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Hiring an Agency

Specially for client-side marketing professionals who want to get better at the agency selection process.

5 Crucial Questions to Ask Before Hiring your Digital Marketing Agency

The days of throwing marketing tactics at a wall to see if they stick are long gone.

In today’s competitive market, businesses must prove ROI within every team and tactic, and marketing is no exception.

With the constant evolution of new technologies and market demands, however, it feels like you have your work cut out for you, right?

Have no fear – you don’t have to do it all alone!

You can easily identify the right strategies and execute on them effectively with the help of a digital marketing agency.

Not sure where to start? No problem! 

Here are five questions to ask so you can be confident that the agency you choose aligns with your business needs.

Find out if you’re getting educated recommendations

Before building a digital marketing strategy, you must understand what your competitors are doing, right? Time to do a little spy work.

What is working for the competition? What’s falling short?

Potential digital marketing agencies can provide information about how your competition outranks you – whether it’s in search, how they engage with their audiences, or how they use paid advertising to generate web traffic and leads.

It’s not an exercise in “copycatting” tactics.

Instead, look at it as a learning opportunity to identify strategies that work well, the trends across the competitive market, and as a launchpad for ideas to improve the digital marketing tactics and take your brand to the next level.

If the agencies you interview truly understand your brand, the market it serves, and your specific business objectives, they’ll have all the information they need to present a targeted competitive overview that will ultimately drive your brand’s digital marketing strategy.

You’re one step closer.

Next, it’s time to peek behind the curtain of agency workflow.

Get down to the operational details

It’s a big question that covers a wide range of marketing topics, but will give you a good indication of how the digital agency will interact with you and how they approach the digital marketing process as a whole.

If an agency provides clear, easy answers about how they get work done, it’s a great indication that they have the experience and organizational skills required to serve your business effectively.

After you gain a sense of how they approach the work at a high level, dive right into the details of their processes.

  • What is their planned approach for each digital marketing channel?
  • What are their expectations from you, as their client?
  • What must-haves do you require that they support?
  • What tactics do they recommend that you may not have considered?
  • Where do their clients say they shine?

By approaching workflow from the top down, and then taking a closer look at each layer within the process, you’ll set your partnership up for success from day one.

Now that you understand the process, it’s time for the fun part – the people.

Know who’s doing what

One of the biggest advantages of hiring an experienced digital marketing company is access to a wide pool of resources and talent that wouldn’t be available to you internally.

No matter the size of your marketing team, everyone has a bigger to-do list than they have time.

Most agencies have dedicated resource specialists on staff who focus on a specialized area of expertise within the digital marketing world.

Think of it as doubling or even tripling the size of your team.

First, ask the agency about their resources and who will be available to you as a client. Find out how they distribute work, how each team member will communicate with you, and what they expect from you during the campaign management process.

Ask for work samples and have conversations with the resources that will be assigned to you to get a better feel for their style of work and to build strong relationships early.

Be open to discuss numbers

In a perfect world, budgets are limitless and resources are endless.

In reality, you must explore the cost of hiring and working with your chosen digital marketing agency to ensure that the services they offer align with your budget and needs.

Ask for a detailed breakdown of upfront costs, including retainer fees and other monthly rates.

What do you include?

What constitutes an “extra expense?”

Can you negotiate your contract to include must-have services and skip ones that you don’t really need?

Ask the right questions upfront, so your marketing needs are fully supported without exceeding your total budget.

You know the “what,” the “who” and the “how much?” Now it’s time to talk results.

Align expectations early

You’ve heard the saying, “that which isn’t measured, isn’t improved.”

It certainly holds true for marketing. Data drives results.

The first step in measuring anything is knowing what information to collect and how to use it.

For example, what benchmarking tools and metrics does the agency collect for email marketing? Will they measure it against competitor data?

There are plenty of marketing metrics to track. The key is in narrowing down the ones that matter most to you.

Decide what “success” looks like for your brand, and have a discussion upfront with potential agencies about how they will help you achieve it and communicate it to you and your team.

Just as important as knowing what to measure, is knowing how soon you can expect to see results.

It takes time to build meaningful ROI, but you should have a clear understanding of what that means to your agency.

Can you expect to see improvements within the first quarter?

Within the first six months?

Create your joint definition of “success” and an accountability plan to ensure your agency communicates results to you within your expected timeframe.

Taking the next step with a digital marketing agency for your business

Check out these other articles where we break down the different areas of digital marketing – and the specifics of how to go about hiring an agency for:

Or if you’d like, just drop us a message and share about your marketing goals – we’ll take it from there!

Lisa Tan

Lisa Tan

Lisa wears multiple hats at Appiloque - digital strategy, agency operations, and content marketing. To keep herself sane, her favourite form of entertainment is free and involves reframing reality, changing it up to something ridiculous and playing out imaginative scenarios. No, she's not mad. Yet.

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