Finding the perfect marketing partner is sometimes like searching for the needle in a haystack.
In a digitally-driven world, thousands of marketing agencies pop up every year. It’s not easy to make out who’s the best fit for your business. But with the right strategy on hand, and knowing what questions to ask, you’ll find the perfect people for the job and get the most out of your digital marketing efforts.
Digital marketing is a dynamic, ever-evolving industry. As a business owner, you’re wearing a number of hats. Staying up to date on the latest developments in search engine marketing and emerging trends in the social media world is probably not your number one priority. Chances are, that you’d rather focus on the daily operations of your business than spend hours figuring out how to set up a multi-segment pay-per-click campaign.
Digital marketing agencies offer a range of services including search engine optimisation, paid search, social media marketing, content writing, email marketing, web and graphic design and development. It is hard to compete with that many highly skilled people under one roof, especially as a small to medium-sized business. Outsourcing gives you the opportunity to hire the best in the field and help your company grow.
But how do you make sure that the people you’re getting on board are trustworthy and competent to manage your online presence and advertising efforts? You’ll want to take the proper precautions to ensure you’re hiring a marketing agency intent on taking your business to the next level.
Learning to ask the right questions is the best way to get started – not only to find out who you’re dealing with but also, to figure out what it is that you’re looking for. To help you find your partner in climb we’ve listed a few questions to ask yourself and any marketing agency you’re considering to partner with.
So let’s dive right in!
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hiring A Marketing Agency
As you’re outsourcing your marketing efforts to an external service provider, you’re also beginning a new business relationship. To make sure you’re well equipped to find the right partner, you need to make sure you’re having enough insight into your own organisation and ask yourself a few questions first like, ‘Why did I start this business?’ and ‘What are my goals for the next 5-10 years?’
When you meet with a prospective digital marketing agency, it’s important to understand where you’re at in your business, what your goals are and what you hope to get out of this partnership. You should be able to answer these questions before you spend your hard-earned money on a marketing agency.
Understanding Your Business’ Current Status
- What is the story behind your business?
- What is your brand culture like?
- What are your values and beliefs?
- What products or services do you provide?
- Who is your business’ target audience?
- How do your customers find your business?
- What does your sales process look like?
- What challenges do you face?
Any (great) agency you’re going to work with will need a lot of initial input from you to understand the ins and outs of your business. They’ll dig deep into what’s really important to you in order to become acquainted with your business goals, philosophy, and values. And you should prepare yourself to answer these questions to your best abilities.
As with so many things, transparency is key. Even the greatest digital marketing agency can’t create a tailor-made strategy matching your needs and requirements if you haven’t first sat down with them to openly discuss the status quo and the challenges you’re facing. Covering up areas you’re struggling with, will make it much harder to start off on the right foot.
Your Digital Marketing Requirements and Constraints
- What value do you see in digital marketing?
- Do you understand the use and benefits of digital tools such as social media, email marketing and pay-per-click campaigns?
- What are the digital marketing solutions and tools that you’re already using?
- What do you think, from looking at our current digital marketing efforts, do you need to improve on?
- What are your goals for this project?
- What is your marketing budget for this project?
- Do you have a deadline?
You should do your homework before getting in touch with prospective marketing agencies. Take an inventory of your current marketing efforts. What do you know about your website traffic, currently running ad campaigns and social media efforts? Don’t worry if you find yourself hitting a dead end. No agency will expect you to know ALL the answers or understand the full scope of opportunities offered by digital marketing. That’s why you’re coming to them in the first place, right? Make sure that you know at least at a high level what your current statistics look like and how you would like these to improve over the next six months to a year.
Once you’ve confirmed with the leadership team of your business that you have the resources to go ahead and hire digital marketing experts, make sure to set clear expectations with everyone. Results do not happen overnight: Research, design, development, testing and refining – Building successful campaigns takes a lot of work and time.
Marketing is a multibillion-dollar business, but did you know that it is as old as ancient Egypt?
Working With A Digital Marketing Agency
- Why are you hiring a digital marketing agency?
- What do you expect the marketing agency to do for your business?
- Who will be the main contact at your company?
- Who will be the main decision-maker in your company?
- What is your preferred method of communication?
- Do you have a procedure for dealing with customer complaints online?
- Do you have any documents about your business (such as standards or guidelines) that will help the agency do a better job?
Everybody loves showing up to a meeting well prepared. Sorting out the prep work before getting into the nitty-gritty, ensures that you hire someone who’s on the same page as you.
