Thinking of hiring an external team to help with your marketing efforts? A digital marketing agency might be the way to go. These agencies give you direct access to marketing experts who strategize, plan, and execute tactics to help you achieve your goals.
Businesses consider hiring an agency for several reasons. Many companies opt to hire an agency because they are cost-efficient or because their initiatives don’t require an entire internal marketing department. Others choose to hire an agency as an extension of their internal team to help with large project lifts.
If you plan to use a digital marketing agency to help you grow your business, the most important thing to remember is this: Don’t get too excited about a potential partnership and sign on the dotted line right away. Take your time to vet each agency and determine if they mesh with your company or if they’re not a good fit.
Not sure where to start? We’ve outlined nine top questions to ask a marketing agency before you consider partnering with them.
9 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency
Digital marketing questions about specializations, experience, and overall expectations are a big aspect of finding the right partner for your business. Agencies aren’t one-size-fits-all, and you need to be sure you hire an agency that will not only align with your goals but also be able to deliver results.
Here are nine of the most important questions to ask when hiring a digital marketing agency:
1. What is your definition of "digital marketing"?
You might think that all agencies do the same thing, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The phrase “digital marketing agency” may be used to label SEO-focused organizations, companies that strictly focus on web design and development, or even branding agencies that only work on developing a brand strategy around your business.
It’s also important to remember that not all agencies take the same approach to marketing. Some digital marketers might take a more traditional approach and focus on paid advertising to reach out to your audience. On the other hand, inbound marketers take a holistic approach to bringing leads in through visibility and helpful content.
2. Do you primarily focus on B2B or B2C clients?
Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) are very different avenues through which companies present themselves. There can certainly be a crossover, but the majority of businesses focus on one or the other — and so do marketing agencies.
The main difference between the two types is that B2B companies are talking to buyers for other companies. They might be targeting “decision-makers” at these businesses, but they are still trying to sell their product or service to another organization.
The manner in which agencies promote and use language surrounding your company will be different depending on which category your business is in. Opting for an agency that specializes in one of the two categories will go a long way in your overall marketing strategy and help your business see the results you want.
Again, you might see some overlap in product offerings — for example, Zoom is available for both individual and corporate use. But the way you market to each of these demographics is hugely different, and, unfortunately, agencies are rarely experts in both.
If your business is one that is on the line of both, we recommend finding one of the few agencies that does market both B2B and B2C services and products to handle all of your marketing needs, instead of putting your trust in one that exclusively markets one side.
3. Do you have a niche?
Many agencies, including LAIRE, have expertise in and focus primarily on a handful of industries. For example, our areas of focus are the financial services, SaaS, manufacturing, and construction industries. We have ample experience marketing for these industries and know tactics that are proven to work.
Partnering with an agency specializing in your industry means you’ll gain a team that already has a base knowledge of this niche. They might even have previous insights into your company, your unique offerings, and your competitors.
A niche agency will have a proven track record and relevant examples they can share with you on how to place your company ahead.
Remember to always check your potential agency’s website for case studies that outline how they solved clients’ problems and what the results were. You can come to the table with these studies and ask for more details or how the agency might use a similar approach for your business.
4. What can I expect our partnership to look like?
Every agency has different expectations of what their client relationships will look like. Some agencies will want their clients to be very hands-on, while others will prefer to be given the freedom to do what they feel is best.
Your company will have these same preferences as well. You might want your agency to be an extension of your current marketing team, or you might want the team members at your agency to take charge. The fact of the matter is that this dynamic varies across the board.
You have the opportunity to build a system that holds each side accountable by asking your prospective agency about:
- How they prefer to interact with clients
- Their expectations or preferences around approvals
- Their usual turnaround times
- How much editing you would be expected to do
- How often you are expected to attend meetings
Regarding meetings, they will most likely occur more frequently in the beginning as new projects or initiatives take place and your agency gets to know you — and vice versa. You’ll probably need to attend weekly, biweekly, or monthly meetings to set priorities, plan for upcoming projects, and get progress updates on current tasks.
5. What do you consider a successful campaign?
The bottom line is that marketing does not always deliver a direct return on investment (ROI). More often than not, marketing is an effort to bring leads to the door before the sales team takes over to seal the deal.
It’s crucial to remember that all agencies measure success in different ways. For example, if you’re working with a search engine optimization (SEO) agency, success can be measured (in part) by your search volume, keyword authority, and SERP rankings or features.
