With the constant influx of changes in the world of digital marketing, many businesses opt to hire an agency to handle digital presence and strategy on their behalf. While an agency takes a lot of work and responsibility off of an in-house team, it’s important to thoroughly vet agencies as you go through the process of choosing one to work with. Asking questions throughout this process, as well as once the relationship has begun will set you up for success.

It’s critical that the agency you hire to manage your online presence and strategy is both transparent and truthful with their data and communications. This may seem obvious, but if you aren’t intentional about asking the right questions of your agency, you won’t know what to expect from them.

How To Start The Conversation

You know you’ve chosen the right agency when they are an extension of your own business. Below are the top questions we recommend asking your prospective or new agency to start the conversation and ensure you’re getting exactly what you need out of the relationship.

Are management fees included or broken out in reports?

This topic is especially relevant to any type of pay-per-click advertising. Management fees should be clearly broken out in reports, separate from ad spend. As the one paying for services, you should always know which portion of your monthly payment is ad spend versus management fees. If these fees aren’t broken out, it’s more difficult to have a clear understanding of the true cost per click in your market and the investment you’re making in digital advertising.

Will I have access to my Google Adwords & Google Analytics account?

As the partner paying for services, you have the right to have full access to your data at all times. If the agency you’re working with builds off of your existing Adwords account, this should be no problem, as you own the account. On the other hand, if the agency you’re working with builds a brand new Adwords account, having a conversation about the access you’ll have to your data before you officially sign the paperwork is worthwhile.

If an agency isn’t willing to give Adwords or Analytics access right out of the gate, this is cause for concern about the level of transparency you’ll have into the data and strategy you’re paying for throughout the relationship. While you should always have full access, the agency may ask you to not make any changes to the account, which is a standard request in the industry. Double tracking or other adjustments in the account can create inconsistencies or inaccuracies with data tracking and reporting.

How often will they be communicating with me?

This is a great discussion point to ensure all parties are on the same page and expectations are in line. Will you have a dedicated Account Manager that reaches out weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly? If so, will that communication be data updates, or simply check-ins based on your needs and the agency’s needs? Alternatively, is there no proactive communication and you must submit a ticket when you have a question or issue? Either way, it’s important that the level and type of communication is the right fit for you and your business.

It will also be helpful to understand how much participation and interaction the agency will be looking for from you. You’re likely very busy, which is why you hired an agency in the first place, but knowing what this communication cadence looks like from both sides can help you plan and prioritize your own workload.

Will the agency be looking for your approval on deliverables? Will they be asking for weekly or monthly updates on sales volume and consumer behavior from your point of view? Knowing both what to expect as far as inbound communication, and how much of your time they’ll need to keep things moving will set everyone up for success.

What are the goals they are trying to reach?

Is the agency working with you to set goals based on your business needs? This is an important piece to pay attention to, as a conversation to clearly define these goals at the start of a relationship is imperative to success. The agency should be asking you, as the business owner, to provide starting goals and context to help inform the final decision based on their digital expertise. If the agency is setting goals independently, then they aren’t listening to you. Everyone needs to be on the same page about what you’re aiming for and what the plan is to get there.

What metrics will they be measuring and analyzing?

A conversation with your agency representative about what metrics they’ll be focusing on in reports is valuable, especially depending on your level of digital knowledge. Based on the strategy they execute, what metrics do they place the most value on? Is this in line with the metrics you care about and are held accountable for?

What is the timeline for us to see results?

Is your agency promising results in a matter of days or weeks? Depending on your industry, this could be a case of the agency overpromising. While Adwords is a relatively fast-moving train that adjusts to changes fairly quickly, it still does take some time for the platform to account for and optimize new changes. Additionally, the agency needs time to gather a sufficient amount of data to gauge whether a strategy is working or not.

Final Thoughts

No matter what point you’re at in the relationship with your agency, it’s important to address these questions to ensure everyone is on the same page and expectations are met.

This process will not only help you decide if an agency is the right fit for your business, but it will ensure you’re all on the same page as you move forward together. A big piece of holding any agency accountable is ensuring expectations, goals, and timelines are discussed ahead of time.

On the search for the right agency? Intuitive Digital is currently accepting new partners. Reach out and be sure to ask these questions!