Picking a digital marketing agency is not a straightforward decision. There are so many factors to consider, not least of which is the amount of choice in the market. And that market is not limited to the country in which you are based. Digital marketing can be delivered from anywhere to anyone and whilst it is sometimes advantageous for an agency to understand the market of the business they are working with, the amount of research tools out there means any agency can get in-depth information about any market.

For digital marketing agencies themselves, like Digital Hothouse, our challenge is to ensure that we are delivering the best possible results for our clients, helping us to grow not only our clients’ businesses but also our own business and brand reputation.

But what do good results look like?

There are many ways to measure what good results look like when it comes to the work of your digital marketing agency and so it’s important to set clearly defined goals at the start of the relationship.

For example, if your business is recording the best quarter sales ever from digital, but your agency is hard to get hold of, is that a good result?

Or on the flip side, if your agency is delivering lots of time to your business but you are not seeing an improvement in sales, is that a good result?

Both parties must agree upon good results, and they can be broken down into three simple questions:

  1. What deliverables did your agency promise and were they completed?
  2. Are the results your agency promised on a par with what you see in terms of traffic and conversions?
  3. How would you describe your relationship with your current agency?

Understanding the answers to each of these questions will help you to understand a little bit more about the relationship you have with your agency and whether they are in fact doing a good job.

Let’s dive in.

1. What deliverables were you promised and were they completed?

In most client-agency relationships, deliverables are agreed upon at the outset. These deliverables can be driven by both parties, however, they should all be focused on the same goal – increased traffic, and conversion for your business.

Digital marketing agencies cover a wide range of areas. At Digital Hothouse, for example, we focus primarily on SEO and content marketing so our deliverables would look different from a digital marketing agency that focuses more on Google Ads or digital design.

It’s important to understand what deliverables are expected and have these agreed with your agency. Then it’s easier to hold your agency to account.

If you are working with a good agency, they will get the deliverables to you on time every time. If there is a reason they can’t get them to you, they will also let you know well in advance, not on the day they are due.

If you are working with an agency that is below par, they will get your deliverables to you on time some of the time, but not all the time and their communication about delays will be below what is expected.

If you are dealing with a poor agency, most of the deliverables you expect from them will be late and the communication for the delays will not be satisfactory. If you are starting to see this type of behaviour creeping in with your agency, it may be time for a sit down with them.

There are sometimes genuine reasons for delay – staff illness or a change in personnel can sometimes lead to issues, but there is never an excuse for poor communication from someone at your agency. Take the time to sit down with them and chat through the issues with deliverables and put a plan in place to get back on track. If this plan fails, it may be time to find a new agency.

2. Are the results your agency promised on par with what you see in terms of traffic and conversions?

Deliverables are only one part of the puzzle. For us as an SEO agency, we typically focus on keyword rankings as a deliverable as this is a metric that should lead to increased traffic and conversion, however, this is not always the case.

Whilst your business might be seeing strong rankings, if this doesn’t correlate with traffic improvements and increases conversions, it could be that you are not focusing on the right keywords.

We once took over from an agency that had focused on a set of keywords that looked good on paper, however, the reality was that none of the keywords were that relevant to the business so all they succeeded in doing was driving up the bounce rate and creating a negative user experience.

Traffic and conversion metrics are great; however, we prefer to look at ROI. This figure tells us much more in terms of what we are providing for our clients – how much do we deliver in hard revenue compared to what they are spending?

We work with our clients to set benchmarks in terms of what they should expect, and we monitor this regularly to make sure we are on track. If we are not, then we look at the reasons behind this and work with our clients to resolve any issues (either at our end or theirs).

3. How would you describe your relationship with your current agency?

Not everything is about cold hard numbers. Whilst results and ROI are important, so is your relationship with your agency and the people you work with there.

Whilst your agency might be delivering everything that is expected from them on time, if they are not good at communicating, or you feel your agency takes too long to get back to you, then this could be a case of them delivering good results but a bad experience.

If you have a good agency working for you, they will often check in to see how things are going. This could be a call or face-to-face meeting, a survey or simply checking in on a regular basis to get feedback.

If you are wondering what your relationship is like with your current agency, try to think of three words that would describe that relationship, and this will give you a starting point. Keep these simple and you will soon figure out where you need your agency to improve or, hopefully, that your agency is doing a great job.

Signs that your agency is doing a great job include words like:

  • Clear
  • Good communication
  • Responsive
  • Trustworthy
  • Reliable
  • Proactive

All these words suggest you have an agency that is working towards your best interests, and they are an agency you have come to trust and rely on – good job on selecting an awesome agency!

If the three words in your list look more like this:

  • Hard to contact
  • Overpromised
  • Unreliable
  • Distant

These words suggest you might have an issue with your agency and it’s probably worth organising a sit down with them to talk through your concerns. Agencies that have a high client churn rate are the ones that often receive feedback like this, and you should look to avoid agencies that have a high rate of churn.

If you are looking to select a new agency, look at their client list and try to establish how long they have been working with those clients. We have had a solid base of clients at Digital Hothouse for the past seven to eight years and whilst one or two have dropped off and new clients have been added, we are proud of the relationships we have with our clients, and we look forward to building on the success we have had with them so far.


If you are wondering whether your digital marketing agency is any good, ask yourself the three questions above and if you are looking for a change, make sure you drop us a line.

Share this story