Questions to Ask When Looking for the Right Digital Marketing Agency

This content discusses the importance of hiring a digital marketing agency and provides a list of questions to ask when choosing one.

By Kenny Goranson ・6 min read
Agency Tips

Digital marketing can be a lot of work. Work that can be both frustrating and expensive if not done correctly. That is why you may want to hire a digital marketing agency. 

Trying to decide which agency to hire can be a daunting task that could end up being a waste of money if you don’t choose the right team for your business.

You may not realize which questions to pose when seeking an agency, so we have taken the time to help get you started compiling a list.

Keep in mind that what worked for one company may not work for you. Your business has its own unique goals that will need to align with the agency you choose.

Before you get started, outline exactly what your company needs from the agency. Looking at where help is needed within your organization is the first step in narrowing your search for a digital marketing agency. 

For example, you may have a decent amount of content, but you aren’t sure how to make the most of it with hashtags and captions or know where to post it to reach your target market better.

Or, maybe you are trying to expand or add frequency to your social media posting or include a wider variety of posts. 

Whatever it is, be sure to have an idea of what your company can handle and where it's struggling so you’ll have a better idea of what you need from the agency you will be paying to help you get the best bang for your buck.

Let’s dig in…

1. What are your specialties/capabilities?

Agencies can't be everything to all businesses and work well for everybody. You need to work with one who can find the best solution for their ideal customers’ needs. Whether that is online entertainment promotions, content creation, or print, you need to find the right organization for the kind of work you want to develop.

Pro tip: On the off chance the person you’re talking to says their team is good at "everything," run!

2. What types of businesses do you work with?

Some agencies may cater to specific businesses, and that’s ok. You need to find the right one for you. Find out who their current clients are, but don’t let it discourage you if they don’t have someone in your industry. Just because they don’t currently have someone in your industry, it doesn’t mean they haven’t had success there in the past.

3. What are your fees?

While we do not encourage you to start your discussion with a potential agency with, “What do you charge?” it is beneficial to ask about the fees they charge once the conversation is underway.

Also, be sure to ask about cancellation fees in the event you are unhappy with the service you receive and want to back out. It’s also helpful to know if there are any fees on rush projects in case you need something done quickly.

4. Who owns the completed projects?

When a project is complete or your relationship with a company ends, so may the work on your marketing campaigns. While there isn’t much you can do about this, it would be nice to know ahead of time what content will be removed and when. 

Having your website and months of social media posts removed because you decided the agency was no longer a fit should be addressed up front. 

Also, learn if you can take content with you if you decide to move on one day. Getting this conversation going will, at the very least, give you a heads up of what needs to be done before cutting ties, so it’s great to get some clarity.

5. What software will you use to help hit our goals?

It’s always great to have an idea of what software is being used to know how your dollars are being spent.

Maybe you’re already familiar with a suite of products, so it will be easier for you to understand how they work if you will be updating the content yourself. 

Likewise, it’s helpful to know the price of the tools they’re using. For example, if they’re using the cheapest option, but you’re paying a premium price, you may be paying a company that is more focused on saving money than producing results.

Many marketing agencies use ShortStack to build campaigns for their clients and/or store data to track analytics. If you find one that doesn’t, let them know they should! You can look at our site, see our features, and even ask us questions via email and chat about our platform; we’re here to help! 

Research the software the company is using as you don’t want to pay someone a premium for using discount products. 

6. If you could only use a single SEO tactic, what would it be?

You may not know anything about SEO, and that’s ok. You aren’t trying to find the answer to the question necessarily. It is more to see the reaction from the agency itself.

According to Evereffect:

This is a question that is designed to get an authentic answer. It’s not a question that most agencies anticipate hearing, and they have to think on their feet. 

Want to know the ideal answer? While they may be able to come up with their favorite SEO strategy or the one they’ve seen get the best results, they should emphasize that there is no “one single tactic” that will solve all your SEO problems.

Throw this curveball question out there to find out if the agency you’re talking to is really worth your time or not.

7. Which social media channels do you plan on using to help build our brand?

The answer here should be related to your target market. If an agency plans to use “all of them,” they are planning to have you pay for unnecessary work.

Why? You can see a boost in business by utilizing a single channel better than spending time posting on as many platforms as possible.

A good way to gauge if the agency you are talking to knows their “stuff” is to do a little simple research in advance. Try to break down your target market by age and gender, then compare those across the platforms to get an idea of how to reach the most people in your target market. While this may not be a single platform, you certainly won’t find that your target market is on EVERY platform. 

8. Do you use marketing templates or original designs?

There’s nothing wrong with using templates if they are customizable, but be sure the agency you hire isn’t churning out a bunch of content in a cookie-cutter fashion. 

The last thing you want is to get excited over your new website or online contest and have it look like a competitor. If they do use templates, no worries. Just be sure to see some examples to show how each business is customized. This is also a great opportunity to learn how creative their team can be.

9. Who do I talk to if I have issues?

While it’s nice to think everything will go smoothly, there will be bumps in the road. Rather than send questions to random email addresses, find out if you have an account manager or if there is a support desk you need to reach out to for the quickest resolution. 

One final bit of advice. While reaching out to different agencies, be sure to avoid asking questions without context. As mentioned, “How much do you charge” is not a great way to start a conversation.

Tell the agencies about what your organization does, its culture, and your goals. Be descriptive in letting them know what you are currently having trouble with and what you feel you need help with to help correctly identify their role. Only then can they get an idea of what is required and determine a price. 

While ShortStack is not a digital marketing agency, we do offer templates and ideas to help you build digital marketing campaigns. 

We also offer custom-built campaigns to help fit your needs. For more information on that, contact our sales team here.

About the author

By Kenny Goranson ・6 min read

Kenny is an integral part of ShortStack's small but mighty support team and brings a lifetime's worth of education and experiences to the table. He holds a degree in Marketing, a master’s degree in Educational Leadership, and has worked for organizations both large and small.

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