What to Expect When Working With a Digital Marketing Agency

by Chris LaRoche   |   Mar 19, 2024   |   Clock Icon 6 min read

So You’re Getting Ready to Engage With a New Agency Partner…

It can be an intimidating prospect to engage with a digital marketing agency, especially as a small business. These agencies are literally experts at selling services to customers, so how do you know you’re talking with an ethical marketing agency that’s not just trying to land a sale? Below, I’ll outline 4 things you should expect when you engage with a digital marketing agency for PPC or SEO.

You Should Need to Teach Them About Your Business

Agencies typically have experience with a lot of different industries and will likely have a general sense of how to be successful for most B2B & B2C companies, but every small business is unique. A good kickoff with an agency should have you talking more than your new agency team – you should be answering tough questions, explaining how your business works, how you make money, etc.

List of business and service questions
A sample of questions Workshop Digital asks when kicking off with new clients to better understand how they operate and what we need to accomplish.

A curious agency partner will go the extra mile to ensure that the Paid & SEO strategies and tactics that they deploy consider your business’ specific needs. Watch out for agencies that outline exactly what they’re going to do or make lofty promises in the first meeting, as that could indicate a cookie-cutter approach to management – it takes time to understand your business and to develop a custom digital marketing strategy to achieve your goals. For example, creating a content-centric SEO strategy that actually drives traffic takes having in-depth initial conversations to better understand what is going to work for your business.

They Should Talk in Terms of ROI, Not Just Conversions or Traffic

Your agency partner should not just want to drive leads your way, but they want you to be profitable too. Many agencies will boast about increasing traffic to your site or leads into your sales pipeline, but gains in those metrics are hollow if those people aren’t buying your product.

Calculation for ROAS is revenue divided by cost
Basic calculation for ROAS to help determine the profitability of the marketing efforts being managed by the digital marketing agency.

If your partner starts talking with you about Return on Investment (ROI) or Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), that’s a good sign that they have their eyes set on profitability. Traffic, conversions, and leads are all great indicators of success, but you will ultimately want this partnership to produce revenue for your business, and they should want to hold themselves accountable for that.

💡Tip: Need help planning your marketing budget around data to maximize your revenue and ROI? Check out this guide that can help you make sure you’re spending your marketing budget in the right place.

They Should Make it Clear Digital Marketing is Not an Instant Money-Making Machine

Digital marketing can be lucrative but is as much a long-term marketing play as other advertising channels. Both PPC and SEO can be a little quicker to see results compared to traditional media, but those results do still take time. If you’re talking to a digital marketing agency that is promising instant results within any digital channel, that should give you some pause.

SEO expected timing to results
SEO results in particular ebb and flow, with the impact of work done not being recognized for months down the line.

With SEO, for instance, optimizations deployed to your website today may not realize improved rankings and visibility for months as Google revisits your website and logs the changes. PPC is all about an eagerness to learn, running experiments, and dialing into the right combination of keywords, ad copy, and bidding strategy to really start paying off – which is an ongoing and ever-changing process that takes time to get right. To truly get the most out of your digital marketing, patience is a virtue.

You Should Always Have Access to Your Accounts, Your Website, and Your Data

Some marketing agencies that specialize in small businesses will offer convenient all-in-one packages where they build and host your website, optimize the SEO, manage the ads, monitor the phone calls, provide “customized” analytics and reporting, and more. These sound great, but check below the hood because a lot of these arrangements mean that the vendor owns your website, your ad account, and your analytics data – making it very hard to even consider other options.

Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Google Search Console that is gated
Your data and assets should never be locked behind a partnership agreement – they should be yours to own and take freely with you if your partnership ends.

Look for transparency in your agreements – you should always have the option to take your website and ads account to another digital marketing agency should you decide that is the best move to make. You don’t want to have to start from scratch with a new website and no data because of restrictive partnership arrangements.

So… Are You Going with the Right Partner?

Whether you run a small, medium, or enterprise-sized business, choosing the right digital marketing agency is a tough decision. Flashy pitch decks and sales presentations are nice and can showcase an agency’s ability to produce creative, engaging content, but make sure there is substance to be found whenever you are vetting an agency. Keeping an eye out for these core values should help make that job just a little easier.

If you're on the hunt for your next SEO or PPC digital marketing agency partner, we're here to make your decision easier. Drop us a line to request your free, customized proposal today. Let's explore how we can enhance your digital marketing strategy together.

Portrait of Chris LaRoche

Chris LaRoche

Chris brings over 12 years of experience in the digital marketing space to Workshop Digital, having spent the majority of his career driving paid marketing strategy for clients across SaaS, healthcare, legal, retail, & more while leading teams of marketing experts.

He prides himself on staying ahead of the curve – testing & adopting new technologies, strategies, and methodologies in order to find the newest and best ways to exceed client expectations, while building strong personal relationships with his counterparts.

A South Jersey native, Chris migrated to the San Diego region of California in 2018. Outside of the office chair, you can find him catching the latest superhero movies, attempting to cook a decent meal, dabbling in some light woodworking, and accompanying his dog – Blitz – to the dog park.