Are you considering hiring an ecommerce marketing agency to lead your marketing efforts or to work with your current marketing team to grow your company? If so, you may find these five questions helpful in the selection process.
If you’re wondering if this blog is written by an ecommerce agency, the answer is yes! If you’re wondering how credible it is, or if it will be full of bias, that’s a fair question. Prior to owning this agency, I worked for 15 years in national and global organizations. I’ve hired marketing agencies, worked with multiple agencies, and now I’m on the other side of the fence, working as a partner to businesses. I write this blog with a holistic view from both sides, which I believe is valuable – but you can be the judge of that.
Whether you’ve worked with ecommerce marketing agencies in the past or you’re new to the agency relationship, these five questions can help you vet the right partner for your business.
Ask These 5 Questions When Hiring an Ecommerce Marketing Agency:
1. What are your core competencies – what do you excel at?
The purpose of this question is to determine if the agency is a good fit for the specific services your business is seeking.
There are so many aspects of digital marketing today that most ecommerce agencies have a niche or specialization. Some have a very narrow focus – such as social media management. That’s all they do and they strive to be the very best at it. Others have a broader focus, such as inbound marketing, where they focus on full-funnel marketing and will be competent at things like social media, website optimization, email marketing, and high converting content.
There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. It’s all about FIT. You want an ecommerce marketing agency whose core competencies align with your needs. It might sound nice that an agency says they can do everything, but dig into that deeper because unless they’re a huge agency with a large team of specialists, chances are they’re not true experts in all areas. It can be tempting for agencies to take on work outside of their core competencies to increase revenue, but this may not be in the best interest of the client.
2. Can I meet the person who would be our Account Manager and the team members who would be working on our account?
You may get great vibes from the person you work with during the sales process, and that is definitely a good sign. But that person may not be your day-to-day contact after a contract is signed, and they definitely are not the full team who will be doing a lot of the actual work, like design, writing, social media management, and development.
As you meet team members, ask questions about their experience, what they like about working at the agency, and what their role would be on your account. This should give you a good feel for the agency, their culture, and what it will be like working with them.
Asking to meet the team will also give you some transparency into the way the agency handles client relationships. If they don’t allow you to meet the team in the sales process, this might signal that they have very structured processes that they don’t veer from. This isn’t always bad, but it’s good for you to know as you choose an agency.
3. Can you describe the ideal customer that you work with?
For many ecommerce marketing agencies, the sales process is a time for both the agency and the prospective client to assess and decide if this would be a good fit and a mutually valuable relationship. Just like dating relationships, where couples evaluate their compatibility before taking the next step, an agency/client relationship should be the same.
By asking the agency to describe their ideal customer and the criteria for choosing what clients they work with, you will gain insight as to whether the agency is a good fit for your business. If they describe a business that sounds like yours – great, that’s a good sign, and it shows they have experience handling your specific needs. If they describe something totally different than you, you might ask yourself how well you would fit into their process.
4. What would happen if we get 6 months into a relationship and either you or we are not happy?
Again, there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer here, but the way they respond to this question will give you insight into how they manage client relationships. Listen for responses that indicate frequent and ongoing opportunities to give feedback so that neither party is ever caught off-guard with an upset relationship.
Also, listen to how they would respond to issues should they arise. How involved would you be in the resolution? Would they try to fix the problem internally or would it be a partnered effort?
5. Can I talk with other clients you are currently working with?
Before you sign a long term contract with an ecommerce marketing agency, you should talk to other clients they have worked with for at least six months. I suggest asking for three references and talking to at least two of them. Beware of references who are in the first few months of a relationship. This is still the honeymoon phase and often there has not been enough time to really evaluate the relationship.
Most agencies are willing to provide references in the final stages of the sales process if the prospect is serious about working together.