Like the majority of these questions for digital marketing, the answer just depends on the agency and your expectations. That being said, it’s key to voice those expectations.
Your agency will want to know if website traffic matters more to you than Facebook followers, or if your webinar views take priority over your eBook downloads. This is where you can set the stage for what you expect to be updated on. It’ll also get your agency’s gears turning on tactics they can use to deliver these reports.
6. How frequently will you share performance analytics?
Make your agency aware of how often you want to see reporting, but keep in mind that many marketing efforts will not show progress overnight. For example, when the LAIRE team publishes or optimizes a blog for SEO, it can take upwards of 6 months to see the results we’re expecting. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Try setting the standard that you’d like to see website traffic reports once a month, or get updates on the session-to-contact rate once per quarter. This can always be changed and will help assure you that your investment is making a difference.
7. What is your billing protocol?
Pricing is a hot topic for everyone, regardless of the service or project they are trying to purchase. You want to know how much work you will get for the budget you have.
A large number of agencies price by hours spent on a project or working directly on your company’s tasks. Others will price out the work by project. There might be a set amount for social media posts for the month, a set amount for an email nurture campaign, or a set amount for a whole website revamp.
When you are considering an agency, they can break it down for you further and give you an estimate of how much your initiatives will cost.
This also brings up the conversation of how often you will be billed and how long your contract will last. Some agencies bill on a project completion basis, others on a monthly basis, and so on.
Many agencies will request that you sign a retainer contract stating you will pay them an agreed-upon amount on an agreed-upon basis for a certain amount of time. Others will allow you to work on a project-by-project basis. The agency could also allow you to go month-to-month.
Asking these questions will not only give you an estimate of what you will invest in but also give you insight into what tasks will take more legwork. This can be great for deciding if this is a task you want to outsource or keep in-house.
8. Can I see any client samples?
Any reputable agency will be proud to show off its hard work to potential clients. They’ve put their heads together to deliver results, and as long as the client's work is not confidential, they should want to share it with you.
This circles back around to the case study point made earlier. The first place to look for examples is on the agency’s website, as many agencies will use this section of their site as a portfolio of sorts.
This client work will also give you an idea of what they will produce for your business. If you are a cutting-edge service provider looking for an abstract rebrand, seeing these client examples might help you weed out more traditional agencies that play it safe.
You can also judge the quality of the work produced to ensure it meets your standards. Watch out for typos, usability issues, and less-than-stellar results. At the end of the day, a win for a client is a win for the agency, and they will definitely want to highlight their wins.
If an agency is unwilling to show you their previous work… run! This is usually an indication that the agency is not confident in the work they do, is afraid of the errors they’ve made, or is worried their minimal results will scare you away. You want the agency to brag about themselves when you bring this up, and not doing so raises major red flags.
9. Will we have a dedicated and primary point of contact?
We highly recommend establishing who will be the primary point of contact for both the marketing agency and your business, that way communication and needs don’t get murky.
Your dedicated agency point of contact serves as the linchpin in orchestrating a harmonious relationship, streamlining communication, and ensuring that your brand's vision is translated into actionable strategies. They not only foster efficiency but also cultivate a deep understanding of your goals, preferences, and challenges.
With a single point of contact, you're not just simplifying logistics — you're fortifying a partnership that drives results with clarity and precision.
Anyone Can Talk the Talk — Partner With an Agency That Walks the Walk
As you’re weeding through your list of prospective agencies, think back to how you found them. Were they a referral from a professional connection? Did their ad jump out at you on LinkedIn? Or maybe you just searched “digital marketing agency” on Google, and they were at the top of the list. These are all telltale signs of how good their marketing strategy is — or isn’t.
Your agency’s digital presence will speak loudly for itself and set the standard of what they can do for you. If their website is seriously lacking information or is super plain, they might not be the ideal partner for your website revamp. Similarly, if they aren’t present on social media, they might not be capable of creating a solid social media strategy for you.
Become a detective and do some old-fashioned digging on your potential partner. Browse their resources, subscribe to their newsletter, and keep an eye out for the quality of their efforts and the consistency of their performance. This will help you pick out the winners in your group of choices.
In fact, we challenge you to dig through the LAIRE archives. Get to know us on our website and on social media and see if our service offerings align with your goals. We might just be the partner you’re looking for.
We even offer a free 20-minute marketing consult to show you how we’d go above and beyond for your business. Schedule your consultation now and get ready to elevate your digital marketing game.