10 Essential Questions You Need to Ask Any Digital Marketing Agency Before You Work with Them
A strong online presence is key to business success – even to small, local businesses.
But navigating the complex world of digital marketing on your own is overwhelming. And for most businesses, there’s going to come a time when using a digital marketing agency to help is essential.
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Even if you’re amazing at running your business, you probably can’t match the marketing expertise that a good digital agency can provide. And even if you could – you almost certainly don’t have time to do all your marketing yourself once you’re out of the very early stages of business growth.
But finding the right agency for your business is no easy task. And it’s not just about the results they might have achieved for others, but developing a partnership that aligns with your goals and aspirations. Both now and in the future.
Which means you need to ask the right questions before sealing the deal. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deep into the 11 critical questions you must ask a digital marketing agency before you sign that contract.
#1. Do you have case studies I can see?
When evaluating an agency’s claims, never just take their word for it – ask to see a comprehensive portfolio of their past work and case studies. This gives you concrete evidence of their previous achievements, and gives you a firsthand look into what it might be like to work with them. Even if you’re thinking that you’ll only want to work with them on a single project at first, it’s worth asking to see evidence of success in different areas– ad campaigns, websites, and SEO, for example.
But it is important to remember this: just because they’ve achieved results for another business, doesn’t mean they will for you. Look for success in your industry, and with businesses who have a similar budget to you.
#2. Can you let me contact some previous clients?
Case studies are great, but they’re the agency’s own perspective. A good agency should be willing to connect you with their previous clients directly too. This should give you a valuable insight into the agency’s ways of working, professionalism and how well they communicate. If you’re close to engaging an agency, but you just need a little more confidence to be certain, having these conversations can be exactly what you need.
#3. What different services do you offer?
Digital marketing is broad and includes several services you might want to use to help you grow your business, including:
You might only need one of these services, or you might need all of them. Or anything in between. Not all agencies offer the same services – some specialise, and others are what most call a ‘full service agency’. This usually means they’ll be able to work on any aspect of digital marketing with you.
At Traffic Radius, we offer both. Some of our clients come to us for just one service – often SEO. But others need other services like web development or ad campaigns. We’re flexible depending on what each business we work with needs.
It might be that you don’t yet know what you need. A good agency should be able to help you there too – perhaps auditing your website as a first step to see what marketing you’ll benefit from most.
#4. How will you tailor your approach to suit my business?
Effective digital marketing strategies are personalized and tailored. After all, your business isn’t one-size-fits-all, so nor should your digital strategy.
Look for an agency that will take into account the distinctive goals, values, and identity of your business when they work with you.
They should have a process for developing an in-depth understanding of all these things, and be willing to share it with you. Ask about their onboarding process and how they work with clients in the first month of a contract.
The best agencies are willing to immerse themselves in your industry and your business. They’ll be able to do a competitor analysis, and to work through any unique challenges that you face. It’s fine if they have a particular way of working or system, but it has to be adaptable.
#5. How will I know if you’re performing well?
When evaluating a digital marketing agency, it’s crucial to understand how they define success and measure return on investment (ROI).
Look for an agency that is able to focus on achieving tangible outcomes for your business. It can of course be great to have a website that looks fantastic, to generate more traffic or to have a set of blogs that get you lots of likes and comments on social media.
But none of that means anything if they don’t help you grow your business and increase revenue.
#6. What is your approach to SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential to any digital marketing strategy. If you don’t have enough traffic, your growth will plateau, even if other aspects of your marketing are working well.
To evaluate an agency’s SEO approach, you’ll need to properly understand their strategies and techniques.
They should be working on various different aspects, including:
These are difficult to get right without a good agency on your side, and the SEO landscape changes all the time, so you really need specialists working on this with you.
A well-executed SEO strategy will have a significant influence on your organic traffic and search engine rankings, and drive your growth for years to come. So make sure you choose an agency who knows how to get this right.
#7.What is your approach to paid ads?
Google ads and Facebook ads can work incredibly well for some businesses, especially if your SEO isn’t working yet, or you’re offering a new product or service that you don’t yet have a reputation for.
But they’re not an easy license to print money, and a poor agency could even cost you money if they run your ads. So make sure you ask about this. Even if you’re not planning to run ads now, you might in the future.
Ask them how they choose the right platform for you to advertise on. We offer both Facebook and Google ads for example, but some agencies might only offer one. We have clients who use both or only one platform – and we help them choose which is best.
Find out how they approach audience targeting. You need an agency that only employs advanced techniques to reach the right audience at the right time. This might change as you grow or launch new products.
Ask how they will allocate your ad budget – and how they’ll make sure that you don’t waste money on ads that aren’t working. They should have a strategic approach to this.
Finally, explore their optimisation methods. They should have a systematic approach to continuously refine and improve the performance of your campaigns.
#8. How do you keep up with emerging trends?
Digital marketing never stands still. Which means any good agency should have a system for keeping up with trends and new technology. Agencies should be committed to learning and development both as an agency, and for their individual staff.
It’s not unusual to find agencies who will use SEO techniques that worked 10 years ago, but no longer do – so it’s important to be very careful. Google updates its algorithm often, and so does Facebook. An agency that doesn’t keep up with these changes won’t be able to provide the kind of growth you need.
#9. What will our partnership look like, day to day?
Effective communication and clear reporting are essential to a successful agency partnership.
Every agency has its own way of doing things, so it’s important to ask, so that you’re sure their approach will suit your individual business.
Most agencies will give you an individual account manager, who’ll be your main point of contact. Ask how many accounts they look after – if they’re overworked, they won’t be as available to you as you’d like.
Plus it’s crucial to uncover the agency’s overall communication strategy. Ask about the frequency of progress reports, updates, and scheduled meetings. And find out what methods of communication they like to use. This could be regular email updates, weekly conference calls, or monthly in-person meetings, for example.
Only you know which of these will suit you and your available time best. Maybe you like to get frequent updates and real-time communication. Or perhaps you prefer a more hands-off approach with periodic reports and meetings. You might find there’s some flexibility – so by discussing it upfront, you can establish a communication framework that works best for you as well as the agency.
#10.What will it cost?
Agency fees vary wildly, and many businesses worry that they won’t be able to afford them. Especially if the campaigns they run don’t deliver the revenue you’d hoped.
If your agency isn’t willing to be open about costs from the beginning, they might not be for you. At Traffic Radius, we’re always clear that we provide detailed quotes and we’ll work on getting clients ROI as fast as possible.
Choosing a digital marketing agency is an essential step in your development as a business.
Even if you’ve used an agency before – finding the right one can be pivotal in your growth and future success. And it’s important to remember that working with an agency is a partnership. You want them to share your ethos and vision, and to understand how you want and need to work.
Naturally, you want to be sure that they have the expertise needed to deliver results for your business. If you’ve worked with agencies before who haven’t provided real growth, you’ll probably be extra wary. That’s understandable. But remember that any agency capable of delivering for you should be able to prove it with previous results.
Look for an agency that is flexible and growth-minded. They should be focussed on learning and development, and able to keep up with technical changes and developments. A surprising number of agencies struggle with this.
You also want to know that the agency is one who you can work with day to day. Processes for communication, such as how they run calls or how often they want to have in person meetings, are important. These have to gel with you and the way you like to work.
Ready to start talking to marketing agencies?
We’d love to be one of them. Consider this our promise that we’ll answer all 11 of these questions honestly, and if we don’t think we’re for you, we’ll say so.