October 6, 2023

Choosing The Right Digital Marketing Agency: A Complete How-To Guide

Have you been struggling with driving revenue growth, boosting sales, converting website traffic into tangible conversions, and standing out amongst your competitors? You’re not alone. 88% of executives believe that customer preferences are changing faster than they can adapt. 

With a small team—or even a big one that goes through a lot of red tape—it can be difficult to adjust to the ever-changing preferences of consumers, and more importantly, understand clearly what those preferences are. That’s where the digital marketing agency comes in.

With any digital marketing agency, your brand can grow incrementally. But, when you choose the right digital marketing agency, your brand will exceed its wildest revenue-generating goals. From SEO to RevOps, great digital marketing agencies ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward online, leading to more eyes, clicks, and conversions for your business.

In this guide, we’ll help you understand how to choose the best digital marketing agency for your business. Plus, we’ll explain how the core functions every great digital marketing agency employs are essential to maximizing visibility and growth for your brand. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Understanding Your Needs

The first step in choosing the best digital marketing agency for your business is knowing what your business needs along with the objectives you hope to achieve. Obviously, different businesses want different things. Some want to improve their brand awareness, others want to generate more leads, but they’re all trying to do one thing in the end: increase revenue.

In this step, it’s smart to be as specific as possible. Knowing the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) you want to hit in a certain timeline gives a digital marketing agency the best chance to devise the most effective strategies for measurable growth.  

Finding Agencies

To find the best digital marketing agency for your business, you can start your search online. Great digital marketing agencies should also have a great online presence—it’s their bread and butter after all. They should also have some sort of credibility: awards, reviews, testimonials, case studies, etc., that prove that the work they have done is effective, that they’re easy to work with, and that their workplace culture is positive.

Another option is asking through word-of-mouth. Ask around to see what agencies your peers have worked with. Asking them what worked, what didn’t, and how to approach finding an agency can sometimes provide a clearer path than a traditional Google search. After all, what else is your LinkedIn network for?

Evaluating Agencies 

Once you’ve finished your search and compiled a list of digital marketing agencies that pique your interest, it’s time to start narrowing them down. At this point, you should have an understanding of their expertise and the past work they’ve completed. However, these are not the only data points to consider. Here are some of the more subjective factors that can greatly impact how compatible an agency is with your business. 


It’s important to choose an agency with a size that works best with your company. Boutique agencies usually have smaller teams with a few dozen employees. They often work in a specific niche but offer a more personalized experience.

On the other hand, large agencies could have hundreds or thousands of employees. There are multiple departments that specialize in completely different aspects of digital marketing. Each of these types of agencies has its advantages and disadvantages. 

Boutique Agencies

There are a few advantages to working with a smaller, boutique agency. One, they can give individualized attention to their accounts. As a client, you’ll also be primarily communicating directly with senior staff members or agency owners.

Boutique agencies can specialize in specific industries and provide a wealth of knowledge and strategies based on those tactics. Because of their size, they can potentially be more flexible, being able to adapt or pivot strategies based on your business’s changing needs.

Large Agencies

Large agencies, on the other hand, have their own set of advantages. One, because of their size, they can have a wide variety of experts and skill sets available. They also have more advanced tools like software and technology at their disposal.

In an economic sense, large agencies provide more stability. They are less susceptible to market changes because of their size, which can potentially make them more reliable in an economic downturn

Whether you are choosing a small or large agency, it is important to evaluate all of your options. If you are looking for a niche strategy to solve your needs, a boutique agency might be the way to go. If you prioritize stability, a large agency might be more beneficial. Either way, choosing the one that works best for you and with you is the right option.

Core Functions

Besides size, you can also evaluate an agency based on the core functions they promise to provide or the ones they’ve provided to others in the past. What can help in this process is understanding how the agency develops strategies, drives recognition, improves digital performance, and increases revenue.

Developing Strategies

Every brand is different. Thus, every brand has different goals. Digital marketing agencies develop personalized digital marketing strategies to not just meet but exceed those goals. 

To evaluate the agencies you are deciding between, it’s crucial to know whether the agency has a research process that inspires its strategy. Why is that important? Because for content marketing alone, 47% of marketers say that research has improved their content marketing strategy. Research helps agencies build sales personas for your business. Without research and without a sales persona, none of the agency's work will truly respond to your audience's deepest needs.

Driving Recognition

As you’re evaluating agencies, ask yourself (and the agency) how they drive recognition. As we talked about in our digital marketing RFP guide, you should not ask them for a full strategy for their marketing problem. But, you can ask them for their approach to driving recognition. Here are important tactics you should know about when evaluating whether an agency’s approach is legit or not.

  • First, ask the agency their thoughts about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies to meet your business goals. This should be a must. When your page ranks at the top of the Search Engine Results Page, it can generate a 39.8% click-through rate (as of 2023). With writers, content strategists, and SEO experts all on staff, digital marketing agencies have the tools necessary to bolster your SEO and help you gain visibility on search engines.

