How to Choose a Digital Marketing Agency: Part 3 - STRYDE

How to Choose a Digital Marketing Agency: Part 3

First, it is important to understand what each channel will give you. Improved SEO, effective PPC campaigns, and an amplified social media presence are all attainable goals. Second, understand the different channel approaches. What works for one typically doesn’t work for another. Third, pick your channels wisely. Find where your customers are and go to them—never expect them to seek you out. And fourth, build an audience that will overlap onto other channels. We always say build don’t borrow; turn your audience into an owned audience that engages on your terms. Find a digital marketing agency that understands this and has a plan for your business.

Understand Outcomes

There is plenty of option available to you in terms of where your agency can showcase your business. Find an agency that understands your goals and can create a strategy around them.

For example, if your goal is to improve SEO for your website good content is where you could start. Blogs are the easiest way to get your SEO moving. With keywords and meta-tagging, your agency can build optimization with every post.  Or maybe you would like to focus on getting conversions through paid advertising, Facebook is a great place to start seeing a positive ROI.

Each channel requires a different digital marketing approach. What works for an outdoor company isn’t going to work for a grocery delivery service. You have to tailor each digital channel to match the specific business.

You really can’t do it all in terms of channels. Good agencies know to pick a few and then focus on being successful with those before expanding your digital strategy. Choosing a channel is relatively simple in theory: you pick the channels your customers use. Seems easy right? But make sure the agency you choose is doing research before diving into any specific channel. They need a strategy to find where your target market spends their time online and how they utilize those channels before you start using them to share your content. When choosing a digital marketing agency make sure they understand the following:

  • Build Your Audience
  • Understanding the Buyer’s Journey
  • Understanding the Sales Funnel
  • Moving Prospects
  • Branded Content & Engagement

Build Your Audience

We believe build don’t borrow is a good motto to live by. Building your audience is the most important thing you can do before you start strategizing. Building an audience takes a lot of time because you have to create trust between your brand and each user. You can build this trust by posting good content that is relevant to and useful for your customers’ daily lives. Answer their questions, identify their needs, and show them you have a solution to their problem. When you work with a digital marketing agency that is able to create engaging content tailored to your target market, your audience will follow you from channel to channel because they believe in your brand.

Creating a strategy for each channel is incredibly important. Before choosing an agency to ask them some of the following questions to gauge their understanding of creating an audience:

  • How do you decide which channels will be most effective for my campaign?
  • How do you connect each channel that my audience will be on?
  • What happens if Facebook or Twitter disappears tomorrow? How are you building me an audience that I control?

Good content can get you the results you want if you choose a digital marketing agency and your channels correctly.

They Understand The Buyer Journey

Good digital marketing agencies should do more than just produce content and enhance your SEO; they should understand how buyers make their decisions, how they move through the sales funnel, and how to maneuver prospects from leads to customers. A successful digital marketing agency knows how to move your customer to each stage in the buyer journey and sales funnel. Digital marketing that resonates with specific areas of these stages helps keep prospects interested in your product and will move them through the full cycle—all the way to a rewarding sale.

The buyer journey maps how your customers experience your product marketing. There are three broad stages of the buyer journey: early, mid, and late. Each of these stages matches a section within the sales funnel that explains the buyer’s behaviors.

In the early stages of the buyer journey, consumers are gaining exposure to products and developing a real need for services. They are looking for educational content, testimonials, and even product reviews to get a sense of your brand.

In the mid-stage of the buyer journey, they are delving deeper into specific companies that appear to meet their needs. In this stage, prospects are looking for reasons to help them develop specific company comparisons while also detailing the individual features of your product and a justification for purchasing your solution for their original need.

The last stage of the buyer journey revolves around the final decision to purchase or pass on your product. In this stage, prospects are looking to change from a lead to a customer. They are looking for content that includes demos, implementation guides, and best practices for your product.

The Sales Funnel

The buyer journey and sales funnel are extremely fluid. A general sales funnel also has three stages that are directly related to the buyer journey and necessary content.

