As we say goodbye to 2016 and welcome in 2017, January is often the time in which the past year is re-examined in detail looking at the activity/tactics that were successful, bringing the best of your marketing into the bright, shiny new year while leaving tactics that didn’t quite cut the mustard, but left great learnings, back in 2016. 

January also marks a new financial year for some businesses and as such, analysis and reflection of the past year is integral in formulating strategies for 2017. It might be that this year is the right time for a change in which you decide that you are putting your account out to tender to see what another digital marketing agency might be able to do for you. On the other hand, it might be that 2017 is the first time you’re seeking additional support to help expand your business. 

But do you know what you want from your agency and what to ask them in order to help achieve your business goals? Digital Marketing Happiness is our mantra here at ThoughtShift and as an agency, we pride ourselves on ensuring that we can help deliver that happiness through our set of core values. My colleagues Christina and Ben touched upon our values in blogposts last year with a focus on what makes good customer service and how you can get the most from your Digital Marketing agency.

For those looking to get the best out of a new or existing agency, we’ve put together 5 must ask questions to get the most from your relationship.


Lines of communication

Agencies and clients need to be able to talk to each other; without proper communication, key information falls through the cracks and both parties suffer.

1. Who will be handling our account and completing the work? 

Get to know your core team at your agency. These team members will be working alongside you closely in order to help you achieve your digital marketing goals. The more familiar you are with your agency team, the more collaboratively you can work. If your team is more than 3 people you may be tempted to cc’ all of them in all the time. I would say it is best to cc’ in everyone needed, however, having an appointed main contact will help to alleviate issues as you will know who to talk to on a day-to-day basis. Your main contact should have a great understanding of the campaign, the timelines and actions needed. Conversely make sure your agency knows who the decision maker is for your brand and who to go to when approval or sign off is needed. 

2. What’s your approach to reporting?

How is your agency communicating the performance of your campaign? Typically reports are the main way you can get regular updates on your campaign results. Internally you need to be able to justify your agency selection and budget and if you’re in the dark about campaign results this can be very difficult. Similarly, information from your digital agency can be really useful for other marketing or press efforts taking place. If you have more than one digital agency than it’s even more vital that you’re able to feed key information across teams. So one of the most important questions to ask your agency  has to be “how often will you report on my account and what information will be included in reports?”. Make sure that custom reporting is offered to reflect the Key Performance Indicators of your campaign.


3. How will results and ROI be measured? 

This is vital in order to be able to determine the success of your campaign. If you are transparent and clear about you marketing goals, expectations, and budgets your agency will be able to understand your day to day needs and ensure that they are working together with you to maximise campaigns and get those important results.


Equally it is vital to know that your agencies will be honest and transparent with you. For example, if they do not fully disclose if a campaign tactic did not deliver the results as expected, they should be able to discuss this with you openly and have a plan of action for the next steps. If they were to keep hold information such as this, it is almost like a death knell for trust and it will be hard if not impossible, to regain that trust often leading to clients looking for an alternative agency. 

Collaboration and Innovation


Collaboration: Defined as ‘the action of working with someone to produce something’ there is nothing that, as an Account Manager, makes me happier than being able to help facilitate collaboration between clients and their agency team.

4. Does your agency keep up-to-date with the industry?

One easy way to spot an agency that is on the ball is to read their blog and check this is both updated regularly and producing relevant, informative and timely content. If you find that their blog is full of informative items related to both the industry that you’re in and the digital marketing industry itself then you are onto a winner. It’s likely that they will share new updates with you which will in turn help to keep you informed.

5. How closely do I need to work with my agency/what is expected from me? 

Similar to questions around communication, knowing what your agency expects of you is great to know. Communication is a two way street after all!  Over my career to date, I’ve been in situations where I’ve seen agencies and clients that are so set in their ways that they are no longer open to collaboratively discussing ideas and tactics. This saddens me as without working together, great innovation cannot take place and will not deliver happiness for either party. Equally I have been in meetings where the collaboration is flowing, and take my word for it when I say that this is when some of the most exciting tactics and campaign ideas take hold. 

The IPA commissioned a survey last year that looked at the future of how agencies work with their clients and some of the statements by agencies and clients are sentiments that I have heard echoed. Mostly agencies feel that clients are not willing to engage in a collaborative environment and clients feel that their agencies do not understand their customer base. By being transparent and having regular communication, that collaborative environment should start to be present and the more trust that is there, the more open either party will be to trying new ideas.

Are these the only 5 questions I should be asking my agency?

In short, the answer is no. These 5 questions are just a few that you should be asking to ensure that you are with the right agency. Digital marketing agencies can help in getting you the results that you need, however, it is important that they understand your needs and that they are going to work with you, keeping you up-to-date on the performance of your account and the tactics that they will be using to ensure that your business goals are met.

Follow my contributions to the blog to find out more, or sign up to the ThoughtShift Guest List, our monthly email, to keep up-to-date on all our blogposts, guides and events.

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