Knowing what you expect from your partnership and how you plan on managing the cooperation, is the first step.
You shouldn’t go into a meeting with a potential agency without having decided who will be the internal contact and decision-maker in your company. Similarly, knowing your own organisation and business culture will help you choose the agency model and culture that suits you best.
Questions to Ask Before You Hire A Digital Marketing Agency
Looking for the perfect marketing partner? We’ve created a list of questions that will help weed out the duds from the studs. Hiring a digital marketing agency is a clever decision, but one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. To choose the right fit for your organisation, you should check if they understand their own job well, what they have to offer you and how they operate.
Communication is, of course, a two-way street. The questions that you ask your agency will help them understand you better as well. To get you on the same page regarding your needs and requirements, you have to be asking the right questions.
Let’s jump straight in and look at some of the questions you should ask an agency before making a decision.
The Agency’s Experience and Capabilities
- How long have you been in business?
- Who are some of the clients you’ve previously worked with?
- Who else are you working with in the marketing industry?
- What is the scope of a typical marketing engagement?
- Can you provide project examples and case studies that demonstrate measurable results?
- What are the core capabilities of your agency?
- How do you evaluate the digital assets of a company?
- What is your approach to content/social media/email/search engine marketing?
- What is your approach to web design and development?
- How do you use analytics to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns?
Digital marketing is a competitive world with many challenges and sheer endless possibilities. To help you find the marketing agency that will give you the best return on investment for your marketing dollars, you need to ask meaningful questions. Learning about an agency’s experience and capabilities is a great place to start.
Find out what they’ve been working on to date and if they have experience with your industry. Usually, agencies are quite versatile and work across a range of industries. If you, however, learn that an agency exclusively works with the mining industry and you’re selling vegan pot-pies, it might be worth taking notice.
Ask for case studies and blog posts they’ve written recently to learn more about their work. And if they’re new to your industry, ask how they go about gaining new knowledge, doing research and training their team.
The Project Management Process
- How does the onboarding process go?
- What are your expectations for me?
- How available will I have to be?
- Who will I directly be working with on your team?
- How often will we meet and in what form?
- Who do I call if there is an immediate problem?
- How do you communicate with clients on results and to share information?
- When can I expect to see the first results?
- What does the process for deliverable acceptance look like?
- What project management tools do you use?
- What marketing software do you specialise in?
- What is your process to address issues?
- What is your process to address changes in scope, requirements and constraints?
- How is your pricing structured?
- What does your billing structure look like?
- How long should our contract be and what will be included?
The best digital marketing partners are those with an expansive and inclusive understanding of marketing. And, they have the right tools and techniques in place to tackle your business’ marketing challenges. Having success-proven procedures in place to manage even large-scale marketing projects ensures that they can spend your marketing dollars efficiently and effectively.
Before you’re signing up with an agency, make sure you understand what a collaboration would look like from day one. A lot of times small and medium-sized businesses think they can just hand everything off to the marketing agency, but it takes a lot of teamwork, organisation and communication to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Do you see a lot of design work and creative decisions headed your way? If you’re not sure what designers mean when they rave about Figma and InVision, check out the 5 graphic design tools we can’t live without.
The Agency’s Digital Marketing Team
- Who will be doing the work on my account on a regular basis?
- How would you describe your company culture?
- What is your mix of employees and contractors?
- How much of the work will be outsourced?
- What types of skills are on the payroll?
- Do you have designers and developers on your team?
- How long have you worked with your contractor partners and freelancers?
- How do you onboard your team members to a new project?
Your past work experiences have probably taught you a lesson or two on the importance of great work relationships. Now, bringing a marketing agency on board is essentially like gaining a bunch of new colleagues all at once. You’ll want to make sure that you get along with your new co-workers.
At Anchor, we believe in close client collaboration. When we embark on a digital voyage with a new client, we become part of their team. If you decide to work with Anchor, you’ll get all of us: Strategists, designers, coders, social gurus, copywriters and account managers. Together we’re unstoppable. If you’re curious to learn more about us, come on over and meet the team!
So, who are the people that will take care of your business’ marketing efforts?
Remember, there are tonnes of agencies out there and finding the right one can sometimes feel like you’re a prince looking for his cinderella. Your approach should have a method and include meaningful questions that help you understand who you’re dealing with. Now you may have to meet with two, or three agencies (and sometimes more), but we promise, eventually the shoe will fit.
Feel free to get in touch with us if you’d like to test these questions in the field!