Minneapolis, December 19, 2018 – MVP Marketing + Design, Inc.,
Finding a digital agency is easy enough with a simple Google search, but choosing one that’s right can be infinitely more complex. Most companies, especially in the B2B segment, whether service- or product-oriented, seek a digital marketing partner that can assume some, if not all online marketing tasks while simultaneously demonstrating positive monthly increases in agreed upon KPIs (key performance indicators) such as increases in keyword standings, site traffic, leads and sales, if applicable.
The process is typically straightforward. Most marketing executives worth their salt, or should we say data, begin by asking an assistant or intern to find an agency that has experience in the company’s vertical market or specialty, e.g., business or professional services, healthcare, precision parts, logistics, etc. Typically, the sleuth does a quick Google search and identifies a few agencies potentially from pay-per-click ads or, if more discerning, from the natural organic listings, the latter of which are more authoritative.
Why organic listings? Industry research indicates that approximately 70% of those conducting searches bypass paid listings, which are clearly marked by Google with the designation “Ad.” In fact, organic SEO is about 5.66 times more effective than paid search ads in generating “click-throughs.” (New Media Campaigns, 2018). Thus, when someone conducts a search for your product or service, the ideal result occurs when your site shows up at the top of the non-paid pecking order. Because we all want to save time and effort, if your listing appears at the top of the list organically, and its Title and Description tag on your webpage correspond to the search phrase, more viewers will click on your listing than lower tier results.
But once having compiled the short list of related firms, how does one identify the digital agency that’s right for your business, organization for firm.
Let’s begin by asking a few questions:
Many agencies you’ll encounter claim to be “full-service.” Many of these feature integrated services including website design and development, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), more commonly identified as pay-per-click advertising (PPC), content or inbound marketing, which is often associated with such marketing automation systems as HubSpot and Salesforce Pardot, and branding. But don’t be misled by the term “full-service.” It might not mean as much to your business, firm organization as you think. Ideally, you should be searching for an agency that knows your market and customers, has a good idea of what your pain points are, can point to tangible results, i.e., case histories, and has many satisfied clients as evidenced by testimonials. Remember, the term “full-service” refers to the digital agency’s capabilities, not their experience or track record of success in your industry. As they said back in old Rome, caveat emptor, buyer beware.
Before you cross your Rubicon, and utter alea iacta est (the die is cast), our advice is not to roll the dice but place your bet on a specialist agency that has depth of experience in your sector and can prove their digital bona fides. You’ll find that that such agencies have worked with companies in your field, maybe even competitors, and will be au courant with not only your market’s latest news and trends, but other technical factors that influence digital marketing success, e.g., changes in the Google search algorithm, capabilities to list your site with third-party blogs and listings, and the capacity to demonstrate ROI on the various paid social media platforms and methodologies that will deliver the most for the least, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, retargeting, etc. However, go ahead and be bold; press them to share not only their experience and knowhow but what they would do if given the chance to assume your account. If they’re up to the game, it won’t take long to determine if they have the “right stuff” to keep up with you in conversation—and demonstrate that they’ll ultimately be able to walk the talk.
The first step in your evaluation should be to review the clients they’ve worked with in the past. Check for competitors in your own market vertical. Who have they helped and what have they accomplished? If you recognize that clients served are in your industry and you’re familiar with the results, they may be a solid bet.
However, while an agency that attracts companies similar to yours lends credibility, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Most forthright agencies will demonstrate this on their websites, most notably on their clients served and portfolio pages. The good ones will spell out their accomplishments in terms of a project challenge and results. Some will go a step further with case studies and downloadable whitepapers. Also, check to see how many of those client logos link to viewable work or case histories. More often than not, we’ve observed many unlinked logos that lead nowhere.
Another helpful resource is the agency’s team page. Most agencies present a team page which reflects staff, roles and bios. During your conversations and meeting with agency executives, the good ones won’t hesitate to introduce you to the people that will be working with you and your project.
Digital agencies that are transparent and know their stuff will not only present their ideas and budgets but will likely share the observations about your organization and its competitors both good and bad. Good agencies will share eye-opening research on your site performance in relation to competitors, including real-time performance stats and, potentially, predictions for success, e.g., increases in keyword rankings, site traffic, lead conversions and sales. There may be times when the agency cannot share the name of the company due to confidentiality restrictions, but most should be able to provide redacted data without identifying the client.
One of the worst things you can do is to refrain from asking the right questions. Posing inquiries that measure the digital agency’s experience and depth of knowledge about your market is imperative.
Querying through open-ended business-related questions can help you distinguish whether they are fluent in your industry and business model or just trolling for a quick win. For example, you might ask your prospective agency such thought provokers as “Where do you see the market going right now, and how would that impact our digital marketing efforts and expenditures and strategy?”
If the digital agency knows the market and has worked with firms similar to yours, they will answer your question decisively and with original insights.
There is nothing worse than just having a vague idea of about what you want your digital partner to accomplish when you yourself are unsure of your goals and objectives. Telling the agency that you just want higher levels of engagement, commitment and search success is not enough and doesn’t help either you or them.
