How To Choose The Best Digital Agency

Estimated Reading Time 11 minutes

5 MUST ask questions as well as a guide to help you find the best digital marketing agency to grow your business online.

I was listening to the excellent Robert Craven the other day on the Google Partners Podcast and it occurred to me that it must be a real challenge for a company or brand, to find a digital agency.

There is quite simply a plethora of agencies out there and to complicate matters still, they all focus or major in different disciplines, all claiming to be ‘the best’ or ‘leaders’ in their field. Furthermore, many will display badges of honour – winner of this or commended for that. No wonder people get so confused…

So, I have written this guide to try and help people when looking for an agency to help them grow and develop online. I have also highlighted some key questions to ask as well as some key questions that need to be asked by your potential agency.

 

Who am I?

I am Reggie James, founder of Digital Clarity. I have worked in the digital marketing space from its initial inception and launched one of the first paid search (PPC) agencies, as well as a tracking and attribution software business used by digital agencies in the UK called DC Storm.  The DC standing for Digital Clarity. This company was acquired by Rakuten in 2014.

Prior to this I worked at two search engines, helping both agencies and clients get found online, and I continue to help clients achieve this today.

 

What is a digital agency?

A digital agency is the umbrella term given to organisations that deliver services ranging from web design through to Paid Search (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). The term Digital Agency may also cover a whole host of other specialisms that sit under each sub service.

 

The challenge

There is a major problem in the digital marketing space that is sadly being perpetuated by a number of agencies who were one day a PR Agency and today dress themselves up as a ‘Social Media Agency’. This happens all the time and can cause confusion and bad experiences.

Many clients that I meet may have had their fingers burnt or are reeling from some horrendous experiences where they thought they had signed up for a service with a reputable ‘Digital Agency’ only to find that the team at the agency were not all that they seemed or worse still, were learning some new skills whilst on the client’s payroll. Though shocking, this is not uncommon and quite frankly unacceptable.

Thankfully, things are changing. Experience and verification by both independent bodies and platform owners like Google are helping customers find the cream. In certain disciplines like display advertising, the use of blockchain technology is helping create a public ledger of post GDPR audited agencies and sites.

 

The importance of digital agencies

So, knowing what we know, it is also vitally important to point out the incredible value great agencies add to their clients.

It is rare to find companies that have the digital marketing prowess, collective skills and manpower that a truly good agency will have.

From creative thinking and strategy through to execution and management, well admired agencies can deliver both resource and fantastic return on investment (ROI).

 

What should a good digital agency do?

You work in an industry or sector where you have competition. No two businesses in your sector will be the same. The same is true of digital agencies.

A good digital agency will take the time and effort to get under the skin of your business. Whether you are selling to consumers or businesses direct, the need to understand the lead time and business process of your company as well as the competion and where you sit in the venn diagram of your industry are all basic first steps of good digital agency practice.

The questions you are asked by your prospective digital agency will determine whether the agency is the right fit for you.

What types of digital agencies are there?

Firstly, there are many. Here are a list of a few below.

 

The extended specialist

Web Design, these services could include:

  •       Design & Development
  •       User Experience (UX)
  •       Innovation
  •       Languages
    •    PHP
    •   Python
    •   Net

 CMS

  •   WordPress
  • SiteCore
  • Etc.

Branding

  •  Messaging
  •  Logo design and development

 

The Jack of all trades

These are referred to as full-service digital agencies and in many cases can be the larger agencies. This agency model is going through a seismic shift as many clients may be paying for a suite of services that they will never use or simply do not even need.

The full service agency model, when analysed deeper –  one can normally see a shift toward a certain service. This means the agency at one point specialised in a discipline and then augmented services or bought companies to align disciplines. Why? More than likely, to win new business or keep existing business.

 

The ‘me too’ agency

These are agencies where they may have been involved in non-digital work, but are looking to capture new work by adding the word ‘digital’ to their name, or offer services that are out of their comfort zone. This can Web design agencies who suddenly feel they are SEO specialists and start dabbling in the art and science of Search Engine Optimisation. Quite simply, this normally ends in tears.

 

Questions to ask

I covered this question in an earlier blog when i looked at choosing a PPC Agency and it’s always worth going back to compare questions.

In many cases where I have come across a client who is in a toxic situation with an agency, I have often been asked to mediate or help transition the relationship to its natural conclusion. On reflection with both the client and the agency, it is normally the questions and due diligence that has led to both parties starting off on the wrong foot.

