How to choose the right digital marketing agency for your business?

Given the unstable economy, more Malaysian companies pivot to hiring digital marketing professionals to attend to their marketing needs.

The unhealthy global economy has severely impacted the lives of many Malaysians and not to mention, Malaysian businesses in various industries such as tourism, travel, retail, aviation, and more – big and small.

Perhaps your business was affected, but that doesn’t mean there’s no ray of light in all that gloom.

A wise man, Winston S. Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

So, as a business owner, what do you choose to see?

Do not fret, I will provide you with some valuable insights throughout this article. Just keep calm and scroll on.

If you’re reading this, congrats, you have come to the right place to look for some fruitful insight and opportunity. Let’s dive into the facts!

According to the statistics retrieved from Asia Pac, Malaysia is recognized as one of the most urbanized regions in Southeast Asia and plays an integral role in the e-Commerce sector. The report indicates a 76% urbanization rate which shows that most Malaysians are urbanized and are well-educated which relates to a high percentage of internet users.  Also, pointing out that 83% of Malaysians are online and 81% are active on social media. Now, this is where you find opportunity!

This shows most companies must turn to digital solutions, while some are pulling out due to financial constraints (wrong move). It’s time for businesses to rethink their strategy and rebuild their social media muscles to reach out to their existing and potential consumers where they are.

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Why engage with a digital marketing agency?

When it comes to choosing the right because it is simply time consuming and tough to keep up with new marketing tactics such as SEO, Media Buying, Content Marketing, PPC, Social Media Advertising, and the list goes on.

It’s not impossible, but it is the type of stress you want to avoid if you want to direct your focus and energy on your primary business.

If you’re an avid marketer and you want to expand your marketing efforts online or are looking to grow your business with a digital marketing agency in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, or anywhere in Malaysia, we are here to guide you.

Choosing an agency is easy but choosing the “right” agency can be a tedious process with the increasing number of digital marketing agencies out there today so we thought we would narrow it down to save you some time.

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But first…

Identify your goals & specific problems

Given the unstable economy, you need to make effort and time to formulate your thoughts and dig deeper into the existing problems to come up with a solution.

Once you’re more certain about your goals, it will be easier to establish what is required and communicate that directly to your agency of choice.

And when an agency knows what you need, they will be able to tell you whether they can deliver according to your specific needs to avoid wasting time on both ends.

By answering this question guide, it will help highlight what to include in the brief:

What is your company’s background?

Begin with a brief description of your goals and problems and how it needs to be addressed by hiring an agency. Be clear and concise to avoid further misunderstanding and to speed up their focus in finding a solution.

Include a detailed background of your company, products, and services provided.

Who is your target audience?

In the digital world of marketing, even effective campaigns don’t reach everybody, and getting your message out there with no specific target is not enough and can be costly. Some might find your advertising to be irrelevant, so you need to identify a specific targeted audience who cares and enjoys seeing your brand and your advertising/ marketing efforts. You need to know who your audience is and where they spend most of their time online and which platforms are popular among them and similar groups.

Describe your audience in detailed groups and break it down to demographics such as:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Income bracket
  • Marital status
  • Religion
  • Education level
  • Search history online
  • Existing/potential target
  • Ethnicity
  • Devices used online (e.g. mobile, desktop, laptop, tablet, etc).
  • Association (groups with common interests, activities, mentality, etc).

Feel free to delve into a specific type of audience you are communicating your brand message to.

For example, luxury high-end brands of timepieces appeal to a successful 40-year-old woman who works as a lawyer, drives a Jaguar convertible, carries a branded Hermes bag and is dressed to the nines in designer labels head-to-toe, holds a Ph.D. in International law, uses platforms such as Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to promote services online, usually travels often for work and pleasure, stays in luxury 5-star resorts,  and attends a lot of gala dinners associated with the upper-class group.

What are your problems & solutions?

Once you have established your goals, business nature, and details of your targeted audience, and problems faced with your target audience, it will help provide a base for your agency to work with to develop a new strategy to achieve your marketing objectives.

Provide a sufficient description regarding the problems your customers face with your product and services to come up with a valuable solution.

Note: Provide your agency with the overall product description and the features that attract customers most and also which range is the bestselling or the most popular so your agency can easily identify your unique selling proposition (USP).

What are your digital marketing objectives? (Be clear and “SMART” about it!)

Be very specific with what you intend to achieve online or discuss this with your agency if you’re not that familiar with the digital landscape.

You can come up with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound) objectives to use as a benchmark to stay ahead of the competition.

Perhaps you want to increase online sales and leads to improve your company revenue by using key performance indicators (KPI) and metrics to track your progress and measure how far you are from achieving your objective. For example, increase sales by 10% from the existing customer base by Dec 2023.

Your online marketing objectives can come in various aspects, such as improving your organic traffic conversion rates by 20% by 2024, reducing your bounce rates below 50% by Dec 2024, increase return visitors by 20% by end of 2020, and receive 10,000 visitors a month from Google organically by end of the year. You can always tailor your objectives according to your online efforts and situation.

