Maybe you are looking for your first top digital marketing agency to help you achieve the kind of online visibility you’ve always wanted, or perhaps you want to make a change from your current agency. Either way you’ll need a road map to help you find the best agency to fit your needs. That’s an important distinction, as not all agencies work the same way, and what works for your friend’s company may not fit what you require. But that’s okay, because with our checklist, you’ll be able to customize your search for a digital marketing firm. Let’s take each step on its own merit and then examine how they all fit together.

A top digital marketing agency will:
1) Present your brand in the best light. This is the most important job your agency will have – they will become a steward of your brand, just as you are. They must in everything they do represent you with the same care as you would do yourself.

2) Keep on top of all of the moving parts of your campaign and can always update you on status. A successful digital marketing campaign is defined by its multiple components that synergize and drive qualified traffic to your website. Your account manager is tasked with knowing how each part of the campaign interacts with the whole. Its his or her job to let you know, for example, when your PPC campaign will roll out, how your positions look in organic search, and what you need to do to succeed on social media. All of these factors and more can be examined at any time by asking your campaign manager to give you a status update.

3) Provide value-added services. A top digital marketing agency always wants to do more than what is asked of it. It knows the difference between over promising, but it also wants to provide you with as much value as possible for your marketing investment. Even if the agency is not performing a particular service, such as Pinterest optimization for you, that should not stop them from recommending best practices to you if you choose to manage your Pinterest campaign yourself.

4) Look for new opportunities, preferably without requiring additional marketing expenditures. The best agencies develop a prioritized campaign for you, and they also are always on the lookout for other ways to build your online visibility. This value-add can take many forms. One example is that the agency will help you re-purpose your best content. If an article originates as a blog post, your agency can recommend that it live again as an e-newsletter feature article, and that snippets of it are shared on social media. These all provide new ways to drive traffic back to your site by getting the most out of your current assets.

5) Know how to fix technical problems. Often ranking well on Google is fraught with barriers. These can take the form of technical issues with your website. A top digital marketing agency can help discover what the issues are and set up a plan for their remediation. The agency can then track the fix’s impact on your rankings.

6) Know more than one way to drive traffic to your website. While your agency is spearheading your online marketing campaign, it should be recommending additional ways to drive traffic. One way it can do this is to enlist your aid in tying together online and offline promotions. Perhaps you can run a radio commercial asking listeners to enter a specific discount code on your website. This offline activity (listening to the radio commercial) connects to your online presence (listeners entering code on your site to receive discount when they order).

7) Learn the inside story about your business. This is where a top digital marketing agency will separate itself from the mediocre. The best marketers know that they will need to learn as much as they can about their clients’ businesses so they can know how to direct consumers to conversion. While a campaign manager cannot be expected to have expert knowledge of a client’s industry, he or she can dig deep into the clients’ activities, looking for ways to spread brand messages in the most effective manner possible.

8) Encourage your input. Client input is essential to any successful online marketing campaign. Here’s a good reason why: If a client is attending a trade show, the agency needs to know well in advance, so it can market the client’s exhibit and tease some of the information that will be presented. Building buzz like this isn’t possible if clients and account managers don’t have clear lines of communication.

9) Stay on top of competitors. While a top digital marketing agency is mostly responsible for shepherding your campaign, part of that responsibility needs to include keeping an eye on competitors. Initial competitor research is essential, but this is also an ongoing service that the best agencies provide. As your campaign matures, your competitors will be working on their own marketing initiatives, and it is likely they will be researching your strategies. It is good business for your marketing agency to glean as much competitive intelligence as it can get.

10) Offer an easy to use project management system. An online marketing campaign is comprised of milestones and steps along the way. It’s easier for everyone to provide input and check progress when there is a simple and effective project management system in place. As the client you can have some say in this as you want the tracking of your campaign to be easy to follow. Most often you will be introduced to a system already in place with your agency. This is okay, but have the agency explain it to you, and if you need the tool or process tweaked for your needs, don’t be afraid to ask.

11) Offer exceptional content development and distribution services. This characteristic can and should be a deal-breaker if you don’t like how it is structured. You want to see a plan to develop and distribute a wide variety of content; from blogs, to longer form articles, to infographics, video, social posts, and much more. You’ll want your agency to have a systematic way of sharing and positioning the content so it delivers people who will be interested in your products and services.

12) Understand that reporting is an evolutionary process. Your business is not going to stand still over time, and neither should your reporting. At the outset of your engagement with the agency ask them what they will be tracking, and tell them what you want to track. Review the first reports you receive and see if they reflect what you requested. If you don’t understand something, that’s okay. The top digital marketing agency account managers are willing to take the time to explain it to you. Reports must not be a pile of graphs that don’t mean anything to you.

What matters most is a solid interviewing process before you make your choice – talk to at least 3 or 4 agencies. Get the facts you need and don’t rush your decision. If you’re not comfortable signing a one year contract, ask for a 6 month term. Take your time and know that there probably isn’t a perfect agency out there. What you are looking for is a top digital marketing agency that is willing to commit to your success.