If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve probably worked with a few different interactive marketing agencies. How many times have you had this experience – you’ve interviewed agencies and finally chosen one that you’re certain is the best agency to meet your interactive marketing needs. Six months later, your website has virtually disappeared from search results, the agency is dodging your calls, and with half a year left on an over-priced marketing contract, you’re wondering why you ever signed with this agency in the first place.
There’s a very simple answer to that question – marketing agencies are experts at presenting companies in the best possible light (especially their own). As a business owner, that leaves you with a challenge: you need to figure out how to choose the best interactive marketing agency without getting taken in by the hype.
Here’s the answer to your problem:
Research each interactive marketing agency prospect like your livelihood depends on it.
Because in a very real sense, it does.
Before signing with an interactive agency, take the time to research them thoroughly. Pursuing the four avenues below will get you started. This won’t guarantee that you’ll have a profitable relationship with the agency you choose, but it will certainly make it more likely.
Examine each interactive agency’s website
A careful examination of an interactive marketing agency’s website will reveal their focus and their capabilities. What they don’t say is just as important as what they do say. For example, if the agency doesn’t mention their search marketing expertise on their website, it’s not one of their core strengths.
If an interactive agency professes to be proficient in all aspects of interactive marketing, see if their website backs up their claims. What is the focus of the agency’s blog? Can you find knowledgeable posts on a variety of interactive marketing strategies, or are they predominantly focused on one or two strategies?
Don’t make the mistake of assuming because an agency gets superb results using one interactive marketing strategy that they are equally proficient at others. For example, if an interactive marketing agency focuses primarily on email marketing, you may want to engage them to handle your email marketing needs, but you shouldn’t hire them to run your social media marketing strategies. Find an agency that focuses on social media marketing or one that is equally experienced and skilled at both strategies.
Seek out online reviews
Nowadays you can find out a lot about a company online. There are many review and industry reporting websites where you can research the experience other companies have had with interactive marketing agencies.
Some review sites allow you to track an agency’s performance over a three or six-month period. Extended performance tracking is more useful than a static snapshot because it allows you to see the trajectory of the agency. Are they consistently improving their performance? Heading into a slump or demonstrating inconsistent effort? Feel free to bring up any concerns or red flags you see.
Social media can also provide insights on dealings with interactive agencies. Search for mention of the agency’s name on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Any insights you glean should be scrutinized with a degree of skepticism, however; consider social media more as a way to gain an impression of a company rather than a place to find factual truths. Keep in mind that interactive agencies can sometimes use social media to torpedo their competitors, and that negative comments can be deleted from Facebook.
Follow up personally with references
Any reputable interactive marketing company will provide you with references from past and present clients who will be willing to talk with you. Contact these references personally. If possible, connect with the owner of the company or the team leader who liaised with the interactive marketing agency.
Explain that you are considering hiring the interactive agency, and are trying to form a complete picture of the experience of working with them. Instead of just asking if the company would recommend the agency (obviously they would, or the interactive agency wouldn’t have listed them as a reference) have a list of specific questions about the agency’s performance prepared before calling:
- What challenges did you experience dealing with the agency?
- Where did they excel?
- Did you achieve the marketing goals you had set?
- How did the agency handle communication?
- If you are a past client, why did you stop working with the agency?
- Do you plan on working with them in the future?
Finally, interview the interactive marketing agency’s representatives
Meeting with the president or CEO of an interactive agency is important, but you should make sure you also get to meet the team who would be directly handling your marketing. Once the marketers have given their pitch, it’s time to clarify the information you have been given. If there are any details you’re not sure about, ask questions until you’re sure you have a clear understanding.
As you interview the agency, be sure to include the following query. The answer will reveal a lot about the interactive marketing agency and their policies.
What length are the interactive agency’s contracts, and what is their cancellation policy?
Some interactive agencies require year-long contracts that can only be cancelled if both parties agree, and insist that “these terms are standard for all interactive marketing agencies”. Sadly, many businesses fall for these strong-arm tactics only to find themselves locked into paying high prices for substandard services for twelve long months.
The most ethical interactive marketing agencies typically offer month to month contracts that can be severed by either party. This ensures the agency will provide their best performance, since they essentially have to earn your business every month.
If you’re ready to hire an interactive marketing agency, consider Blue Interactive Agency. We’re a leading interactive marketing agency in Fort Lauderdale, FL, experienced at creating and implementing interactive marketing solutions that incorporate web design, SEO services, social media marketing, email marketing, and more to help companies reach their marketing goals. We invite you to check out our website, peruse our blogs, and search out online reviews. When you’re ready to talk, give us a call for a free consultation. We’d love to show you what we can do for your company.
Contact us at Blue Interactive Agency today at 954-779-2801 an interactive marketing agency that is dedicated to ensuring your company’s online marketing success!