Best Digital Marketing Agencies

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Important Things to Know Before Choosing a Digital Marketing Agency

Kalicia Bateman
Kalicia Bateman | Contributor

Digital marketing is much more than SEO and PPC. While these are standard services nearly every digital marketing agency offers, there are many other services you could hire an agency for as well. If you’re looking to redesign your website, update your branding, create email marketing campaigns, or even just maintain your company blog, digital marketing agencies can help. 

Know your goals

Before hiring a marketing agency, be sure you know what you want to accomplish. While big picture goals (like becoming a household name) are great for providing motivation and vision, they don’t provide much direction for marketing. Be specific. Your goals should include realistic numbers as well as timelines to accomplish them. 

If your business hasn’t done a lot of marketing and you’re not sure what your goals should be, remember the end goal of marketing should be to increase your revenue. Before talking to any agency, go over your yearly, quarterly, and monthly revenue goals and discuss with your team the priority areas of your business. Your marketing goals should align with everything else you want to accomplish. 

Decide if you want to hire by project or on retainer

Determine if you want to hire an agency for a specific project (or projects) or if you’d like to keep them on retainer. 

Projects have clear end dates. For example, you could hire an agency to set up a Google Ads account for your company and run a single ad campaign. The project would end when the campaign was complete (depending on the specifics of the contract). However, if you’d prefer to have an agency run all your PPC campaigns for you, you’d want to hire them on retainer since there is not a specific end date to the service.

Most agencies don’t list contract details on their websites because details can vary drastically from contract to contract. You’ll need to contact the agency to find out what it’s willing to do. 

Understand marketing basics

Not all marketing agencies are created equal. To evaluate the best option for your business, you want to understand some marketing basics.  

SEO and PPC are some of the most requested services from digital marketing agencies. While they have similar elements, it’s important to understand the difference between them.


SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of optimizing your website so search engines rank your website higher on search results. 

SEO Pros
  • You aren’t paying for every click to your website.
  • People are more likely to click on results in the organic search section as opposed to the ads on the top or bottom of the page.
  • The first page results won’t go away as soon as you stop paying for them.
SEO Cons
  • Ranking on the first page can take months or even years.
  • Keyword trends change, so you have to reoptimize pages from time to time.


PPC (pay-per-click) is a type of advertising that requires payment each time someone clicks on your ad. 

PPC Pros
  • Guaranteed placement on the first page of search results.
  • You only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
  • You can direct people to a specific landing page on your website.
PPC Cons
  • Your placement on the first page disappears when you stop paying for the ad.
  • Anyone using an ad blocker won’t see your ad.

Balance creativity and metrics

Marketing blends creative elements (copywriting, graphic and web design, etc.) with trackable, strategic processes. Some agencies focus more on the creative side, while others are more metric driven. Ideally, you’ll always work with an agency that excels in both areas. However, it’s up to you to decide what aspect is more important for your project(s).

A great way to assess an agency’s creativity and metrics is to look through case studies on their website. Case studies explain projects or campaigns the agency completed for other clients. They include examples of work as well as an explanation of the results. If an agency does not have case studies on its site, be sure to ask how it tracks the success of projects and campaigns.

Look for red flags

Beware of any digital marketing agency that guarantees extraordinary results in short amounts of time. Sometimes the stars align and you’ll get amazing results right off the bat, but that’s not the standard. Marketing strategies take time to test and refine. While you should expect to see improvements, drastic increases in revenue and recognition don’t happen overnight.

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Digital Marketing Agencies Frequently Asked Questions

What services do digital marketing agencies offer?

Digital marketing agencies offer a variety of services. Specific services vary depending on the agency, the most common services include advertising and lead generation, SEO and content marketing, web design and development, branding and design, affiliate and influencer marketing, reputation management, social media marketing, video, digital PR, eCommerce services, and mobile app development.

How much do digital marketing agencies cost?

The cost for digital marketing agencies depends on the project(s) you are hiring them for. The agency you’ve selected will go over the pricing for their services before you sign a contract. If you’re working on a tight budget, pricing should be one of the first questions you ask.

How do I know if I picked the best digital marketing agency?

Because it can take a while to really see results, the factor you should pay most attention to is communication. Communication is crucial when it comes to digital marketing. You want a company that will keep you in the loop along the way and one that will give you weekly updates. If you aren’t receiving those updates, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask.

Is SEO or PPC more important?

Each has its place, so it’s difficult to say which one is better. SEO leads to longer lasting and better search results, but is slow to start. PPC brings quicker results, but they disappear as soon as you stop paying for them. The best results come when you use SEO and PPC in tandem. Prioritizing one over the other depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. 

How long will it take for my website to be ranked on the first page of search results?

Many factors go into a website ranking on the first page of search engines. One of the main ones is choosing which keywords you’re going to go after. If you choose more competitive keywords, it’s going to take longer, whereas if you choose lower hanging fruit, you’ll have faster success. That being said, a typical SEO campaign could take anywhere from three to six months to really see results. It takes time to build the authority that search engines recognize. It’s definitely not an overnight process.

Read more on our blog.

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