Trying to figure out what digital marketing agencies are all about? No problem!
Let’s start with a rundown of what digital marketing involves, then talk about the types of digital agencies you’ll encounter, followed by some other interesting facts about marketing.
What are Digital Marketing Services?
Digital marketing is an umbrella term used to describe any form of electronic advertising. The most common digital marketing services you’ve likely encountered as a business manager include website design, search engine optimization, paid advertising, social media management, and SMS marketing.
With the increasing use of the internet and mobile devices, digital marketing has become a crucial component of modern marketing strategies.
Digital marketing tactics have the distinct advantage of real-time reporting and rapid testing, which isn’t common in traditional marketing strategies. There simply is no easier, or more cost-effective, way to reach a global audience than through digital marketing services.
The terms digital marketing, internet marketing, and website marketing are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences. Let’s break out the most common services within each of these marketing categories, listed below:
- SMS Marketing
- Digital Billboards
- Public Relations
- Software Ads
- QR Code Marketing
- Interactive Kiosks
- Paid Advertising
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing & Automation
- Affiliate / Referral Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
- Video Marketing
- Reputation Management
- Web Design & Development
- Technical SEO
- On-Page SEO
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Content Marketing
- Sales Funnel Development
What Types of Digital Marketing Agencies Exist?
There are several types of marketing agencies. Let’s look at what each of them offers…
1.) Full-Service Digital Marketing Agency
You should expect full-service digital agencies to have a large, diverse team of marketing professionals.
They’ll often be able to help you plan and coordinate a multi-channel or omnichannel digital marketing approach.
This means the agency will be able to help develop your website, optimize it for search results, manage your paid advertising, promote you on social media, and possibly even list your products on Amazon, eBay, or other channels.
If there is a service they don’t specialize in that you require, they will likely serve as the liaison between you and the other service provider.
Full-service digital marketing agencies often serve as the main point of contact for all your marketing-related questions. For this reason, expect solid communication and availability from any prospective agencies you are interviewing.
2.) Inbound Marketing Agency
You should expect an inbound marketing agency to have a medium to large-sized team capable of providing multiple services for your company. Inbound marketers often specialize in driving leads and sales for their clients.
They might focus on setting up paid ads campaigns that drive traffic to a high-quality landing page to get you leads. Maybe they will focus on helping you connect with an influencer to promote your products. In some cases, they might even focus on building out a content marketing strategy to help you rank for high volume, low competition keywords.
Regardless of their approach, it will almost certainly focus on a strategy that gets results quickly.
The only downside to inbound marketing agencies is they often aren’t able or willing to provide complete marketing services. Most inbound marketing agencies aren’t going to be your go-to provider of routine website maintenance, graphic design, ecommerce development, content writing, social media, or brand awareness services. If you need help with other digital marketing services, you may need to look toward internal staff or outside agencies.
3.) SEO Agency
You should expect an SEO agency to focus heavily on providing in-depth SEO services. This means they will specialize in all aspects of technical, onsite, and offsite optimization to provide you a well-rounded SEO campaign.
- SEO agencies help with technical SEO by working on page speed improvements and crawling/indexing issues.
- SEO agencies help with onsite SEO by writing quality content, building out silos, setting up structured data, etc.
- SEO agencies help with offsite SEO by devising plans to help you get backlinks from relevant, high-authority websites.
If you are interested in SEO services, don’t rule out full-service or inbound marketing agencies. It isn’t uncommon for a full-service or inbound marketing company to occasionally refer to themselves as an SEO agency, especially within the context of promoting their SEO services.
Related: Want to see a comprehensive SEO checklist that marketing experts use? Take a look at our post by clicking the link!
4.) Digital Ads Agency
You should expect a digital ads agency to have a firm understanding of paid advertising campaigns across multiple platforms.
Most digital ads agencies focus on Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and Instagram Ads because of the popularity of those channels. When you get into boutique ad agencies, or even large ad agencies, you’ll find professionals with experience in running ads on Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Bing.
If you are interested in digital advertising services, don’t rule out full-service or inbound marketing agencies. It isn’t uncommon for a full-service or inbound marketing agency to occasionally refer to themselves as a digital ads agency, especially within the context of promoting their paid advertising services.
