How to Choose the Right Digital Marketing Agency for Your Small Business

Feb 20, 2024 | Online Marketing, SEO

Entrusting your digital marketing goals and budget to an external agency requires careful consideration. With each agency offering vastly differing pricing and packages, finding the right fit can feel daunting. However, if you lack the in-house expertise to achieve your growth targets, hiring external help can be a wise investment.

One crucial question to ask both yourself and the prospective agency is: “How much effort and time is required to reach my goal?“.

The “correct” answer isn’t always going to be straightforward, but honesty and transparency in what you are told are key.

In today’s world, many business owners have faced nothing but disappointment after investing substantial amounts of money in digital marketing campaigns with agencies. Often, these letdowns stem from unanswered questions and unmet expectations that could have been addressed upfront.

Recognizing this need, we’ve compiled a guide (which this blog post is based on) to provide clarity for clients considering digital marketing services.

Why?

Because proactive communication can address concerns ahead of time while establishing realistic expectations.

So, let’s delve into the major key points we discuss with every digital marketing client:

Q: WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO GAIN NEW CLIENTS?

In today’s digital era, obtaining a marketing plan from ChatGPT can offer a roadmap with insights into the budget required for a specific number of sales or clients. While this provides a useful reference point, it does not take into consideration any unforeseen and external factors.

External factors include variables beyond what data and platform predictions tell us. When brought to light, they emphasize the importance of real-world observations and feedback.

Consider the following examples to understand this a bit better:

Example #1: Running short-term campaigns for a local appliance installer revealed interesting insights. Despite driving significant Organic Search, Organic Paid, and Social traffic, conversion rates were modest. Upon interviewing the company, it came to light that economic factors in the target area heavily influenced consumer behaviour; affecting people’s readiness to commit. The company also confirmed that its network was experiencing a decline in requests/leads.

Key Takeaways From This Campaign: A limited ad budget restricts daily reach; which lengthens the timeline for obtaining solid leads. The personal feedback about the target audience also necessitated a new approach and understanding of consumer behaviour; directing a shift in the messaging to be used. Despite generating leads, external economic conditions impacted conversion rates; highlighting the need for adaptable strategies.


Example #2: Another client embarked on an ad campaign to promote a high-ticket service for free as a lead magnet. Despite a surge in traffic, lead generation stagnated. Upon interviewing his client, it was uncovered that there were negative perceptions created by local competitors which were deterring potential clients.

Key Takeaways From This Campaign: In this case, an external factor in the form of negative industry perception influenced the campaign’s performance. Addressing these misconceptions – which were born from experiences with local competitors – through targeted messaging and authentic storytelling proved instrumental in reshaping consumer perceptions.


Both clients expressed some disappointment with the lead-generation outcomes of their campaigns.

However, it’s important to note that both campaigns were running at a daily ad spend ranging from $8 to $11 (which is the lowest we’ve ever seen or done).

When sitting down with them to analyze the available data, along with feedback from clients and the public, they realized the achieved results were in line with realistic expectations. This realization underscores the complexity of digital marketing campaigns and emphasizes the need for a holistic understanding of all contributing factors.

Q: HOW MUCH OF AN AD SPEND DO I NEED?

When trying to determine the “perfect” Ad Budget, there’s no definitive answer. The answer to this question is complex.

Our agency is committed to making your budget work, even if it’s less than $1500/month. But there are many agencies out there that won’t work with a client unless they commit to spending at least $5000/month on ads.

Remember the saying “You gotta spend money to make money”?¬†Generally speaking, higher ad spend budgets = better results.

So for companies able and willing to not limit their budget, it’s safe to assume that they’re not fretting over what the results are or aren’t; just as long as conversions are happening at a steady rate. The best way to achieve this is by allowing budget increases every time it’s recommended by the ad platform.

But let’s assume you – much like our clients – are in the boat of needing to spend as little as possible. Here’s what you need to know…

1) The cost per result differs depending on the advertising platform, your industry, and the cost of competing ads in your target area. We’ve seen competing ads drive up the cost of our clients’ ads because platforms prefer for people to bid for more visibility. Without addressing this – or at least acknowledging it – when it is a factor that comes into play, you will be left wondering why it takes a substantial amount of money to see results.

Gain an understanding that “you need approximately XX clicks to generate 1 lead” meaning¬†“you need to spend at least $$/day to get X leads in XX days“. The only way to fill in those figures though is to let an ad run long enough to obtain valuable data for reference.

Note that this cost also – more often than not – gradually increases as time goes on with an active ad… which leads to the next point.

2) Lowering your ad spend budget on an active ad can backtrack its performance. In the case where you change your mind down the road, it’s important to have an honest conversation with the agency. This is more often observed when running Ads on Google, but considering the above note about how costs can gradually increase over time, it’s a serious discussion to be had.

For further context, here’s another client example: We had been running a successful Ad Campaign on Google for a client who was focused on selling a high-ticket item. By the end of Month #6, the platform suggested to increase the budget by 30%. The client was beyond thrilled with the results achieved throughout the campaign… so when we approached them about increasing the ad spend for the following month, they instead opted to decrease it.

Unfortunately, decreasing their budget by 40% meant the platform was predicting 0 conversions per week. This can be taken with a grain of salt because it is, after all, only a prediction. But the reasoning was that by the time the budget decreased, the costs involved in the ad had increased to a point where a >30% increase was ideal.

While the ad continued to run well, they were getting just less than half the amount of leads that they were getting before.

We do think this is a good time to mention that you can cap your CPC (cost per click), but this is subject to experimentation. If you cap it at a low $ amount, your ad might not be shown to everyone. Its performance can also become non-existent if the $ amount is too low. Platforms use the data of similar companies to set the bar for what an “acceptable” CPC amount should be. This is why it’s best to leave it open until enough time has passed to see what a good max $ amount is for this.

Q: WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO MAKE THIS CAMPAIGN SUCCESSFUL?

It helps to sit down with an agency and discuss the full strategy in detail before pulling the trigger on it. This is mostly for your benefit so that you understand what will happen, when it will happen, what to expect as check-ins, and what they need from you to get started.

If you don’t have a specific offer or objective for your marketing, it’s best to work with an agency that will begin by simply listening to you. By getting to know your brand, vision, and mission, the right agency can come up with a marketing strategy (or two) that can help your business grow.

Patience is key for everyone.

Seeing what works and what doesn’t requires experimentation in the beginning.

Through seeking success for you, the first month will involve figuring out which implementations perform best. From thereon out, the most successful campaign set will continue to be optimized and added to. While in some cases it may only take a couple of weeks to iron this out, it’s noteworthy to mention that it takes a Google Ad almost 30 days to hit its first peak in performance.

But the even longer story short is that when you work with an agency that will be transparent about the expectations, you know they will have your best interests in mind.

Have more questions, or want to consult with an agency that can help you with your digital marketing? Contact us today – we can speak by email, phone, or on Zoom during a time that fits your schedule.

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