So you’re thinking about hiring a digital marketing agency?

Great! A digital marketing agency can do wonders for your company, from helping you develop a website that works for you to building a strategic inbound marketing strategy that will draw in and convert the leads you want most.

When you hire a digital marketing agency, you’re partnering with a team of experts who are all focused on growing your business. That’s a pretty cool partnership, but it’s also one that takes a lot of work.

If you’re considering hiring a digital marketing agency, or if you’re in the process of hiring a digital marketing agency but aren’t sure how to make a final decision, this blog should help. Here are 8 questions you should ask a digital marketing agency before you sign on and hire them:

Can You Show Me Case Studies or Examples of Previous Work?

When you’re looking at digital marketing agencies, your first step should always be to ask for references, case studies, and examples of previous work.

It’s important to see what they’ve done so you can gauge if they have enough experience in your industry and if their strategy can deliver the results you’re looking for.

Digital marketing agencies are everywhere, and no two are exactly the same. Some just design websites. Others focus specifically on social media or PPC. Still others offer a comprehensive marketing strategy that can tie your website, email marketing, paid advertising and inbound and content marketing strategies all together into one.

But all of these digital marketing agencies will tell you they can get you the leads you want, for less. Make sure you’re hiring an agency that walks the walk. Ask to take a look at some of their previous work through case studies, or see if they’ll walk you through some of the projects they’ve done in the past.

The more you know, the more comfortable you’ll be making a decision to sign a contract with that agency.

What Tools Do You Use?

Digital marketing is a tool-centric industry. Even the best marketers rely on third-party optimization tools to improve campaigns and ensure their strategies are delivering the very best results possible.

Before you hire a digital agency, ask what tools they’re using and what tools they plan to use to develop your digital marketing strategy further. Then ask yourself if those tools make sense for your overall digital marketing goals.

For example: If your goal in working with a digital marketing agency is to align your sales and marketing teams, and your digital marketing agency doesn’t use a CRM, isn’t familiar with CRMs, or doesn’t plan to teach your team how to better use a CRM, they might not have the best tools to achieve your specific digital marketing goals.

If you’re looking for SEO help, your digital marketing agency should have a team of Google Ads, Keyword Planner, and Bing Ads professionals, who also use supplementary third-party tools like SEMRush, Moz, Buzzsumo, Ubersuggest, or Infinite Suggest to build quality campaigns.

Even if you’re not familiar with some of the tools that the agency mentions, it’s still important to ask. You can always look them up later to make sure they’re legit. It’s more important to know that your digital marketing agency isn’t flying by the seat of their pants than it is to admit that you’re not familiar with every tool on their list.

Can You Get Me On the First Page of Google?

This is an important question for one reason — any agency who answers “yes” to this question is one you might want to step away from.

No matter how good your digital marketing agency is, only Google understands how Google’s algorithm works, which means a first-page ranking isn’t something a digital marketing agency can guarantee.

If they respond with an answer like, “well, this is what we’re going to do to try and get you on the first page,” and go on to give you specific strategies they’ll use to boost your company’s ranking potential, you’re probably in good hands.

No one can guarantee a first-page ranking, but there are a lot of quality digital marketing agencies who have strategies that will certainly try. It’s just good to know that any agency who promises you a first-page ranking is starting your relationship with a promise they can’t keep.

What Goals Are You Setting for My Project?

There’s nothing more telling about a digital marketing agency than their goals for your project. What you’re looking for are SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

Here at HA Digital Marketing, we like to break our client’s goals down based on thorough research we’ve completed by analyzing their site, their site traffic, and their industry. We look at existing traffic, existing conversion rates, and more, to determine how much we can reasonably improve in a specific period of time.

One of our SMART goals for a client might sound something like this:

Increase organic site traffic to 2,000 monthly visits by 2020

  • Specific: we want to increase organic site traffic, specifically.
  • Measurable: our goal is set at a number of at least 2,000 monthly visits. It’s easy to tell when we reach and when we pass that goal.
  • Attainable: the attainability of a goal will change depending on the client’s existing site traffic. If this client was averaging 1,000 to 1,500 monthly organic site visits, then 2,000 is definitely an attainable goal.
  • Relevant: If the client’s overall goal is to increase web conversions and leads, then a boost in site traffic is how we can make that goal achievable. That makes it a relevant goal.
  • Timely: We’ve specified exactly when we’d like to achieve this goal.

When you’re talking to digital marketing agencies, these are the types of goals you want to see.

Any company who says, “we’ll grow your traffic and get you qualified leads”, might do that, but without SMART goals, it’s hard to say if they’ll actually deliver the quantity and quality results that you’re looking for. To effectively measure your progress and theirs, you need SMART goals.

When Can I Expect to See Results?

This is another question where the way an agency answers the question is more important than how they answer it.

If you’re hiring a digital marketing agency to do any kind of content marketing or SEO work to boost your organic ranking, you have to remember that you’re not going to see immediate results. If you’re working with a digital marketing agency who advises otherwise, you might want to take another close look at their strategies.

