You have the budget for a new website and your team is excited to get moving on it. The next step is hiring a digital marketing agency, a task that’s easier said than done.
If you’re looking for a great digital marketing agency in Boston, you can scroll through literally dozens of Google results pages and check out various agency websites—but still feel like you’re getting nowhere. You can get recommendations from your peers, but your business’s needs may not be the same as theirs. It’s a big investment, it’s important to get it right, and you don’t want to blow it.
Find the right digital agency fit by asking the right questions.
If your quest for the right agency feels like you’re flying off in all directions, this article can get you back on solid ground. We’ve been in business since 2005 and have been interviewed by our share of potential clients over the years. We’ve heard their questions and know which ones will matter the most. We’ve also heard horror stories of what happens when people choose the wrong agency!
That’s why we want to share these 10 signs that an agency will (or won’t) work for you.
1. Have they been successful?
Find out if the agency’s past projects have been successful. Most digital agencies will be able to provide you with analytics for some past or current clients. If you don’t know how to gauge what “success” looks like based on the analytics, ask the agency to walk you through it. This is also a good way to see how they will communicate with you on technical issues—which is especially helpful if you’re not a techie or don’t have an IT expert.
2. Do they have industry experience?
This is easy enough to find out. Look at their website or simply ask the agency. While some businesses will require that the agency have industry experience, others see the value of having “fresh eyes” to help create a unique brand identity that sets them apart from their competitors.
3. What is their rating from the BBB and other Industry Sites?
The Better Business Bureau provides A+ to F ratings based on complaints from the public, information from the businesses themselves, and public data sources. Along with the rating itself, the BBB usually provides a general indication of why the business has been given that rating. Note that not all businesses are rated.
4. What do their clients say?
There are several ways you can find out how customers feel about their interactions with a digital agency.
- References: Ask for references that are relevant to your business and the type of project you will be working on. This is probably your best indication of their professionalism, their work relationships, if they delivered what they agreed to on time, final results, and other significant factors.
- Testimonials: Testimonials are like static references. You don’t get to have a conversation, but they still provide valuable feedback. I find this partial testimonial from our website compelling because it mentions several reasons why the client enjoy working with us. It states that we are a “fantastic company to deal with. Professional, responsive, and dynamic in their approach…” That’s a positive review in anyone’s book.
- LinkedIn: Scrolling through an agency’s LinkedIn profile will lead you to professional endorsements and recommendations. You’ll likely see a range of client perspectives on different topics and from various angles. For example, one of our clients chose to provide these specific results: “Within six months our wedding business had increased by 50%.” Another shared more personal insights: “She thinks outside the box, is super creative, and continuously brings new ideas to the table.”
- Social Media: Comments on an agency’s social media feeds may include positive (or negative) feedback. You’ll also see how the company chooses to engage with its audience and how it responds to specific types of feedback. You can translate this to how they might interact with you and respond to issues that arise.
5. Do they provide thought leadership?
You want to know if the digital agency has expertise and is a leader in key areas, such as SEO, design, and navigation. You can Google the agency to see if there are any reviews or press about the agency. Also, check their blog to see what topics they address and the quality of the articles, plus see if there are any interesting comments.
Of particular interest are any industry awards they have received. For example, Expertise.com named our agency among the top 11 digital agencies for social media in Boston and Worcester.” We have also been ranked a leading digital marketing agency in Boston by Clutch.co—getting the maximum of five stars for web design, development, and digital marketing. If you’re SEO-minded, you can also gauge leadership by knowing how many other sites link to theirs (our site has 255 quality backlinks).
Other ways to evaluate digital agencies
The previous items provide numerous ways to “dig” for information about the agencies you want to interview. The following “do-it-yourself” methods are also useful:
6. Are they personable?
Have at least one (but hopefully several) phone calls or video meetings with the head of the agency and the account person you will be working with. First off, it’s a very bad sign if they don’t have the time for you. Second, you want to make sure you click with them and seem to have a compatible working style. Your project may take a while, and you want to enjoy it—not tear your hair out!
7. How is the development expertise?
Go to several sites they’ve built and see what you can discover. Use various devices, especially mobile, to see how the sites display. Click around and see if you find broken links, difficult navigation, or other signs of technical problems. If you do, run in the opposite direction! Those errors result in a poor user experience, erode conversion rates, deter users from returning, reduce credibility in your brand, and decrease your search engine results.
8. How are their SEO experts?
If you want the agency to run your SEO program, you can try to gauge how their clients perform with organic search. Enter some relevant search terms into the search bar and see if the client’s website comes up on the first page or two. Just keep in mind that organic results build up over time. If the client just started working with the agency, page results may not present an accurate picture. This may be another time to ask if the agency has any relevant analytics.
10. Do you like the design aesthetic of past projects?
Do you like the design of the sites overall, as well as the specific pages and setup? This is very subjective, but there’s no point going further if their design taste is not to your liking or if you think it’s not right for your audience.
10. Does their pricing meet our budget.
Once you’ve talked to a number of designers and done your homework, you’ll have a general sense of what agencies charge. Smaller agencies may charge less than larger agencies. There may be pricing differences based on geographic area. Enterprise and e-commerce sites will cost more than simpler sites. You probably don’t want to go with an agency that low-balls you, which could indicate a lack experience. However, you don’t need to go with the most expensive, either. It’s good to remember that, in most cases, you get what you pay for. But the fact remains that if your budget is $10,000, and an agency says a project like yours will cost over $15,000, that’s probably a deal-breaker. It’s time to move on.
What’s the bottom line of your digital marketing agency search?
Building your brand’s digital presence isn’t easy and it’s a serious investment—with serious consequences. If you can’t reach and engage your customers, you’re dead in the water. Find an agency that has experience, expertise, and a track record of getting results. Equally important, choose an agency that you can work with effectively or you’ll risk having mediocre results, as well as frustration and stress during the process.
If you’re looking for a well-respected digital agency in Boston, we hope you’ll contact Ladybugz. Our focus on generating results and creating positive relationships with our clients has helped us grow into one of Boston’s most highly regarded digital agencies.