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In part one of this two part blog series, we looked at why you might consider working with a digital marketing partner. In this post, we examine a list of qualifications that makes a great starting point as you think about evaluating potential digital partners. Where appropriate, we’ve added a list of questions for you to consider asking to get more information.
1. Updated Website/Web properties
Take a look at how the firm is using their web properties to promote their own business. Does their website look like it hasn’t been updated in years? Are they active on social media or was their last post a year ago? Do they have a blog that is updated with regular, relevant and helpful content? In short, you want to see that the firm is applying up to date design and best practices on the web and social channels because if they aren’t doing it for themselves, why would you trust them to do it for you? Regular posts and content via a blog or social media shows you that they are committed to keeping up to date with best practices, which means they’ll do the same for you.
2. A team with proven experience
A good firm will always post endorsements from other clients on their website. Make sure you read these endorsements. They’ll give you a clue as to how other clients have viewed their work. Note especially endorsements from clients in your particular field. This means they’ve had experience in your field and will be that much better of a fit.
Questions to ask: Does the website highlight team members? Read their bios and see what they are doing online personally. Research them on LInkedIn. Are there photos of team members? Do they look like people you’d enjoy working with? Is there anything that team members have accomplished that is noteworthy and would help make the case for hiring the firm? How long has the firm been in business? How long have team members worked for the firm?
It’s important to know where the firm’s expertise lies. Usually you can find a list of services from their website, but you can also contact them to ask what tools or platforms they regularly work with. You want them to have expertise across all social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and so forth. They should also know Google products like Google Ads and Analytics. They may also have expertise in specific web platforms if they do web design or they may work with specific CRM platforms like HubSpot.
Questions to ask: Do they use any AI tools in advertising or email? What other tools are they using to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of their services? What technologies do they possess that you could leverage?
4. Understand digital transformation
Digital transformation is the re-imagining of business in the digital age, integrating digital into all aspects of your business which fundamentally changes how you operate and deliver value to customers. A good firm will know the value of digital transformation and how to apply the right tools and techniques to your specific business problem or how to bring a specific area of your business into the digital environment.
The right firm will be up front with you about what to expect from a particular service they provide. They know from experience what works and what doesn’t. They should provide you with all the options, outline the benefits/drawbacks of each, make a recommendation and let you decide. At all times, they should be willing to provide regular data and reporting on their efforts. If something isn’t going as well as expected, they will communicate this along with a workaround or different solution to solve the problem. A good partner will meet with you on a regular basis, either in person or virtually during the length of the contract. They will communicate regularly apart from these meetings to share updates, concerns, questions or successes. At all times they will be personable and easily reachable.
Questions to ask: What is the frequency for regular meetings? How often will we get reports on data? Is there more than one way to get hold of you?
6. Understand your market
We’ve touched on this previously, but it really is important. If you work in higher education and you hire a digital partner who’s never worked with colleges or universities, they are going to be working with a serious handicap. Make sure your partner knows your industry well and has worked successfully with other clients in that industry. They should be able to speak your language and know your market inside and out.
Questions to ask: What other clients have your worked with in our industry? What kind of projects have you worked on?
7. Regularly bring new ideas to the table that add value
A good firm is driven by the constant desire to improve not only their own skills but the ways in which they can better or more efficiently achieve the marketing objectives of their clients. This means that they should regularly bring ideas to the table that make you think “I wish I’d thought of that” or “That’s a great idea!” Sometimes these ideas fit within the scope of your current contract, but sometimes there is an extra cost. A good firm will bring a mix of both because it’s their job to push the client a bit out of their comfort zone. If they are experts, they’ll know more than you and that’s what you want. Remember, the idea should add value, not simply be an add-on. It should help achieve the objective more quickly or efficiently or provide an additional resource to get there.
A good firm will work with you to determine up front what KPI’s you want to aim for with your digital marketing efforts. This is important. You want to be able to see measurable metrics that show how things are improving. Look for a team that will provide metrics that will impact your bottom line, not give you vanity metrics that look good on the surface but don’t really add any real value. It’s easy for marketers to make something look like it’s working well when it really isn’t achieving your objectives.
If your goal going in is to find the cheapest digital partner, then you’re in for a big disappointment. In this business, you get what you pay for. We’re not saying choose the firm that charges you the most, but look at what the firm is giving you when they present their marketing plan. Is it carefully thought through from start to finish? Is it professionally prepared and presented? Do they give strategies and all of the tactics to achieve them? Do they give you a schedule of how and when all these things will be implemented? Or is it hastily thrown together in a way that makes you cringe and kills your confidence?
The good news is that you don’t have hand a digital partner all of your marketing at once. Consider starting small. Give them an opportunity to prove themselves and as your confidence grows, you can hand over more work. A good digital partner will make life easier and take a weight off your shoulders. As you continue to search for the right one, we encourage you to use this guide as a solid starting point for evaluation.
So there you have it. If you would like to find our more about us as a potential partner, click the button below to send an email.