You just completed a lengthy, rigorous process choosing a digital marketing agency that promises to improve results. You’re eager to transition your existing marketing assets and onboard with your new partner. However, what comes next will set the tone and provide green or red flags for the relationship to come. Strong discovery questions are crucial for marketing agencies to uncover insights and inform future initiatives. Without an inquisitive and structured review process, the necessary symbiotic nature of an integrated digital marketing agency cannot be achieved. With that in mind, some essential questions need to be asked to achieve a perfect partnership.
Marketing Questions: Building a Rapport
Who are you?
Simple and to the point, this is an essential question to pose for a digital marketing agency. Inevitably it will lead to follow-up questions explicitly seeking information on a wide range of topics, including brand voice and core values. However, your marketing agency should attempt to know you at a fundamental level before jumping into the day-to-day marketing strategy. Without a clear view of how your company communicates with the intended audience, ad copy, social media initiatives, and other creative marketing efforts will likely lead to a frustrating review process.
What prior experience do you have with other agencies? What worked and what didn’t?
Experiences, whether positive or negative, shape our perception of the present and future. An easily avoidable issue, prior problems are often projected onto a new agency. By surveying your previous dealings with digital marketing agencies and ascertaining where the relationship deteriorated, history will likely not repeat itself.
How would you like to communicate?
Building trust in an agency-client relationship in today’s virtual setting can be difficult. New generations entering the workforce are more likely to defer to emails or instant messages than pick up the phone or join a video conference. According to a 2021 research paper(1), members of Generation Z (born between 1995-2012) who have entered the workforce utilize email nearly twice as often as a desk phone and 4.5 times as often as video conferencing.
However, your new agency should cater communication to your preferences regardless of who is on the other end of the line. Additionally, protocol before, during, and after meetings must be established. The agency should collaborate with you on setting an agenda, prioritizing items, and then recap the discussion following any interaction. This will ensure any miscommunications are caught quickly before mistakes compound.
Marketing Questions: Integration and Alignment
What resources are available internally?
While there is a reason you have entered into a partnership with a digital marketing agency, in all likelihood, there are sharable internal assets. In a 2019 article(2) for the Journal of Business to Business Marketing, the authors found that many companies uncover valuable marketing resources and expertise in-house. However, “agency creativity is highly valued by clients and is one of the main reasons for seeking outside support. Where an agency is providing a high level of marketing services to the client creativity can be paid for within the overall budget.” While many companies may find tech-savvy employees working internally, it is best to leave producing creative marketing strategies, establishing the proper performance metrics, and leveraging those to measure success in the hands of an agency.
Another consideration is data, insights, and personnel are not required to flow only from the agency into your company. There is value in genuine collaboration and a free exchange of assets in truly integrated relationships. This includes any supplementary data you may accrue that would prove useful for marketing efforts. Undergoing this exchange strengthens the bond and provides the optimum experience for both agency and client.
What competitors have you identified?
Nothing fancy here. Performing a competitive analysis for a client is a process every solid digital marketing agency will complete. How it is performed and what actionable insights are produced will vary from agency to agency. A holistic understanding of the competitive landscape will ultimately shape search engine optimization (SEO) initiatives, paid ads campaigns, eCommerce campaigns, and other overarching marketing strategies. A deeper understanding of what your competition is doing, and more importantly, what you are not, will help funnel new customers into your business model and convert at higher rates.
Who are you targeting?
Concerning those new customers, another fundamental exercise is to detail your target audience. Creating a comprehensive buyer persona will provide feedback on how marketing strategies can produce more qualified leads. Audience targeting is an area where advanced analytics play a vital role. Agencies are equipped to digest vast amounts of data, filter through customized metrics, and then interpret the numbers. Many of the insights from analytics include gaps in projected targeting and tangible results. Finding those gaps and plugging them will help you acquire more first-time customers and increase your consumer base.
What are your differentiators?
After completing a competitive analysis, there should be a strong sense of where you fit in the marketplace. The next logical question is: what sets you apart? These can be both internal and external factors deemed to be differentiators. By defining these differentiating factors, the agency can wield them to improve marketing efforts. These new concrete differences can be useful in a social media campaign or email marketing. Ultimately, these will come to define your brand and set it apart from the competition.
What challenges are you facing?
Not every question and answer has to directly relate to marketing. Extending the discovery phase beyond digital marketing will provide additional insights into the day-to-day challenges you face. These can range from struggling to find workers to supply chain issues. Understanding what additional obstacles impede business will help an agency sympathize with you and provide a little extra motivation.
Marketing Questions: Customization and Measurement
How would you like reports laid out?
Everyone covets data differently. Some individuals like analytics to be simplified and reduced to only a handful of important statistics. Others like a full scope of how particular metrics impact the big picture. Establishing how you prefer to read and digest all this information will simplify monthly, quarterly, and yearly reviews.
What goals have been established?
Every business has set short-term and long-term goals. These need to be always kept in full view. Depending on the stage of your business, you may be employing brand awareness tactics to saturate the marketplace with your product. Or you may have reached a point to focus primarily on revenue-centric strategies and need help formulating eCommerce Shopping campaigns. Regardless of the current state of your company, knowing what the goal is will steer marketing decisions.
What quantitative and qualitative measurements will indicate a successful agency experience?
Key performance indicators (KPIs) can be concrete and abstract. The performance of SEO tactics, paid search campaigns, and email marketing can be measured quantitatively, but how a relationship is operating and succeeding is much more difficult to assess. Putting in place numbers to reach is half the battle when measuring the success of a client-agency relationship. Also installing regular check-ups and progress reports will help stay on track for a long and prosperous partnership between the client and its agency.
Is your Digital Marketing Agency Not Asking the Right Questions?
If you’re interested in partnering with a proactive digital agency that values trust, confidence, and creativity, you can reach out to us at Sales@LeverInteractive.com. We’re looking forward to helping you with your digital marketing needs, in 2022 and beyond.
2Tim Hughes & Mario Vafeas (2019) Marketing Agency/Client Service-For-Service Provision in an Age of Digital Transformation, Journal of Business-to-Business Marketing, 26:3-4, 265-280