This post originally appeared on neilpatel.com
According to Smart Insights, 49 percent of organizations don’t have a clearly defined digital strategy.
Choosing the right digital strategy for your business is essential. Experience helps you sift through what to do differently, what not to do, and where to focus your energy. Having a fresh perspective from an outside eye can make all the difference. What’s more important is choosing a company that can execute that strategy.
When you need to choose the best digital strategy company, you may be wondering where to start. Here’s a list of our picks for the best digital strategy companies in the world.
1. Neil Patel Digital — Best For Content Marketing & Digital Strategy
I’ve written more than 4,294 blog posts in 10 years. I’ve created millions of words and I’ve used content marketing to build three companies of my own. I used content marketing to generate 195,013 visitors a month and I’ve done the same things for my fortune 500 clients. When it comes to digital strategy and content marketing I’ve shown it can work.
I do the same thing for clients with my agency, NP Digital. We help our clients develop a digital strategy that maximizes the results they achieve with their content marketing, advertising, and SEO campaigns.
The focus with our digital strategy is revenue. Everything we do is focused on producing real results for businesses whether that’s more traffic, leads, or revenue.
NP Digital’s client list includes:
- Thomson Reuters foundation
- American Greetings
2. REQ – Best for Enterprise Business Strategy
REQ is a Washington DC based, award-winning agency with enterprise-level experience. They’re industry veterans with some of the best talent in the business.
Projects start at $50,000. They offer a comprehensive suite of solutions for your marketing and digital strategy needs. Including:
- Advertising & Media
- Digital Advocacy
- Brand Strategy
- Reputation Management
- Public Relations
- Data & Analytics
They’ve been named to both the Inc.500 and Deloitte Fast 500 lists – they’re one of the fastest growing companies in America. They have offices in Washington, DC, New York, Boston, San Diego, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.
REQ’s client list includes:
- Sweet Green
- Empire State Building
- Constellation Energy
3. Usman Group – Best for Mid-market Business Strategy
With 80% of its clients in mid-market range, earning between 10M – 1B, the Usman Group specializes in digital strategy and market research. They provide analysis, strategy, execution, and measurement to help clients deploy successful campaigns.
They apply the four key principles of design thinking, learn from people, identify patterns, make solutions tangible, iterate continuously, in all of their client engagements.
Projects start at $10,000. You get a hand-picked team that will provide evidence-based, practical strategy and recommendations.
Usman Group’s client list includes:
- Red Prairie
- University of Chicago
- National Safety Council
- Chicago Sun Times
4. DeSantis Breindel – Best for Branding Strategy
DeSantis Breindel is a New York City based digital strategy company that specializes in end-to-end branding strategy. They help businesses with brand differentiation, customer experience, merger & acquisition branding, brand valuation, brand launch, and employee engagement.
Projects start at $75,000. They offer thorough research and measurement for your digital branding, brand identity and strategy, content marketing, customer experience design, and film production services.
DeSantis Breindel’s client list includes:
- Lathrop Gage
- Lincoln International
- Lewis Roca
5. Mabbly – Best for Data Analysis, Channel Strategy
Mabbly is a Chicago based strategic design agency that relies on digital strategy, market research, and data analytics. They focus on turning complex problems into growth opportunities. Supporting human connection with digital experiences, via sophisticated design and data-backed digital strategy.
Mabbly’s team of digital and brand strategists work together to curate a channel strategy that combines the message along with the medium that’s right for your business opportunity. Projects start at $25,000.
Mabbly’s client list includes:
- Berkshire Group
- Griffith Foods
- 21st Century Fox
- Limitless Coffee & Tea
6. Ironpaper – Best for Small Business
Ironpaper bills itself as a B2B growth agency. Their conversion growth strategy is focused on gaining traction with growth up to 1 percent. The growth phase is set at 1 to 3 percent, with anything above 3 percent listed as scaling.
What’s interesting about Ironpaper is the fact that they discuss the elephant in the room.
“Oftentimes, enterprises try to answer the question, ‘What is a good conversion rate?’’ without any context. What is a good conversion rate? When establishing conversion rates, context is everything.