In the first stage of the sales funnel your prospects are looking to gain awareness of your product. The prospect has developed a need and is seeking companies and information to satiate their demand. In the awareness stage of the sales funnel, prospects are looking to narrow the field of eligible companies while gaining awareness for your product. Good digital marketing should provide basic awareness about who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

The second stage of the sales funnel is interest. During this stage, your prospect has decided your company likely can provide a solution to their problem. They are looking for specific information on products so they can compare and justify their final purchasing decision. This is the stage where people begin to reach out to salespeople or initiate contact with the company.

The final stage of the sales funnel is the decision and action phase. In this stage, the prospect has decided to select your company. They are looking to discover content that shows them how your product works and why it’s better than your competitor’s.

Moving Prospects

Your digital marketing agency should understand both the buyer journey and the sales funnel in order to provide you with digital marketing that fulfills all types of prospect needs. When your agency can provide you with a variety that fits each stage in the buyer journey and sales funnel, you are more likely to move prospects from interested consumers to dedicated customers.

To move prospects your marketing and ads must be relevant, immediate, and robust. Good and relevant strategy pushes prospects to keep researching and reviewing your site instead of seeking another company for their needs.

Immediate marketing means you have both value and promotion in your marketing. Prospects can gain something immediately from coming in contact with your business regardless of the platform they discover it on.

And lastly, your strategy needs to be robust! Meaning there is more than one digital option for each stage in the buyer journey or sales funnel. If someone is looking to research your product, you should have social media accounts, a blog, and testimonials instead of just your website’s ‘about us’ section. Moving prospects is all about understanding what they need from your business, as well as delivering valuable, useful, and diverse information.

Good digital marketing agencies know that the first two stages of the buyer journey and funnel are the responsibility of a solid digital marketing strategy. This knowledge is key to creating content, SEO, and other services that serve your prospect at every level of their journey. Make sure your digital marketing agency understands your customer’s journey to purchase. If they do, their suggestions for digital marketing strategies will be effective in turning leads into loyal customers.

Branded Content & Engagement

Reputable digital marketing agencies know the importance of branded marketing. “If brands can create content that engages people, they will listen to it, remember it, download it, share it, post it, stream it and recommend it,” according to Matt Simpson of BrandRepublic. Good ads, blogs and page content should engage customers past an initial encounter; it should prompt people to keep reading and keep exploring what your business has to offer them.

Knowing you need branded content is a crucial step in choosing your digital marketing agency. Good agencies will ask about your branding and values before they begin any work for you.

An organized and prepared agency will also ask you to decide on a style guide of sorts before they begin writing and optimizing. By setting these expectations before any work is done, you can make sure your agency is producing a unified message that fits your branding needs.

Investing in the Right Digital Agency

Good marketing requires a substantial investment in a good digital marketing agency and its strategy suggestions. There is simply no way around the costs associated with valuable marketing strategy and skill that drives results and successfully builds your brand. So before you begin exploring your agency options, you first need to understand that cost is inevitable, but that it’s also a worthwhile investment in making strides toward your marketing goals.


One of the first financial questions you should ask agencies is what their minimum retainer will cost and how many months will be included at that price. Agencies that quote below $4,000 a month for 6-12 months will have difficulty producing any return on your investments.

While it’s important to find the most cost-effective agency, you should also be spending your money wisely. An agency that costs $5,000 and can produce tangible returns and monthly measurements will be more effective than an agency that costs $3,000 without any results. The minimum for a monthly retainer should sit somewhere above $4,000 for valuable marketing that should include a range of types, i.e. blog posts, Facebook ads, SEO, etc., as well as buyer persona development.

Each agency will have different offers on what will be included in your monthly price. Search for an agency that offers what you need at a price that you can afford.

Be sure to check out part 1 and 2 of our how to choose a digital marketing agency series. In part 1 we focus on choosing an expert agency and in part 2 we speak to agency strategies.

About Kirsten Metcalf

Kirsten is a graduate of Brigham Young University, earning her print journalism degree in April 2012. Before coming to Stryde, she was a sports reporter and then the sports editor for BYU’s newspaper, as well as a remote sports editor for Deseret Connect. Although she’s from Missouri, she’s a die-hard Kansas basketball fan. When she’s not watching KU play or pumping out content for Stryde, she’s most likely watching movies or Netflix in her workout clothes whilst drinking a Pepsi and eating popcorn.

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