Online marketing has become more and more diverse in recent years. With this diversity, the range of agencies on the market has also grown in parallel. For many companies, however, it is not always easy to recognise the differences and make a decision which agency is the right one.
First: Define what you want.
In the beginning it is important to know what you need. Do you need an agency that can take care of your online marketing from A-Z or do you need a specialised agency that is only good in a certain area?
If, for example, you need an online agency to help you generate sales, you should rely on a full-service provider. This has the advantage that these agencies (ideally) have a 360° view of the entire range of products and can coordinate the individual instruments optimally and efficiently. If you work with a specialist agency, you run the risk of overlooking various potentials and not thinking through the entire process.
However, if you need someone who, for example, only manages a part of your digital marketing externally or implements a specific project, it is often the better way to work with a specialist agency.
A combination of a specialist agency and a full-service agency is also conceivable. If, for example, you are building up an online shop, it is certainly an advantage to have an agency that develops an overall concept with you and that works closely with an online shop developer.
Here is an overview of the most common agency types on the market.
- Full-service online agencies cover all important areas of digital marketing and are strongly involved in developing and implementing complete strategies.
- Search agencies are specialised in search engine marketing. This includes search engine advertising and search engine optimisation (SEO).
- Media agencies plan advertising campaigns, negotiate terms and conditions with media and marketers and then implement the campaigns in practice.
- Creative agencies have their digital core competence in the creation of advertising material and the development of websites.
- Social media agencies look after their clients’ social media channels (e.g. Facebook) and constantly analyse what is being discussed about their clients on the net.
- Performance agencies are specialised in implementing advertising campaigns that generate direct measurable sales (e.g. sales, registrations, etc.). These agencies constantly analyse and optimise the campaign, but also the website to generate a maximum number of sales.
- Web design agencies design and develop websites for their customers.
- Online shop developers are specialised in the development of online shops and usually have excellent knowledge of analysis and optimisation.
- Freelancers and independent consultants are lone wolves on the market, who either specialise in a particular area or cover the whole range of digital marketing. Many of these freelancers are well networked with other freelancers and therefore have flexible, cost-effective and efficient structures.
In addition to the types of agencies mentioned, there are of course other variations and also mixed types. Many full-service agencies, for example, have now integrated their own special units that focus on specific subject areas such as search or social media.
Choose a size that suits you.
Basically, it is important that the agency is also suitable for you in terms of size.
Large agencies generally charge higher fees than small agencies, but offer the advantage that you can manage larger projects and budget sums without any problems and often have very good international structures.
Small agencies, on the other hand, are less expensive and usually offer much more flexibility and often also better customer service.
Compare and ask questions.
Don’t take the first best agency you come across. Compare calmly and ask questions:
- What is the Agency’s approach? Can the agency think coherently or is it focused on a specific area?
- What ideas does the agency have for your company?
- What reference projects and best cases are there? (You are also welcome to ask existing customers about their satisfaction)
- What are the hourly rates? How transparent is the agency to customers with the costs?
- What does the agency not have the confidence to do?
- Is the agency likeable? Is the chemistry right?
- Is the agency familiar with current topics?
- How satisfied are the employees?
Depending on the company, the importance of the physical proximity of an agency should not be underestimated. If you need weekly jour fixes or/and have a strong regional focus, you should choose an agency near you. However, if you need special know-how and it is sufficient to arrange weekly videocalls with your agency, proximity plays a secondary role. It is much more important that the agency provides exactly the service you need.
Neutrality is an important issue depending on the sector. Therefore, ask yourself in advance whether it is problematic if a competitor is served by the same agency. If neutrality is important to you, you should also record this in writing in the agency contract from the outset.
Depending on the case, however, it may be that valuable synergy effects are created by having a competitor looked after by the same agency and you can benefit from existing learnings.
In the end, the most important thing is to think about which agency you need in advance. Draw up a set of criteria, combine it with questions and compare the market.