  • Next, try understanding their approach to social media marketing. Unlike SEO, social media marketing relies on spur-of-the-moment ideas and capitalizing on trends that some businesses may not have the time or resources to do. Agencies should be jumping on this. People are more trusting of brands they follow and are more willing to buy from a brand they interact with on social media. An agency that is willing to keep up a social media presence welcomes traffic with more trust than other digital marketing tactics.

  • Asking about personalized PPC ads is a must. They drive brand recognition and conversions: 80% of people will purchase from companies that run personalized ads. Ensure that the agency you’re looking at runs both paid media and SEO strategies. Without the two of these working together, you’re leaving a ton of traffic and potential recognition on the table.

Improve Performance

While you’re evaluating agencies, you should also find out how they approach improving performance. Digital marketing agencies primarily do that with Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and User Experience (UX): these strategies help you seamlessly turn website visitors into customers. Again, you shouldn’t ask what their specific UX and CRO strategies are at this stage. But you can ask how much they prioritize them, and what their general thoughts and best practices are when optimizing the user experience and conversion rates. To dig more deeply into the differences between UX and CRO, you can check out our e-commerce success guide.

Increase Revenue

Of course, you should also ascertain what strategies a digital marketing agency will use to boost your revenue and increase your ROI. There are a couple of ways to do this:

  • Email Marketing: Digital marketing agencies with a clear email marketing strategy are some of the best and should be at the top of your list. Marketers who use segmented email marketing tactics have even seen a 760% increase in revenue in some cases. The top digital marketing agencies use email marketing just for that reason. It converts.

  • RevOps: Working with a digital marketing agency that helps with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) opens up a world of opportunity for your business. The data you get tells you how your marketing, sales, and finances are connected. It also shows you how you can improve your marketing operations in the future. This statistic from Sonar encapsulates what we mean: companies that aligned their RevOps across sales and marketing teams achieved 36% more revenue growth and up to 28% more profitability.


Finally, and in our opinion most importantly, you need to evaluate the culture of the agencies to see if they are the exact right fit. The best agency you can choose is one where you and the agency work homogeneously with each other. After all, you’re not just working together: you’re establishing a potentially long-term partnership with one another.

Here are some intangible aspects of a digital marketing agency you should be looking for:

  • Does the agency show hospitality?
  • Does their company culture align with yours? 
  • Does the agency have expertise in what they’re talking about?
  • Do they care about your success?
  • Do they show kindness?
  • Are they flexible?
  • Is their communication style compatible with yours?
  • Can they pivot to meet your needs?

Of course, these are just some of the things you should be looking for. And, while it may not be possible for an agency to meet all of these needs, you should find one that can meet the most pressing needs of your business. With Marketwake by your side, we can help with that.

How Marketwake Stands Out

At Marketwake, we’re different from a traditional digital marketing company. We help brands make their mark on the world with data-driven creativity and savvy marketing tactics that turn consumers into champions of your brand. And yes, we’ve shown our expertise multiple times. SEO, PPC, RevOps, and more. We have everything you need to start increasing your revenue and boosting ROI.

To learn more, give us a ring. We’ll be happy to answer any marketing questions and provide you with the tools and strategies to grow your business and your brand.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Digital Marketing Company?

A digital marketing company is an organization that specializes in promoting brands, products, or services online using various digital channels, including social media, search engines, email, and paid media. They leverage digital strategies and tools to enhance online visibility, engagement, and conversions for businesses.

How Do Digital Marketing Agencies Make Money?

Digital marketing agencies make money by offering specialized services such as search engine optimization (SEO), paid media services, social media marketing, RevOps, Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), and more. Clients pay either on a project basis, monthly retainer, or through commission models depending on the service provided.

What Are the Four Types of Digital Marketing?

There are numerous types of digital marketing strategies, but some of the most effective include:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Paid Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Conversion Rate Optimization
  • User Experience Design
  • RevOps

What Are Some Examples of Digital Marketing?

Some examples of digital marketing include:

  • Website design
  • User Interface optimization
  • Pay Per Click advertising
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Branding 
  • Content Marketing
  • etc.

What Is a Full-Service Digital Marketing Agency?

A full-service digital marketing company offers a comprehensive range of online marketing services, from SEO and PPC to social media and content marketing. By handling multiple facets of digital marketing under one roof, they provide integrated strategies to enhance a brand's online presence and performance.

What to Look For in a Social Media Marketing Agency?

What you should look for in a social marketing agency is similar to what you would look for in any other agency: testimonials from past clients, industry experience, case studies, their approach to social media marketing, and of course whether they are a good culture fit to work with your brand.

What to Look For in a Content Marketing Agency?

Like any other agency, when you’re looking for a content marketing agency you want to keep in mind a few things. 

1. Do they have evidence of past work that is effective?

2. What is their approach to Search Engine Optimization, both on-page and technical?

3. Do they have a crew of effective writers?

4. What is their communication style like? How does it mesh with your business?

How to Choose the Best Digital Marketing Agency in 2023

Choosing the best digital marketing agency in 2023 can be a challenge. But, here are a few things to consider:

  • Your needs (what goals do you want to accomplish).
  • The size of the agency you want to work with.
  • Their approach to developing strategies for your business.
  • Past work that has been effective in a similar industry.
  • Testimonials from other businesses.
  • How does their culture and communication style fit with your own?

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