You’ve decided it’s time to select a digital marketing agency. Where do you start? It can be quite a challenging process. Do you go with recommendations from friends? Do you surf the websites of a variety of local agencies? Do you search Google reviews?

It’s an important decision and you don’t have the time or money to make the wrong selection. You need to make sure they will be a fit for your organization, your needs and with you. We recommend these 5 key questions to help you cull the field when selecting a digital marketing agency.

1. How has the agency evolved over the last 10 years?

Many things in our work and personal lives have evolved over the past 10 years. We now have smartphones and tablets, we text more than we talk, we can drive electric cars, we can control the lights, temperature and music within our homes from our phones miles away. Many of us now have flexible work hours, we have collaboration spaces at our offices and coffee shops that serve as offices away from the office.

What does this have to do with selecting a digital marketing agency? Quite a bit actually. You’ll want to be sure the agency you select has kept up with our ever-changing world. Have they integrated the latest technologies? Are their processes reflective of the ‘light-speed’ of how business is done today? Do their client solutions reflect the innovative thinking of today? Is their client list reflective of your organization’s needs?

2. What differentiates the agency from their competitors?

With this question, you are asking the agency to share how they see themselves as different from their competitors. How are they are unique and will they help your organization? Seek out actual examples – it could be in how they approach projects, how they staff their teams, how they stay current with new technologies, tools, and knowledge.

Ask what they believe are their top 5 capabilities; do they align with your needs? Ask them to share the variety of positions and personnel experience within their organization (their response should be more than just job titles). Do they have enough staff to quickly respond to your needs, or will you have to wait till ‘they’ have the time for you. Do they have the appropriate skill sets for your needs?

3. How does the agency manage their client relationships?

This is a very important question as it opens the door for several other questions. How will you work together? Who will be managing your account or project? Who will be doing the actual work? Are they the same person? What is their process for communicating progress, updates and for gathering feedback and approvals? Your goal is to have a clear understanding of roles, responsibilities, and expectations as well as confidence in their execution.

Additionally, you will want to have a clear understanding of their cost and accountability processes. There are a variety of fee structures typically offered by digital marketing agencies. How do they calculate estimates? How do they differentiate estimates and quotes? You will also want to understand how they manage ‘project creep’. Many projects can experience this situation. Ask them to clarify how they communicate to avoid unexpected financial surprises.

4. How will the agency come to understand my business and marketing needs?

Selecting a digital marketing agency is similar to hiring a new employee or team member. You will want an agency with similar values that will align with your organization’s culture. How do they typically work? Do they appear to want to collaborate and engage? Will they be fun to work with? Will they challenge your thoughts in a positive manner? How approachable do they appear to accepting your ideas and feedback?

Ask them to outline what the first 60-90 days of your partnership will be like? Do they have a specific ‘on-boarding’ process for new clients? What specific activities will they undertake to gain an understanding of your organization? Who from their team will be involved? Ask for examples with other clients.

5. What percentage of the agency’s clients have been with them for over 3 years? 5 years? 10 years?

This question will help you to better understand if the agency has the necessary processes in place to manage on-going client relationships and needs. Are they able to evolve and grow with their clients? You may also want to inquire as to the range of project size, are their clients typically of all one size or is there a variety?

Plus, two bonus questions!

1. What should I ask that I haven’t?

It almost impossible to identify all the questions you should ask while selecting an agency. Basically, you’re asking…what questions have I missed?

2. Who do they identify as their best and worst type of client and why?

Most all of us have experienced both good and frustrating relationships. This is an opportunity for you to better understand their culture and values. Ask for succinct examples of both types of clients – this can help you and your team work more efficiently and effectively with them.

Always evolving to satisfy your needs, DVS is a full-service Digital Marketing Agency with a strong focus on Design + Innovation.  What are your communication challenges? Get in touch – we’re great listeners.