Everything You Want To Know When Choosing A Digital Agency

Written by Hannah Ward: Managing director.
· 4 minute read

There are certain questions that businesses always ask whenever they’re looking for a new digital or web development agency. To help when it comes to making that decision, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions along with all the answers you need to know before jumping aboard…

How much does digital marketing/SEO/search marketing cost?

No surprise that this is always one of the first questions asked!

This may seem like a straightforward question, but it doesn’t have a completely straightforward answer. That’s because in order to put a cost on the work they’re going to be doing for you, agencies need to know a little more about you first.

A good digital agency will ask what your business objectives are, and whether that’s measured via revenue, data capture, form fills, etc. They’ll want to know who your audience are and where they’re based, find out more about your offering, and look into your online competitors. They may also take a look at your current website and conduct a site report to see how well-optimised your site is. They’ll consider elements such as PPC, Social Media, UX and CRO where necessary, as SEO always works in conjunction with these other elements.

All of these elements help determine how much time will need to be spent on digital marketing each month to achieve your goals, and this is different for every client. For example, a plumber wanting to attract customers in their local area will be looking at a far less competitive environment compared to a company providing car insurance nationally. The car insurance firm would be competing for search presence with the likes of Go Compare and Compare The Market, and so would require a far more intensive strategy than the plumber.

The agency’s objective, in everything they do, should always be to have a positive impact on your bottom line. With this in mind, they should be asking how much a ‘sale’ is worth to you, as this helps them understand what needs to be done in order to make you money.

If you ask an agency what search marketing will cost and they give you an answer straight away without asking any further questions, then alarm bells should be ringing. It’s like a builder giving you a quote to build a house without asking you how many rooms you want in it.

What we can easily tell you is that average agency rate is usually £500 – £750 per day, and clients can require anywhere between 2 and 20 days of activity per month.  

How much will a website cost?

Again, every customer is different, and before beginning to design and develop any website, and agency should always meet with the customer to discuss their business, brand, audience, user behaviours, competitors, needs and requirements. Most agencies also like to have a full specification of the features and functionality required from the site before we begin.

Client’s websites tend to fall into 4 main categories: Informational/Small Business Website, Corporate Website, Ecommerce Website, and Database Driven Website or Web Application.

There are two types of platforms for web builds- Opensource (such as WordPress, Magento, and WooCommerce) which are ‘out of the box’ solutions, and bespoke builds which are entirely unique depending on what you need.

Most good agencies will design your site completely from scratch, and develop it using one of the above platforms. As a ballpark, costs usually start at around £10,000 for design and development. It is possible to buy a template for peanuts, and some agencies will use these to create a website for you. However, it’s not normally recommended, and the old cliche of ‘you get what you pay for’ usually rings true!


How many are in your team?

Agency size can be a consideration, as of course you want to be assured that the agency is big enough to execute your digital marketing strategy successfully.

A lot of agencies are ‘mid sized’ (between 15 – 30 team members), which is a bit of a ‘sweet spot’ as it tends to be big enough to ensure a professional and thorough service, but small enough to offer a personal approach where clients are well looked after. A lot of clients are concerned that at bigger agencies they will be a small fish in a big pond; by choosing a mid-sized agency you can be assured that your account is always going to be a priority.  

It’s also worth bearing in mind that it’s not all about size: what you should be looking for is the mix of skill sets within the business- people who specialise in their area, such as PPC experts, UX Designers, certified SEO experts, etc.

Do you already work with anyone else from my sector/industry?

I can’t speak for every agency, but we believe that it’s unethical to work with more than one company within the same industry, as it’s likely that you’ll be competing for the same search terms. The only way that we would take on a client from the same industry sector would be if they were operating in a different geographical location and only wanted to attract local business, for example “Family Law Solicitor London” and “Family Law Solicitor Manchester”.

If an agency works across a variety of industry sectors (hospitality, travel and tourism, fashion, education, property, law, finance, insurance, and construction, etc) this usually means they will have built up a wealth of experience and knowledge which benefits their clients, whatever sector they work within.


We’re based in London, is that OK?

For us, yes! While we’re a Manchester-based agency, our clients are scattered around the UK, including in London. More and more national brands are now looking outside of London when it comes to finding their digital agency, and that’s down to the talent and quality of firms in the North.
Agencies who say they work with clients around the UK will usually be more than happy to make the journey to come and see you, report in person, etc.


What are your contract terms?

Some agencies may ask clients to sign a 12 month contract, but there is an argument to say that if an agency is confident in their ability, they shouldn’t need to. Digital marketing is transparent in nature- there are analytics available which clearly show what is going on- so agencies should know that their clients will easily be able to see their progress from the word ‘go’. Good agencies know that their work speaks for itself and that the client is likely to retain them based on the strength of their results alone, with or without a 12 month contract.

However, in order to safeguard both the agency and client, most agencies normally have a 3 month notice period. This means that if something unforeseen happens and the agency needs to let the client go, they will work for the client for 3 months from the point that notice is given, which gives the client time to find another agency.

I already work with a development agency/have an internal developer, will this be a problem?

All agencies are different so I can really only speak for ourselves, but if a client is coming to us for digital marketing services we can happily work alongside their existing development team, be they in-house or an external agency.

When clients ask this question, their concern is usually to do with time and cost: will the existing development agency charge more to make the amends that the digital agency requires? And how long will it take to make those changes? It’s true that often it’s quicker for your digital agency to make the amends you require themselves, and probably cheaper too. But if you’re keen to keep your existing development team in the loop then your digital agency should be able to liaise with developers to ensure any development amends required for SEO or Conversions are implemented in a timely and effective manner.

If you don’t already work with a developer, then it’s wise to choose a digital agency who has an in house design and development team. This means that any development work can be done in conjunction with your digital marketing work all under one roof.


What do I actually get for my money?

We understand that no-one goes to a digital marketing agency to make less money. That’s why, as I mentioned earlier, any agency worth their salt should get a full understanding of your commercial goals before they begin. As part of any ongoing management of your search presence you will need to continually evaluate how your users are behaving and make changes to improve conversions or revenues. As an agency its important to decipher any analytics and convert them into real commercial insights to deliver you more revenue.

As a guide, the following should be looked at as key metrics: 

  • Traffic overall & by channel
  • Conversion rates
  • Revenue & cost per acquisition
  • Best performing channels
  • Segmented visitor data
  • Best performing audience segments (where available)
  • Top content/pages (for traffic & conversion)
  • User engagement
  • Results of any specific tests

The above is just a snapshot and you should be able to agree commercial KPI’s with your agency from the off, and make sure this all falls under your monthly (or weekly) reporting.

In terms of actual physical ‘assets’, you should expect to see the creation and production of:

  • Blog posts
  • New web pages and content
  • Social media posts
  • Graphics and video content
  • PPC landing pages
  • PPC adverts
  • Content and social calendars

Have we forgotten anything..?

If there’s anything else you’d like to know before hiring a digital agency, then get in touch – we’ll be happy to help.