It can be hard to know how to find the right digital marketing agency. But, like with all business partnerships, it’s important to take your time so you end up with the right one. There are a lot of ways to narrow down your choices and sniff out red flags, but looking for trust in business should always be the starting point. Here’s a checklist of what to look for when interviewing agencies to help you on your way.
How specific and transparent are they?
Good marketing requires a lot more than hope and prayer. To be effective, you need strategic direction and a clear roadmap to achieve success. If you meet with an agency that is vague about their process or says something like “we’ll create our plan as we go” – run. They should have a defined methodology they believe in and have used with other clients.
Marketing agencies should also outline how they plan to get to know you, your business, and your customers. For example, we actually spend time in our clients’ businesses (and their clients’ businesses), interviewing them for valuable insights and gaining firsthand observations. If an agency doesn’t proactively share such a process with you, ask them about it. And if they don’t have one, take it as a sign to move on.
What are their accountability measures?
Business owners who engage with agencies often express the same pet peeve: they’re spending a lot of money, but are not clear about (and/or not satisfied with) the results. This is why it’s imperative to look for a firm that tells you upfront what you can expect in terms of measurable outcomes. Furthermore, such metrics should align with your business’ goals and not simply be activity-based.
For example, an agency saying they’ll send four emails a month or run 10 ad campaigns a quarter are both activity-based. Look for an agency that instead sets business-driving goals and is clear about how they’ll hold themselves accountable for achieving them. For instance, maybe your goal is to double customer acquisition this year. A trustworthy agency might tell you the number of conversions they’ll aim for each month, which will bubble up to that larger goal and ultimately support revenue. Or, they might set a goal for how much they’ll influence your pipeline. Those are the types of metrics that matter.
How do they treat you?
How an agency treats you during the initial process of getting to know each says a lot about how they’ll treat you when you’re a customer. In particular, keep an eye out for:
- How responsive they are when you contact them.
- Whether they respect your time (e.g. do they show up to meetings on time? Do they seem in a hurry to rush out?).
- How do they approach the financial discussion. They should be transparent about their costs, rather than asking, “What’s your budget?” and then coincidentally quoting you the maximum you can afford.
- Whether they ask for your preferences in terms of communication and collaboration. Any agency you can rely on should be looking to form a true business partnership on your terms and based on your needs.
Are they specialized?
Finally, make sure you go to an agency that has a specific, proven focus. For example, we primarily serve growing mid-market B2B companies, and doing so has helped us hone in on what strategies and tactics work for our clients in this space. If an agency tells you they don’t have a specialty and/or welcome clients from every industry, it’s a good sign they don’t have the specific experience you need. Another good indication is to review their case studies and testimonials and get even more of a window into who they’ve helped and what the results have been.
When it comes to how to find the right digital marketing agency, it can take some time to thoroughly vet potential companies and find the right one. If you look for trustworthiness in these key areas, you’ll get there. Interested in learning more about our strategies-first approach and how we earn our clients’ trust? Give us a call!