If you are like most organizations vetting various growth marketing agencies, you might be throwing your hands up in frustration hearing the same song over and over and all the right phrases and claims: “we are truly the best in the industry”, “we put our clients first”, “we are your partner and rely on your results to thrive”.
This might sound pretty, but almost all marketing operations say the same thing. At the end of the day, businesses have very little to go by when it comes to knowing how to choose a digital marketing growth agency likely to help businesses achieve their goals and continue with steady growth.
This article is meant to help businesses get a better foundation for understanding what they should be looking for in an agency, and how to identify the trademarks of a worthy marketing growth stack.
First, Identify what True Value Is
While most businesses have the same goal to increase their sales and see a return on their investment, “value” can mean different things to individual organizations. For example, we’ve had clients that want to hit certain revenue targets by a set time but have no interest in promoting brand awareness because they are merging their business with a bigger brand.
Then there are organizations that want data from measurable growth cycles so they can use the takeaways to offer internal training to sales teams.
One of the biggest indicators of a high-value growth marketing agency is how they deliver services. You have traditional agencies that offer a la carte services like SEO, paid media and content marketing. Typically, each is run according to current best practices, and little goal-oriented thought is included into these base strategies.
Then you have digital marketing agencies who offer customized growth stacks. As opposed to a bunch of a la carte marketing services thoughtlessly sandwiched together, a growth stack is a set of tools and strategies designed to work together to achieve the same goals.
Understanding how buyers engage with industry-related content and the products / services creates the foundation, as these people are segmented and marketed to with strategic messaging that converts them through an agile sales funnel. A growth stack typically includes SEO and paid media, but it doesn’t have to.
When the agency sits down with the client they go deep into the organization to understand their sales cycle, traffic sources, current lead generation, and then decide which strategies are useful before customizing them to work with other tactical entities.
This is real value, and if agencies aren’t engineering something that personally reflects the needs of specific clients with a roadmap for organizations to hit their goals through an agile growth stack, they will wind up neck-deep in the mar of humdrum “flying blind” marketing services.
There Needs to be a Performance-Based, Agile Approach
Winning growth marketing agencies never offer the plug-and-play strategies that run on rinse and repeat methodology. Digital marketing growth stacks are successful when every piece of the stack is analyzed and optimized according to performance-based data.
Then cross-sections of the stack are analyzed to see how other components need to be adjusted so that the entire machine has all pieces firing together to hit desired goals.
For example, if there is a sudden drop in organic traffic, savvy growth marketing agencies will discover how this has impacted inbound workflow performance, content engagement metrics, and make any required adjustments or optimizations. Performance should always be the measuring stick for gauging direction, and when you work with an agency that follows this approach, the value is immense.
Valuable Growth Agencies Reduce Internal Costs
It is common to encounter businesses that have a single tool for every need within their internal marketing efforts. Some organizations will have one tool for email marketing automation, another for content management, one for social posting, and another for performing keyword research.
One clear sign that your digital marketing agency is of high caliber is when they analyze your current toolset and make recommendations for streamlining your tool stack. When single tools are used that perform multiple tasks it helps make gathering analyzing data easier, requires less man hours, and saves organizations thousands of dollars a year.
It is typical for companies to have between five and seven tools for what they think they need to run their campaigns. And once a top growth marketing agency revamps their internal, most organizations are left with an average of two or three tools.
Value for Clients is Rooted in their Agency
When looking for a growth marketing agency that offers the best value, it is important to identify how their internal team works together. Because growth stacks are comprised of multiple tools and strategies, experts from cross-departments should be a part of the overall strategic approach.
In some minor cases it might be acceptable to have a single point person on the team that communicates with clients (based on the nature of the business and its goals). But in most cases internal departments meet together to craft and monitor the strategy followed by direct client communication from the actual person in each department running their piece to the growth stack.
If businesses have ideas or questions related to the SEO element of their marketing stack, then speaking to the Director of SEO will bring more value than speaking to someone who isn’t directly responsible for running and monitoring that side of the strategy.
If there is a general question about the overall marketing, then having direct access to a single account manager and not multiple people is appropriate. So long as departments work together to craft, run and monitor the growth stack while making department directors accessible to their clients, you are receiving a high-value service rare in today’s industry.
You will also want to ask about the agency’s goals. What do they consider as growth milestones for their own internal? Is the CEO a digital marketing influencer participating in speaking engagements to help empower those who seek advanced skills and higher education? Agencies that give back to their communities, industries, and to business growth as a whole testify to high-value.
Keep Your Ear to the Ground, and Make Sure the Agency Does the Same
Finally, communication is key. When having that initial first conversation with an agency, really pay attention to how dialed-in they seem to be. Are they asking lots of probing questions about your sales department, customers, and business goals, or are they too busy singing their own praises while rubbing case studies in your face?
True value resides in growth marketing agencies that focus on your customers and internal details. Arrange some follow-up phone appointments or in-person meetings and note how the communication rolls out in between these periods.
If the communication is easy and the focus is placed on your needs, you can rest assured that this agency will provide top drawer communication throughout a relationship.