March 25, 2024

12 Essential Questions to Ask a Digital Marketing Agency

Are you thinking about hiring a digital marketing agency but don’t know where to start, or what you need to know? We understand that it can be hard to understand what’s considered good and bad based on your budget. That’s why, in this blog, we take you through the top questions you should be asking an agency before you sign with them. 

There are a lot of questions that you should ask an agency before signing with with them, but some of the most important things to find out about include:

  1. Do they provide a proposal?
  2. Have they explained what would be included in your retainer?
  3. Do they provide reports?
  4. Would you have a dedicated Account Manager?
  5. How do they communicate with clients?
  6. How do they work and operate as an agency?
  7. Are they guaranteeing performance?
  8. What kind of clients and industries do they work with?
  9. How do they show return on investment?
  10. Are they willing to talk about budgets and retainers?

Read on to learn more about the questions you should be asking when looking for a reputable digital marketing agency.

How to Choose the Right Agency – The Key Questions to Ask a Digital Marketing Agency

If you’re new to digital marketing, it can be hard to know what constitutes a “good” agency. You might not even know the right questions to ask. Below you’ll find some of the top questions to ask an agency to gain a better understanding of who they are, how they operate and how they will benefit your business.

1. Does the Agency Provide an In-Depth Proposal?

When you reach out to a digital marketing agency, you’ll usually be offered a discovery call to better understand your business and your requirements. At this stage, some agencies might offer their services there and then, regardless of whether or not it’s a good fit, and without offering up any detailed information as to what the service would include.

A good agency, on the other hand, would determine whether or not working with you would be a good fit for each party. At Wildcat Digital, we won’t work with you if we don’t think we can add value to your business. 

From here, you would be offered a detailed proposal that includes all the information you need to make an informed decision. At Wildcat, we’ll also schedule time to take you through the proposal and answer any questions you might have.

What’s the Point of a Proposal?

Working with a digital marketing agency is a two-way street; it has to be right for both parties. That’s where a proposal comes in. The agency will spend time reviewing your business and website, and put together a detailed proposal of what they can offer.

You need to know what you would be getting by going with an agency. The proposal should leave you feeling confident that you understand who they are and what they can offer you.

What Should a Proposal Include?

First and foremost, a proposal should be tailored to your business, the industry you operate in, your individual requirements and your KPIs. Additionally, it should provide more information about the agency – who they are, their wider service offerings and how they operate. 

With regards to the service(s) you’re interested in, the proposal should include detailed information about any key opportunities that the agency would capitalise on, initial strategies and information about the type of work that would be done to fuel these strategies.

Proposals should also be transparent and include pricing information. This should include information about packages that the agency offers, and what is included within each package.

Finally, as part of the proposal process, the agency should be clear with you about next steps. 

2. Have They Explained What Would Be Included in Your Retainer?

Transparency is key when it comes to building good relationships. An agency should be transparent about what would be included in your monthly retainer right out of the gate. 

Do you know if they are going to actually execute the work, or if they are simply going to make recommendations? Know what you’re signing up for and ensure that you’re getting good value for your money.

Do you know if your retainer covers all aspects of the service that you’re interested in? For example, for SEO, does the retainer include technical SEO, content, off-site SEO? Will they actually do what you need them to do as part of the retainer, or would it cost you extra?

3. Does the Agency Provide Regular Reports?

It’s important to determine whether or not the agency will provide regular reports so that you can see how the campaign is performing and the return on your investment. It also gives you a better understanding of how the tasks that the agency has been working on actually impacts your website and overall goals. 

What We Report On

At Wildcat Digital, we provide monthly reports and offer meetings with your Account Manager to help you understand what’s happening on your campaign. What we report on depends on what services you use. 

For example, in SEO, we report on:

However, we also include information around your specific KPIs if this isn’t in our standard report. 

In PPC, we typically report on:

Again, we will also include metrics associated with any KPIs that aren’t already included.

4. Would You Have a Dedicated Account Manager?

At any reputable agency, you would have a dedicated Account Manager that is your main point of contact at the agency. 

Why This is Important

Without a single point of contact, it would be easy for an agency to pass you around various departments without getting an answer or solution. Think of an Account Manager as being your representative at their agency. They ensure that any questions and queries are answered by the right people, that work is done according to approved strategies and that everything is working towards meeting your goals. 

What an Account Manager Does

What an Account Manager does day-to-day will vary by agency. However, their core responsibility is being your representative at their agency. At Wildcat Digital, an Account Manager’s duties also include (but are not limited to):

5. Do They Have a Wider Team (Or Do They Outsource Work?)

Following on from the above, it would also be a good idea to check if the agency has a wider team that would be executing work, or if they outsource work. Most agencies have a Meet the Team page on their website where you can get to know the wider team, their specialities and their background. You might also find evidence of a wider team in your proposal or other sales documents. 

The reason to ask about this is that a large number of agencies are actually just one or two people fronting the business and outsourcing the work to freelancers. This can lead to miscommunication, poor organisation, inconsistent work and general frustration.