Digital agencies work best when goals and expectations are clear, concise and measurable.
For example, if you said “As our new digital agency, we want you to increase traffic and conversions to our product (or service) pages by 10% in six months. And here’s why: we estimate that right now, we sell $250,000.00 in products/services per month to 1,200 customers. That’s roughly $208 per buyer. In 12 months, we would like to see 1,500 buyers per month, an increase of 25%, and that will be one of your measurable KPI’s should we award you our account. How would you propose doing that?”
It’s best when you can be specific. Don’t worry about asking too many questions. A good digital agency will tell you what they will need to do in order to meet the goal or explain why it is unrealistic, i.e., truth in advertising is not too much to expect from your future digital marketing partner.
It is also best to apply S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based) principles to all expectations that you expect your agency to fulfill. This methodology will help to ensure that your expectations will be addressed in a professional, timely and cost-effective manner.
Ask the Digital Agency Pros
In choosing the right digital agency for your business, you have to start somewhere. We asked Dick Weinrib, CEO of MVP Marketing + Design, a Minneapolis digital agency serving clients throughout North America and worldwide, what are the most common pitfalls most organizations encounter when they are choosing a digital agency for either a website design project or promoting their products or services.
Says Dick: “From our perspective, as a digital agency serving both B2B and B2C products and services companies, we see a very diversified combination of manufacturers and service providers who are striving for either quality leads and/or e-Commerce sales. While each of our clients has their own unique set of goals and challenges, for example selling a $1,000,000 micro-mold, a $100,000 luxury motor home, a $10,000 medical test, or a $1,000 foodservice accessory, they all seek more and better-quality digital marketing results for less. Whether our solution entails organic SEO, pay per click advertising, Inbound/Content marketing, paid social media or ad retargeting, our approach always begins with a combination of educating the client (and ourselves), performing customer and industry research, which we can glean from a variety of sophisticated analytical tools, and ultimately formulating a strategic marketing plan and set of recommendations based on mutually agreeable KPIs that will define what we mean by success.”
Clement Vaccaro, MVP’s Digital Creative and Account Director shared an additional perspective that’s worth considering as well: depth of service and the people behind the project. “While it is true that MVP has achieved great success by going deep in certain verticals such as private capital, health care, consumer housewares and office products, we’ve also seen great achievements due to clients recognizing that our branding, website design and SEO capabilities in one vertical can apply to another. Take CRF USA as an example: When this leading US Community Development Investment Fund, which has raised over $2.4 billion and preserved or created over 85,000 jobs, searched for an agency, they recognized that extensive non-profit experience was less important than our understanding of branding, website design/development for financial institutions, and team chemistry. The result was one of our best and most sophisticated websites ever!”
Knowing exactly what kind of growth you want, what it will consist of and who will drive the process dramatically increases your chances of digital campaign success. And if you’re in a business other than e-Commerce, and are more interested in lead generation, be sure to ask the agency for their recommendations for how you would jointly track and measure results. Thankfully, through use of today’s data-driven measurement and marketing segmentation tools, you can now achieve victories in many underserved niche markets, which can contribute collectively to a winning strategy. As Caesar said: “I had rather be first in a village than second at Rome.”
Choosing the right agency can be daunting, but as Caesar, himself, said, “experience is the teacher of all things.” By being clear about and quantifying your goals, asking the right questions and preparing accordingly, you’ll significantly improve your chances of campaign success in today’s challenging, dynamic and interwoven world of digital marketing.
The MVP Digital Marketing + Design Team.
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About MVP Marketing + Design, Inc.
MVP Marketing + Design is a Minneapolis Digital Agency and Website Design firm that has served Midwest regional, national, and international clients for over 32 years. Our smart, eye-catching work pushes marketing, design, and technology to the limits to propel the brands and stories of our most valued partners. We are passionate about creating brand equity for clients in Professional Services, including private equity, mezzanine debt, M&A, venture capital, healthcare, law and consulting; Software, including EdTech, CAM, and factory automation; Manufacturing and Logistics, including medical device, foodservice, precision parts and transportation; and Consumer Products, including food, housewares and office products.
Our combination of integrated digital and traditional marketing and creative services has helped such companies as 3M, Medtronic, Ecolab, Lifetime Brands, Chronic Disease Research Group, Achieve3000, The Erwin Hymer Group (Roadtrek), TSI, NAMSA, Merit Capital, Mason Wells, Cortec Group, Shoreview Industries, Svoboda Capital, Harbour Group, River Associates, Penfund, Watermill Group, Keystone Capital, Dominus Capital, the Chicago Association of Private Equity Executives, JZ Partners, Caliper, Chartwell, Hampton Farms, PB Crave and others achieve lasting digital marketing success. Award-winning design, innovative functionality, and a “what’s next” mindset have propelled MVP and our clients as we build their brands, promote their products and services, and deliver business growth. We’re pleased to have been recognized for our solution-oriented work by the Communicator Awards, Davey Awards, Hermes Awards, MARCOM Awards and others. MVP is a HubSpot inbound marketing agency partner.
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