If you are reading this then the chances are you are thinking about partnering with a digital marketing agency.
Maybe you don’t have time to do it yourself, or maybe you don’t understand what needs to be carried out on a day-to-day basis.
Maybe you are not completely satisfied with your current digital marketing firm and are thinking of jumping ship.
Partnering with an agency can be daunting. If you take the proper steps ensuring you hire the right agency, it will be an exciting and enjoyable experience.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into questions to ask a prospective digital marketing agency that will help you bring on the ideal marketing partner for your firm:
1. Do they work with you to set and achieve your firm’s goals?
The best digital marketing agencies are strategic partners for your business. They will seek a strong understanding of your goals, obstacles and your current situation.
Failing to understand these factors could mean they are not aligned with your vision and objectives. Before you work with an agency spend time listening to the questions they ask you.
2. Do they run campaigns?
There are two ways to partner.
One is that you outsource your digital marketing and move forward on an adhoc basis, month by month brainstorming ideas.
The other way to work with an agency is with a campaign mentality. A campaign can run from 3 months – 12 months or more, with activity carried out with an end goal.
A campaign approach will ensure that they take into consideration the buyers journey and have a methodical way of planning the content.
A good agency should be focused on campaigns.
3. How do they measure the success of your campaigns?
A marketing agency, no matter how accomplished they may be, cannot guarantee success. Marketing is a long, hard road, and results will take longer than one month.
A good digital marketing agency will report KPIs on a monthly/quarterly basis. They will then help you understand the results and tweak and improve moving forward.
4. Is there a method/strategy behind the actions they will take with you?
A good digital marketing agency will have a tried and tested method for maximising campaign success.
5. Are they all-rounders, or a one trick pony?
Contrary to popular belief an all-rounder will give you better results. You are looking for a cohesive campaign and strategy.
Success will come when each marketing action integrates together:
- There is no point in posting on social media without decent content to share. There is no point in designing a website without your customers journey in mind.
- There is no point in recording videos if your ideal client is likely to be reading blogs.
Do your due diligence when hiring a digital marketing partner, and focus on the strategy that over-arches the actions they will take for you.
6. Do they outsource the work abroad?
Your budget will determine the correct answer to this question.
If an agency outsources your social media management to teams in the Philippines or India, they should be cheaper than those who have an in house team in the UK/USA for example.
Whilst outsourcing abroad will work, having a specific person that you can build a relationship with will be advantageous.
Having a team whose first language is English and one that understands your industry should be a priority. Outsourcing abroad should not be a deal breaker, but does need to be taken into consideration.
7. Who will you be working with on a regular basis?
Nothing is more frustrating than being passed around between people who do not know you, or your goals.
A good digital agency will give you a dedicated account manager.
Having a key account manager will ensure consistency and will give you peace of mind that things are not being overlooked/missed.
8. Does the agency’s team compliment your firm’s personality?
You probably know from working with you own team, who you work with impacts on your day-to-day happiness.
When you hire a digital marketing agency you are essentially adding to your accounting firm’s team.
For your marketing to yield results you will need to work with the digital agency for 9-12 months, so you have got to like them.
You will need to speak with them regularly and spend time with them in meetings.
Start by checking out the agency’s website. Are they faceless, or is there a team that looks like your kind of people?
9. How frequently will you meet with the team/project manager?
It is important to meet with the team/project manager on a regular basis. If you only meet/have a call once a quarter I would be wary as to how much you are being treated like a number rather than a cared for client.
10. How will the meetings be held?
Meetings will probably be held be held in the agency’s office, at your premises face to face, via telephone or via Skype/Zoom.
You need to be clear on how you will meet to maximise there effectiveness, and also to insure that you are not wasting time with travel, etc..
11. How much input do they need from you?
Whilst you are outsourcing your marketing, they will still need input from you.
However, you also won’t want to be pulled from pillar to post with them emailing you every day and calling you all the time.
The word you are looking for is balance. Whilst you want to know what is going on, you will soon tire of being asked for feedback on a daily basis.
This is where a cohesive plan with structured communication will benefit both the agency and your firm.
12. How available will you need to be?
Like the question above, you do not want to be available at all times to enable the agency to do their job properly.
Chances are a good agency will have guidelines on this and be able to answer this question with ease.
UNDERSTANDING THE CONTRACT
13. How long should your contract be?
Content marketing is a long game.
Magic doesn’t happen in month one, so to sign up to a 3-month rolling contract is more than suitable. Some may insist that you sign up to a 12-month contract, with a get out clause on both sides.
Be wary of any digital agency that says it’s month by month, only because they cannot work their magic in that time.
