Think about long-established professions such as the legal and financial industry, a service is provided and the opinion of professionals is trusted. However, new on the block are the digital professionals, full of buzzwords and tech jargon yet without the luxury of heritage and reputation of other professionals who have also spent years of studying and working in the area of expertise.
As lawyers are your partner in legal advice and accountants advise on what is financially viable for your business, digital professionals are effectively your digital partner and we aim to be the digital arm of your business - your success is our success right?
We want to make the digital sector similar to that of the legal and financial - providing a service which is trusted whilst making sure all your objectives are met. So, you’ll need a digital partner who will go the extra mile to really understand your business and today we’re chatting about the questions you should be asking your potential digital partner agency.
Do you have experience relevant to our audience?
The agency may boast a multitude of awards, beautifully crafted websites and creative digital marketing campaigns which is all well and good, but is working on a campaign for a fashion brand really that relevant to planning a digital roadmap for an energy company? Well yes, there may be transferable skills and knowledge from any project to the next, but great agencies will be able to clearly articulate this and why it's relevant to you. Although agencies are usually well versed in a number of industries and areas, you should ask for examples of work that cater to the same type of business objectives and audience as yours. This doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to only looking within your industry (after all there’s an awful lot a theatre can learn from Amazon). If these clients have experienced great results, the agency will be more than happy to showcase their past work.
Additionally, gauge how interested the agency is in working with you. Those that are engaged with be exciting about working with you, will have done research on your industry and competitors before the initial meeting and with be interested in announcing the partnership.
Are they making unrealistic promises?
With the fast paced nature of the digital industry, nothing is set in stone and nothing can be 100% guaranteed so don’t trust agencies that promise you the world. Great search marketing professionals will research your industry, your business and your past performance and will set realistic, measurable objectives and KPIs backed up with a clear strategy on how they hope to help you reach them.
If someone says they can guarantee you number 1 position on Google (and you've not got infinite pots of cash), then they're probably lying to you!
Is the agency full service and can they fully meet your objectives?
Many agencies have a few core, speciality services which pay the bills whereas others are genuinely full service. Many projects begin with one service such as social media management however when the relationship develops and clients are happy with the service provided, this can naturally transform into a larger project taking on services such as SEO and PPC to grow their business. It’s important to avoid ‘jack of all trades’ agencies and the best will have a range of case studies evidencing their experience across a range of services. The proof is in the pudding!
Is their knowledge and skill set up to date?
It’s no secret the digital agency moves fast. Google is continuously updating their best practice guidelines and webmasters have to keep up to date to ensure your website and marketing efforts help you rank as high as possible. When your agency reaches out to advise you on the latest best practice or algorithm update, it shouldn’t be viewed as a sales tactic, it should be seen as part of their service for keeping you in the loop.
Do they have informative blogs? Are they active on social media? Do they send regular communications to ensure you are kept up to date with the latest trends? If the answer is yes then you’re on the right track.
Are they accredited and trusted?
Yes digital has grown in popularity of late but we still have staff that can remember a time before gifs (yes, they are still around). As an agency, we always aim to ensure our staff are accredited, certified and officially approved in everything they can be from gaining Google Partner status through to professional Scrum Masters, Hootsuite Ambassadors and beyond. Of course experience beats a qualification any day, here are some well recognised accreditations that will give you the peace of mind that your agency is serious about training and meeting exceeding client expectations.
- Google Partner Agency
- Google Certified Progressionals
- Inclusion on the Recommended Agency Register (RAR)
- Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) certified team members
- Official Magento partnership - relevant for ecommerce web projects
- PSM1 Scrum Master - our agile methodology that runs throughout the agency
- PRINCE2 Project Management
Clear pricing structure
We’ll level with you here and say our pricing structure is completely transparent. We love brainstorming concepts and strategies however we can tailor packages to any budget and have a clear hourly rate, daily rate and costs for ad hoc work. It’s also important to understand how the agency works with regards to ongoing maintenance, for example, do they have a structure in place for emergency work?
How does the agency communicate with you? If you prefer face to face meetups, Skype / Hangout calls or weekly reports outlining the performance, be sure to speak up during initial stages to make this known. As we work in agile, we work in two week sprints where we ask our clients for feedback at each stage. We love face to face meetings but we’re open to whichever way works best for our clients. Make sure you check this before selecting an agency - you don’t want to sign up for a new contract and then never see/hear from the agency. You want someone who is in it for the long-haul and gets your business goals.
Some questions to ask:
- How do you manage projects / digital retainers?
- Who do I contact in the first instance?
- Is there a support process?
- Is there an escalation process?
Do you like the team?
People choose people. When working with an agency, it is imperative you like their team. We get to know our clients from the get go and our team become fully immersed in each of their projects. You will want to make sure your account manager, project manager or main point of contact is patient, understanding and transparent - and remember it's a two-way street. We know that professionals who don’t work in digital may become confused with our technical jargon so we take this on board and ensure we explain everything fully.
Make sure you're ready to work in partnership with your agency and always ask questions. If you don’t understand something, you need to let your agency know and then it’s their responsibility to help you understand.
We hope we’ve covered the basics of choosing a digital agency as your partner but it you would like to find out more about our approach or working with us, give us a call on 0141 331 1323 or drop an email to [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help.