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Let’s face it, with an absolutely low entry barrier to start a digital marketing agency, there has been incredible growth in the number of such agencies in countries like India, where laws aren’t as stringent as say, UAE, in terms of licenses for professional services.

I run a digital marketing agency myself, called DigiChefs, in Mumbai, and within a 5 km radius from here, there are at least 100+ agencies – big or small. While that’s great, since healthy competition in a geography only evolves to a neater delivery of such professional services at a very competitive rate, one needs to keep a close eye to weed out the “faffer”. Oh yes, I’ve coined that word – it’s for those freelancers & agencies who have a lot to say but nothing significant to deliver. 

In this article, I want to talk about some parameters that will help you identify a genuine agency from a pool of offers. So what are the top parameters you need to evaluate a digital marketing agency for your business in 2022? I’ve listed them in order of importance 🙂

  1. Marketing knowledge – The truth today is that most agencies have a tactical approach towards marketing. They keep the “marketing” out of the “digital marketing” activities that they do, and in turn, just follow a set of guidelines to complete a certain scope. As a founder, you should keep a close eye on topics like – does this agency understand my market, my product, my competition, my audience, their behavior, their psychograph & more.
  2. Subject expert involvement – Who’s going to build the strategy for your digital activities? Will it be the founder of the organization who pitched you? Or will it be some 1 year experienced digital marketer with little business knowledge? You need to ask which subject experts will be involved to ensure we have a great strategy (performance head), good art (art director), good campaigns (creative director), etc. 
  3. Point of contact – Who will you be speaking to on a day to day basis to get stuff moving forward? Meet them before you sign up with the agency. Understand if they are the right fit with the minimal interaction you can do with them. Finalize what are the communication channels you will use to interact with the agency – email, phone, Whatsapp, Skype, etc. and for what purposes?
  4. Internal review mechanism – You will be spending an awful lot of time correcting minor errors if the agency doesn’t have an internal review mechanism. Ask them about the process they follow before any deliverable lands into your inbox.
  5. Partner not vendor – Look for an agency who wants to be your “partner” and not just another “vendor”. Partners want to help you grow, vendors just want to complete their scope. Ask them about some excellent work that they did for their existing brands where they had to go out of scope. Check their “whatever it takes” attitude, agility & robustness in your conversations with the salesperson. Get to meet the founder of the agency before you sign up with them. Ask about their team, contingency management protocols, adaptability as the business pivots and so on.
  6. Industry experience – While lots of people out there give a huge focus on industry experience, I personally think it’s not as significant. Given that the agency will be able to understand your business offerings much faster if they know your territory, but I feel it could act as a limitation in some cases. They stick to old methods and never invent newer ways to improve their and your growth.
  7. Practice what you preach – Does the agency practice the activities they recommend to you in their own business? Have they done their SEO well? Is their website fast? Is their social media content good? 
  8. Tools – The future of digital marketing is all about the tools an agency is willing to learn & spend on for its clients. Inquire with the agency on which premium / free tools do they use as of now and how will those tools help your business.
  9. Measurable KPIs – While most agencies refrain from sharing projections of growth, demand ballpark success metrics that the agency expects to deliver for you. What are the goals that the agency wants to set for you in the next 3 – 6 months? Share your vision of the brand to match your expectations with their projections.
  10. References & testimonials – Merit by third parties is important. Ask for some references you can speak to personally to understand the real feedback about the agency. Check their testimonials and note who has written those testimonials for them. 
  11. Inhouse & outsourced deliveries – Most digital marketing agencies outsource a few jobs to support companies. Ask for transparency from the agency on which items do they have in house teams for and which ones do they outsource.
  12. Reporting process – A detailed reporting procedure is something that will help you track the progress of your business and the impact of the agency. Ask for a sample report, suggest changes as per your business requirement.
  13. Tenure of existing clientele – What is the average tenure of the clients they serve? 
  14. Scope, cost, bonus pay – Ask for complete transparency of the payment structure, inclusions & exclusions, try if you can sign them up for a bonus payment structure so the agencies try harder to earn the bonuses from you.
  15. Awards – Try and check the campaigns that the agency has won awards for. Check the frequency & recency of the awards event. 

Reach out to me at [email protected] and I’ll help you pick one, basis what’s right for your business. I promise I won’t be selling DigiChefs on the call 😉

Am I missing any parameters that you think are important in the evaluation process? Do Comment below. 

Also read: Hire an agency or set an in-house team?