You might be wondering, "What can an inbound marketing agency do for my company," or "How will I know I've hired the right inbound agency," and these are valid concerns.
Whether you’re looking to get your inbound marketing strategy off the ground or looking to improve on the plan you’ve already got in place, partnering with a marketing agency can offer many advantages.
Selecting the Right Marketing Partner
In this day and age, there's no shortage of digital marketing agencies, so how do you go about choosing the best fit for you?
Every agency has a different background. Some started online, and others began traditionally and have adapted over time. Different agencies specialize in various industries with differing sizes of clients they help. Some agencies are hyper-focused on sales and revenue growth alone. And even more hide behind vague, open-ended promises of increased awareness and positive engagement.
Here, we will address the five most important questions you need to ask when evaluating any agency’s strengths and weaknesses.
When choosing an agency, communication and collaboration are key – and they only become more important after you sign.
1. Who Will Manage My Account & Execute the Work?
As you consider hiring an agency, this is the first question you should ask.
Some agencies have in-house teams that handle all client work, some outsource client work to contract and offshore workers, and some use any combination of the two. It is essential that you feel confident in the expertise level of the people you’re putting in charge of your marketing success. Establishing trust is a necessary part of the process.
2. What Planning & Strategy is Required Up Front?
When you’re developing a working relationship with an agency, you’ll have to take some time to get to know them. It doesn't just happen on its own.
You'll want to know and understand expectations early on, considering factors such as how projects will be managed and what the approval procedure is like. Most of all, you both need to be on the same page when it comes to goals, timelines, and deliverables.
Experienced agencies should already have an onboarding process in place to get their team and your team up to speed in a timely fashion.
3. How Will We Communicate & Collaborate?
Communication and collaboration processes can make or break the entire partnership. It may feel like some of your questions are nit-picky or you don’t need to worry about the small stuff, but it’s entirely appropriate to verbalize your thoughts.
After all, you want your budgeted hours going toward actual production that will provide a return on investment – not hours going toward project management. While some hours will inevitably go into project and client management, an agency with the right communication system in place will maintain client relationships and complete tasks with much more efficiency.
Make sure that you feel confident in the agency’s methods for setting timelines, performing work, and obtaining feedback.
4. Which KPIs Does Your Team Typically Target for Clients?
Knowing what Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) an agency might target is a major factor. When you receive reports and status updates on your campaigns, you want the information to be streamlined, understandable and transparent.
It’s up to marketers to present these numbers in clear terms so anyone outside of the marketing department can easily understand them – that means focusing on KPIs such as leads, customers and revenue generated.
If the agency truly focuses on sales, reporting will reflect that. A sales-focused marketing agency will report on data such as leads that converted from marketing qualified (MQL) to sales qualified (SQL) and ultimately closed.
5. What Makes A Great Client?
All of these questions revolve around the elements that make up a good agency, except for this one. Why? Because you are a major player in the process.
Most marketers have worked with a bad-fit client, and they likely aren't rushing to relive the experience. A good client partnership is one that allows agencies to do their best work. Ask what makes their best clients great to work with, and see if they'll share insights on a bad partnership and why it went sour.
Interviewing a potential agency is very similar to questioning a new hire. You need both trust and a comfortable cultural fit for collaboration to run smoothly.
Digital marketing agencies are all tactics, not just strategy. If you have tactics without strategy, you have disorder. If you have strategy without tactics, you have thinkers but not doers. Tactics always serve strategy.
Remember, there are a lot of moving pieces that contribute to the success of a well-rounded marketing strategy, and they all work in unison. Have questions about partnering with a growth-driven marketing agency in Atlanta? We've got you covered! Reach out today.
Editor's Note: This post was initially published in February 2016 and has been updated for clarity and accuracy.