Anybody who has gone down the path of trying to pick the best digital marketing agency understands that it’s covered in fog, and often difficult to navigate. Every agency says they do the same things, and every agency has a relatively nice looking website. So how can one decide upon the one that’s right for them?

As someone who’s spent the last 15 years working for the enterprise as a marketing exec, I’ve reviewed my fair share of digital marketing agencies. In my experience, before even getting into whether or not the agency has the correct technical expertise, there are some more fundamental evaluation points to review.

Below are some tips that should help you start down the path:

  • Agency Size:
    • The rule of thumb I always follow is to pick the best digital marketing agency that fits the company size I’m working for. Having worked for some of the largest enterprises in the world, as well as for a few start-ups, this may just be one of the most important things. Find an agency that needs your work. They’ll work harder for you. The smaller your enterprise is, the more important this becomes. Remember, its ok to go with a boutique agency. Having a handful of people working for you at 100% can be better than having an army of people working for you at 10%.
  • Alignment to your business:
    • Does the agency traditionally support b2b or b2c? Or are they focused on specific industries?  Agencies will often say it doesn’t matter. They can support anything… they’ll tell you.  Or they may even say that they have people on staff that are experts.  So how can you figure out the truth?   You can typically get a few reliable clues on the agencies website.
      • Pro-Tip: Look at their portfolio or case study page. See which brands they have represented. If those brands look and feel similar to yours, then there may just be a good fit.
    • Are there specific certifications they have, or marketing automation tools they specialize in? You can usually find this out on a site like, or it may be on the agency site itself.
      • Example: Hubspot does a great job of working with agencies to certify them on their tools. I’ve worked with Hubspot specific agencies in the past, and there absolutely is a difference between the agency that says “we support all marketing automation solutions” and the ones that say “we specialize in a few.”
  • Insist on meeting face-to-face with the team working on your account (prior to signing any paperwork).
    • I’ll explain this one with a story from earlier in my career (a mistake I made). I met with the agency principle, the account execs, etc – and loved them. What they said was perfect. Their vision was absolute. So I signed. It wasn’t until I got assigned to the account team that I had near immediate buyers remorse. The account team was junior. They didn’t know what they were doing, and there turned out to be a huge disconnect between the firms leadership and the guys meeting with clients on a day to day basis.
    • So REMEMBER, insist on meeting with the team that will be working on your account day-to-day. Get to know them, ask the same questions that you would of the principle or account exec. Make sure the answers match up.

I’ll blog more on this topic in an upcoming post. The three recommendations here are really just a starting point to help you pick the best digital marketing agency. They’ll help illuminate this foggy path just a bit. Future posts will include the importance of customer reviews / references, alignment of creative vision, and much more.

Good luck!