A lack of context can actually do harm to a marketing team, because it causes teams to make the wrong assumptions.”
This tells you that Ironpaper isn’t focused on vanity metrics or conversion manipulation. They know the difference between high and low value conversions. Their projects start at $10,000 and are focused on small businesses.
Iron Paper’s client list includes:
3 Characteristics That Make a Great Digital Strategy Company
Your digital strategy company should be able to provide you with specifics ahead of time. While many companies are able to provide you with amazing strategies, many are unwilling to demonstrate this ahead of time.
1. Your agency asks the right questions
Creating an exceptional digital strategy begins with your agency asking the right questions. These questions determine what will be answered and where your answers will go. Here’s a small sample of the questions your agency should be asking.
- How is our business currently performing?
- Which parts of your business are underperforming?
- What’s our goal for each area of our business?
- What do customers expect from our product and our business?
- Which marketing channels are our customers active on?
- Which marketing channels should we use to accomplish our goals?
- Which metrics and KPIs will we use to evaluate performance?
- How should we promote our products and services in the market to achieve our goals?
These questions inform your digital strategy.
- Why are we in business?
- Where are we right now?
- Where do we want to go?
- How will we get there?
Your digital strategy framework should answer four high-level questions. Good digital marketing agencies should be asking these questions at the beginning of the engagement process.
2. Your agency is willing to share strategy
The agency you choose should be willing to share sample strategies with you. This doesn’t mean that you should expect your agency to provide the entire strategy upfront, for free. Spec work isn’t ideal and that’s not what you’re looking for.
You’re looking for one example.
They can share this with you over the phone, in your proposal or quote, or in a sample report. You’re looking for them to share a small snippet, a piece of their proposed digital strategy. This is important for several reasons. With sample data you can:
- Evaluate your agency’s competence
- Use sample data to evaluate potential performance
- Assess their digital strategy or marketing priorities
- Outline knowledge gaps and weak points in their process
You’re not asking for a comprehensive strategy document, you’re simply asking your agency to pick one part of your business and create a strategy around that; ask your agency a question (e.g., how would you increase sales for one of my products?).
3. Your agency can implement Strategy
Venture Capitalist Arthur Rock, believes strategy is important, but not as important as people who can execute that strategy.
“Over the past 30 years, I estimate that I’ve looked at an average of one business plan per day, or about 300 a year, in addition to the large numbers of phone calls and business plans that simply are not appropriate. Of the 300 likely plans, I may invest in only one or two a year; and even among those carefully chosen few, I’d say that a good half fail to perform up to expectations.
The problem with those companies (and with the ventures I choose not to take part in) is rarely one of strategy. Good ideas and good products are a dime a dozen. Good execution and good management in a word, good people are rare.”
A great strategy isn’t enough. You need amazing people who can implement your digital strategy and produce the results you need to grow.
Your agency should have two things:
- A team that can implement your digital strategy
- A proven track record showing that they’ve achieved this consistently in the past
If they can provide you with both or they’re willing to provide you with a trial period where you’re able to test their ability to execute your digital strategy, then it may be a good fit.
What To Expect From a Great Digital Strategy Company
Your agency should provide you with detailed specifics for each of these points. If you have more questions or concerns, you’ll want to bring those up with your agency.
- A clear track record: Your agency should be able to show you samples, references, case studies, and reviews showing that they’ve achieved results for other clients.
- Clear milestones: You’re looking for clear milestones, timelines, and deliverables that show you’re able to create and implement a plan successfully. Your agency should be able to provide you with a timeline, explaining how long everything will take to implement, and when they anticipate you’ll begin seeing results.
- Agency procedures: You’ll want to see how your agency plans on approaching your campaign or project. They should be able to break down the approach that goes into their strategy document; this document should clarify how they’ll approach your campaign, what you should expect, what their goals are and more.
The digital strategy company you choose should provide you with the options you need to implement the plan successfully.
Choosing the right digital strategy for your business is essential. You need a plan to guide you, outlining where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there. Having a fresh perspective from an outside eye can mean the difference between success and failure.
Remember, executing your digital strategy plan is even more important than simply having a plan. Use this pool to choose a digital strategy company that will partner with you to achieve your business goals.