5.) Social Media Agency
You should expect a social media agency to have experience promoting businesses and organizations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
There is a case to be made for looking at agencies with even broader experience, but those social platforms are the bare minimum. It is no surprise social media is such a popular strategy within digital marketing, especially considering 27% of all adults surveyed start their day looking at social media.
From there, try to discern if the agency focuses on brand management or ad management services more.
If you are looking for a social media ads agency, you might actually be looking for a digital ads agency instead. No worries though, there is a lot of overlap in the industry between social media marketing and paid advertising.
However, if you are looking for a social media management service, be mindful of their approach. Most social media agencies will want to get a complete picture of your business or organization to create content calendars, engagement plans, automations, and analytics & reporting tools.
If you are interested in social media management and marketing services, don’t rule out full-service marketing agencies. It isn’t uncommon for a full-service digital marketing agency to refer to themselves as a social media agency, especially within the context of promoting their social media management or marketing services.
6.) Web Design Agency
You should expect a web agency to have a large team of experienced web designers and developers able to build, redesign, or maintain your website.
The most common website platform is WordPress, so if that is the platform you are in, you’ll have no trouble finding a web design agency.
However, if your website is in a builder through GoDaddy, SquareSpace, or Wix, you might have a little more difficulty. Those are simple platforms for a beginner to use, but most experienced web design agencies don’t like to touch those websites because of platform limitations.
You may also run into issues finding a web design agency if your current website is built in a .NET / ASP platform. There are a limited number of web agencies out there with experience in that platform, which might make your search more difficult.
If you are interested in web design and development services, don’t rule out full-service marketing agencies. It isn’t uncommon for a full-service digital marketing agency to refer to themselves as a web design agency, especially within the context of promoting their website development services.
7.) App Development Agency
You can expect to find an app development agency to specialize in platforms like Ionic, React Native, Android Studio, Xcode, PhoneGap, Xamarin, Google Flutter. They will often have experience in programming languages like React, Vue.js, Angular, Node / NPM, Java, Kotlin, or Dart.
Most app development agencies are highly specialized in the design of user interfaces and development of custom functionality. Although mobile apps and web applications are highly utilized in digital marketing, it isn’t always the case that an app development agency will be familiar with digital marketing tactics.
Oftentimes, app development agencies work with digital marketing agencies to provide customers a complete service.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency?
Some people question whether a digital marketing agency is necessary for their business. Here are three of the most compelling reasons to work with one:
1.) Multiple tactics to increase revenue
Marketing is like a puzzle. A well-rounded strategy that includes multiple tactics will help lift your entire business, allowing you to see the big picture of what works the best.
Additionally, digital agencies often encourage the tracking of key performance indicators to help show the value of their services. This can help you make data-driven decisions based on the impact of multiple different marketing tactics.
2.) Ability to plan and execute advanced marketing campaigns
Most digital marketing agencies have enough experience to be able to say, “been there, done that.”
The familiarity and depth of experience a digital marketing agency brings to the table is a huge benefit when it comes to building and executing complex digital marketing strategies. This is especially true of enterprise SEO campaigns, which often involve the optimization of websites with thousands of pages.
3.) Better understanding of how to monitor and adjust to results
The people who work at digital marketing agencies live and breathe marketing. They are constantly reading case studies and whitepapers, testing their own marketing theories, strategizing with their peers, adjusting to industry changes, and reporting to customers the benefits of their work.
That depth of experience, across multiple business industries and client personas, just can’t be matched by freelancers.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Marketing Agencies
Digital marketing agencies come in all shapes and sizes to fit the needs of different businesses.
You should start by figuring out what types of skillsets you need to fill within your company and use that as the basis for what type of agency you need to hire.
If you need help getting leads, but already have a well-rounded web designer onsite, maybe look for inbound marketing agencies or digital ad agencies.
Alternatively, if you have nobody in-house with digital marketing experience, maybe consider a full-service digital marketing agency instead. Sometimes companies choose a digital marketing agency, even when they have onsite web developers, just to give their internal team someone to bounce ideas off once in a while.
No matter what type of digital marketing agency you choose, it’s a good idea to ensure they have experience doing what you need. Leaving your marketing in the hands of a freelancer may have unfortunate consequences for your business.