So what questions can a client ask a prospective digital agency? Here are 5 must ask questions:

What disciplines of digital marketing do you do?

  •       Search? If so, PPC or SEO or both?
  •       Web Design and Development
  •       UX / UI
  •       Digital Transformation
  •       Social Media
  •       Etc.

If it’s more than one of the above, which areas do you specialise in?

Of your specialist disciplines, can you demonstrate your skills-sets with some examples?

  •       Case Studies
  •       Testimonials
  •       References
  •       Etc.

How will these skills help my business?

  •       Can you share projections?
  •       Your process
  •       The day-to-day running of the account
  •       Analysis and reporting
  •       Etc

How would you go about working with me?

  •       On boarding process
  •       Needs analysis
  •       Etc.

Conclusion

Once you have your answers to these questions, it will much better help you shape your opinion of both what you require as well as see if the agency is the right fit for you and your business.

Reggie James
Having built and sold various technology businesses over the years, Reggie heads the consultancy and commercial side of the business. Approachable and pragmatic, Reggie previously ran the first dot-com to list on the Singapore Stock Exchange as well as developing business strategies for brands whilst at AltaVista and Yahoo! before launching Digital Clarity. As a passive investor, he is also involved in the US public OTC markets.
As London Fashion Week is in full swing, this quote from one of the doyenne’s
As London Fashion Week is in full swing, this quote from one of the doyenne’s of the industry reminds us that we should never give up. .
.
.
#londonfashionweek #londonfashionweek2020 #cocochanelquotes #inspirationalquotes #digitalclarity #digitalmarketing #digitalconsultancy #motivation

Posted 1 day ago.

As London Fashion Week is in full swing, this quote from one of the doyenne’s of the industry reminds us that we should never give up. . . . #londonfashionweek #londonfashionweek2020 #cocochanelquotes #inspirationalquotes #digitalclarity #digitalmarketing #digitalconsultancy #motivation

×
An intriguing and alternative way to assess agencies – AI
.
Ad World Masters A
An intriguing and alternative way to assess agencies – AI
.
Ad World Masters Agency of the Year highlights the best agencies around the world, based on its underlying technology and unique data. Digital Clarity - Silver Winners
.
The company uses AI (artificial intelligence) and a unique combination of crowdsourced, raw and verified data to assess the calculation for the Agency Score and ranking
.
The data of over 10,900 agencies has been processed and assessed by the company’s artificial intelligence algorithms
.
The Agency Score is a representation of both digital and human-controlled data such as Reviews, SEO, Social, Web performance, Awards, and more. This Agency of the Year title elevates and promotes the best agencies through factual and objective data
.
.
.
.
#digitalclarity #awardwinning #ppc #seo #digitalagency #digitalmarketingagency #digitalconsulting #digitalconsultant #socialmediamarketing #socialagency #contentcreator #contentmarketing #ai #guildford #surrey #hants #london

Posted 3 days ago.

An intriguing and alternative way to assess agencies – AI . Ad World Masters Agency of the Year highlights the best agencies around the world, based on its underlying technology and unique data. Digital Clarity - Silver Winners . The company uses AI (artificial intelligence) and a unique combination of crowdsourced, raw and verified data to assess the calculation for the Agency Score and ranking . The data of over 10,900 agencies has been processed and assessed by the company’s artificial intelligence algorithms . The Agency Score is a representation of both digital and human-controlled data such as Reviews, SEO, Social, Web performance, Awards, and more. This Agency of the Year title elevates and promotes the best agencies through factual and objective data . . . . #digitalclarity #awardwinning #ppc #seo #digitalagency #digitalmarketingagency #digitalconsulting #digitalconsultant #socialmediamarketing #socialagency #contentcreator #contentmarketing #ai #guildford #surrey #hants #london

×
Bring your wellies! Guildford this morning #stormdennis #stormdennis💨 #☔️
Bring your wellies! Guildford this morning #stormdennis #stormdennis💨 #☔️ #guildford #guildfordsurrey

Posted 4 days ago.

Bring your wellies! Guildford this morning #stormdennis #stormdennis💨 #☔️ #guildford #guildfordsurrey

×
As Napoleon Hill says in his book, Think and Grow Rich, “Most great people hav
As Napoleon Hill says in his book, Think and Grow Rich, “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” .
In these volatile times business needs to be resilient and build those business muscles that have carried you this far
.
One armour that can project confidence and strength is marketing .
Sharing your business in the right way, on the right platform at the right time can reap huge benefits .
.
.
.
#business #resilience #wilsonluna #growthmindset #digitalclarity #guildford #mondaymotivation #monday #marketing #digitalagency #digitalconsultant

Posted 4 days ago.

