June 15, 2021 - Brittany Garlin
The transition to a new marketing agency can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! At the end of the day, business is business — if you don’t feel a good connection to your current agency, whether it’s due to a difference in values or stagnant results — it’s time to change. When it comes to making professional relationship decisions, it’s best to be more objective and focus on the numbers. But, the goal should be to end this professional relationship on a positive note to assist in a smooth transition for all parties involved.
For marketers, making long-lasting relationships and nurturing them is a given. Mutual respect allows marketers to do their jobs exceptionally well. Clients and marketers need to have a healthy working relationship to achieve mutual goals and deadlines. Understanding where there are gaps and working to bridge them and resolve issues is the best way forward. Unfortunately, this ideology and process aren’t followed everywhere, and many digital marketing agencies cannot fulfill their end of the bargain. Once this starts happening, clients start losing trust and faith in the agency, and they will probably start looking for other agencies that can deliver the end results.
There are many reasons businesses might need to transition to a new marketing agency. Most of the time, it is cost and budget-related. However, sometimes it is also performance-based due to other personal issues. While this is not common, there have been instances where companies have had to immediately transfer to another marketing agency.
Before cutting all ties and transiting to a news agency, you should make sure you have all the facts from the marketer. Evaluating the agency’s performance with the internal team and then the marketers will help bring everything into perspective. If you and the agency can identify areas of weakness or spots in the marketing strategy that need further work, you can save the relationship. However, if the performance of the marketing agency has been slipping despite numerous attempts to fix the issues, it would be best to look for another digital marketing partner.
If goals, deadlines, expectations, and milestones aren’t communicated clearly, there could be a complete breakdown of the professional relationship. This breakdown could also lead to delays in submissions and postings, leading to an overall increase in costs. For the people working in the business and digital agency, there could be frustration, irritation, and tempers might flare. Miscommunication can lead to unnecessary arguments and conflicts in understanding.
Digital marketing agencies always have a point of contact (POC) for clients. The POC helps organize the data and present it to the client. For a business owner, the marketing project spokesperson from the digital marketing agency is the POC. If the POC is disorganized, falsifies information, or ignores emails and calls, this could lead to poor project management. Communicating effectively about each step and milestone of the marketing campaign helps keep everyone in the loop, which helps avoid costly mistakes and deadlines.
Businesses need dynamic solutions to their marketing campaigns. Most industries experience changes that may or may not lead to rapid growth. Companies need to adapt marketing strategies to connect with target audiences and keep everyone engaged. As the business keeps evolving to adjust to the changing market conditions, so does the marketing agency. A digital agency that is rigid and does not have flexible marketing plans cannot accommodate changes easily. If the digital marketing agency is not dynamic, the business and brand will suffer and will find it challenging to scale up.
An increase or decrease in budgets can also lead to a need for a new digital marketing agency. Most marketers have a budget set up for all the posting, ad sales, promotions, campaigns, and events they conduct on behalf of the brand. However, if the business has marketing budget cuts, they may need to find a new digital marketing agency that can deliver the same results in the new budget. Some companies also slash costs due to the return on investments (ROI) based on the performance outcome of the marketing agency.
Most digital marketing agencies do not usually have too many management changes. If this happens, there may be a communication gap between your business and the agency. The new management should be willing to work with the same terms and conditions as earlier and strict to the signed contractual obligations. If they do not, you could consider transiting to another digital marketing agency.
As the brand starts growing, the team size also increases. With the increase in teams and work, many companies prefer to hire in0house marketing teams. Many times it is not the fault of the marketing agency at all. In this case, large businesses choose to conduct most of the work in-house and only outsource a few marketing functions to a new digital marketing agency that charges less. Most of this work usually revolves around conducting marketing research and content creation. In-house marketing teams prefer doing the postings, feedback, and audience communication themselves.
Cultural misalignment is one of the most common causes for businesses to transition to a new marketing agency. Cultural misalignment is usually about a lack of transparency and honesty. Sometimes it also relates to how the agency and business look at success differently. For many agencies, seeing a higher engagement is enough of a win, while companies prefer to see a higher return on investment (ROI). While both are correct, there could be a disconnect between the business and agency, leading to misunderstandings between teams.
Once you’ve decided to transition to a new marketing agency, there are a few things you should consider to end a client relationship in the right way. Businesses planning the transition can benefit from these valuable tips.
Before you start negotiations with a new marketing agency, it is best to look over and review the earlier contract. The review of all NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements), legal documents, ownership of Intellectual Property, and any other signed agreements should be reviewed with a legal advisor’s help. Many times these contracts are lengthy and may have some hidden clauses. It is best to tackle each of these clauses one by one and ensure that the new agency does not add these hidden clauses. Suppose your business is under a contractual obligation or is in a time-bound agreement. In that case, your legal advisor may assist you with the next steps – termination penalties, fees, licenses, and other requirements.