14. What is included each month with this contract?
A good agency will be able to let you know a month by month, campaign by campaign agenda. Make sure that you are aware of the milestones that will be completed each month.
15. Do they have an onboarding/ramp-up phase?
Onboarding a client is essential for maximising momentum and starting the campaign with gusto.
The first 1-3 months may move far faster than ongoing months if they have an onboarding/ramp-up phase. A good agency will want to hit the ground running, and at all times should have your ROI in mind.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION (SEO)
Do they promise to get you to the top of page 1 of Google through SEO?
Be wary if they do.
It is not easy, nor a given, that any business will reach first place on page 1 on Google. Google are constantly changing its algorithms. We never know when they are going send in another update (remember Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird).
First page Google can never be guaranteed. If they are undertaking an SEO campaign on your behalf then they will be able to let you know if it is going to be easy, hard or a possibility, but nothing more.
16. How quickly will you see a change in your rankings?
Again, nothing can guaranteed. It can take 3-4 months to see movement in the rankings, if you are lucky then it can happen quicker. If they guarantee it to happen in days or weeks, again steer clear.
17. If the agency could only enact one SEO tactic what would it be?
If they have an SEO tactic that they will tell you will guarantee results again be wary.
Gone are the days of backlinks being the number one route to SEO success, or Metatags or H1 tags being the answer. There is no one tactic, it is a combination of many.
18. What kind of marketing do they use?
If they are selling you certain marketing make sure they do it themselves.
A digital agency will need to walk the talk.
If you want them to help you with content, how often are they writing blogs/recording videos.
If they are encouraging you to do Facebook advertising or have a Facebook Group, do they have experience with this?
19. How much of the content creation is down to you and how much is down to the agency?
If they are creating content, you will need to be clear on what is expected of you so they can do a good job for you.
How much of the creation is down to you, and how much is down to the agency?
20. How will they achieve your brand voice?
The ability to achieve your brand voice will take a few articles, blogs, proofs or content to be generated. It may take a few months to get this spot on.
If an agency has a dedicated system to helping them achieve your brand voice you are probably on to a winner.
21. Do they have experience building brands?
All too often a client can take on an agency where a few social media posts get posted and a website is designed.
A good agency should ensure that they are creating or building on your current brand, and not just carrying out marketing tactics.
22. Does the digital marketing agency advise short or long (pillar) article/blog posts?
Whilst short posts are great for regular content, the most shared and commented on posts are between 2000-3000 words. This is not content that can be created every day but you will need an agency that creates long articles (pillar), as well as the shorter 500-600 word blogs. If you can regularly create content with over 1000 words, with long (pillar) blogs added on a quarterly basis then this is a great place to start.
23. How do they generate new ideas?
Are you going to come up with the ideas or is the digital agency? If it is you coming up with the ideas, what are you paying them for? Make sure that they are a creative agency, as well as a digital agency.
24. How much content will they produce per month?
There is no right or wrong answer here and much will depend on your budget. Ideally, they will be generating at least 4 pieces of content a month. Anything less and you will not cut through the white noise currently bombarding the internet.
25. What is their process for building a buyer persona?
As long as they have a process and don’t skip this bit you will be okay. It is important to build your buyer persona and it is the agency’s job to do this if you have not completed this exercise in-house.
26. How will they get the information in front of your prospects?
As well as creating a website/content etc. they need to have a strategy to get your content out into the market place. A few tweets a week does not make up a good campaign.
27. How do they use the personas when getting content out?
Do they have a plan to ensure that the content is being seen at the right time, in the right place by the right people?
To what extent do they work within the Buyers Journey outline? The buyers journey is often overlooked. An agency that can map this out for you will get better results and ensure a better user experience for your prospects/buyers.
28. How will they decide on which social channels you pursue?
Are they an agency that says be present on every social media channel, or do they have a few select channels they recommend?
It is important to keep your buyers persona and their behaviour in mind when choosing where to share your firms content.
Are you going to be running a podcast, creating videos, using Snapchat? All of these will effect what tools you use. A social media channel is a tactic to get your content out in front of your prospects.
A good agency will not just recommend tactics but have a strategy to sit alongside your social media postings.
29. What makes a social media strategy successful?
What KPIs are they going to use to ensure that the social media strategy that they employ for your brand/business is successful? Work with an agency that is focused on your end goal and build a campaign around your KPIs.
30. Do they have experience managing paid social media marketing campaigns?
If you do not want to spend money on paid campaigns then it doesn’t matter if they don’t have experience. However, if you are planning on using the agency to help you with PPC or Paid Social then you will need them to have experience. You will not want an agency that learns whilst running your account.
31. Do they specialize in custom or templated website designs?
A custom website can cost tens of thousands, but can be no more (and sometimes less) effective than a hybrid build.
