Should You Outsource Your Digital Marketing? 5 Questions to Ask
If you don’t really know what you’re doing in your digital marketing, you’re not alone. According to Smart Insights and TFM&A, 50% of companies are using digital marketing, but don’t have a plan. Outsourcing it all to a digital marketing agency or pro could be your answer, but isn’t always a clear path to success. It still takes some insight into what’s going on in your marketing and finding the right fit for the job to make it all work.
One way to get clarity on what you need from your digital marketing is to outsource to the experts. Outsourcing is especially beneficial if digital marketing just isn’t within your zone of genius. Focus on what you’re good at to build your business, and leave what you’re not to the pros. You could end up earning more through their hard work and expertise, but only if you know what to ask before outsourcing.
The first step is taking some time to figure out what you really need from your marketing, and how to find the best team to fill those needs. Here’s what to know and what to ask as you take those initial steps.
1. What are Your Own Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?
Before hiring a digital marketing agency, you need to figure out how you want them to help you with your business in the first place. Sit down with your team to look at your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Without solid KPIs in place, you won’t be able to tell how the marketing is really working. Your KPIs will also look different depending on the type of company and goals you have. For example, an ecommerce store selling tech gadgets may want to focus on website conversion rate optimization to add more sign-ups to their email list. Meanwhile, an educational textbook company might want more students joining their community.
These KPIs will make an impact on the strategy your digital marketing agency comes up with. Traffic, conversions, cost per lead and revenue per lead are big KPIs for any business. But you could end up with something totally different depending on your long-term goals. A reputable digital marketing agency should ask you from the start about your KPIs. It’s a red flag if they act like they’re not even sure what you’re talking about. Chances are high they’re too green or are just trying to get into consulting and aren’t the right fit for your business.
You can also ask your digital marketing agency what they think about your KPIs and how to maximize their potential. They may have suggestions on how to make adjustments to your strategy, or brainstorm a new way to bring more traffic to your website and drive conversions, even if your original idea was just to sell more products during a big seasonal sale. A good digital marketing agency should help guide you through the process and make suggestions based on their experience without calling all the shots.
2. What Is Their Track Record for Success?
Even if a digital marketing company came highly recommended from a colleague doesn’t mean they’re ready to handle your individual needs. Anyone you outsource duties to should have a long track record in the industry. They should have worked with enough clients that they’ve done more than just gotten their feet wet. Your digital marketing agency should also have a proven record for success with an ROI to prove it.
Ask what types of clients they’ve worked with in the past, and which ones most align with your own business and marketing needs. Many agencies will already have case studies and a portfolio ready to go, and can even provide referrals. However, not all agencies will be forthcoming about the results with all of their clients. It’s not unusual for some clients to ask for non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), but if your marketing agency can’t come up with a single client to refer you to or share some information about the campaign, you should look elsewhere. This can give you some big clues into how they’ve performed in the past.
Next, find out what types of KPIs were used, and how they measured them. You should also find out what their results were. Did they earn more revenue? Triple their sign-ups? Get more exposure in the press?
3. How Will They Measure Your Success?
Key Performance Indicators and a fantastic track record of success are just a part of the equation. Find out exactly how your outsourced agency will measure your own project’s success and how long it will take to see results. Just know that marketing takes a marathon approach and is not a quick solution to sluggish traffic or poor sales performance. Your budget, consistency and commitment are all factors in how quickly you will succeed.
If you’ve spent any time working on your own digital marketing, you’ll know that it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it solution. Your marketing team should have regular accountability check-ins with your team to walk through what they’ve been doing and how the campaign has been performing. Ask for analytics and documentation on the results so you can both see them for yourself and file them away to compare to future campaigns.
However, remember that you outsourced your digital marketing to an agency for a reason. At some point, it will take some confidence and faith to trust the process – and the patience to let it run its course. Marketing isn’t a hard science, and it can feel frustrating when you’re waiting to see the results. It can take time to put together a campaign and see what’s working. If they’re staying accountable to your goals and transparent in their methods, give them time to make adjustments and pivot to something new before deciding it’s not working.
4. How Do They Create Their Marketing Strategies?
Have you ever wondered how digital marketing agencies come up with their strategies in the first place? As their client, you have the right to know more about their process and what to expect from working with them. Get some deeper insights into the marketing agency you’re working with by asking how they create their strategies. Find out what their thought process is and how they look at KPIs, your business and your target market to best shape their strategies.
You can also spy on your competition or get inspired by some of the great marketing minds to see how they’re doing it. To get some ideas on how marketing strategies work, look at what some of the greats are doing in the digital marketing space. Roland Frasier, CEO and principal of the War Room Mastermind told Forbes that he helps shapes strategies by asking:
- What’s currently contributing the greatest amount to top-line sales?
- What’s currently contributing the most to profit margin?
- What’s currently contributing the most to sales growth velocity (that is what segments of existing products and services are growing the fastest)?
Understanding their digital marketing strategy in advance can help you stay on track from the beginning. It shouldn’t take seeing results from KPIs that you really don’t care about to shift focus in your digital marketing plan. Find out from the start and make adjustments as a team.
5. How Much Communication is Involved?
This question gets overlooked, but it’s important to ask before outsourcing your digital marketing. Find out exactly how much communication is involved and what’s expected on both ends. Your team may thrive on constant status updates, round tables and video conferences, but you may find that the digital marketing agency isn’t on board. They may prefer to work autonomously, or not understand your communication style and disappear for weeks or months at a time.
And as a business owner, you may want to be left alone to work on your business instead of in it. Set expectations early with your digital marketing team as to what you expect and how to proceed. If they recommend a weekly check-in, decide who should attend those meetings and what format you prefer. But it’s important to keep at least some communication going to encourage engagement and transparency. At the end of the day, what happens in your business and in your marketing strategy falls on your shoulders.
Once you’ve determined questions to consider for your digital marketing team, think about where you’re going to find them. Word-of-mouth is one of the best places to start. However, there are services that can help connect you, as well. Your local chamber of commerce could have leads on businesses in your area. iPage offers a full suite of marketing services. Or you can go online and look for marketing professionals on a site like Growth Geeks, which will connect you with marketers to pick and choose from.
However you find your digital marketing team, make sure you go forward by asking the right questions – and getting the right answers you need to take your business to the next level. Request a free consultation from the iPage Design and Marketing experts to get started.
Have you had success outsourcing your digital marketing? What kinds of questions did you consider and how was your experience? Let us know by leaving a comment below: