How to choose the best digital agency?
My name is Max, I am a co-owner and CMO of digital agency #UAАTEAM.
The objective of this article is to tell customers how to find the best agency to work with and how do not spend the next few years or months (it depends on the success of your choice).
Me, as a representative of the agency, don’t want to turn this topic into self-PR.
So let’s start.
Point 1. Don’t work with assholes.
If you immediately see that you are not comfortable in communicating with a representative of the agency or you understand that you are being led somewhere in the wrong place, then it is better to think twice.
The first thing you can do is ask for another manager. If this is an good agency, then you will be met and apologize for the incompetence (or whatever it was) of your representative and you’ll be provided with another manager.
Otherwise, look at other agencies, there are a lot of them on the market, for any taste and color.
Item 2. Transparency
You should have no questions about business and financial process:
What am I paying for?
What is the price of the agency commission?
What part is the advertising budget?
I will not say about all the agencies, but I know a couple of them and us, where we have a price list for the work, described in details and points and there is an advertising budget, which is calculated by the agency in the media plan before the work begins.
In this case, an agency receives money for their work only. The entire advertising budget is paid by the client directly to the accounts (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Bingads etc.).
Therefore, there can be no misunderstandings.
Item 3. Who is the owner of the account?
Image the situation: you have access to the advertising account only to see the statistics and can’t edit. The agency argues that you can change and break something.
Our opinion is not right.
We are all smart people, so we can discuss what the client can change and what not. If you have already “broken” something — there is a change history in your account, where you can always see who make changes and what has changed.
A fresh story on this topic: a client account leaked 1.4 thousand euros to 1 ad per day. It turned out that this is his previous PPC-specialist for some reason, changed the rate from 1 to 75 euros.
And one more point on this topic — there is customer billing data attached to the accounts, so they belong only to the customer.
Item 4. Experience in a niche
Even if it is the agency of your friend, brother or someone else — it doesn’t mean that you should blindly trust them.
Ask the representative of the agency about the cases, preferably, about the experience they have in your niche and with similar projects. By the way, a different approach works for different niches.
If there is an experience, this is good.
If not, think for sure: do you want to take a chance and try to work with this agency?
Item 5. Set of tools
Imagine a situation: you would like to run ads in several sources at the same time — Google, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Yandex, Bing, and so on.
The agency happily responds to your request and agrees to launch everything at once (they’ll get more commission, sure). I will immediately have questions for them. And now I will explain why.
We often tell clients that we, of course, can run everything at once, but we will not do that.
An advertising budget for 1-2 sources is lower than for couple of them.
Different sources work for different projects — your audience may simply not be on Instagram or on YouTube.
It is better to start with 1-2 traffic sources, get the result and then scale up the campaign. It’s better than spend everything at once and get out without a budget.
Item 6. KPI Promises
Agencies do not provide guarantees on KPI and do not give exact forecasts. It’s true.
At the beginning of the project, agencies will not predict the conversion cost, their quantity or ROI.
Agency can predict the amount of traffic, but this, too, will not be the absolutely exact value. This happens because even for two similar projects in the same niche the same approach doesn’t work — different projects have different communication with clients, different UTP, different messages, budget etc.
The agency can give you a forecast of efficiency or conversion only 2-3 months after the start of work — when you can observe and see some dynamics, can predict changes in traffic or sales.
Up to this point, you can agree on target KPIs that you need to achieve.
Item 7. Real Portfolio
A good agency has a portfolio with examples of work. The representative of the agency will easily answer any of your questions about each of them.
If the portfolio of the agency, you are hearing about for the first time, has a lot of TOP clients and does not include work materials, examples, cases, then most likely you have a fake portfolio, and the agency has no experience.
Item 8. Attention to the project
Immediately discuss an important question — how much time will be devoted to your project. An employee of another agency once came to me for an interview, at that time he was work on 25 projects at the same time.
Too much, yes?
To the question “how do you optimize them?”, The answer was predictable — “I don’t”.
There are agencies that have few projects and there are another which are given maximum attention to you, such as boutiques. Their price is correspondingly higher.
There are pipelines where you will be set up with campaigns and say goodbye, since the manager has 25-30 projects and he has no time to provide you. But cheaper.
We experimented with one and the second option and realized that we like neither of them. So we created our own.
The manager has few projects, but for each of them we allocate a certain number of hours. Accordingly, the cost depends on the hours spent on the project.
If you need maximum attention — we can put you a specialist in full time, no problem. You will receive your personal specialist with skills from the entire agency.
Item 9. Selection
Well, and lastly.
Do not work with the first available option, even if you are advised by this agency or by the market leader.
Walk around, pick up, ask commercial offers from different agencies. You will receive different options for prices and range of services, chat with different people, and understand who you will be more comfortable and easier to work with.