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How to choose an online agency?

In the market for an online agency? First ask them these questions!

You have the offers of two or three agencies on the table, but you aren’t totally sure on how to choose between them? This article gives you some questions that your future digital or online marketing agency should be able to answer with conviction!

1. Do you have enough capacity to work for us?

This seemingly simple question can decide whether the agency will produce results or headaches for your business. This issue relates to digital marketing service providers off all sizes ranging from individual freelancers all the way to to the largest online marketing agencies on the market.

Even the best online marketing agency, won’t be able to deliver quality results for you, if it does not have the required capacity at the moment. This means that for you as a business owner or marketing manager it is not enough to choose the best agency, but rather you should focus on choosing the agency that has a proven track record and more importantly the available time capacity to put enough efforts in your online marketing campaigns.

If you have time, you have a greater choice. For an agency it is much easier to plan ahead and allocate time to a project, when the client gives the brief several weeks before the planned campaign launch. In case the potential client has the attitude that yesterday was already too late, the agency is still able to scramble for a solution, but generally this comes with a lower quality result.

This is why you should ask the potential agency partner which individual or individuals will be working on your project, how much time they plan to allocate to your project, as well as how many projects these people will be working on besides yours!

2. Do you have specific people with experience in projects of similar magnitude?

The needs of the client are closely related to its “scale”. Different approaches are needed for a firm that employs marketing manager who has the ability to deal with online marketing, than for an e-shop that is being run by only one individual.

A corporation with a digital division needs a different reporting style and other forms of coordination. It should be clear that projects of varying degrees require different procedures.

Small family businesses will want SEO as well as copywriting for the web, because there is no one on their side who has the time or experience to do these things properly. Due to the budgetary limitations of these small businesses an experienced student can be the ideal solution to meet their needs in a way that makes financial sense. On the other hand a major bank prepares all texts itself, as texts written by a student wouldn’t be acceptable to meet the standards for a corporation.

If the agency you are considering does not have the right people to do work for clients like you, you can encounter serious problems in terms of communication. You may get reports or other outputs that you will not understand, as it is simply not the suited style for your given needs. In the worst case scenario it will happen that the “SEO texts” for a travel agency will be written by a student, who priorly has only written the title tags and descriptions for a upstarting amateur e-shops.

Ask the agency if the individuals who would be working on your project have actually already worked on similar projects for companies of a similar size to yours, as well as what results were achieved.

 

3. Do you have the needed processes in place?

If the agency already did work for clients similar to you, it should already have fine-tuned procedures. If the agency does not have any procedures in place and improvises on an individual basis for every client, the communication can take a long time and project outcomes will likely suffer in terms of quality.

Some SEO inputs are very specific – for example we occasionally do custom tailored analyses for startups that are based on established procedures to a large extent, but partly designed according to their specific needs.

For services such as comprehensive SEO activities or the creation and management of campaigns in Google AdWords, we have customized processes that have been established over time. These processes include continuously updated tutorials or checklists and are intended to ensure that each client benefits from the expertise of our senior online marketing consultants, who each hold experience of more than 10 years in the online marketing sphere.

A good signal that shows you whether you are dealing with a professional agency is a client questionnaire. If at the beginning of the collaboration the agency does not provide you a set of questions in form of mail, telephone or online questionnaire, the agency does not have a clear onboarding process in place, and is likely to contact you on a continuous basis to get your inputs on aspects they forgot to ask when first starting to work for you.

Similarly, it should not be a problem for the agency to provide you with a sample report, which would show whether such type of report makes sense for you and whether such a report will be sufficient to your needs..

Ask the agency which procedures it already has in place, and request a sample report to see whether they are a suited partner.

4. Who will be communicating with us about the work?

It is striking that Slovak companies rarely, even for large orders, ask for and verify references. In Slovakia we often prefer to find information through our own network and personal contacts.

By only relying on your personal network, you can miss out on many relevant information. The ability of the agency to provide you with the contact to a number of relevant references – current or past clients, who are willing to talk about collaborations can give you many disclosures.

If you call two or three people on the client side of the agency you are considering, you can create an image of said agency in your mind. However, you should note that it is unlikely that these people will directly criticize, and answer openly to all questions about the details of the collaboration as they are also protecting their own reputation.

Ask for specific references, reach out to them and ask about specific aspects of the cooperation that matter most to you and your business.

5. Are you willing to talk to us?

In Pizza SEO, we aim to connect our potential clients directly to the specialists within our agency. By having the specialists, who would later be working on the project, join the initial discussions we are not just selling services, but rather setting realistic expectations before we start working on any given project.

At Pizza SEO we aim to be open with all our potential clients in recognizing whether we are the most suitable partner for them and whether they are a suitable client for us as an agency. To come to the proper conclusion it is necessary to invest some time and first get to know each other. This process can take place per phone, video call, or ideally in a face-to-face meeting.

If you only have access to the “salesman” on the agency side, it may be a warning signal. It may be an even worse signal if the agency does not have a sales person in first place.Someone on the agency’s side should be able to answer your questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t get answers to your questions during the sales process, you can be assured that you will most likely get even less attention once you are an active client of such an agency.

Ask who from the agency could meet with you or whom you can ask questions about the proposed services.

6. How far from you is the agency located?

We would like to believe that online services can be solved and provided exclusively online, but experience has shown over and over that the best results are being achieved with clients with whom we are able to meet at least once in a while in a face-to-face setting.

For us, it means that our clients should be physically in Bratislava or somewhere else in Slovakia at least once in a while.

If we are able to see the client at least once a quarter, the remaining communication can be managed via phone calls, e-mail or shared documents such as Google Drive.

Ask the potential agency where you would be able to meet with them in a face-to-face setting, and look for an agency with which you would be able to organize a personal meeting at least once a quarter.

We strive to have convincing answers to these questions for our potential clients. We would be delighted to talk about what we can do in terms of SEO, PPC, social networks, UX, and digital analytics for you.

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