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What to Consider When Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency

POSTED BY The Prim Pack | Oct 6, 2020

Deciding whether to conduct your marketing in-house vs. hiring a digital marketing agency can be a big decision. Small companies in particular will be accustomed to doing their own marketing, and it can be tough to know when it’s more effective to outsource the process or continue doing it on your own.

But in many cases, hiring an agency to take over the marketing responsibilities can be a smart move. Outsourcing your marketing efforts can often be a cost-effective solution, and having talented marketing specialists working for you can ultimately boost your marketing results and free you up to focus on more pressing business matters. If you’ve made the decision to work with a digital marketing agency, here are a few things to consider that will help you decide on the right agency.

Know Your Goals

This is the most important step in moving forward with bringing on an agency for your marketing. A solid game plan helps you move purposefully toward a goal that will grow your business and improve your ROI, and it will help your agency partner understand your specific needs and create a digital marketing strategy that will meet your objective.

However, not having a clear vision of what you want to get out of the relationship can set you up to be taken advantage of or to be very disappointed. If you don’t know precisely what your goals are, how will you know that the services you’re paying for are working? How do you know you’re not being oversold on services when a narrower scope would serve your needs better? Come to the meeting prepared with a clear objective for your marketing, including goals, metrics, and timeline, and you’ll reduce the risk of purchasing services you don’t need.

Be Familiar with the Agency

Look at their previous work. Are they doing the kinds of things that interest and excite you? Does their style of work compliment your brand and mission? Look at their previous clients. Have they worked with companies in similar industries to yours? Are you much larger or smaller than their usual clients? Most importantly, look at the kind of services they offer. Are they able to handle a broad range of marketing related tasks, or are they specialized in just a few areas? How does this align with the goals you’ve set? If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop that covers all of your digital marketing needs, a firm that specializes in SEO may not be your best bet.

Understand the Cost

The rates of an agency are a major factor in the hiring decision (and understandably so!), but understanding exactly how you’re being charged should be an important consideration as well. Some agencies will charge by the hour, and others will charge a flat rate per project or per month. Be aware of these differences and what they mean for your budget.

An hourly rate is usually associated with a smaller scope of work and could mean getting a lower rate. However, it also usually means that the agency has a fixed budget for the estimated scope and won’t absorb extra hours if the work goes beyond the budget. A flat fee, on the other hand, is often billed at a higher rate to offset the risk of running over on time spent, but you know at the outset what the work will cost and you know that the work will be delivered even if the agency has to absorb some hours.

Set Expectations

Many companies underestimate the amount of time and effort required to work with a marketing agency on a big project, like a multi-channel campaign or a new website. Hiring a marketing agency without setting clear expectations for your involvement and availability can mean big problems for both parties down the line. Be clear upfront about what you can contribute to this arrangement, how you will communicate with one another, and what success looks like to avoid big headaches and failed outcomes.

Relationship is Key


If you decide to work with a digital marketing agency, you’re going to be working very closely with the team you just hired, and you want to have a healthy relationship with them. Is there immediate friction between your people or theirs? You may want to reconsider that partnership, even if their work seems outstanding. Do they have excellent communication and transparency? Chances are good that you’ll be able to work in harmony towards your mutual goals.

If the agency turns out to be a good fit, chances are that your business relationship will grow and that scope of their involvement will increase. Find an agency that is able to grow with you as you expand to new channels and tactics, and that can support you in times of growth and transition in your own company.

On a related note, it can be tempting to bring on the services of a single specialist, rather than a small team with broader skills. But a benefit of having multiple people on your account is that they’ll be able to support you through any changes that occur, in your company or theirs. There will inevitably be turnover, with talent coming and going. Having multiple people working your account can ensure that valuable knowledge and experience with your business carries over.

Working with a marketing agency can be a game changing decision for many businesses. Find a team of talented people who can invest in your business, truly understand your goals and aspirations, and communicate effectively, and you’ll be amazed at the results.

Our team at Primitive specializes in creating strategies and content to help you achieve your business goals. This is what we do for our clients every single day. We would love to learn more about your business and help you meet your goals. Are you interested in learning more? Set up a meeting with us today!

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About the writer, The Prim Pack

I'm Buffy the Bison! When I'm not strolling through the plains of West Texas, I am proud to represent Primitive and the digital craftsman it is home to.