Choosing a new digital agency - what you need to consider

Choosing a new digital agency - what you need to consider

Deciding whether you keep the agency you’re currently with or going with a new one is always going to be a tough decision to make, especially if you’ve invested many years working with one who knows your business inside out.

Written by

Gary Nissim

Published

16 February 2017

Categories

Marketing

Before you engage ...

Before engaging an agency, it’s important to have considered the following:

  1. The specific problem you want them to solve, e.g. ‘We want to increase our organic search traffic’, or, ‘We want to reduce our CPA by X amount’. How you measure the agency's performance needs to come from a verifiable objective/goal of the marketing activity you’ve chosen to work on. This objective could be the ideas mentioned above or even any of the following:
  2. Branding & Awareness
  3. Traffic
  4. Leads
  5. Sales
  6. App Downloads
  7. Your campaign or project budget
  8. A list of services your decided agency should be working on
  9. How your in-house team will work with the agency and how the two teams will coordinate with each other

If you’re clear on all the above points, you should be ready to start researching and shortlisting a new agency. But your work doesn’t stop there. Here are a few things you’ll still need to be thinking about:

Agency speciality

Every agency will tell you they’re the best at what they do. And why wouldn’t they? But how do you decide which ones are the ‘real deal’? The first thing you need to consider is the types of clients they’ve worked with previously. Ask them for case studies that are most relevant to what you’re trying to achieve, as well as testimonials from other clients they’ve had. Do they have the right qualifications to operate within your business niche? Have they been recognized or participated in industry events, or have they received any accolades? Do they promote themselves as thought leaders, and do they publish insights about the latest trends and learnings from their experiences?

Contract duration

It’s always recommended that if you decide to collaborate with any agency, you commit to a long-term partnership (unless it’s project-based, of course). Working on a short-term basis makes no sense when your marketing strategy will most likely be 12 to 18 months. We do our best in the pitching process to do our homework on potential clients to ensure a lasting, successful relationship. Still, nevertheless, it’s always essential for you to read the termination clause.

Decide an agency type

Agencies come in all shapes, sizes and forms. It’s important that you select one which fits in with your organisation’s goals and specific requirements. They may be very specialised, working within a niche space or a very generalized operation with varied capabilities in a ‘full-stack’ fashion. For example, a digital creative agency might focus on web design and development and offer SEM services, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re qualified enough to do your SEM work. If you have a complicated or extensive paid search campaign in mind, your agency would need to be more experienced in implementing such a strategy and have SEM capability at its core.

This is particularly the case in digital marketing, where technologies and trends are changing on a daily basis. So make sure the agency you’re planning on choosing understands and has experience in all the latest.

Process & Procedure

Ask for an overview of your potential agencies’ strategic process. This will help you conceptualize how the agency operates and allow you to ask any questions, which will overcome confusion in the transition between the old agency and the new. Some example process and procedure questions could be: what does the pre-campaign process look like? Or, how is the ongoing relationship managed, such as with tasks, work-in-progress meetings (WIPs) and reporting?

Communication

Communication is the key to minimizing risk and optimising outcomes. Some agencies will use a communication chain whereby you’ll communicate only with the account manager or director. While others utilize a system in which you communicate directly with the person executing tasks. The communication style will generally be dependent on the size of the agency. The best way to keep channels of communication open, no matter the structure, is to be transparent – talk about your long-term objectives and give regular feedback.

The whole process of onboarding a new agency shouldn’t be too different to looking for your next employee to hire. They should be considered part of your team, not a third-party extension. Work out who in your team will deal with the agency most and bring them along to pitches. Doing this guarantees that you and those working closely with the agency are comfortable with the decision.

A final thought – choosing an agency is similar to getting married. Don’t rush into it; take your time researching your options and make sure you’re 100% comfortable with your choice before finalising it.

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Written by

Gary Nissim
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