WHY and HOW you should hire/screen a digital marketing agency? – 2020

Looking for a digital Marketing Agencies or consultants to grow your business? If you are clear on what exactly you want from the agencies, it’s going to be straightforward. If not, I am sharing my checklist which I will include in my review agenda when am in your situation. 

I have worked with International agencies to the boutique one. Seen their pitches, worked very closely with them in a different part of my career and also been in the agencies side as well. Passing through all this time, this is what I would like to review. Also if am going to start an agency from scratch, this is how I will like to segment my target segment and position myself. So let’s go through…

Do you need a Digital Marketing Agency? Why? 

There are different scenarios on why you want to work with a outsourced agency.

You are a startup

May be you are a startup who has less budget to run your business. And your intellectual property need not to be a digital marketing knowledge but could be other value chain. So in this case you may want to outsourced to the experts out there who wants to do the best. 

Not easy to find a talent

Yes it’s not easy to find right talents in the industry and also within your budget. So you feel like instead of waiting and having this time sensitive issues. You just want to outsource and get it done. 

You have money, You have talent but you want more

Companies like Uber who has best talents and resource still works with multiple marketing agencies. Why? It’s because they try to get every expert help to get that what they wanted. Their mentality is just winning at any cost. It works for them and it may works for you as well if your survivability is going to be high. 

Exclusive Media Partnerships

Whichever the companies it is, they do have a situation where they need to work with the agencies. Because they are the exclusive media partner and buying media through them could come with additional benefits like discounter rates. 

For example: Before few years, Twitter has some exclusive partnership with media agencies where you need to cross through them if you want to advertise in big way. Further to say imagine you want to advertise on different ad exchanges via double click… agencies under Publicis group or Havas have special discounted rate. 

Expertise on one channel

Sometimes even though companies has big marketing team in-house, they work with special agencies for specific channels. For example: Some agencies which provide only Search Engine Marketing (SEM) agencies. Some only Facebook Advertising. Some only Mobile Advertising(Like Saatchi and Saatchi Mobile). Some for branding like BBH, etc. 

Anyway let me not go into deeper. 

How can we screen digital marketing agencies?

Branding based or performance based 

If I define it correctly, I like to classify agencies into 2. 

One who are very creative in nature who are specialized in branding, communication, PR, Content(Images, videos, music) production and more of artistic things. 

For example: This agencies are the one who creates what you see in TV, the banners on your LRT/MRT/Highways , even the social media images. They fit into any marketing agencies whether it’s online or offline. Because they produce on what people see. 

Data Driven Agencies

This agencies who are supporting or say standalone people who don’t do more than 70% of their work on producing content or what to communicate or what to visualise. They do a bit of it. But more in behind the seen. They could a simple marketing channels expert or growth marketer who look for unconventional ways. They are more of like a amplifier if we term them. They look for patterns whether offline or online and then shape marketing strategies. More of an EXPERIMENTATION and find success than the brands agencies who know the target segment and DESIGN based on profiles. 

They take decisions 90% based on data and work on marketing channels which gives them data. (Mostly it is online channels) 

Use this to focus on what you wanted. If you are weak in creative, go with creative agencies. If your weakness is with digital technical things, go with data driven agencies. 

Full Stack Management 

Imagine you found a data driven digital marketing agencies. Not all agencies would be specialised on every thing. 

Some may be good at Search Engine Marketing or SEO or Facebook Advertising or Programmatic Display 

Or even just like a CRM and Marketing automation agencies who help you with CRM tools management, Email Automation, mobile, social media, etc

Or even just focus on setting up the Marketing technology stack for you on a short term basis 

Or being just consultant who don’t execute things but just provide consultancy services. 

So you need to see what you need from them and plan the proposal accordingly. 

Startup mode or enterprise mode 

Are they big or like a boutique? Will they be a good and responsible to you or just consider you as one of the 50+ clients they have and do things for the sake of doing. Sometimes agencies does this way as well. So you need to be a very smart about this. 

In my experience if we are a small startup, finding small SMART startup agencies makes a good fit. Why? Because they want to grow as you, if you are successful and they will be as well. And when they have less clients they want to focus on quality instead of quantity. 

However it also comes with a cost with vast experience missing out. You need to have a trade off. A humble reminded that do not be excited about whom you want to work with because they are famous. But focus on who done it before and has stuff to do for you. If you are still unclear, consider doing a pilot(3Months or 6Months with them). 

Channel management like SEO and content marketing may not be show drastic results within 6months, so you may need bit of more time. 

Sustainable or Fast result with costly Money

Even in Data driven marketing agencies, you need to find people who are sustainable mindset if you are looking for long term results. If you are looking for short term results, then yes any marketing agencies who works with paid ads managements would be suitable for you. 

Am a big believer in mix of both things. Frankly the online advertising cost is getting damn costly. Only the advertising companies could make money. One example Amazon makes significant money in advertising by selling their ads space(so you need to understand this). So you need to look for smart ways which are sustainable. So yeah this take time. If you are not patient be ready to spend money and get things done, 

Short term or Long term 

This connects back to working with a small agency or big one. Sometimes when people are small, they look for long term partnership to make them sustainable. For example: Some would be ready to cut their margin if they contract is long term and so they can plan their financials. 

Some also want to go further by having the service fee with commissions based on the business performance. Which will be beneficial for both parties. Some short tern are greedy or one way pricing strategy with one sticky price. 

Analytical mindset

Overall this Data driven agencies are analytical mindset. But it could be awesome if they understand not just the traditional marketing metrics like CPA or CPM or CPC but Unit economics metrics like CAC(blended vs Paid), LTV, Recurring R vs Total Revenue, GP, GMV, Churn, Total Addressable Market (TAM), ARPU, Sell through Rate & Inventory Turns, Cohort Analysis, etc. 

Forward Thinking

  • The industry is gaining towards Machine learning.
  • 1:1 Personalisation already very matured.
  • Marketing automation at scale (Not just email but push notifications, SMS, etc
  • Business mindset, growth , product mindset instead of normal silo channel marketing

Years of experience

I don’t believe in this. I leave this to others to comment 🙂

Anything else?

looking to hear from you guys.

Cost to hire a digital marketing agency

Read here on how much it cost to hire a digital marketing agency from freelancers to boutique agency to enterprise one

+ Digital Marketing Landscape in Malaysia