May 25, 2021 - Brittany Garlin

7 Essential Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Marketing Agency

If your business is considering outsourcing your marketing to an agency, it can be overwhelming knowing where to start with it all, especially if you’ve never worked with an agency before. On the other hand, you may have worked with an unqualified agency in the past and been burned by a negative experience. So, how do you pick the right one from this sea of possibilities? The Agency Vista team has researched and reviewed the top 7 questions to ask before hiring a marketing agency.

As the largest marketing agency network of 45.8K marketing agencies — we’re experts at uniting forward-focused professionals in the marketing landscape to drive extraordinary results. We’ve recognized the problem and are here to help solve it!

7 Essential Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Marketing Agency

1. How is your pricing structured?

When evaluating if an agency is right for your business, the first question you’ll want to ask is how their pricing is structured. Depending on your budget size, you’ll be able to see if this agency is within that range before wasting any time discussing project details. Don’t invest time in multiple sales calls, internal debriefs and back-and-forth emails before getting a sense of what the project will actually cost.

Larger agencies sometimes have a minimum budget requirement of $20,000 a month to even take a business on as a client — so, you’ll want to establish if this agency is even a possibility for your needs. In an internal study conducted by Agency Vista, 45.9% of social media management services from an agency are priced by a flat fee structure and 27.3% are priced by a flat fee in addition to a percentage of spend. 

Hiring a Marketing Agency | Pricing Social Media Management Services

If an agency responds to this question with, “billable hours” then you may want to consider if that pricing model will work for your business. If an agency is using an hourly rates to quote your projects, dig deep to understand how many hours things will take, and what they will do to ensure they are good stewards of your budget.

2. Do you work with any of our competitors?

Now, if the agency responds “yes” to this question — it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you are looking to work with an agency that is specialized in a specific industry then they will have the expert knowledge and experience in that space to drive key results for your business. 

But the real deal breaker will be how the agency responds to handling competing clients. If the agency separates their staff and keep very tight rein on their creative concepts, then you can you have a better sense if this agency will be able to succeed in your marketing goals. If they don’t provide a greatest answer to this question, then it might be better to try your luck with another agency to avoid a conflict of interest.

Working with an agency that isn’t representing your competitor can provide fresh ideas and no pre-conceived notions that could stand in the way of really innovative marketing strategies.

3. What types of services do you specialize in?

If you try to google “digital marketing agency near me” – you will see hundreds if not thousands of results, each – a great looking agency, awesome website, lively Twitter, or Instagram feed. Urg! Many agencies tend to get drowned out in Google search results by larger agencies with bigger advertising budgets and won’t be able to rank for those keywords.

As you can probably tell picking a digital marketing agency this way is similar to finding a needle in a hay stack. You might get lucky or you may waste a lot of time and money. Agency Vista’s vast network of marketing agencies can be quickly sorted by specialization in a specific industry, location, social network, tool, objective, or service. 

Agency Vista Search

Prior to having this discussion with the agency, take some time to think about what’s really important to the marketing tasks you’re outsourcing. If you’re looking to scale up your Facebook PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaigns, then you may want to work with an agency that has been awarded the Facebook Marketing Partner badge. Agency Vista’s search can be filtered by partnership badges and certifications to help you find the agencies that best suit your needs.

4. What tools do you use for your marketing campaigns?

Marketing agencies can receive various notable accolades and awards from marketing tools to show that they are an expert in that product. Larger businesses tend to outsource more tedious and repetitive tasks, for example CRM integration with Hubspot. For a business looking to outsource this part of their marketing, they would want to work with an agency that has experience in Hubspot and is potentially a Hubspot Solutions Partner

Hiring a Marketing Agency | Balzac Communications & Marketing | Partnerships | Agency Vista

Working with a marketing agency that has partnered with a tool, can open up the door for your business to receive access to partner-specific resources and support. Your business can sometimes even get to test out new features before they are fully released to the public — giving your business a leg up on the competition. 

5. How do you cope with managing client communication and collaboration?

In B2B, it is crucial to find a balance between finding new projects and maintaining the quality of work at the proper level for projects that have already started. B2B customers are primarily people, and each of them is unique. They perceive information differently, and their expectations can vary greatly. For one, the agency must be in touch 24/7; for another, if everything goes well, a monthly report is enough.

Technically, even a small team can successfully manage several projects at once, but everything depends on the desire of the clients to be constantly in touch. So, verify if a digital agency offers specific platforms and processes to manage client communication, reporting and billing, and project management. Moreover, you should understand and feel confident in the proposed approaches. 

A professional agency will:

  • save communication history to always rely on facts and quickly search for information on demand;
  • be as accessible as possible through a convenient communication channel for the client;
  • take a proactive position in communication;
  • take into account the context: even if all the issues are solved in the messenger, an agency should be ready to discuss the case over the phone, if the client, for example, is driving;
  • understand what feedback the client needs and provide it in full;
  • automate the routine.

6. What performance indicators do you focus on, and what kind of reporting will you provide?

Experienced agencies are eager to demonstrate how they track and optimize your marketing performance. Make sure to ask them about the metrics and processes they use to see how they will measure your success. How long will it be before an agency decides this strategy is not working for your business? You may not want to wait until the end of the month to find out in your monthly report that you’ve under or over spent on your campaigns. 

Many clients prefer to have a dedicated account manager continually monitoring the success of your marketing campaigns. However, it’s best to be aligned with what type of tracking and reporting they are familiar with. If they have no experience with offline conversions, foot traffic, and different attribution periods — then you will need to decide if this agency will be able to report on their performance accurately. 

You will also want to connect on how they handle performance reports, do they send it to you in a pdf and you’re left to read through it yourself or do you have a follow-up call to dig deeper into the previous results? Do you have access to see these details outside of the report to “prove” them? 

If an agency wants to own your ad accounts, Facebook pages, and key details about your online marketing — then it’s definitely a red flag. You want to have them manage your marketing efforts, but still be able to check-in at your discretion. 

Reporting frequency: weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, every half-year or year. This all depends on the project and goals. 

7. Who will we be working with on a regular basis? 

At the end of the day you want to work with a team of people that are aligned with your brand values and ethics. You probably know from different work experiences that the people you work with have a huge impact on your day-to-day happiness and success. When you hire a marketing agency, you’re essentially gaining extended teammates.

For marketing to yield any concrete results, the typical minimum retainer is from 8 to 12 months, so make sure these new co-workers are good people who you look forward to collaborating and communicating with over that long stretch.

Hiring a Marketing Agency | Social Fire Media | Team Page | Agency Vista

If you’re reviewing an agency on Agency Vista, start off by checking out their team section – How approachable do they look? What is your gut instinct reporting back? When you have a video call with the agency, ask if you can meet some of the team members who would be working on your project.

These individuals will give you a good idea if they keep up with current trends and are professional. They may even have extra credentials that can be valuable to your business, for example — the agency may not be a Facebook Marketing Partner but they could have team members that are Facebook Blueprint certified. A huge win for your buisness! 

Finding a Digital Marketing Agency in 2021

As a network of 45,800+ marketing agencies, Agency Vista gives businesses the confidence to know that they are working with trusted and reliable agencies only. Our verification process requires agencies to provide detailed information on their business to help guide us in ranking and recommending the top agencies – providing businesses with a trusted resource when selecting a partner.

If you are a business and looking for an agency to help with your marketing efforts, I would recommend starting with Find Agency which will be automatically matched you with top marketing agencies or using our Agency Search where you can browse and compare thousands of marketing agencies on your own.

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