How to Test the Waters with a New Digital Marketing Agency

Intentionally Inspirational
4 min readAug 14, 2020

As your business grows, you’re going to find yourself in one of two camps. Either you love marketing and all the things it entails or you hate it and you can’t wait to get it off of your plate. If you’re in the latter camp, you start shopping around for someone to do the marketing work for you. A digital marketing agency.

Rule Number 1: Test the Waters

The first key to working with a digital marketing agency is never sign a long-term contract without first testing the waters.

Let’s go with the pool analogy. If you jump right into a pool without testing the water, your body could get shocked when it’s colder than you expected. If you dip your toe into the pool first, you find out just how cold the water is. With that knowledge, you can wade in slowly or you can jump right in.

There is no reason to jump right in with a digital marketing agency only to be shocked when the water is freezing cold. Most marketing agencies will allow you to test out their services before they get you into a long-term contract. They may offer you services for a month or two or do a one-time marketing campaign for you to show you what they have to offer. That’s what you want.

If a company tries to lock you into a one-year or multi-year deal right off the bat, be wary.

Don’t Spend Your Entire Marketing Budget

Think of this as test the waters part two. If you have a marketing budget of $2,000 per month, are you going to bet all $2,000 on a marketing agency that you’ve never worked with? No. But you might be willing to bet $250 or $500 that this agency will yield results.

Don’t spend your entire marketing budget with a new digital marketing agency. Use a majority or more of your marketing budget on methods that you know will work.

Then you can use a portion of your marketing budget to test out the new agency.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Even with a short-term deal, this is not a set it and forget it situation. At least not yet.

The marketing agency that you’re working with should spend some time talking to you. They’ll want to know about your brand, what your company’s mission is, what your goals are, and where you want to be in a year or three years. The two of you will work together so that expectations are clearly outlined and you know what to judge results off of.

After that, the marketing agency should be able to outline a plan of attack with solid reasons why. It should look like a roadmap to success, not just spaghetti being tossed at a wall. You want an agency that gives you details, not vague email responses.

Results Driven Answers

Obviously, there will reach a point and time where you need to decide if this digital marketing agency is helping your business or simply spending your money.

Do not expect an overnight miracle.

According to the site Business2Community, the results will vary based on what your objectives are, but you should start seeing some results by three months out. They’re not going to be mind-blowing, but they should be better than what you saw when you started working with the agency.

By six months, there should be tangible results. The numbers should be higher than the three-month mark and much higher than your starting point.

If you stick with an agency for a year, those numbers should be even higher.

The one key is that you’re judging the agency based on the goals the two of you outlined from the start. If your goal was to boost sales, then you should expect to see an increase in sales. If your goal was to grow your mailing list, then you should have more emails in your mailing list.

Don’t Expect Miracles

I said this before, but it bears repeating. I would be amazed to see a marketing agency that’s able to increase your sales by 500% or 1000% in a matter of a few months. It would be understandable if you’re starting with $10 in sales and they’re able to increase it over the next few months to $1,000 in sales, but that’s not the reality for an established business.

When it comes to judging the results for an established business, numbers are just one part of the equation. You want to make sure that the numbers are good, but personal preference will also come into play. Think about whether or not you’re happy with the new sales numbers. Do you like working with this agency? Do you feel like you’re being listened to? Do you feel like this agency is doing what’s best for your business? Do you think that the results will continue to grow?

If the answers to these questions are positive, then it could be time to start committing to the agency long-term. If they’re not, then you need to decide if another agency’s a better fit for you and your business.

Written by Erika Towne

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Intentionally Inspirational

We work with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them automate their marketing.