As Napoleon Hill says in his book, Think and Grow Rich, “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” . In these volatile times business needs to be resilient and build those business muscles that have carried you this far . One armour that can project confidence and strength is marketing . Sharing your business in the right way, on the right platform at the right time can reap huge benefits . . . . #business #resilience #wilsonluna #growthmindset #digitalclarity #guildford #mondaymotivation #monday #marketing #digitalagency #digitalconsultant

×
After a great few days in Amsterdam, it’s stroopwafels all round 🧇☕️ .
After a great few days in Amsterdam, it’s stroopwafels all round 🧇☕️ .
.
#stroopwafel #amsterdam #ise2020 #integratedsystemseurope #officelife #digitalclarity #guildford #digitalmarketing

Posted 1 week ago.

After a great few days in Amsterdam, it’s stroopwafels all round 🧇☕️ . . #stroopwafel #amsterdam #ise2020 #integratedsystemseurope #officelife #digitalclarity #guildford #digitalmarketing

×
Great visiting our client Chatsworth House yesterday
.
A long drive was rewarded
Great visiting our client Chatsworth House yesterday
.
A long drive was rewarded by seeing the House, set in the backdrop of the landscaped gardens bathed in beautiful winter sun
.
Currently working on enhancing the brand online and developing the ecommerce offering
.
#chatsworthhouse #chatsworth #derbyshire #ecommerce #royalfamily #royalhouse #art #gardens #fineart #statelyhome #prideandprejudice #janeausten #farmshop #sustainability

Posted 1 week ago.

Great visiting our client Chatsworth House yesterday . A long drive was rewarded by seeing the House, set in the backdrop of the landscaped gardens bathed in beautiful winter sun . Currently working on enhancing the brand online and developing the ecommerce offering . #chatsworthhouse #chatsworth #derbyshire #ecommerce #royalfamily #royalhouse #art #gardens #fineart #statelyhome #prideandprejudice #janeausten #farmshop #sustainability

×
In a world of immediate social media gratification, it is sometimes easy to forg
In a world of immediate social media gratification, it is sometimes easy to forget the impact one person can have on society
.
With the sad passing of Kobe Bryant and the no doubt countless tributes he will receive, it shows that the force for human good will always outweigh the bad
.
His career and legacy will show how one man overcame negativity to become the top in his profession and inspire countless individuals to do better in their lives.
.
.
.
.
.
#kobe #kobebryant #lalakers

Posted 3 weeks ago.

In a world of immediate social media gratification, it is sometimes easy to forget the impact one person can have on society . With the sad passing of Kobe Bryant and the no doubt countless tributes he will receive, it shows that the force for human good will always outweigh the bad . His career and legacy will show how one man overcame negativity to become the top in his profession and inspire countless individuals to do better in their lives. . . . . . #kobe #kobebryant #lalakers

×
Great day at Bett 2020 @excellondon - Bett is the first industry show of the yea
Great day at Bett 2020 @excellondon - Bett is the first industry show of the year in the education technology landscape
.
The show brings together over 800 leading companies, 103 exciting new EdTech startups and over 34,000 attendees
.
People from over 146 countries in the global education community come together to celebrate and find inspiration
.
The show is designed to demonstrate how technology and innovation enables educators and learners to thrive
.
.
.
.
.
#bett #bettshow #bett2020 #bettshow2020 #edtech #technology #education #ict #excel #excellondon #digitalclarity #digitalmarketing #digitalmarketingagency #consulting #digitalconsultant #digitalconsulting

Posted 4 weeks ago.

Great day at Bett 2020 @excellondon - Bett is the first industry show of the year in the education technology landscape . The show brings together over 800 leading companies, 103 exciting new EdTech startups and over 34,000 attendees . People from over 146 countries in the global education community come together to celebrate and find inspiration . The show is designed to demonstrate how technology and innovation enables educators and learners to thrive . . . . . #bett #bettshow #bett2020 #bettshow2020 #edtech #technology #education #ict #excel #excellondon #digitalclarity #digitalmarketing #digitalmarketingagency #consulting #digitalconsultant #digitalconsulting

×