In our latest episode of Test. Learn. Grow., we are joined by Myles Biggs and Level’s Digital Marketing Lead, Jenna Bluedorn to talk about the 5 questions you should ask every agency.
Rather listen than read? Find out the five key areas that people should be touching on because it’s important for them to understand the company they’re talking to.
Tell Me About Your Experience
Even though this is something that anyone that is looking at a particular agency will do research prior to asking this question, it is still good to ask. Talking to the agency will give you a bigger picture and understanding than your online research gave you. When you are asking about agencies’ experience you want to look for expansion, seeing and understanding what they are particularly good at, but also what they are not.
For example, one of Level’s partners, MNI Targeted Media, specializes in OTT (Over the Top) media. We as an agency picked them because they are experts in OTT, while we handle the OTT reporting, and campaigns while they help to get us the best placements. MNI also gives us the truth about how certain campaigns are performing, which makes them a great partner for us.
Therefore, asking about the vertical experience, team experience, and partnerships are really great places to start when you are laying groundwork for conversations that pinpoint strong areas of expertise, and other areas that you might want to seek out another partner on their side.
What are the Team Structures like?
When looking at an agency, you will notice that every agency will be vastly different when it comes to team structures that consist of professionals with years of experience who are very eager about the work they do. But with that said, how an agency is made up is very important because of certain team structures. At Level, we have cross-functional teams which is kind of like a mini agency within itself that specialize in specific professions from designers, developers, animators that work alongside data professionals to make sure that we are giving our clients the best holistic experience. Which means that in the business that you’re working on, the team’s not constantly being pulled from different places.
For example, every company has turnover. So, for instance an account coordinator leaves a team, there are additional team members that are also trained and have an overall understanding of what needs to be done which helps reduce any hiccups with business and less down time.
What’s Your Pricing?
We believe this is something that should be one of the first things you ask a potential agency. If you get too far into your research on that agency, their pricing model may not fit within your budget. You want to have an agency with a pricing structure that suits your needs. An agency might be a generally good fit, but if they aren’t equipped to work with your budget or capacity, it ultimately isn’t a good fit.
Asking about a pricing model shouldn’t be considered taboo, an agency should be willing to talk about it. Working with an agency is a partnership, so there should be clear communication about pricing and not confusing terms. Both of you should benefit from working together.
Jenna explains Level’s pricing model to potential partners and clients by saying “Hey, this is our model.” “This is what we have, does this fit your expectations of our agency?” That gives the client the option to be honest with us so that if the model doesn’t align with their overall budget, they can part ways without any issues. To best meet our client needs, Level uses a retainer model since we get really involved and it is easier than constantly sending quotes over.
What Kind of Creative Do You Provide?
Not all agencies are creative, for instance, Level Agency isn’t a creative agency, but we do have strong creative from team members, as well as strong members on our creative center of excellence. Level understands that the creative is an essential part of performance. We talk a lot about attribution and missing the cookie. But even if all those things went away, your audience is still experiencing your brand through your creative, they’re experiencing your product. They’re going through a journey through the creative that you’re providing for them.
With performance marketing, it’s big targeting and adjustments, creative is an essential part of it. Some performance marketers may think that it doesn’t matter what an image looks like, if you have the right targeting and right bidding adjustment it will work, but that isn’t the case. At Level we believe in a holistic ecosystem with our creative; whether it’s static, gif, search copy and even a landing page, it plays a large part in overall performance.
Are You Innovating?
When speaking with an agency, a good question is to ask if they are innovating, meaning, is there something that is pushing the agency forward? Like testing, testing betas that is offered by platforms such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others. It’s best to know that the agency is making efforts when it comes to testing new channels.
Innovation is something that needs to happen in marketing, whether it’s branding, creative, performance marketing, and even traditional marketing efforts, it all must be innovative. An agency should be moving forward at a pace as fast as they can, while also staying informed. Data plays a large and essential role in innovation and testing. Making sure that the agency is using KPIs that are relevant to the work that they are doing.
You can start by asking your client what their plans are for innovation efforts in the next six months, if they struggle and are honestly not sure, it could mean that that particular agency may not be the right agency for you. The agency in question should have clear solid plans set in place for testing.
That being said, while thinking through these questions, as you’re thinking through your decision, think of it more as a holistic ecosystem and less as just one end all be all.
Did we miss something? Feel free to share the successes of your organization’s culture or other thoughts on the topic!