How to pick the right marketing agency for your business? • Digital Dot

How to pick the right marketing agency for your business?

In today’s hyper-competitive business world, knowing how to pick the right marketing agency can dictate success or ensure failure. Business owners already had financial restraints and time limitations to deal with, even before the global pandemic which exacerbated both. Now, facing turning tides in customer demands and expectations, failed or underperforming business relationships carry even more risk. And even if the stars do align professionally, such human factors as a cultural mismatch can still jeopardize partnerships. We at Digital Dot have seen ample such cases before, so today we’d like to explore a prudent, calculated approach.

How to pick the right marketing agency: introspection

The very first step to this process should come into careful introspection and thorough planning. As with all business endeavors, you should come fully prepared and with exact goals in mind.

#1 Carefully examine your needs and budget

First and foremost, you should outline your exact needs and expectations. Every digital marketing consultant or agency will come with different areas of expertise, different portfolios, and different offers. As such, you will need to know beforehand which exact services you will need – and which you won’t.

Two people on a table examining metrics on papers.
It’s important to clearly set out your goals before you pick the right marketing agency for your business.

The latter holds particular significance as it regards your budget. You should know exactly what you intend to pay for and not let your agency inflate the price needlessly. Set clear budgeting limits from the start, and only accept to exceed them within reason as a problem-solving resort.

#2 Outline your goals

Next, you may outline your goals to reinforce this perspective moving forward. To do so, you may opt for the SMART model as Ucop outlines it:

  • Specific – what do you want to accomplish?
  • Measurable – how will you measure success?
  • Achievable – are your goals realistic?
  • Relevant – do your goals align with broader business goals?
  • Time-bound – when will you achieve your goals?

This step will prove invaluable for later phases, including short-term campaign tracking. Especially for such expansive ones as social media marketing NYC you should at all times be able to gauge success and swiftly adjust as needed.

#3 Pinpoint your KPIs

Finally, on the subject of tracking success, you may ideally pinpoint your KPIs and keep them at hand as well. Key Performance Indicators will vary across industries, campaigns, and marketing types, but will typically include:

  • Lead generation – leads per month, lead acquisition rates, etc
  • Conversions – Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), conversion ROI and value, etc
  • Sales – the average length of the customer lifecycle, close ratios, etc

With all of the above in order, you may then look outward to your candidates.

How to pick the right marketing agency: qualifications

The very first criterion to pick a marketing agency should naturally come in their qualifications. You now know what you need and how to measure it – but can they deliver?

#1 Industry experience and a rich portfolio

The first factor that will determine their fit for your business comes from industry focus. Understandably, different industries require different marketer skillsets to thrive; consider B2B vs B2C marketing for a very substantial, distinguishing example. As such, your candidates should come with deep industry knowledge to cater to your needs.

To determine this you may initially examine their portfolio. Should they offer case studies, even better – you may let their track record speak for itself.

#2 Credibility and transparency

Not all agencies are credible, however; as with all professions, dishonest ones exist as well. To ensure credibility, you may first examine client testimonials and reviews; Statista finds that they rightfully inform trust quite notably.

A close-up of a computer screen that reads "what our clients say".
It’s important to establish the credibility of a marketing agency before opting for its services.

Then, you may reach out and ask for additional case studies and other proof of expertise to determine their qualifications. Should they refuse, you may note the lack of transparency and move on to other candidates.

#3 Pliability

Finally, the future is never set in stone. If anything, success should incite growth and necessitate scaling. In this regard you may examine your candidates for pliability; can they scale to match your expected growth?

This factor bears noting because many industry-focused professionals may develop rigid operations and mindsets, which can’t afford flexibility to scale. Conversely, they may apply such rigidity to specific services, such as SEO. New York web design solutions don’t typically suffer from this setback, thankfully, but other marketing service types might.

How to pick the right marketing agency: red flags

With both your goals and your candidates’ qualifications in order, you may then note red flags to avoid. Even if you’ve found seemingly ideal candidates so far, specific early signs may earn your caution – or sway your decision.

#1 Vagueness

The first and likely most notorious red flag lies in vagueness. A lack of accuracy and clarity never makes for a good business partner.

In brief, anything and everything they offer should come in crystal-clear terms and language. Costs, communication channels and frequency, operations, you name it; only absolute clarity makes for success.

#2 Overpromising

Similarly, especially if you already possess experience in your field and its marketing landscape, you may note exaggerated promises. Many agencies will opt for overpromising instead of vagueness, assuring clients they will rise to the top overnight.

Sadly this is quite a common tactic, which still elicits emotional responses and sometimes succeeds. Here, you may consult their portfolio and your SMART goals again and examine how realistic their promises truly are. If they resort to such tactics, you may very safely move on.

#3 The day after

Finally, you may note your candidates’ commitment to ongoing support and communication. Professional SEO services New York agencies offer may often present this challenge, where long-term endeavors aren’t followed by continuous updates and open channels.

Especially if you’re seeking such long-term marketing services, you may best note such details. The day following your contract, no less than the days that follow, should offer just as much clarity and peace of mind as the days before.

How to pick the right marketing agency: the right fit for your business

The final quality to look for in marketing agencies is not an objective, universal one, or one set in stone. Rather, it’s one unique to each agency and business; how well you match as long-term business partners.

#1 Cultural fit

A crucial, undervalued element of sustainable relationships lies in simple cultural fits. Consider your work ethic, your internal culture, and your overall outlook on day-to-day operations. Your marketing agency will be your direct business partner, so such human factors need to align as well. They may not completely tarnish a partnership per se, but they can certainly undermine it into delivering subpar results.

#2 The beer test

A great way to ensure a good fit is the “beer test”. Others dub it the “bed-and-breakfast test” or the “barbeque test”, among other such names. But all variations carry the same meaning; asking simple questions of compatibility as CNBC puts it:

“Could you see yourself sitting down and enjoying a beer or coffee with this person? If we had a company barbecue, how would they fit in?”

People around a table having beers over books.
Your comfort with the companies you partner with is important for establishing long-term cooperation.

This test is by no means universal, infallible, or a determining factor on its own. It simply examines if you’d like to spend time with your business partners – which may at times occur. Even if it doesn’t, this kind of thought exercise can help you gauge how well they fit your business’s outlook.

#3 Communication and support

Finally, even if communication and support are adequate, you may examine other factors as the days go by. How eager are they to communicate progress? Do you have to initiate communication all the time, or do they do so too? Does their demeanor make for a harmonious relationship?

Such questions are also rather secondary, admittedly, if communication and support quality suffice to achieve results. They do examine your relationship’s value, however, which may also inform your future decisions. If they persistently lack in this regard and others, you may at some point need to re-examine your options.


To summarize, there is no universal answer to choosing your ideal business partners – only universal red flags to avoid. Your needs, goals, budget, your candidates’ expertise, and credibility, and how well you match at a human level will all inform how to pick the right marketing agency for your business. Long-term communication will also play a crucial role toward ensuring success, as will their pliability. Still, as with all business endeavors, you may best come prepared and scrutinize your candidates to identify the best ones.

Digital Dot is a professional digital marketing agency with a strong knowledge base and decades of combined experience in the marketing industry. Take all the input you received above and apply it to our team and you will see first-hand how to get matched with the best marketing agency for your needs. Contact us today to see how we can help you grow your brand!

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