How do you want your audience to feel?

Describe to the agency how you want your audience to feel after using your products and experience with your services. Best to include references from successful campaigns for inspiration such as the #icebucketchallenge or KFC’s cheeky new ad campaign in response to the coronavirus by rebranding their “It’s finger-lickin’ good” slogan to be more sensitive to current world  issues that uses emotional marketing to raise awareness and evoke strong emotions from your audience.

Is your brand message strong enough or needs tweaking?

There should always be a powerful tone and manner in the way you convey your brand message. If you feel that your brand message is not strong enough, you need to tell your agency to help tweak and enhance your brand message and identity that you have tried hard to establish.

What are the current channels used online and are they effective enough?

Observe the current digital channels you have been using for your brand and keep tabs on the ones that have good customer responses or positive feedback. Provide specific KPIs and metrics on channels that had the highest performance. Tell the agency that due to the positive results on specific channels, you want to maintain with the same ones.

However, you should also keep up to date with the latest and best performing trends and try to discuss with your designated agency on exploring new channels. Discuss further how you can incorporate your brand message on these new channels.

How will you consider your goals as achieved?

Refer to the KPIs that you have set and check out the metrics for any improvements in terms of increased revenue, higher conversion rates, reduced bounce rates, good response rates on your new activities or campaigns that have positive feedback.

What are the project essentials?

Make a list of the essentials:

  • Timeline
  • Budget
  • Logo
  • Tagline
  • Approval process

Feel free to add additional requirements if you have such as color, theme, font, etc for the agency to sustain. The more thorough you are with your requirements, the more inclined the agency is to achieve your desired outcome.

Who are your current competitors?

Marketing online is highly competitive, which is why you must provide the agency with an outline of competitors in the same niche as you and if possible, try to identify indirect competitors too. The agency will run a competitive analysis of your direct competitors and benchmark where you stand against the competition to strategize your marketing campaigns and efforts digitally.

If possible, provide any information you deem relevant and beneficial for the agency on why you think your brand stands out from the competition in terms of your products and services.

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7 attributes to look out for in a great digital marketing agency

Now that you’ve identified your company’s goals, problems, and objectives; it’s time to dive into the key attributes that make a great digital marketing agency.

This will simplify the process and help you filter out the agencies that don’t walk the talk.

An extensive portfolio

The agency portfolio is crucial because it’s like a hall of fame that reflects on clients they have earned over the years of blood, sweat, and tears as an agency.

Agencies that are truly passionate and proud of their work will show an extensive clientele from various industries, which also demonstrates their ability to be versatile and adaptable to different niche markets.

Given the unfortunate events we are in, you can’t afford to hire an agency on a budget. If you want the best of the best, you must be willing to invest in their professionalism and expertise.

Services provided

An agency that provides full-fletched services is one that can grow your business from zero to hero.

Branding

An agency that excels in branding is one that amplifies your brand to make it easily recognizable to its consumers. Strong branding includes putting the missing pieces together to create a memorable name, logo, color, and design combination that is used invariably in all the products and services provided that circulates throughout advertising / marketing / social media efforts online.

An agency should understand your brand message and corporate identity to form a strong brand positioning by combining your brand name, logo, tone of voice, and other factors that will help your brand stand out in the market.

Corporate identity is how you want your brand to be perceived in the eyes of the public. It may include ideas, opinion, symbols, and is a type of goal that is achieved through the union of its design, corporate culture, marketing efforts, and customer experience as a reminder to your customers of why they choose you over your competitors — to the point that even if your competitors have similar products, it would still be impossible to replicate you.

For example, the brand Nike is recognized worldwide and has set the industry standards for how limitless branding can be. Nike started with their product focus on performance and innovation with their waffle shoe invention to target athletes, but today the brand has gone beyond shoes and have their athletic attire known to enhance performance. The brand name Nike was inspired by the ancient Greek winged god of victory and the simple tagline “Just do it” focuses on empowerment and their logo, known as the ‘swoosh’ represents motion and speed much like an onomatopoeia for the sound you hear when basketball stars who were endorsed by Nike like Michael Jordan rushes past you to take a victorious slam-dunk. Nike Air Jordan was born and became a big hit — even today!

Nike’s mission is to “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete” reflects on their intentions to expand the human potential by creating sports innovations. Until today, Nike has still maintained their reputation as the world’s leading sports brand by developing new innovative products with sustainability in mind and continue to remain dedicated to “solve today’s problems for a better tomorrow” as their main purpose. Today, Nike has become a multi-billion-dollar empire through all its creative marketing efforts, strong brand message, consistency, and corporate identity always remaining one step ahead of the competition.

 

Digital Content

Never underestimate the power of content. Many people take content for granted and don’t even realize they are exposed to it daily. Content is arguably the most powerful tool in marketing and digital campaigns. Content is information such as the news, blogs, ads, emails from one corner of your devices to the other — all content.

Content can either make you or break you so be wise with how you choose to phrase it to communicate with your audience — or the world.

