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  • Writer's pictureRachel King

How to choose a digital marketing agency to work with

Women working in office
Choosing a digital marketing agency should be fun!

When you are working in a small business, choosing a digital marketing agency can be a crucial and sometimes daunting decision as it can have such a significant impact on your success. There is normally a trigger point, you may be a CEO looking to find support to build a website or could be working in a small marketing team needing to find expert help in a particular field. You could have taken on investment and looking to scale up your marketing efforts.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with several fantastic small and large marketing agencies over the years and here are my main tips to help you choose the right agency for your business.

Clarity on your business goals

Before jumping into the search be clear on the business objective you need to meet, for example, requiring to increase revenue by X% over the next 12 months or maybe you have a new product to launch. This will then feed into your new marketing strategy. I've recently started to use the OKR model which enables you to set objectives and key results.

"What skills gaps are you trying to fill?"

Identify Your Needs

Firstly, consider your in house resource. What skills gap are you trying to fill? Identify the specific areas where you need the digital marketing agency's help. This could be paid media (Google Adwords), branding, website development, or social media management. Having a clear understanding of your needs will help you narrow down the type of agency you should be looking for. It's helpful to create a 'Pitch brief' that you can send to the agencies you may want to work with. Include as much information as you can about your business and your requirements. If you are sharing sensitive business information not in the public domain, get these agencies to sign Non Disclosure Agreements if you are sharing sensitive business information. I'd recommend reaching out to 2/3 agencies (but obviously this will depend on the size of the project).

Do Your Research

Conduct thorough research on the digital agencies that offer the services you need. Look at their websites, read case studies, and client testimonials. You can also ask for recommendations from your network or industry associations.

"As an SME you may have limited resources to invest"

Consider Your Budget

As an SME, you may have limited resources to invest in agency services. Therefore, it is essential to have a budget in mind and look for agencies that offer services within your budget range. Don’t forget you may have agency fees and then media fees on top if you are running paid campaigns. Most digital marketing agencies will work on a project fee, a monthly fee retainer and others may work on a performance fee. Make sure you give the agency the budget information so they can answer your pitch brief correctly.

Look for Relevant Experience

Check if the agency has relevant experience working with SMEs in your industry. This will ensure that they understand the unique challenges and opportunities of your business.

Meet with the Agency

Once you have shortlisted a few agencies, schedule a meeting with them to discuss your needs, budget, and expectations. This will also give you an opportunity to gauge their communication skills, work style, and approach to problem-solving. Normally a digital marketing agency will be happy present some ideas to you on how they can support your business objectives.

"One of the critical pieces is cultural alignment"

Cultural Fit

One of the critical pieces is there a cultural alignment between you. Remember an agency is an extension of your team so you must ensure this feels right and you can foster working relationship.

Ask for References

Ask the agency for references from their past clients, and reach out to them to get an idea of the agency's work quality, reliability, and professionalism.

Set expectations

This is so important. A digital marketing agency needs to know what you expect as results and an agency worth their salt will already have examples of this. This will ensure you are aligned with your business objective. If you are unsure, or working with a completely new channel, your marketing agency can help you create realistic targets with the budget available.


Ask how an agency works with other clients. Think about how often you want to meet with your agency partner. Will you need a weekly call or just a quarterly meet up?

Finding the right agency should be fun!

Choosing a digital marketing agency partner should be fun and once you find the right one you will hopefully have years of a great working relationship and most importantly business success. Good luck!

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