Many reasons are worth considering when it comes to hiring a digital marketing agency. Some organizations need to completely outsource their marketing, while others should focus on growing their in-house staff. Regardless, the digital marketing realm is always moving and shaking to the point where it’s better to hire an agency. In this way, you’ll stay ahead of the curve.

Like many principles in the world of marketing, digital marketing falls under the trail and error category or what we like to call “split testing.” We believe an agency is not worthy of being hired until they have proven they understand the basics and the mid-level tactics that come from years of experience. It’s our (and their) job to stay current on the trends, which leaves you the opportunity to stay in charge of your business. If you’re debating about hiring a digital marketing agency for your business, we’d like to share a few tips on what you should look for during that hiring process:

Capture the (Red) Flags

1. Lack of experience. Small businesses that will undoubtedly form an agency’s first round of portfolio content. If the agency brings value, referrals will come as a result and they can grow. However, a big brand should search for an agency with at least 8 years of experience, no less.

2. A less than-desirable web presence. Plumbers or mechanic shops with ugly websites are common, but not a digital marketing agency. Why buy services from a company who doesn’t respect their own image?

3. Mis-communication of any kind.You want an agency whose staff communicates well and often and in detail. Yes, they may be busy with existing client projects and deadlines, but if they’re worth their salt, they will respond in a timely fashion. This goes for ongoing communication and scheduling meetings and setting clear guidelines and contracts. Remember you are not a client (yet). Respect their time and they will respect yours.

9 Questions to Ask a Digital Marketing Agency

During the selection process, you will need to interview potential agencies. This can be done in person, by phone, Skype, or email, but it must be done. Make it easy for yourself by making a list of key questions to ask:

1. What KPIs are they focusing on? Measuring KPIs is critical as it proves their rates of success within their campaigns. A good agency will have a concrete way to measure their KPIs and want to learn how they can apply it to your business and its timeline.

2. What experience do they have? How many years has the agency you’re investigating been in business? What is the background of the owner(s) who would be working with your business? Go digging on their social media and the employees on LinkedIn to get a sense of how they hire and how they speak of their agency.

3. What do their reports look like? How often do they report their progress overall to clients? Depending on their size, is it quarterly, monthly or sooner? You want to hire an agency who can offer reports that meet your individual needs.

4. Determining your ROI. It’s important to know your expected return on investment (ROI), and the proper timeline where you can see your return? Ask for projections based on your specific business goals. Planning and seeing projections are smart moves, but seeing proof is even smarter.

5. Where is their client portfolio and matching testimonials? Make sure you can see their successful past and present clientele and their projects. Are there testimonials? Will they provide references? Make sure everything is above board.

6. Does the agency outsource? Do they further outsource work instead of handling it in-house? If by chance they do outsource, who makes up their team of contractors? Whether the agency uses contractors, in-house staff or a mix of both, feel comfortable knowing who they are. Understand their track record as well. A mixture can be beneficial, but the bottom line means hearing from their clients.

7. What do they specialize in? What areas of digital marketing does your future agency specialize in? What should matter most to you is comfortable. If you and your team are comfortable working a few different specialists, go that route. On the flip side, if you are more comfortable using one agency for all your digital marketing needs, pursue that option.

8. The agency’s meetings. How do they meet with clients? What constitutes regular meetings? Which agency contacts attend the meetings? Is their schedule more restrictive or more open?

9. Look at the contracts. How long is the contract term? Is it strictly project-based? How does payment work? What are they promising to deliver to you and in what timeline? What are your rights within the contracts?

Interview as many digital marketing agencies as you can and keep an open mind for each meeting you have. Don’t let the first three who didn’t wow you set you up for a failed fourth meeting. Take note of each agency and the way they handle their business alongside yours as a prospective client. Synergy is key!

Happy interviewing and thank you for your attention!

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