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Your online presence will determine the success of your business, as well as your competitors’, in the coming years. If your goal is to not only stay in business but to grow your business, proper digital marketing is no longer simply an option but a requirement. And based on a recent story, 87% of small businesses are planning to at least attempt to sell more products and services online.

For a number of businesses (most of them, actually), the only way to market on digital platforms is to find a company that can help them. Although most small business owners know a little about digital and social platforms, navigating the online marketing space effectively is an entirely different challenge. That’s also why I want to help you understand how to pick a good digital marketing agency.
Our business is built to manage SEO campaigns and still I receive dozens of calls and emails from digital companies or start-ups that tell me how they can move us up the Google ranking to page 1. My personal favorite is the email letting me know they have evaluated our website and have some great ways they can help us reach new customers with SEO, social media or new blog content. Two minutes on our website would save them the time and energy of pursuing our business.
But that is what digital marketing has become: a race to get as many customers as possible, knowing most businesses aren’t aware of what to look for when making that important decision.
Well look no further. At McElvy Partners, we understand that we aren’t a great fit for every business. In fact, we believe that establishing a good relationship with our clients is the most important aspect of creating a winning digital marketing campaign.
I compare it to dating. Don’t hire a digital agency before getting to them know the company and its key players. How do they operate? Who will you be working with? What are the things you can’t learn about them from their online profile?

A few questions to consider –

How long have you been doing digital marketing? This is important because every month new digital companies are launched from state-to-state. Many of them started with just a laptop and a few online courses. Everyone has to start somewhere and I love the entrepreneurship story as much as the next person. In fact, in many cases these are great options because newer marketing service providers are still hard at work to establish their clientele and reputation in the industry. Just keep in mind that many of the digital agencies that are here today, won’t be here tomorrow. It’s a tough industry to grow a successful business and you want to ensure your digital partner will be around for as long as you are.

Can you share some success stories or case studies? You want to know that the agency already has satisfied customers. Again, this goes to how long they have been in business, but if someone says they can drive results, be sure they can prove it with real-world experience.

What are the expectation of me as a client? Most questions are typically about what the agency can do for you. But another important question you want to ask every time is what does my commitment look like? I believe the best partnerships evolve when expectations are clearly set on the front end. Both the agency and the business need to put each other in the best position to be successful. Depending on the products and services needed, that should involve some level of client involvement that can usually be adjusted based on the business needs and resources. No matter how little or big that involvement may be, it is important to establish that on the front end to avoid surprises and frustrations later.

How can I track my progress? The best agencies have systems in place to make sure you either receive reporting or some form of ongoing update on the marketing efforts. Some customers even like to have access to their own dashboard.

At McElvy Partners, we believe in monthly strategy or reporting sessions. Depending on the scope of work, we sometimes combine the two. The purpose is to make sure we stay in line in terms of our clients’ business goals. We want our clients to know where their investment is going, where adjustments may be needed, and how to strategize for continued success accordingly.

Who will I be working with? The right answer here should vary by personality type. I would argue the best scenario is knowing there is someone specific you can communicate with, someone who gets to know you and your business in detail. Because digital marketing is about building a brand and driving a message through various channels online, I think having a strong connection with someone at the digital agency is becoming more critical in today’s content-driven landscape.

Ultimately, a good relationship with a digital agency will come down to the results it delivers. But you can save a lot of time and energy before going down that road if you get the answer a few important questions before making that commitment.

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