9 Questions Your Marketing Agency Should Be Able to Answer

Many businesses require the services of a marketing agency to optimize their ad spend and streamline their campaigns. However, it can be tough to tell marketing agencies apart just by examining their promotional material.

The solution? Your current marketing agency should be able to pass an in-depth interview with flying colors. Here are 9 key questions that your marketing agency should be able to answer in a clear, reasonable, and data-driven manner.

1. How do you measure success?

This is a fundamental question. So many agencies are more focused on making their clients happy in the short term than providing sustainable solutions to marketing bottlenecks. You need to determine if your prospective partners measure success in terms of "vanity metrics" (clicks, impressions, web traffic, etc., without any context) or in terms of concrete results that will drive the bottom line.

2. What metrics will you report to us?

Closely related to the first question, your agency's answer in this regard will demonstrate whether they have the transparency needed to be your long-term partner. If your marketing agency isn't showing you the right metrics, you'll have no way of knowing whether they're doing a good all-around job. Metrics should always be directly correlated with results.

3. How much of the work will be outsourced?

It's critical that you understand how much of the agency's work will be performed in-house, and how much will be outsourced to subcontractors. Many lower-end agencies tend to outsource their design and videography to other firms while passing on the extra cost to their clients. If the agency under consideration doesn't have the resources or expertise to handle the bulk of their work internally, then you may want to look for a new partner.

4. What is your OTT strategy?

An Over the Top (OTT) strategy is the overall plan to achieve key marketing objectives through the use of OTT advertising. With OTT platforms and services becoming more and more popular, it's important that you understand how the agency intends to leverage these channels to increase your brand awareness and reach. If they can't articulate what OTT is or how they plan to use it, then they are behind the times.

5. What is your process for building audience personas?

An audience persona (also referred to as a buyer's persona or customer persona) is basically a semi-fictionalized profile of buyers that would be your ideal customers. An audience persona keeps marketers from chasing after low-value prospects and helps them to focus on demographics that would be most profitable for the client.

Your marketing agency should have a process in place for developing audience personas. This always involves some form of market research, even if it's just an informal poll to prior clients. If the agency doesn't have a process in place, then they may squander resources in the fruitless pursuit of low-value customers.

6. How do you develop your content strategy?

A content strategy is more than an editorial calendar. It can be defined as the process that “illustrates how the content your organization creates will impact every facet of the business." In other words, it is a workable plan to achieve your business goals by means of content generation and delivery.

Your marketing agency should have a set process to develop a content strategy with each new client. If your agency can't answer this question coherently, then they may not have the required experience to help you reach your goals.

7. Who will be working on my account?

It's important to realize that even though several people from the agency may be present for the first few meetings with you, that doesn't mean that all of them are going to be assigned to your account. In many cases, an agency will assign a dedicated "account manager" to work with a particular client. He or she will be the client's primary point of contact with the agency. You want to know who this person will be and their level of experience and expertise.

8. What experience do you have in my industry?

You also need to understand how well-versed the agency is on the topics that are important to you. For example, an agency that's worked with many law firms in the past will have a significantly different backlog of experiences than one that's worked with manufacturing companies.

It may not be a deal-breaker if the agency has no experience in your industry. Nevertheless, it's still important to ask, so that if nothing else you'll gauge how much detail you need to go into for the content creation process.

9. Who else are you working with in our industry?

Finally, it's important to know that the marketing agency under consideration is not working with your direct competitors. You don't want to partner with an agency that has a major "conflict of interest" between in-house team members, since that could lead to several ugly situations.

The above questions are certainly not the only questions you should ask. However, they are essential questions when it comes to testing out the experience, skills, and capabilities of your marketing partner. If you ask these questions, they will serve as helpful guideposts to point you in the right direction.

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