David Wharram

Whatever service you’re bringing someone onboard for, choosing the right digital marketing agency can sometimes feel overwhelming – when you’ve got performance guarantees and slick pitches flying in from every direction, how do you differentiate between them and work out who’s really going to deliver the goods?

In this article, we’re going to equip you with 9 questions you should be asking when you’re choosing a digital marketing agency – and explaining why those questions are important.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, our 9 questions you should ask when choosing a digital marketing agency!

How does the pitch team compare to the actual team?

Sometimes the pitch team you’re faced with will be all business development, sales and leadership team members – there’s nothing wrong with those people being in front of you, they’re an important part of the process.

However, it’s worth asking the question whether any of the people you’re talking to will actually work on the account – and if not, can you expect to see similar levels of experience in the people you will be dealing with?

What’s the average tenure for your staff?

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges faced by digital marketing agencies is the retention of staff. The industry average staff tenure is just 13 months.

So, what does that mean for clients? Well, it means that if you’re working with an agency that does a particularly bad job of hanging on to their staff, you could end up with a revolving door of people working on your account!

No one wants to deal with 3 different account managers in 6 months.

Obviously, no one can 100% guarantee how long a particular member of staff is going to stick around – but asking this question helps you get a view on whether your potential agency has good form when it comes to hanging on to the people that matter.

Can we see a list of your recent clients?

A list of clients is a useful thing to see – it helps you understand what kinds of businesses your potential digital marketing agency has worked with. It allows you to get an idea of the scope, sectors and challenges they’ve dealt with in the past.

However, it’s worth checking how up to date that list is. How many of those clients are from the last 12 months? How many of them are they still working with now?

Answers to those questions will help you understand how valid that client list really is.

Can you describe what you did for them?

On a similar note, another thing you’ll often find is that agencies like to put impressive logos in front of potential clients. Can you blame us? We want you to know that we’ve worked with brand names you recognise.

For you, the important thing is that you don’t just let that dazzle you – ask the questions. What did you do for them? How long were they on the books? Are they still around?

How much strategy time is included?

Particularly when it comes to a full-service offering, it’s vital that someone is going to sit down and work out the strategy of what your digital marketing mix should look like – and how those various channels and tactics work together.

It’s all well and good having a digital marketing agency propose running your SEO, PPC & display campaigns, etc. However, if they’re not including time to work out the right strategy for getting those channels to deliver optimal results for you, then you’re getting the short end of the deal.

So, ask the question – how much strategy time is included?

Can we get some references?

If their clients are as happy as they will no doubt say they are, then your potential agency shouldn’t have any difficulty getting them to say as much – right?

Therefore, it makes sense for you to ask the question. Can you speak to their any of their clients that are happy to give a reference to confirm the quality of service they’ve received? Furthermore, can you choose from the list?

How do you bring external ideas and technologies to our account?

A digital marketing agency should be at the cutting edge of everything digital – and they should be bringing that expertise to the table to give you the best possible shot at success.

But having access to those strategies and technologies is just one part of the puzzle, integrating them so that they work seamlessly for your business is a whole extra challenge.

That’s why it’s important to ask the question – how will you make this work for us?

How are you innovating?

And on that note, its worth making sure your potential agency is in fact pushing itself to innovate. Digital marketing isn’t a field that stands still – whether it’s changes to search engine algorithms, or changes in legislation (GDPR still looms large), or new opportunities in paid media, the digital ecosystem is always evolving.

Find out how your potential agency is innovating – what are they doing now that they weren’t doing six months ago?

What are your specialities?

This is a good question, because the answer ‘everything’ is always a lie.

The reality is there will be areas that each agency is stronger in, and if they’re confident in their abilities to do what they’ve promised they shouldn’t have any qualms about admitting that to you – and preferably explaining how that makes them best suited to deliver the results you’re looking for.

Getting started with your new digital marketing agency

If you’re asking these kind of questions, that means you’re likely either currently going through a pitch process of some kind or thinking about doing so very soon – you may even be considering a change from one agency to another.

We hope the above questions will help you make that process easier – and in the same vein, we’ve created a guide to help you when it’s time to switch digital marketing agencies.

You can download our guide How to Ensure a Smooth Agency Handover below!

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