Finding a good Paid Media Marketing company can be a challenge today. The biggest reason for that is that many people in the industry have no idea what they’re doing. Most business owners know that advertising on search engines and social media is paramount to their success, but they have no idea how to vet who should be doing it for them.

Choosing a marketing agency is like any other professional service. First, the client has to realize that they’re in better hands utilizing an expert than trying to do it themselves. The law gives you the ability to represent yourself in a court of law, but that doesn’t make it a good idea! If you’re ever in need of legal services, you’re probably going to find and vet a good lawyer rather than settling on the first firm you come across. The world of digital marketing can often look like the wild west with shysters at every corner, but business owners can vet digital marketing agencies too, and I’m going to tell you how!

What types of clients do you typically work with?

By asking this question, the agency will typically give you a few names off of their roster or at least vague information about them. Have they worked with vast fortune 500 companies and top universities (like LSEO has), or are they running Facebook ads for the church’s Lenten fish fry? Many companies also only market in particular niches, and there is nothing wrong with that, but you don’t want to call a legal marketing firm if you’re an accountant.

It's important to make sure the agency you choose can handle your project.

What types of campaigns have they run?

This question is especially crucial if you’re looking to diversify your ads into multiple advertising channels. Some agencies are going to specialize in particular areas such as Facebook or Google ads, and other agencies are going to have different teams managing different pieces of the paid media puzzle.

There are also different goals that agencies may specialize in outside of just the platform. Some agencies may specialize in brand awareness, and others may focus more on conversions. There isn’t a right way or a wrong way to go about choosing what to be good at, but you’re going to have to ask yourself as a business owner what your goals are so that you can make sure of alignment with the strengths of the agency that you choose.

How do they measure results?

This question might be the most critical question that you can ask when vetting an agency. The question ties into what type of campaigns the agency runs, but doubles down and asks how they measure the success of those campaigns. Every business has different goals, and the way that success is measured should be around those goals instead of just a metric that means nothing to you. Examples of measuring results might be calculating some or all of the following; form fills, impressions, phone calls, clicks, likes, shares, or retweets. Again, it goes back to measuring what matters for your business. Ask yourself what is going to help move the needle and get you your next client.

It's important to get references from clients, reviews, and directories.

May I have a few references?

If you were applying for a job, your employer would ask you to provide professional references, well when vetting an agency to do a job for you, asking them for references is a must. Supplying a reference or two is something that any agency should be happy to do. Satisfied clients are more than willing to pass on their stamp of approval for a job well done. 

Another few other easy ways to check the work of an agency is to look them up on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google. The social media platforms all have a rating system and the ability for users to leave comments. Using social media or niche directories to vet agencies is especially important if you have a very niche business. 

What certifications does your staff hold?

Don’t be afraid to ask what certifications the team members of the agency hold. Think about when you go to the doctor; the doctor typically has his or her diploma hanging for display. Hanging the diploma gives the patient a sense of calm, knowing that their doctor has passed all the necessary training to do the job. Your digital marketing agency should be able to give you the same calm when you ask them about industry certifications. Some of the more common certifications are going to be from organizations like Google, SEMrush, or Hubspot. 

Don’t be afraid to walk away.

You probably called a digital marketing agency because you either need to keep the clients you already have or grow your customer base. There are going to be times when the conversation doesn’t feel right. A digital marketing agency should feel like an extension of your company, and not someone you pay a monthly retainer. Before that happens, there are usually telltale signs, and you’re going to have to trust your gut. Getting this wrong can set your organization back weeks, months, quarters, or even years, so it’s important to remember to make sure that the agency you choose checks all of your boxes, and if they don’t, then keep shopping!