Because of the way that organic search results work, there’s no way to guarantee quick results. Search engines need time to crawl your site, and then index it based on the information they find. That means your organic search results can take weeks and even months to seriously improve.

That said, if you’re hiring a digital marketing agency to handle both organic and paid search efforts, they can leverage paid search and social media advertising campaigns to deliver you more qualified traffic immediately. But it’s important to remember that these are different results than organic search results.

With paid ads, you'll start seeing the traffic you want immediately, but you'll be paying for it. This is a great short-term strategy, while you wait for your organic search rankings to catch up, but it's not a complete solution. Click To Tweet

Bottom Line: Ask the digital marketing agencies you’re considering hiring how soon you can expect to see results. If they say “immediately”, ask what they mean by that, and also consider walking away.

If your digital marketing agency takes the time to explain how exactly you’ll see results, and why your organic search results will take a little time to come to fruition, you’re probably in pretty good hands.

What KPIs Do You Track, And What Reporting Will You Offer?

A digital marketing agency is a business partner. They’re not a set and forget solution. Since you’re going to keep sending them money for a monthly retainer, you want to know where your money is going, and what it is doing for you.

That’s why you need to ask this question: you need to figure out what KPIs (key performance indicators or metrics) they’re tracking, and how often they’re sharing those results with you.

Most quality digital marketing agencies track a variety of KPIs ranging from metrics on your site to your search engine rankings to your PPC campaign’s overall performance. The metrics they measure will depend on your company’s unique goals, but you have to make sure, before you hire them on, that they’ll be measuring KPIs that are relevant to those goals.

For example: Let’s say your biggest goal is conversions. You already have the traffic you need, but you’re not seeing the conversion rates you want.

While your digital marketing agency will still be tracking your site traffic, they should place a higher priority on monitoring KPIs like click-through-rate, landing page traffic, content offer downloads, and, of course, your conversion rate.

If they’re focusing on things like your social media engagement and awareness, while those are important metrics, they aren’t the most relevant KPIs for your specific goals.

The second part of this question is what reporting will you offer?

You need to see your results regularly, so you understand what’s happening, what wins you’re seeing with your new digital marketing agency, and what challenges your agency and your strategy might still be facing.

In most cases, a regular monthly report is best. It gives you a clear picture of how your strategy is performing without overwhelming you with daily traffic stats of a year’s worth of data. A great digital marketing agency will also include suggestions and insights for moving forward in your reports, too.

Regular reports keep all teams on the same page, which is a huge part of partnering with a digital marketing agency. Speaking of, here’s your next question:

Who Will I Be Working With?

No matter what digital marketing agency you’re working with, you need to have at least one contact person for your digital marketing project, and it’s probably not going to be the salesperson you’ve been working with so far.

Every digital marketing agency is different. Some will have account managers, some will have project managers, and some favor a more all-hands-on-deck approach where you have a direct and immediate line to most of the team members working on your project.

No matter what digital marketing agency you’re considering hiring, you can ask to meet with, or at least get an introduction to, all of the people who will be working on your project.

This question does a few key things: it gives you a better idea about the type of company you’re working with, it establishes a relationship with the team handling your project going forward, and it gives your digital marketing agency’s team a better idea of what you and your business are all about.

If for some reason an agency doesn’t want you to meet the team or seems cagey about who exactly will be working on your project, you might want to dig a little deeper. Transparency is the key to hiring a successful digital marketing partner.

What Will You Need From Me?

We’ve made it to the final question. “What will you need from me?”

This is far and away one of the most important questions to ask before you hire a digital marketing agency. It gives you and the agency a better picture of what working on this project will like for both parties.

Your digital marketing agency is a team of experts in digital marketing. Though they should have a good working knowledge of your industry, they're not the experts in that — you are. Click To Tweet

A great digital marketing agency will tell you that they’ll need your feedback. They’ll need to know that they’ve correctly identified your target buyers, they’ll need to know that the content they write for your website is right for you, and ultimately, they’ll want your participation.

A digital marketing agency that says you can totally forget about marketing for the rest of your engagement isn’t a digital marketing agency.

Your feedback is essential to the success of your newly implemented marketing strategy, and without open communication between both teams, you won’t be able to optimize your strategy and positioning to reach those goals you set at the beginning of your engagement.

If you’re looking for a hands-off digital marketing agency, that’s awesome. It’s just good to remember that no agency can function completely without your input and feedback. And if a digital marketing agency says you won’t hear from them again after you sign the contract, you might want to dig a little deeper.

A digital marketing agency, on the whole, wants to partner with your company to help you grow. Their goals are your goals —  they want to increase the number of qualified leads you’re getting, so you can increase conversions, make more sales, and increase your revenue.

If you’re having trouble finding an agency who will work with you to achieve these goals, let’s talk. Evenbound is a true digital marketing agency —  we handle everything from web design, SEO and content marketing to paid advertising, email marketing, and social media. If you’re looking for a partner who will work on your behalf to grow your company strategically, we can help.

Get in touch with our team today!

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