tools they use
Successful digital marketers have a handful of must-have tools used to help them research, track data and stay strategic with their marketing efforts. Popular tools for digital marketing agencies include Google Analytics, SEMrush, BuzzSumo, HubSpot and more.
Learn more about what their customer service is like
Many digital marketing agencies are great at providing the services you pay for. But do they do anything additional to delight their clients afterwards? Unfortunately, the answer is “no” more often than not. If you value great customer service, seek out an agency that makes sure you’re taken care of, and then some. Your team should always feel like people, not just a number.
How often do they report?
A usual reporting schedule is on a per month basis. If you need to keep track more than this you should specifically request it. A digital agency that reports only once every three months or even greater may be a sign that they are overrun leaving no time to work on your project.
Now that you know how to select the best digital agency for your business, we wish you luck in your future endeavors!