Online Brands

20 Critical Questions To Ask A Digital Marketing Agency

How do you know if the Digital Marketing Agency that looks the best, is the best? What questions should you ask before engaging them?

Before you jump into a business relationship, make sure you know who they are, what they do, and what success they have experienced. 

What results can you expect, and how soon?  

A good online marketing agency will not make rash promises about how soon they can get you on to page one of Google results, or how quickly leads will come.

Every situation is different. In a highly dense and competitive market, it can take months to see a shift in SEO results. But the impact of this work will last longer.

Google Ads on the other hand should come relatively quickly. 

How will they measure success?  

Digital marketing is all about the data. Your agency must be results oriented. If you hear, “we’re doing our best,” run like the wind!

All forms of digital marketing can and should be measured. You need to know up front what reporting mechanism the agency uses, how often you will get reports, and what they will tell you.

Also, you need to be able to talk to someone to help you interpret and understand the reports, so that you can make decisions together about the way forward.

What service level will you receive?

Part of the proposal and contract negotiation process should be devoted to determining what your goals are. Then, you can discuss how much work it will require to achieve, and what this will cost.

These things should be clear from the outset. If it is SEO, how many hours will it take to complete the initial technical optimisation? How many hours each week or month will be devoted to creating content and building backlinks? 

Do they have other clients similar to you?  

This is important, but it’s not a deal breaker. Its great if you are a plumber and they already have three or thirty plumbing clients. But quite often the principles are transferable. 

Perhaps a better question is, how diverse are your clients and what results are you achieving for them? The ability to apply digital marketing principles to a wide variety of organisations is something that develops over time.

What do their clients say about them?

Do they publish testimonials? Good. But that’s only half the story. Ask if you can speak to a few clients and see what they say about the agency.

If you contact a few and they rave about the agency, you know everything you need to! If not, well…

What will they need from you?

Depending on the marketing goals and strategies, the agency will have a list of things they need from you:

  • Access to your website
  • DNS details
  • logos and other images
  • Contact details for key staff
  • Product information
  • Target customer profiles
  • Regular information about your business
  • Help with content

Remember, this is an ongoing partnership and you should expect to be involved on a regular basis.

Who will you be working with?  

There is nothing more frustrating than speaking to a different person every time you ring your digital marketing agency.

Even though there may be different people working on your marketing, it is best if you have one primary contact person who keeps you informed.

Marketing, like many aspects of business, is highly relational. Ask them how they will communicate, how often, and with whom? Check how they work with your staff as well.

Do they receive incentives for the services they recommend?  

Are they getting kickbacks for using certain tools or services? Or are they doing what is genuinely best for you? It might pay to check.

What is their process for meeting their marketing goals?

This is a much deeper question than, “how will it work?”

To be fair, some of their process will be confidential, so there needs to be some trust. But in general, you should know what goes into making a Google Ad. It can be helpful to be aware of how they are creating backlinks for your website and who is creating the content.

If they cannot answer these questions, it may be a red flag.

What is their track record with similar businesses to yours?

Similar to the question above, have they created success for similar businesses? A digital marketing agency in Hamilton has had great success with emergency dentists. So when another came enquiring, they were able to reassure the potential client that they were familiar with that industry, and could describe the results their ads generated.

What digital marketing strategies did they implement for their own brand?

This is a very interesting question. And they may not want to tell you all of their secrets.

But if their Google Ads don’t get results, and their page does not appear when you search for it…

Where do they rank on Google?

If they are an SEO agency and they rank on page 2 or 3, it may be because they are not very competent.

If they are good at SEO, they should be in the top few search results for their city or region.

Try it. Search for “SEO Hamilton” or “Google ads Hamilton” – but using your city – and see who you find.

How much will it cost?

This should be clear from the outset. Break it down.

Make sure you understand what is being proposed and ask questions where you need to.

Can they show you case studies or examples of previous work?

Case studies are fantastic. Especially if you can contact the client as well and verify what has been said.

Testimonials are one thing, but a full case study with plenty of feedback from the client paint a wonderful picture… or not, as the case may be.

Can they get you on the first page of google?

This is a great opportunity for an inept agency to announce that they can absolutely get you on the first page.

A better response will be for them to describe the strategy that they think will work, based on past success. They should be able to point you to case studies that back up their proposal.

No one can predict what will happen or how long it will take. Experience can be a good guide, but don’t listen to unrealistic promises. 

Google and her algorithms are always evolving. Computer technology is also evolving and changing the SEO landscape for the foreseeable future.

Only Google knows how their algorithm works. Don’t believe anything else.

What KPIs do they track, and what reporting will they offer?

There are very clear ways to track online marketing.

A good system will be able to show you how many impressions, clicks and leads came from Google Ads or SEO. Google Ads will also have a cost per click.

SEO will use a system to track where keywords rank on Google search results over time. You can also measure backlink profiles and organic traffic.

The point is, expect a very clear set of KPIs from your agency, with regular reporting.

Are your expectations and their promises realistic?

I frequently see websites that look great but have no optimisation for Google search results. The client wonder why no one has found their page and they aren’t getting leads from it.

Well, creating a page in Wix (for example) and optimising it for search results are two very different things.

It is not hard to create a page from a template. SEO on the other hand is a highly technical skillset that few know about or understand.

So it needs to be understood that SEO takes time. Google Ads on the other hand are fairly quick. SO your expectations need to be that it will take longer than you expect and be more ifficult that yo expect. Don’t be unrealistic.

On the other hand, the agency also needs to be realistic. if they promise the world in 5 days… run.

What if you’re not satisfied with the results they achieve?

Make sure you know up front what your options are if you do not see the results you expected within a realistic timeframe.

What do you get to keep? What belongs to the agency? Can yo continue their campaign under your own steam or is that their intellectual property?