Changing your digital marketing company can be a daunting process. Choosing your first even more so. You’ve got recommendations, searched the web and put a short list together. But when you finally get to talk to them, what to ask or say? Here’s our short list of six questions and the sort of things you should be looking for.

1. Who will manage my account and who does the work?

Dog pawing
Photo credit: Camylla Battani

Everybody needs a friendly voice to talk to, someone who listens. And you also need a response. You need to know who to talk to, and who is doing the work. Expect a named senior account manager and the names of the people who will be working with them. And it is reasonable to expect a customer service level of a response within 24 hours regardless of if you Skype, email or simply pick up the phone.

2. Ask what sort of reports the agency will be providing.

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Photo credit: Paweł Czerwiński

Before you start this process, you should already have a clear idea of what success will look like. It maybe revenue, Cost Per Acquisition, ROI, Cost Per Click or a combination. Will your progress towards success be clear from the report? You need your agency to say what is happening to each of those measures on an agreed time scale. We’ve seen a lot of reports from a lot of agencies. Some are a long list of figures, others are simple print outs of Google Analytics. The good ones reflect your measure of success. That’s where your focus needs to be. And how often will you get a report? Monthly seems adequate for most accounts but some people will want them more frequently. Which brings us to another question – How is the report paid for? Obvious answer- by the client. In which case, how frequently do you really want the report? Wouldn’t you rather your fee went to marketing your website?

3. What will you want from me?

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Photo credit: jesse orrico

And for that matter, what will you expect from my team? Some agencies operate a ‘done for you’ model whereby they do just about everything. Others are purely strategic, they say what you should do and then leave it to you to get it done. Then there are agencies that do ‘distributed implementation’, in other words, you do some and the agency does some, depending on the resources you have available. It’s a good way of using the agency as much as possible but also transferring knowledge and skills to your own team.

4. Who else has the agency worked for? Any testimonials or Awards?

You want a company with sector experience, but what happens if they end up chasing the same keywords for two separate clients? Our advice is to look through client lists on web sites and look for companies in the same field as you. Worry about keyword clashes later. You need an agency to talk your language and understand your problems. They will tell you if there is likely to be a conflict of interest with an existing client. And when it comes to awards, look carefully. If an agency has awards they should be on their website. Check that they are from recognised industry bodies, The Charted Institute of Marketing, for example.

5. How does the agency keep up to date?

The digital world changes and it changes fast. An agency needs to keep up with what’s new and respond to it. Being a Google partner is a must, that way they get to hear changes from the horse’s mouth. But sometimes the horse doesn’t speak. That’s why it is important that the agency has a good number of existing clients. That way they will notice any changes and apply their learning to all accounts. And it is worth asking how they pass the learning on. Do they have regular raining sessions for their staff? And do they share more widely? Check out their blog for evidence that they share their knowledge.

6. Does the agency price fit your budget?

Again, something to have straight before you phone or email the agency. Expect them to ask what sort of budget you have for marketing. If they don’t, you may want to check early on that you are on the same page. They probably won’t be able to give you a precise figure until they have fully understood your needs and the scope of the work that needs undertaking, but it is good to know that you aren’t wasting each other’s time. For example, ThoughtShift has a starting price of around £1500 per channel you want us to manage. That rises with complexity and can decrease in some instances, but it is good to know that we are on the same page.

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