How to choose a digital marketing company

How to choose a digital marketing company in South Africa


Choosing a digital marketing company may seem like an obvious or easy thing to do, but we’ve had several clients come to us after being taken for a ride by other service providers either holding their social accounts or websites hostage. I have recently seen many posts on social media about the very same thing. I saw one this morning, and that was the last straw. I decided to write this blog to help people to choose the right company to partner with.

Coming from the digital marketing industry I can see how it would be relatively easy to mislead people, a lot of what we do is technical and complicated, not easy to grasp right off the bat and, unfortunately there are companies out there that will take advantage of that.

1. Always look for social proof and references

Digital marketing - Social proof with Google Reviews

Google the company (e.g. “The Juice Creative“). If they are on any kind of review platform (in this case it’s Google Business) have a look to see what kind of:

  • Reviews they have
  • What people say about them
  • How many reviews they have
  • When the latest review was

There can be other things to look out for depending on your industry, but always use your judgement. If they have one bad review and twenty good ones, use your discretion, see what was said. Have a look on their social media to see what people have said about them. You can even take it a step further and ask them for a reference or two if you feel the need. That is quite a drastic one though, but, any company that doesn’t give you references should raise red flags.

Reviews always go a long way!

Checking their website and social media will not only give you feel for the company culture and type of digital marketing services offered but also the industries they play in, the skill level and experience they have. You would be able to see if there would be a fit.

Don’t rush into it

Often businesses rush the decision and choose the first digital marketing company that comes along because they need work done urgently or, they are the cheapest.

A bit of planning ahead will save you energy, time, and money in the long run.

2. Understand the level of transparency required

Do not work with a company that takes over access of your website or social media and doesn’t give you access or passwords. That is a no-no! It is your company; they have no right to refrain from giving you access.

With each client we have, if they have existing accounts, we get access to the accounts. If we create their social accounts or google ads accounts, which is often the case, we create the accounts under their name/emails and grant ourselves access only, that way, our clients retain ownership of all their own accounts, and have access at any time. If anything happens, we simply remove ourselves. No harm, no foul.

Understand the transparency in your adspend

This is another big one. Our clients always know what we are spending on their ads. We agree prior to the campaign as to what the adspend budget should be, this could be set for three months up to a year in advance and, we report on it monthly.

The transparency should be so clear that you know exactly what you are spending on your ads as and what the management fees are. They are separate fees.

Chantal Adlard, The Juice Creative

What is the difference between digital marketing management fees and Adspend?

Digital marketing management fees are what we charge to manage any social, web or Google accounts such as posting, creating adverts, building and managing websites etc. It is for the actual work and time we put in. The ad spend is the money that goes behind any digital ads that are placed.

We don’t charge additional fees on ad spend. Our fees come solely from the management of digital marketing services, such as Google ads, social media organic and paid ads, SEO and web design and web maintenance services.

Many digital marketing companies that I have come across will charge a lumpsum, as they call it, “a retainer” and not differentiate between what they’ve spent on an advert and what the management fee was. You have every right to know what is being spent on your ads and have access to those accounts.

Below is a simple comparison between the two:

Management Fees

  • Charged to manage social, web or Google Accounts
  • Includes posting, creating ads, website development, etc.
  • The actual work and time put into your brand
  • Can be a fixed monthly amount


  • Ad spend is simply the amount of money you are spending on advertising campaigns
  • Helps regulate ad performance
  • Varies depending on the type of ad or placement

3. Check if the company offers regular reporting

Make sure the digital marketing you choose does monthly reporting. What is the point of going though all the effort and paying for a service to improve your business if there is no feedback and adaption plan?

Having a monthly or bi-monthly reporting meeting is essential for understanding what has happened in that period. This includes:

  • What marketing efforts are working
  • What are the impacts the company has on your social media or website
  • What marketing efforts can be improved upon
  • What needs to change
  • How can the efforts be adapted accordingly to optimise your KPIs

These will help you learn more about digital marketing and what KPIs are important for your business objectives. We always help our clients, so they learn in the process. These meetings are also necessary to keep all parties accountable to what needs to be done.

We use Looker (formally Google Data Studio) for our reporting, which shows dynamic results, an easier way of viewing information on a regular basis.

Google Merchandise Store Report
An example of a report that Google uses for their merchandise store.

What are KPIs?

When it comes to KPIs (or key performance indicators), we make sure that any marketing project is align to your business goals and objectives. For example, if you are running an ecommerce store, your goals will be very different to a B2B company trying to drive awareness. Reporting helps you to understand if your KPIs are on track and if your ROI (return on investment) is improving due to the marketing efforts.

Digital marketing is an ever-evolving process that needs constant tweaks and pivoting because things change rapidly. Google and Facebook are constantly updating and making changes that we need to keep up with.

4. Make sure that there are efficient communication methods

You will be entering into a relationship with whichever company you choose and just like every relationship, there are expectations. The relationship needs work and understanding of how the other operates. There will also be an initial period of adapting and learning.

A mutual connection is the opportunity for a long term, mutually beneficial relationship. The cost of switching to another service provider can sometimes be high. Trust your intuition. If you get a bad vibe, move along. That is what we do. It’s not only clients that get to choose us, but we also decide if we want to work with a specific client, the relationship is a two-way street.

It takes two to mango

We work closely with our clients as they are the experts in their field, we lean on each other for brainstorming ideas, topics, content, and focusing on the right audiences at the right time. This has lead to quite a number of successful case studies for various clients.

We can’t do our work without getting input from our clients, understanding how they see their clients. They are on the ground, involved with their potential buyers far more than we are.

If you are not willing to participate in the idea generation and get involved, then you wouldn’t be taking full advantage of the opportunities and getting the best possible results.

5. Understand the costs involved completely

You’re probably wondering why this isn’t Number 1. Marketing should be seen as an essential unit of every business that shouldn’t operate in a separate silo. Get comparable quotes to understand what the general range of prices is and choose within your price range, using the criteria above. Don’t go for the quickest, cheapest option. Do your homework.

Understandably, if you don’t have budget then going with the lowest price option is generally the choice you will make. You will also need to manage expectations in that regard. If you go to McDonalds, you know what you’re going to get, you don’t have expectations that you’re going to get a juicy steak. It should be the same with the service provider you choose.

Get in touch with us if you are looking for a digital marketing partner, our no obligation consultations are always insightful and helpful.

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