A hybrid build is a cross between a generic template and a custom website. The hybrid route will save you money, but not compromise on speed, uniqueness or effectiveness.
There are also agencies out there who can build template websites for £150 a month. This will limit your ability to upload unique content and also differentiate your business in the market place.
At TwentyTwo Agency we advise using a hybrid approach but of course in the end the decision is yours.
32. Do they provide mobile responsive designs?
Simple answer to this. The answer needs to be yes. Avoid any designer that cannot make your website mobile responsive.
33. How will the website keep pace with your firm’s developments?
This is something you need to consider when you approach a website designer or digital marketing agency.
Some agencies use a concept called Growth Driven Design.
Your firm’s website is built in the first instance, and is monitored, tested and measured over time. Changes are then made to enhance/build on the initial platform, with a process of testing, measuring and improvement ongoing.
This Growth Driven Design method will mean that you will not have to have a new website designed and built every 18months – 2 years.
34. Do they provide the copy for your website?
Will they be providing the wording for your website or will you be writing it in-house/employing a separate copywriter. Remember to factor this in when you get the quote from them.
35. What do they use to measure the success of your website/get feedback for tweaking?
Check to see if they use Google Analytics or another analytics platform. Analytics will measure how effective your website is at getting traffic, and subsequently converting the traffic into prospects.
36. Do they understand your market?
Whilst it is important that they understand marketing, branding and sales first and foremost, an understanding of your industry is also nice to have.
That being said be wary of agencies that have gone into marketing after being a technician and have worked “in” your industry for many years.
The priority is to have an agency that thinks differently to you and your competitors, so you can get better results. They key to successful marketing is differentiation and disruption.
37. How will they report on progress month after month?
They may provide reports or call you. They may give you weekly updates, monthly updates or even quarterly reports. What is it that you want. Too much and you will ignore them. Too little and you won’t have a clue what is going on.
ABOUT THE AGENCY
38. Do they practice what they preach?
Have you heard of the Cobblers Children who didn’t have any shoes because the Cobbler was too busy making shoes for his customers?
You will see this phenomenon a lot in the digital agency world. If you are looking for an agency to carry out inbound marketing activities make sure this is how they get their clients themselves.
- If you partner with them to blog for you, they should be using this technique to get clients for their agency.
- If you want a Facebook expert, they should be using Facebook. And so on…
39. Do they blog?
Do you want them just to write blogs on your behalf, or also advise you on how to market your firm effectively?
If so, you want the agency to be up to date with the latest blogging techniques, and employing the same tactics that you need to employ. (see the question re: long (Pillar)/short blogging).
40. Are they sharing insights on marketing or just regurgitating “how to’s” that you can find anywhere on the web?
This question is self explanatory. Do you want to work with an agency that is at the forefront of the industry, and aware of future trends, or one who is playing catch up by scanning the web?
41. Are they passionate about their industry, do they live and breathe it?
It is easy to set up a digital agency and start trading. As veterans in the industry we are acutely aware that you have to be passionate about the industry or you will not thrive.
Although this is not a deal breaker, wouldn’t you love to work with someone that loves what they do and lives and breathes it?
42. Are they an expert in what you do, or what they do?
Whilst it is important that they understand your industry, it is more important that they understand marketing. The best way to find out about how expert they are at marketing is to look at their blogs, videos, hear them speak at events and ask them for ideas.
43. What are their core values?
You are going to be working with an agency for years to come. Their values need to be aligned with your values in order for the partnership to thrive.
44. Do you like them?
Whilst you may not plan to have the agency team round for Christmas lunch, it is important not to shudder every time they phone you.
45. Do they care?
This is difficult to quantify. You should however, be able to tell by the way you are treated, and how you are spoken to.
Any agency you work with will have more than one client, but you should always feel valued and important to them.
Once you are clear on the answers to these questions to ask a prospective digital marketing agency you can then decide which agency is right for you.
Whilst you might not ask ALL of these questions, you must do your due diligence and check out their social media, their team and the marketing activity they do in their firm. This will give you a clear idea on how they will work with you, and you can be confident when hiring them to partner with you.
P.S. When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you with marketing and growing your accounting practice:
1. Grab free copy of my book
It’s the roadmap to attracting better prospects, signing higher value clients and scaling your accounting firm. – Click Here
2. Take the test.
It will benchmark your firms ability to effortlessly attract, connect with & convert high value clients using the Pioneering Practice Scorecard. – Click here
3. Join the tribe and connect with firms who are growing too.
It’s our new Facebook community where ambitious founders, owners, and partners learn to attract better prospects, sign higher value clients and scale their accounting firm. – Click here