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Choosing a digital marketing agency: A guide for SMEs4 min read

Business experts FBS reported that in 2016, there were a total of 5.4m small medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, with an annual combined turnover of £1.8tn. SMEs accounted for more than 47% of the total private sector.

With 2018 now in full swing, many SMEs will be finalising their marketing plans for the year – but how do you decide where to invest your budget in an increasingly competitive landscape?

According to the World Advertising Research Centre (WARC), whilst TV has held its ground steadily over the last ten years, remaining the largest ad medium in the UK, digital channels such as search and mobile advertising are continuing to flourish, riding off the exposure that TV provides for brand awareness.

Source: WARC
Source: WARC

As marketing budgets increase year on year, it has become increasingly important for SMEs to embrace the opportunities that the digital world has to offer.

Is your business ready for the next step?

If you’re an SME, with an eCommerce website, and your business has grown significantly online over the last two years, you’re probably planning your next steps and wondering how you can take your business to the next level.

Perhaps you’re running your digital activity in-house and are getting a decent return, but you have nothing to benchmark your success against. Are you overachieving or merely mediocre?

Alternatively, you might already be working with a small agency that provides an all-in offering, working on a number of your projects. But if growth has flatlined, you might be wondering if they are still the right fit for you, and if they will be able to support your growth.

If your return on investment (ROI) has become stagnant, rather than showing clear growth, it may be time to consider an upgrade.

But which digital marketing agency is right for you?

When considering an upgrade, it’s important to do your research. But with so many agencies out there, all with different specialities, deciding on the right agency might leave you feeling bamboozled. But help is at hand. When looking for an agency you will notice that they tend to fall into three categories. We’ve broken down these three types, so that you are able to narrow down your search and make an informed decision about which option is best for you and your business.

Small/new agencies

  • Tend to target businesses with a monthly ad spend of less than £1,000 and a fixed fee of less than £100 per month
  • Size and complexity of account is often limited
  • Are likely to be focused on generating clicks and may not set up conversion tracking or link your account to Google Analytics
  • May not hold AdWords certified partner accreditation, which requires a minimum quarterly spend of $10,000

Medium-sized accredited agencies

  • Tend to target businesses with an ad spend of £2,500 – £10,000 per month
  • Offer a fixed fee or percentage
  • Can offer more complex account set-ups
  • Will spend more time each month on optimising your account
  • Aim to work towards maximising the conversion rate of your account, in order to improve your ROI, Cost Per Action (CPA), and Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) against your business objectives
  • Are likely to have a minimum management fee of around £1,000 per month
  • The agency should be accredited, probably with two or more account managers each managing around ten accounts/clients and with a moderate experience of the industry
  • Are unlikely to have their own reporting tools or will use third-party bid management tools

Large specialist PPC agencies

  • Tend to target larger customers and will have a minimum monthly media spend of £10,000 – £15,000+
  • Are likely to charge a percentage, based on media spend
  • Will have an established, highly experienced team
  • Will have their own or third-party bid management and other tools in order to handle very complex and large national (and possibly multi-lingual accounts)

So out of these three agencies types, where does Croud sit?

By calling on the skills of our network of 1,200+ on-demand digital experts, Croud is able to offer appropriate service-level agreements to both SMEs with an established online presence, and large enterprises, breaking down the barriers between the traditional agency types outlined above.

All of our clients, big or small, have a highly skilled team in place, working towards their business objectives, whilst benefiting from a range of proprietary tools developed by our in-house team of tech specialists. The same principle applies whatever the size of the client – the Croudie network completes the essential but repetitive work on accounts (this is generally where the account management costs would ramp up rapidly in the ‘traditional’ agency model), enabling our in-house strategists to focus on what they think will achieve the highest ROI for our clients, regardless of their size.

As well as being one of the fastest growing digital agencies in the UK, Croud is also a Premier Google Partner and therefore receives a premium service from the search engines. So for our clients, this means that they are likely to qualify for new product testing (also known as betas) before their official release, keeping them ahead of the curve and their competitors.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Croud model, and our services, do not hesitate to get in touch!