Simultaneously, you should have the legal counselor draft agreement papers for the new marketing agency based on the experiences and learnings from the existing agency. You should also ask your lawyer to include contingencies in the new contract if the new partnership goes south.
Your company should own all the contracts and online tools used for marketing campaigns and strategies. Businesses often prefer using pre-existing contracts and software owned by the agency to save money and not purchase the tools. If this is the case, you should start migrating all the business marketing collateral on the company cloud through licensed online tools, directories, and software.
Once the engagement agreement comes to an end with the existing digital marketing agency, you would need to request all the data, and it might just be delivered in an Excel dump instead of neatly arranged and analyzed information. It is best to start this process as soon as you consider hiring another agency. All the contracts should be owned directly by the company and not the digital marketing agency. You should also ensure that this does not happen with the new marketing agency and should keep all the contracts on the company name.
Most legal agreements and contracts have a notice period before termination. Your legal aid should help you with this information. Most online marketing agencies have a 30 or 45 days’ notice period, which allows for a transition period. Before serving the notice period, it is best to check the absolute time limit and duration mentioned in the existing contract. Without a notice period, the agency may constantly guess where to place the resources since they may be unsure. Serving a notice period helps your business and the agency enter a cordial transition phase, where all the work is delivered.
You can also use this time to safely transfer the resources, collateral, and leftover campaign material to the new marketing agency as a business owner. Let the new agency know that there is a transition going on, and the marketing strategy will have to be adjusted accordingly. The smoother the notice and transfer of documents, content collateral, and design, the better it is for the business and the agencies.
Before the transition from the existing agency to the new one; it is best to ask for all content collateral – images, videos, presentations, reports, blogs, and so on. since all the content is created for your brand (and paid for). This belongs to your business, and you should request the agency to transfer all the material to you before the end of the notice period.
This material list also includes dashboards, reports, email addresses, relevant passwords, domain names, and web ownership. Complete ownership of all marketing accounts, including the business social media pages, business community accounts, forums, and other online accounts, should be handed over to you. All these accounts hold historical data that can be extremely helpful in the future (social media accounts also offer analytics and stats). Not having this data handy can be another cost since you would have to start all over again with the new digital marketing agency.
Since there are so many platforms for analytics, it is best to keep track of all the data that comes in from the existing marketing agency. All this analytical data should be transferred to the new agency for smooth functioning. Analytics accounts give a real insight into how the marketing campaign is faring and which pockets are not doing well. Google Analytics is one free tool used by most agencies, but some use paid ones and add those to client sites. Apart from the analytics tools, you should also seek control of the customer relationship management software (CRM) and accounts and any other marketing software.
All these accounts and analytics help keep track of the customer journey. Since most customer journeys are mapped in great detail, the accounts and analytics will help the new agency understand the customer persona faster.
Solution design references are your setup documents about the existing marketing strategy. You should request all the documentation about the design, implementation, campaign setup, and account setups. Most digital marketing agencies keep very detailed documents about the solution design reference in case of any internal team switches. These documents help new account managers and team members understand the ins and outs of the brand and the marketing strategy.
While almost all images, pictures, explainer videos, reports, and other data can be decoded; you should ensure that you also get the contextual data files from the current marketing agency. You should set aside some time to understand and gain ownership of the contextual data, coded patterns, customizations, and decisions that require special consideration. Some items may also be codified and may need a key to solve or understand. You should set up a meeting with the outgoing agency’s account manager, understand all these terms in detail, and gather all the information.
You would also need the contextual data to understand email segregations, report generations, and any contingencies or backups. All of this data and knowledge will be required to smoothly transition your business from one marketing agency to another.
With so many marketing agencies, there can be confusion over which to choose. While making a selection, you should ensure that the next agency has a perfect culture and is the best fit for your business goals.
As we said above, businesses need dynamic marketers who adapt the marketing strategy to change. Always select a dynamic marketing agency that will adjust the marketing strategy to fit the target audience’s requirements.
It is best to go with an agency with experienced team members that can quickly take over from the outgoing marketing agency and adapt the existing marketing strategy and improve it to make it better. Professional marketers and content creators will suggest ways to improve the system to get a better outcome.
When selecting a new agency, always opt for one who has a past record of achieving all the goals, deadlines, submissions, and posting schedules. Marketers like these are always looking for new plans to improve engagement, bring relevant and engaging content to the audience, and enjoy the challenge of delivering outstanding results.
Most business transitions are tricky. While it does get better with a bit of adjustment, the initial period is a learning stage for everyone. It is best to make new strategies, contingencies, contracts, and agreements based on previous experiences. Always remember, before exiting the existing contractual obligations with the outgoing agency, you should gain control of all assets, tools, materials, content collateral, strategies, reports, instructions, and the solution design reference and contextual data.
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