For many business owners, the prospect of developing and executing a cohesive digital marketing strategy can be daunting. Crafting effective, high-quality messaging through online ads, social media posts, email campaigns, search engine optimization and other digital channels requires both experience and expertise, and not every business owner has the skills or time to devote to digital marketing.
If this scenario feels familiar to you, it may be time to consider hiring an agency that specializes in digital marketing to help you shore up this critical component of your company’s long-term growth.
Why Hire A Digital Marketing Agency? Benefits
By 2021, annual spending on digital marketing is expected to exceed $120 billion in the U.S. alone. With so many elements of daily life happening online or through mobile devices, businesses ignore the importance of a robust digital marketing strategy at their peril. If you lack training or experience in digital marketing—or simply wish to focus your efforts on other aspects of business operations—consulting with a digital marketing agency can offer the following benefits.
You’ll have a team of experienced, highly-trained professionals working on your behalf.
Developing expertise in digital marketing strategy and techniques takes considerable amounts of time and financial resources, both of which are often in short supply for entrepreneurs and small business owners. If you don’t have the time or desire to devote to learning the digital marketing field, hiring a full-service agency can capably fill in that gap.
Digital marketing agencies employ teams of professionals with highly-developed skill sets in a variety of marketing tactics, from social media marketing and graphic design to copywriting and videography. Each one of these team members can provide invaluable guidance on how best to use these channels to boost your business and then develop high-quality content in accordance with that strategy.
Digital agencies can offer a fresh, unbiased assessment of your business and your marketing efforts.
When you spend every day in the weeds of day-to-day business operations, it can be hard to step back and take a high-level view of your long-term strategy. An outside agency can provide an objective review of your company’s brand, reputation and existing marketing activities and offer an unbiased assessment of your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.
A digital marketing agency can also provide you with solid research and data on which tactics will be most effective for your company, so you won’t be aimlessly following trends or pursuing piecemeal campaigns that don’t resonate with your target audiences. Agencies can also suggest fresh, innovative ideas that may be outside your comfort zone and provide you with the technical and professional support to pursue them.
Hiring a digital marketing agency lets you shift your focus to other tasks.
Digital marketing can be an incredibly time-consuming pursuit. In addition to developing broad strategies and cohesive campaigns, the minutiae of generating new content and keeping your social media, blog and other messaging fresh can eat up significant amounts of time each week.
Most business owners simply don’t have the time to devote to handling all of the necessary digital marketing activities required for a strategy to be effective. By hiring an agency to take care of most or all of these tasks, you’ll free up your calendar to focus on long-term growth, hiring, operations, customer care and the dozens of other items on your daily to-do list.
You’ll also have more time to pursue the ever-elusive goal of work-life balance when you’re not working overtime posting social media content or drafting marketing emails for your business.
Digital agencies are devoted to staying on top of marketing trends and innovations.
Technology changes with dizzying speed, and it can be almost impossible to keep up. New social media platforms, streaming video services and other digital trends pop up on what feels like a daily basis, and if you aren’t aware of the latest tools and tricks, your business could end up left in the dust.
On the other hand, keeping up with digital trends is one of the main jobs of marketing agencies. They know which new platforms or software packages are worth the investment and which are just hype, and they know your business well enough to help you decide which ones to pursue.
Their expertise in this area can save you serious time and money that—if left to your own devices—you might spend chasing the latest shiny object without knowing whether it will truly advance your company’s marketing goals.
Why Hire A Digital Marketing Agency? Potential Drawbacks
While hiring a digital marketing agency offers multiple advantages to business owners, working with an agency is not without its pitfalls, and you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons before hiring one. It’s also important to remember that not every agency will be a good fit for every company, and it may take a bit of trial and error to find one that really “gets” your brand voice and your goals. Getting recommendations from industry peers and calling prospective agencies’ references can increase your likelihood of establishing a successful match on the first try.
Digital agencies may not understand the specifics of your industry or business.
A few digital marketing agencies specialize in working with specific industries or business types, but most serve a diverse mix of clients in a variety of trades. As a result, they may not come to the table with the same in-depth knowledge of your business that you have (or even any experience working with firms in your field). This isn’t an instant deal-breaker, but simply a reminder that there may be a steep learning curve as the agency works to learn about your industry, your individual business and your customers.
Even so, an agency with no knowledge of what your business does may not be able to craft the most effective marketing strategy for you, and they may rely too heavily on what worked in other niches without stopping to evaluate whether the same approach will work for yours. You can look for an agency with past experience in your industry, but you may or may not be able to find one.
It can take time for an agency to get to know your brand voice, image and customer base.
Whether or not an agency has experience working with clients in your industry, it will take time for their team to get to know you, your staff and your customer base. The best agencies will conduct a deep dive into the history, values, vision and goals of your business.
They’ll sit down to chat with you and your employees and may reach out to a few longtime customers. They’ll study your competition and research emerging trends in your industry. They’ll review your existing website and other marketing materials to get a feel for your existing brand voice.
This process takes time and requires considerable engagement on your part before you can hand over the reins and turn the agency loose with your marketing efforts. Even after the agency has taken over marketing duties, your continued feedback will help them further refine and improve their efforts to better serve you in the future.
Digital agencies must share their time with other clients.
Your business is your top priority, but if you hire a digital marketing agency, you’re unlikely to be their only client. More often, you’ll be one of several dozen clients, and while the agency should be sufficiently well-staffed to provide tailored, responsive service, they won’t always be able to drop their other work at a moment’s notice to handle a request from you.
In general, the larger your contract or retainer, the higher level of service you can expect from your agency. If you feel like your firm is blowing you off or failing to attend to your needs, it may be time to look for a different digital marketing partner.
Hiring a digital marketing agency isn’t cheap.
As a busy entrepreneur, every task you spend your scarce and precious time on has a price. It may make financial sense for you to outsource your digital marketing efforts to an agency, but this solution also comes at a cost. When comparing agencies, consider how they bill clients—whether it’s a monthly retainer, by the hour or based on the results of their work—to determine which one offers the best value.
Still, this isn’t an area where you want to scrimp. The cheapest agency is unlikely to be the best one, and finding a proven partner with a record of results is worth the additional cost over time. Be sure to carefully review their portfolio and contact the references they provide to more accurately gauge whether the investment is worth the return.
Before you make the decision to hire a digital marketing agency, take the time to determine your marketing budget and lay out your goals, objectives and expectations for a potential agency partnership. For most businesses, working with a team of marketing professionals will generate better results than keeping their digital marketing efforts completely in-house, but you may not have to outsource everything.
Consider your strengths, consult with a few potential candidates and come up with a balance that works for you and your business.