Why do I want digital marketing services?
Before you even shop for a digital marketing partner, you will want to have a clear understanding of your goals. The specific strategies and tactics that you use will need to match those goals. The more specific your goals, the better. The goal of any marketing is more customers, but how do you want to get there? Which of your products or services are a larger priority than others? What does your buy cycle look like?
What does success look like?
How many more customers? How much more revenue? In what amount of time? What key performance indicators will the digital marketing provide so you know if the tactics are on track to get you toward those goals?
What is your specialty?
Not all digital marketing services are the same. Just like remodelers and home builders, there are sub-specialties within digital marketing. Search engine optimization, website development, reputation management, automated email marketing – all require specialization. Who is doing the strategy? Who is doing the work? What is their experience? Pricing should scale with the size of the team and the level of expertise. Well it might be true that your neighbor’s daughter builds websites or makes videos, but that’s not going to provide the same quality of service as a professional.
How do you stay on top of trends?
Digital marketing professionals read all kinds of blogs, follow forums, and belong to online communities of other professionals to stay on top of changes in the field. The actual answer here isn’t very important. But if the person you’re talking to doesn’t have an answer, that is important. For teams of people, inter-communication of this learning is also important.
What software do you use?
The exact answer here is less important than the philosophy. There are some who only find success with specific software packages or actually re-sell software as part of their business model. Most of these softwares work well for specific purposes and can help achieve goals. But software doesn’t provide strategy and a ‘strategist’ that only uses one software is actually a salesperson for that software. Many business owners want a person who is free of obligation to a (possibly expensive) software system. This is up to you, but the question can yield a ton of valuable information for you and your business.
What’s your hourly rate? Ad markup?
Just like any professional service like accounting, law, or consulting, marketing agencies have hourly rates for their services. Many decide not to share this information. BadCat encourages people to ask, not because we’re recommending one hourly rate over another, but because ensuring an agency is fairly applying that rate is important. The bottom line price is important, but it’s easy to ‘fluff out’ a deliverable list with a bunch of impressive sounding work. You want to know how much work you’re receiving for what you’re paying. The hourly rate is the best way to know that.
Ad markup works much the same way. Typically, agencies collect ad spend from a client and set up ad accounts to spend a portion of that on ads after taking their management fee. The percentage of this fee varies wildly from agency to agency. We have commonly seen others at a markup of 10-45%, with or without the client’s knowledge. This question is essential to know where your money is going.
What are your contract terms?
6-12 month terms with auto-renewal are very common, particularly in Search Engine Optimization. This is because many services require more time upfront but are paid with an even monthly fee. Ask about how a contract ends. What type of notice is required to end a contract? Do they transition their work to another vendor or are you starting over with someone else if you end the contract? Just in case you’re wondering, BadCat doesn’t require term contracts.
Do you work with my competitor?
There are some industries where specialty knowledge is incredibly valuable. However, most clients want to make sure that their marketing strategies are private and the work isn’t provided to multiple businesses in the market. You decide how you want the question answered, but asking is the only way to know.
Who owns the work?
Commonly, websites and projects that have ‘no upfront fees’ are sold on a per-month, SAAS model. But this also means that if you stop paying, the website comes down or the project ends. To fully own the work your digital marketing team is doing for you, all accounts need to be created in your business’s name and you need full administrative logins for all accounts and all levels of the website, including domain registration. If you don’t have this, you will need to get it from a provider at the end of the contract. It can be a nasty surprise to think a contract is ending and then find out that it means your website goes down.
How do I see results?
Ask to see a sample report and have the person walk you through the metrics. It’s important that you receive a report on a schedule that is helpful for you and that it can be adapted to your goals.