dolls holding handsSelecting a digital agency can be a daunting task since there are so many variables to consider. Aside from obvious considerations like location, cost (is the digital agency affordable?) and industry experience, people ultimately want the answer to one critical question; can I trust a digital agency? This article will discuss ways you can research your current or future digital marketing agency to see if they are worthy of both your trust and your business.

Digital Agency Reviews

More than 82% of all consumers read online reviews and many consider online reviews to be as important as a referral from a friend or family. While that may have been the case in the past, online reviews from sources like Google My Business, Facebook, Glassdoor, and Yelp require additional scrutiny before taking them at face value. When considering a review, you must consider the following:

  1. Is the review overly effusive? (‘greatest’, ‘best’, ‘life-changing’
  2. Does the review sound like an ad? (They have free shipping in 48 states and award-winning customer service
  3. Does the reviewer have 1 or a very small number of reviews?
  4. Does the review sound like senior management wrote it?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of the above, you should consider the review questionable at best and potentially fake at

Client Testimonials

Much like online reviews, client testimonials are only as good as their source. A testimonial from an actual person at a verifiable company needs to be the baseline for consideration, as opposed to taking the word of “Matt G from Houston” or “E.B. from Bryan.”

Client Referrals

Any digital agency worth considering should gladly provide you with a list of clients to call for meaningful feedback about their performance. One trick is to ask for 2 current clients and 1 former client. If a digital agency cannot give you 1 former client that left on good terms, it should be considered a red flag. People leave agencies for any number of reasons including budgeting, strategy shift, taking marketing in-house, and in some cases, bad results. No matter the reason, a former client should feel like they were dealt with professionally and that the agency did the best job that they could do.


Looking at the LinkedIn profiles of the people you’ll be working with can be very insightful. How long have they been in the industry or at their current agency? What are their certifications? Have they won any awards? If an agency is made up of people who lack experience, switch jobs frequently, are splitting time between the agency and other consulting jobs, or if you don’t see any actual employees on LinkedIn, that is a cause for concern.

Better Trust Indicators

We’ve listed some of the more traditional ways of gauging trust to this point, but the truth of the matter is all the channels above have to be looked at with some level of skepticism. So, what is a truer measure of the service & value that a digital agency provides? Forthea is a digital agency that believes in data and measurement in all that we do. So while we have many great reviews, testimonials, and client referrals; and as much as we welcome you to stalk us on LinkedIn; we hold ourselves to a higher standard of scoring how our clients feel about the work we do for them. That’s where Net Promoter Score comes in.

What is the Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

Net Promoter Score is a management tool that can be used to gauge the loyalty of a firm’s customer relationships. It serves as an alternative to traditional customer satisfaction research and is claimed to be correlated with revenue growth. NPS is a measurement of the total percent of a company’s promoters minus detractors.

What is a Good Net Promoter Score?

nps score barAs demonstrated by the following graphic a good Net Promoter Score begins once you enter the 0-30 range, with scores over 70 being deemed excellent. further breaks down what contributes to this rating and the trends associated with the scores.

What are Average NPS Scores for Major Industries?

While the chart above provides a scale that looks at absolute NPS values, you cannot fully judge a company without looking at their relative performance within its industry. For example, a hospitality business with a score of 20 would be considered “good” when judged on an absolute scale but would be 5X the industry average when compared to their industry benchmark.nps scores by industry

What are Example NPS Scores for Industry Leaders?

The NPS score ranges between -100 and 100. lists some of the top Fortune 500 companies with their corresponding NPS scores. As featured in this next graphic you can see that the NPS score range for these companies is around the 60-70 mark. In the case of Starbucks, their score of 77 is even more impressive when considering the average rating of 17 within its industry. nps industry leading brands

What is Forthea's NPS Score?

Forthea scored a 70 for 2019, which is considered “great/excellent” on the absolute scale. This number is more impressive when you consider the average NPS in the consulting industry is 53 and Forthea scored 33% higher than this average.

Can You Trust a Digital Agency?

The old adage “trust but verify” is an appropriate answer to this question. It’s important to look at reviews and testimonials since they have value when judged with some level of skepticism. Client referrals are always a great way to get both positives and negatives first hand from somebody who has experience with the agency. However, seeking out agencies that implement grading systems such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) gives you an impartial grading system and also indicates the level to which an agency truly cares about how their performance is viewed past the number of clients and company revenue.

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About the Author Jon

Jon has been in digital marketing longer than the term has existed. When he's not helping clients create winning strategies based on ROI, he leads the charge to get terms like "ninja", "rock star" and "guru" taken out of marketing vernacular. His non-marketing interests include films at the Alamo Drafthouse, Liverpool football, having the best lawn in the neighborhood, and spending time with his wife, Alexa, four kids (William, Colton, Eliza Scout, and Alana), and two pets (Sassy the Cat + Nux the Puppy).

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