That’s why you need a trusted agency to resurrect your brand by turning information to impactful content to make your brand’s voice heard.

In marketing, the purpose of content is to entertain, educate, persuade, and convert your audience.

Here are the digital content services that a successful digital marketing agency should offer:

Audio content:

A type of published information or material that involves pure listening. There are various types of auditory content used in marketing such as self-help audiobooks, Spotify, podcasts, or artificial intelligence such as Apple’s Siri.

This type of content is available on your mobile speakers, computers, headphones, radio, etc.

Visual content:

In ad agencies, visual content is usually used as a reference to help the viewer imagine and visualize alongside written content for the ideation process. It can be found in illustrations, storybooks, drawing books, graphic novels. Comic books, Instagram, magazines, or any informative material with imagery.

Copywriting:

Known as written informative material with a sole purpose to advertise or market a product. Marketers call it sales copy or copy and aim to use this specific content to create brand awareness and content to persuade an audience to take action or a form of response.

This type of content circulates almost everywhere online through websites, Facebook captions, Instagram captions, E-books, movie reviews, news, course descriptions, taglines, etc.

In digital marketing agencies, the art of brand storytelling has become a major component in many successful marketing campaigns today because it is crafted and curated content that aims to connect and hit the sweet spot of your audience.

The storytelling is most impactful when paired with a video or animation that humanizes the brand and creates a powerful attachment to your brand.

A great example is Airbnb and their wonderful animation called “Wall and Chain” which captures a compelling story about a sense of belonging, family, being a global citizen, and everyone can relate to its warmth.

Media Buy

When it comes to Media Buy in the digital marketing scene in Malaysia, not many agencies practice this sorcery by connecting brands directly to their audience in a competitive digital landscape.

The Media Buy services that you may need include:

Search Ads

Search engines are crucial in today’s marketing and are often the main reason for increased reach. This method is done by placing your ads on web pages and are targeted to match the keywords typed on search engines.

Google Ads

A system where advertisers bid on selected keywords so that their ads will appear on Google’s search results. You need an SEO specialist or an agency professional to point out which keywords are relevant in order for it to be more effective and to avoid wasting money on bidding the wrong keywords.

Social Media Ads

If you’re constantly on social media, be it Instagram or Facebook, you probably have come across sponsored ads that might interest you or are tailored according to your search history.

With advanced tools today, agencies can track your audience and target them directly with these sponsored ads.

Messenger Ads

Nothing is more up close and personal than advertising on messenger. WhatsApp allows brands to advertise with video or visual content and even promotes discounts as well.

Website Ads

Placing ads intentionally on websites that are relevant to your target market will increase the chances of reach since they visit those sites and advertisers can track them, might as well maximize your chances.

These types of ads may come in the form of google display ads, DV 360 programmatic ads (a way to buy automatically rather than from the publishers) and popping up on premium marketplaces such as AdAsia.

Influencer Ads

Hiring an influencer to endorse your products can be highly beneficial for your brand and social media status. If your audience idolizes K-pop stars such as BlackPink and you get the group to promote your products on their Instagram account, it could go viral.

Social Channel Management

This might seem of a more indirect approach to marketing, but trust me, you can communicate with your audience directly. The bigger your customer base is, the more management is required. This is done with content generated customer service replies and managing the entire marketing to ensure you don’t disappoint your customers.

Team of experts

When hiring a digital marketing agency, you want to be sure the team of experts can fulfill your needs. For example, if you require a specific type of graphic designer to handle your company logo, they must be available to serve you once you acquire your selected agency.

A well-designed website

A website is like a silent introduction for your clients when they visit your site, so it must always be on its best form with aesthetically pleasing high-resolution images that captures your viewers and entices them to continue navigating.

It’s always best to go with your gut instinct when it comes to websites. If something puts you off, then perhaps you might want to double-check with the agency directly to clarify what is going on.

Core values that suit

An agency’s core values are important and since they are in the service industry, they must be easily accessible for you to reach during professional hours, of course.

The agency of your choice should not make promises they cannot keep and must always communicate transparently to avoid wasting anyone’s time.

During uncertain times, you will want to find yourself a proactive agency that is willing to go the extra mile, and will do the heavy lifting for you so you can focus on your primary business.

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Conclusion

Choosing the right digital marketing agency can be a daunting task at times, so we have tried our best to simplify the process of how to choose the right agency.

But despite all that’s going on, it doesn’t mean the demand for digital marketing will fade. Every business, no matter the size or whether you’re located in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, or other states in Malaysia deserves some nurturing in order to grow. The need for it is probably more crucial now than it ever was.

As long as you’re reachable, a dedicated agency will always find a way to meet your marketing goals.

Now that you have mastered our guide, it should give you a clearer picture of what step to take next and qualities to look out for in a digital marketing agency.

Businesses like yours deserve a chance.

What do you look for in a digital marketing agency? How do you see an agency helping your business?

Not sure where to look still? Get in touch with this digital marketing agency who committed to offering 360 digital marketing services with the best performance.