Most companies find that adding agency expertise alongside their internal marketing teams can speed up the time it takes to meet new demand and lead generation goals.  What questions should a Marketing Director be asking? How many agencies should one interview? How long should you stick with an agency? What do you do when things are going wrong?

Do interview at least 2 agencies
Make sure you vet two or three agencies before choosing one. Conduct interviews along with at least one other team member who might be assisting in managing the account in order to get another viewpoint.  Ideally vetting at least one agency local to your office will help with face to face interaction, building trust and better communication. Don’t forget to let each agency know that you are conducting interviews with other agencies in order to ensure they are putting their best foot forward.

Keep in mind that choosing an agency that is full-service will help you leverage a larger toolkit to help you get from point A to point B, and can provide a lot of benefits. First, it can significantly reduce your overhead in managing multiple contractors. Second, a full-service agency can bring a larger perspective, as they’ll have expertise running multiple types of campaigns (e.g. SEO, Email, Social, Video, Retargeting, etc) and should have a keen sense for how various campaigns may compliment each other, and bring larger value to your overall initiative. Independent contractors working in a silo will have a much harder time bringing this larger, integrated perspective. Overall, a full-service agency allows you to keep things under one roof for longer periods, providing better value with less headache.  

Do ask for referrals or case studies
Ask for referrals and case studies within your vertical market such as food, technology, medical, financial or travel. This will help you determine if the agency understands your customer base and their pain points. For example, if you are looking to capture leads from SEO and SEM, ask for a plan of action and expected percentage increase in organic search or landing page opt-in forms. The agency should be able to conduct A/B testing for you using services such as https://www.optimizely.com

Case studies are a quick way to see a customers pain points and what benefits came from using a new product or service.  See our case study of Graffeo Chiropractic in Portland, Oregon, where we addressed needs around website design, social media, video, and SEO.

Do ask for what you want, and be transparent
Once you have chosen an agency, share your monthly budget and ask for what you want!  For example, my upfront budget for these projects is “X” and a monthly spend of “X” for SEO, SEM and social media engagement with the ROI goal of “X.”  Those goes are useful for increasing web traffic, building brand awareness and leads. An agency should offer help with a website refresh, testing new landing pages CTA’s, creating mobile customer portals, payment processing to things like building out E-commerce stores.  HupSpot states that 80% of searches are now done through a smartphone so be sure to have the agency review how they can help the customer search and journey on mobile. Request weekly calls with your team and the agency to review project input and data analysis so you have time to pivot to try something new if those new landing pages are not getting enough traffic.

Don’t wait until the last minute to get help
Digital and marketing agencies all have clients and busy schedules just like you do.  Don’t just assume they can launch your new project the same week you call. Also realize the creative process can take a couple weeks at best, and sometimes a month or longer to design an execute on a new campaign.  Plan at least a few months in advance to ensure new marketing objectives are met on your timeline.

Don’t assume the agency understands your persona profiles
Any marketing campaign you develop works best when it has proper messaging and value propositions tailored to your audience.  Agencies you hire won’t necessarily know your marketing personas, customer needs, fears and pain points right out of the gate.  If your marketing department already has developed personas, you’ll want to share those with the agency you hire. Take the time to build out keywords and documentation sharing your mission statement, value differentiators, audience personas and how you are different over your competition. If you need help, your digital agency should offer branding and persona workshops, where they help you develop your customer personas’ pain points and needs, and messaging that will appeal to those audiences. 

Are your ready for a free evaluation of your website or marketing assets?  Contact us here.

Don’t rush it and take a breath
Most importantly, give the agency at least a 3 month window to evaluate new programs before deciding to ditch efforts and move onto another agency. Marketing teams are more likely to get the results they want if they give a new campaign time to percolate. A/B testing and optimization are built into most campaigns, to optimize for what’s working. This is often why more experienced agencies ask for a minimum 3-6 month contract to review results.  Your weekly standing meeting with the agency is a time to review data, results, ask questions and determine when you need to pivot with another strategy. Jumping ship might seem like the best solution after a 30 day trial but it often leads to time and dollars wasted searching for other agencies and starting new campaigns.  The typical rule of thumb is to allow for a 90 day period of testing. After that, you should have enough data to determine if you need to alter a campaign or project.

Conclusion
Whether its web traffic you are looking to increase, or lead generating landing pages, an e-Commerce store, or a mobile friendly web design, make sure you take advantage of all of the stellar work that agencies can offer your team for the new year. Some of the them are sure to make you look like a rock star!  Just remember to:

1. Interview a few agencies
2. Ask for referrals and case studies
3. Spell out your needs and budget
4. Give ample time and plan ahead
5. Clearly outline your audience personas and competitor landscape
6. Plan for the long-game, knowing you’ll optimize as you go

What are YOUR marketing and digital KPI’s for 2018?

Sync Interactive is a full service digital marketing agency offering tailor made solutions for B2C and B2B clients of all sizes. With 20 years of experience, Sync has a large toolkit of digital marketing services that bring results with marketing budgets of all sizes.

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