6. How Does the Agency Manage Their Time?

If an agency doesn’t manage their time effectively you are at risk of not receiving value for money. There are three key factors at play here:

  1. You need to know that each client is being treated fairly and equally, in line with business processes.
  2. You need to know that your Account Manager is spending a consistent amount of time working on your campaign, in line with your retainer.
  3. You need to be confident that your campaign is not going to be forgotten about and that the agency will not prioritise other campaigns over yours.

Most agencies will have processes around time and budgets, however it’s essential to learn more about this before signing a contract.

“We’ve heard many stories about agencies that have great expertise to deliver work, but because their in house processes aren’t great it can lead to quite a chaotic experience for clients,” say’s our Managing Director, Will Hitchmough. “At Wildcat Digital we manage all of our teams time to the hour to ensure that all clients get a fair service month in month out with a high quality of work.”

7. How Do They Communicate With Clients?

Communication preferences differ from client to client, and from agency to agency. As such, it’s important that you ask any questions that you might have about communication during the buying and proposal process.

It’s important that you ask these questions before you sign any contracts as you need to know what to expect moving forward, and feel confident that the agency understands your requirements. As we’ve said a number of times, your relationship with an agency is a two-way street.

You don’t want to get to three months in without having heard anything about your campaign set-up and having no idea what the agency has been doing with the money you give them.

What Good Agency-Client Communication Looks Like

At Wildcat Digital, you have a dedicated Account Manager that is your single point of contact in the business, and is easily contactable during business hours. We try our best to work to your preferences. Whether you prefer quick, regular checks in via a phone call, or longer, more detailed meetings less frequently, that’s up to you. 

We like to speak to clients at least once a month with an update on their campaign and recent performance. However, we typically check in with clients (over various platforms, in line with their preferences) once a week or so for a variety of reasons, including:

8. Does the Agency Provide Guarantees Beyond Their Control?

In digital marketing, there are a wide range of factors that are beyond our control. No matter how much you pay an agency, or how good they are, there are some things that they simply cannot control. There are factors that we can influence, but ultimately, we cannot guarantee performance in a set timeframe.

For example:

As such, if an agency is making claims and providing guarantees beyond their control, this is a sign that they aren’t trustworthy or reputable. Digital Marketing is a long term project and the clients that have the highest level of success are the ones who stick it out for the long term with confidence that the strategy is suitable and sustainable.

9. What Type of Clients and Industries Do They Work With?

It’s worth checking if an agency has worked with businesses of similar size or in the same industry as yours before moving forward with them. It’s not the end of the world if they haven’t, but experience working with similar businesses to yours means that they should be able to hit the ground running.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that success with a similar business means that your campaign will also be a success, but it’s a good sign that the agency knows what to do for businesses like yours. 

10. How Do They Show Return on Investment?

Has the agency spent time getting to know your products and services, and how they work? Have they asked about margins? If not, how are they supposed to justify value or show return on investment (ROI)?

If you take PPC campaigns, for example, we always dig deep into this so that we know where the client’s breakeven point is – not just on ad spend, but on agency fees also. We won’t work with a business unless we genuinely believe that we can add value and show ROI over time. Many will just take your money, even if they don’t see a clear route to success. Before moving forward with an agency, be sure that they can show ROI.

11. Do They Have Real Reviews?

It goes without saying to check an agency’s reviews before working with them, but it’s also important to check that they are real reviews. Many websites have the functionality to simply upload a “review” without anything to prove that it’s real. But, that’s not to say that it isn’t. 

What to check for:

12. Does the Agency Use AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a hot topic in the digital marketing world for a while and many agencies have been experimenting with it to see how it could benefit their campaigns. As such, it’s worth asking if and how they use it.

Why This Matters

Using AI for admin, processes and research is usually perfectly fine, however it can actually be bad for a campaign to use AI to generate content. The truth and extent of this has been debated for a while, however a recent Google algorithm update has confirmed that AI-generated content may be penalised in search rankings.

To perform well, content must be unique, high-quality and clearly show value to users. AI platforms cannot guarantee that the content it produces is unique. Likewise, it doesn’t have the knowledge of the business, it’s products and services that an agency has. Therefore, it cannot create high-quality content that is useful to the user and showcases the expertise of the business.

Deciding on a Budget

One final thing to talk about before you go ahead and sign with an agency is your budget.

Something that we’ve learned over the years is that agencies aren’t like for like; they are all of varying qualities of everything we’ve already discussed in this blog. For this reason, you shouldn’t base your decision on budget alone. Just because an agency charges thousands of pounds per month doesn’t mean that they’re doing everything right. 

That  being said, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. You need to consider whether or not the agency can actually provide real value for what they’re charging. For example, we hear of agencies charging £100-200 per month but, realistically, will they be able to add value for such a small budget – will this budget give them enough time per month to build a strong, strategic campaign?

In these instances, you might be better off keeping that £100-200 in your pocket. It might sound harsh, but no SEO would be better than being out of pocket without seeing any impact.

Digital Marketing Services With Wildcat Digital

Now you know the questions you should be asking digital marketing agencies, why not get in touch with us to see what we can offer you? At Wildcat Digital, we offer bespoke SEO, PPC and WordPress Website services to help you punch above your weight online. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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Chloe Robinson

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