Digital marketing is a rapidly evolving industry covering traditional search engine marketing, along with content creation and distribution via blogs, articles, and press releases; along with social media, new technologies and website usability. Many traditional marketing or advertising agencies have expanded into the digital space, and hundreds of new website marketing companies have sprung up. There are a number of attributes that define a great digital marketing agency and these include:
Aside from the fact that you don’t want to be doing business with a dishonest or untrustworthy company, it is essential with any online marketing that you conform to Google’s guidelines. These are built around fairness, honesty and transparency. In the search engine marketing world, honest techniques are known as ‘white-hat’ and dishonest ones are called ‘black-hat’. Often when Google updates its algorithms, it is to catch out the cheats using black-hat SEO techniques. If the agency you deal with talks about using tricks or beating Google, or guaranteeing number one rankings then it is likely they are not using completely ethical techniques and tools.
In order to meet the needs of differing clients, and also keep up with changes in the online environment, its important to be flexible. One size does not fit all, and whilst it can help for a company to offer a standard service, it’s imperative there is flexibility to provide an online marketing plan that reflects the situation, resources and requirements of an individual client.
One of the benefits of online marketing is the transparency and tracking that is available. Compared to traditional media such as print and radio, it is often much easier to monitor and measure results. A professional digital marketing agency should clearly outline what measures are in place and should report on them regularly. Whilst Google says not to promise actual rankings, there are goals that can be set around conversion, brand awareness, social media exposure and more.
It is common for sales people to be great prior to the sale, and then the service dries up once the deal is done. Conversely, some in the online industry will communicate, but only via email. The best approach is to have a partner who maintains high service levels throughout the relationship, and also modifies the communication to what the client wants. Some clients want to know every detail and want regular written updates, while others just want a general chat on the phone now and then and help whenever they have a question. A great digital marketing agency will understand this and provide customised communication for each client.
I’ve noted understanding here to cover experience and more. Experience is essential in any industry and comes from time spent on projects and time spent solving problems. Experience also covers experience using the required tools of the trade. Understanding covers all this but also includes understanding of the clients’ needs, as well as the needs and behaviours of their target audiences. It also includes understanding how online marketing initiatives fit in with overall marketing plans and objectives.
Passion is essential simply to survive in the online marketing industry. The rate of change with new channels, tools and technologies is so fast that if you aren’t passionate and genuinely interested you won’t keep up with all there is to read and watch and share and learn. Passion also helps you hang in there through tough times or when solving problems.
This is not a definitive list and people will have different views on the importance of the various factors listed above. However, if you can find a digital marketing agency that exhibits these traits and attributes then you are on the way towards choosing a good partner to work with.