5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency
There’s a frustratingly accurate and unfortunately all too common adage in the marketing world: “it depends.” More often than not, and no matter how vague, “it depends” is the right answer to most marketing questions. The phrase is true for marketers and clients alike; every client has their own needs and every agency has their own talents. We talked to Lucid Agency’s account director, Walt Valo, about what questions a client should ask their prospective digital marketing agency to eliminate some of the guesswork.
- “Do you have experience in our industry?”
It is important to note that you shouldn’t just ask about their experience—ask about their demonstrated success. Ask for case studies and results driven reports. Your answer might be a click away on the agency’s website, under a “Work” or “Case Studies” tab, or it might be a little further out of reach in the agency’s drives.
Look for both quantifiable results and a detailed description of the who, what, where, and why of the case, like this case from our own archives. It lays everything out about the client and the work we did for them not just while we worked with them, but after, in measurable results—quite impressive ones.
- “What do your reports look like?”
Math is a universal language, but not everyone is especially adept at it. If the reports the agency gives you need to be translated then they aren’t very good reports. A good report is actionable and transparent, meaning the report should translate itself. While a good agency will also explain to you how to use, maintain, and understand the work they’ve provided for you, their work, and the reports on it, should be able to speak for itself.
Another key factor in how your agency reports is timing. How often they report to their other clients is often a good indication of how often they’ll report to you. “Good” timing depends on your wants and needs, whether you need reports before a certain day in order to bonus or are trying to reduce clutter by only sending and receiving reports on a yearly basis.
- “Do you care about my business and marketing objectives?”
Business objectives are goals, whether organization-wide or departmental, that describe what a business seeks and expects to accomplish within a given time frame. These objectives usually contain marketing objectives, the goals set by a business for promoting a product or service to potential customers. The agency you choose to work with should ask you about both.
Your agency should attempt to understand your pain point, how it is preventing you from accomplishing your business and marketing objectives, and why you think you need their services. This requires some work on your part to differentiate between the problem you are facing and the symptoms of the problem you are facing. Which one are you asking them to solve? The goal of the agency should be to solve your problem, not alleviate your symptoms.
You want your agency to consult you, not to sell you. The agency you choose should talk to you about your problem and about how they’re going to solve it. They should keep you informed and involved in their work process.
Make sure they set benchmarks and use them. Your agency should compare you to your previous performance as well as your competitors to ensure you are improving. However, it is important to note that benchmarking does not simply entail comparison; it means constantly having a goal to work towards and a defined direction.
- “What is your fee structure?”
This one’s pretty simple, how will the agency bill you and what will they bill you for? Will you be billed by the hour, on a fixed rate, or every time a new person is assigned to your tasks? You should ask about any hidden fees that may arise during your time with the agency. Beyond the normal scope of a fee structure, it’s important to determine how seriously they take your success and how that compares to their paycheck.
- “What is your culture?”
Determining the culture of the agency you want to work with is important for building lasting and genuine relationships between their team and yours. The better your relationship with the agency, the better the work they produce for you will be.
Make sure to get out of the office with someone from the agency, especially the account manager, and see what they’re like. You’ll be working heavily with the team handling you as a client, meeting with them 4-6 times a year, on average. Make sure they align with your business and your values. If the agency you’re looking at were a person, you need to like that person.
Walt Valo is the Account Director at Lucid Agency, focusing on developing integrated digital marketing strategies that drive leads, sales, sign-ups, and engagement for clients. Walt has an MBA from Ohio State where he specialized in strategy, marketing, and innovation. With a passion for technology and marketing, he loves finding new ways to solve big picture business problems with digital marketing strategies.