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The end of the year is an ideal time to look at any part of your business, and your marketing activities are no exception. In particular, the end of a year (or quarter) is a great time to review the work you’ve done with your current marketing agency, and decide if you want to keep working together. Especially if you’re unhappy with your current marketing agency’s results, the new year is a great time to switch out stale and tired advertising for new strategies.
If you’re thinking about changing your marketing agency, here’s a few questions to ask yourself:
What range of services are you getting?
- Is your agency simply designing marketing collateral, or are they helping you build a strategy from the ground up?
- How hands on are they–and how satisfied are you with that level of hands-on-ness?
- Do they assist with social media marketing, content marketing, and SEO?
Having a smaller range of services isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but unless you’re willing to make up for that by having an internal strategy (or social media or web) team, you’ll wind up with a half-baked marketing plan (and half-baked results). Assess how willing you are to dedicate internal resources to your marketing efforts, and choose an agency accordingly.
How are you tracking results? (And how transparent are those results?)
- Are you (or someone on your team) in charge of measuring results, or is the agency doing it for you?
- If you ask about the results that you’re getting–increased conversion rates or search engine traffic, for example–do you get a clear answer with real numbers, that outlines what’s working and what’s not? Or do you get a vague answer that doesn’t really tell you anything?
If your agency is in charge of creating a strategy and implementing said marketing strategy, then it’s on them to track the results and keep you posted on those results. Think about it: if they aren’t measuring the results of their efforts, how are they going to change their plan to get better results? How will they know what’s working and what’s not?
And at no point should you, as a client, be in the dark about what kind of benefits you’re actually getting. If you ask for metrics, you should be given access to them. Keep an eye out for agencies that hem and haw about that, because usually the truth is that you aren’t getting any results and they don’t want you to know that.
What kind of results are you getting?
- Are the results you’re getting having an impact on your bottom line?
One trap that nobody is immune to–including some marketing agencies, who should know better–is looking at vanity metrics. Does the number of “likes” on your Facebook page going up directly translate into more money in your pocket? Not necessarily.
If your agency is only sending you metrics like increased social numbers or website visits, ask them to dig deeper. What are the conversion rates? (The percentage of people purchasing a product or signing up for your email list.) Are they going up or down, and by how much? Can we trace those increased conversion rates back to a specific referral source? If they can’t tell you any of this information and they’re in charge of your online marketing efforts, it’s time to find a new agency.
How do they handle you as a client?
- If you ask questions, do they brush them off or answer them promptly?
- Do they take your suggestions into consideration, or at least explain why your suggestion might not work?
As marketing professionals, we’ve all dealt with high-maintenance clients. Some people let that sour their interactions with future clients, which results in behavior that’s not in the client’s best interest–like being resentful or patronizing when clients ask questions or participate in strategy meetings.
And the sad thing is, clients will let themselves be treated this way because they’re worried that they are being a bother. Plain and simple, asking questions and being an interested client is not being high maintenance. Emailing someone at three in the morning and pitching a fit when you don’t have a reply by seven…that’s another story.
How’d your current agency fare after you went through these questions? If you find yourself looking for a replacement in the new year, give us a call–we’re now booking clients for 2015!