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In any field or industry, a company’s web presence says something about them. It’s true that there are many companies that do excellent work but may not have a complete or updated website.
But in certain fields – including marketing – it’s important to use a company’s website to judge the kind of work they do. After all, an agency is selling you digital services, and a website is foundational for almost any digital service.
There are a few different elements to consider when judging a company’s website. This article will cover some of the most important ones, then help you put those criteria in context with the rest of the information you have about an agency you are thinking about working with.
Factors to Consider When Evaluating an Agency Website
There are many different elements to a website, but these are some of the key indicators to focus your attention on:
Any time you visit a website, the landing page and its combination of colors, fonts, graphics and shapes should combine to give you a general first impression. What kind of vibe do you get from an agency’s website?
This idea can be somewhat difficult to express in words – let’s take a look at a real website example, the desktop home page for Tesla:
Tesla is a company that sells futuristic technology – electric vehicles and solar panels. The design of their website is intended to convey a futuristic brand. Notice the relatively simple font used for the menu and text, as well as the lack of hard lines and edges.
In fact, the design of Tesla’s homepage as a whole is relatively simple: a picture of one of their top-selling vehicles, a simple text menu, and two buttons with an arrow at the bottom of the page.
By keeping elements simple and minimal, the page design creates a cohesive company brand that reinforces what customers and prospects already think about them.
Of course, Tesla is a unique company – but an agency you are thinking about working with should be able to convey these similar thematic design elements to reinforce their own brand, whatever that may be.
One general tip: a successful agency will often try to match the branding voice of its ideal clients.
For example, agencies catering to attorneys and law firms may have a more traditional, classic type of branding with serif fonts and neutral colors. An agency looking for a startup client, on the other hand, might use more modern design elements with vibrant colors, shapes and lines.
Blogging is an important part of gaining customers and establishing trust and credibility with a target market. This is especially true in the world of B2B marketing, where clients have more advanced solutions that require a degree of expertise or understanding to explain to prospects.
Research indicates that not only is content marketing important for creating an authoritative brand, but it’s also substantially less expensive than outbound forms of marketing. When you’re looking for a marketing agency to work with, spend some time looking at their blog. When was it last updated? How many posts do they have?
It’s probably not realistic to expect a marketing agency to publish multiple posts per day in the way that a media company might. Still, if an agency is going to have a blog on its website – and most of them should – there should be some effort made to keep it relatively updated.
Even if they post at an infrequent rate, like once per month, it’s a good sign if they’ve been able to consistently maintain this rate for a long period of time. Of course, the best indicator of an agency’s blog is the quality of the posts themselves.
Check a prospective agency’s blog site for information that is relevant to your needs, provides new information, and offers a new perspective on things happening in their industry.
It’s unfortunate, but in the world of digital marketing, some agencies just blog to say they have one, publishing repetitive posts that don’t provide any substantive information and mainly exist for SEO purposes.
Yes, video is hugely important in 2021 and many internet users prefer to receive information this way. However, studies indicate that written content – especially if it’s long-form, detailed, and includes visual support – is still highly valued by consumers today.
When looking at a prospective agency partner’s site, remember to consider all the written content, from paragraphs describing the business and its team to small elements like button text, menu items, etc.
At the highest level, written content on an agency’s site should be technically correct and free of spelling and punctuation errors. But when you’re evaluating this content, go beyond the surface level and think about the function.
In other words, does the content help you do what you set out to do on that part of the page? For example, after reading the written content on a company’s “About” page, do you feel like you have a good understanding of the business?
It doesn’t matter how well-written the content is if it’s not in line with the point of the website.
Portfolio and Case Studies
Almost every agency will have some of their previous projects on display (we call these case studies in the industry and success stories on Credo) so that prospects can get a sense of their work.
Of course, these are likely some of the most successful projects the agency has worked on, recapped in a way that puts the company’s best foot forward. But there’s still plenty to learn in the way the agency presents the information.
The most important thing to focus on with regard to projects in a portfolio is results. Does the case study accurately summarize the effect of the agency’s work? Look for measurable data: website visits per day/month, search engine rankings, sales meetings booked, and ideally, new revenue added.
A nice design with quotes and video interviews is great to have and shows that the agency cares about aesthetics. But remember, you are ultimately evaluating an agency for its ability to drive results. This ability should come through loud and clear in the agency’s portfolio.
Other Website Elements to Consider
It’s hard to include every important website element to think about in a single list. A few other areas include:
- Social media integrations. Social media is another must-have in today’s digital world. Take a look at how well the agency is able to integrate its social media pages into the broader web presence. Many savvy agencies today use icons, buttons or widgets to help connect their social media profiles to their websites.
Make sure to consider how well their social profiles are connected to the main page. Don’t forget to take a look at their social profiles too.
- Broken links and images. Pictures that don’t load or links that lead nowhere shouldn’t be on a website, plain and simple. Broken images or hyperlinks indicate that a company hasn’t paid much attention to its site recently, which is especially concerning for agencies that build and manage websites.
- Load speed. How quickly a site load has been a factor in its search engine optimization (SEO) for a few years now. Page speed also has a huge impact on usability. According to Google, a site should load in less than three seconds.
Putting the Agency Website in Context
The points above are great to keep in mind as you are reviewing the website of an agency you’re thinking about working with.
Just remember: website evaluation is only one part of bringing on a new marketing services provider. You also need to consider your communications with them via phone and email, their proposal packages, the price at which they’re offering services, and what their previous clients say about their work.
Some agencies can do great work for you even though their own website is mediocre. Others might have a highly polished, attractive website but end up providing lackluster services.
The best way to find the right partner is to search among companies with a great reputation.
Credo can connect you with our network of vetted digital marketing providers who have deep experience across the most common digital marketing disciplines like SEO, Facebook, and more.
Whether you’re looking to improve your SEO rankings or develop a comprehensive digital strategy, we can match you with the right providers for your needs.
If you’re ready to shorten the amount of time it takes you to bring on the marketing partner you need for consistent growth, schedule a free consultation with us today to learn how to get started.