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When considering an outside agency to expand your digital marketing efforts, you are only as good as the company you keep.
For a marketing executive, evaluating a web design firm’s compatibility with your organization is a pivotal, stressful decision. Factor in a much-needed project as comprehensive as a website redesign and the stakes only grow higher. You’re hiring a firm to engineer the most important brand touchpoint you have. If this process doesn’t come with heightened feelings of professional anxiety, it certainly should.
To find the right partner, your business can’t afford to view cost as the only deciding factor. From evaluating an outside agency’s communication and workflow structures to how well their previous work matches your needs, making the right decision is both crucial and time-consuming. However, if you choose properly, the value of this relationship will far outpace the initial budget you established for just one project.
An agency’s experience is one of the easiest ways to measure whether they’ll make the right partner for you. However, before requesting a proposal, you should find out the details behind their work by asking some key questions.
When considering the right agency, you should be careful with those that claim to be the best at everything. While larger agencies may draw closer to the truth with such claims by the simple virtue of resources, the fact is every firm has an idea of what they feel they do best.
In early conversations, you should ask every agency about the differentiating factor that sets them apart from their competition. Then, you can decide if the sweet spot they offer fits the skill set you need.
While you may be able to draw some conclusions from case studies provided by a given agency website or presentation, you must look at how their prior work relates to your needs. Do they have experience in your industry or with clients like yours? What sort of projects have they worked on?
But remember, not every part of an agency’s client roster is created equal. Their inclusion of the logo of a company similar to yours among its work history doesn’t indicate the level of their interaction. You should ask for more specifics about their collaborative history to determine how well that translates to your needs.
Before work with an agency begins, you must establish an idea of their collaborative process. What are their practices around project management? How do they communicate project updates and status? The right firm will look for opportunities to further communication with you and be transparent about progress at all times.
In addition to defining how an agency will work with your organization, you should also find out whether portions of your project will be outsourced. There’s nothing wrong with an agency using outside resources, but this transparency about the plans for your project further sets the tone for the relationship.
In a challenging economic climate, every agency welcomes the prospect of new business. But the best agencies have ideal clients in mind for their roster as well. Web design firms like ours are set up to operate at their best with a certain kind of client. Agencies should evaluate how well you fit with their core competencies too.
Plus, budget is an important question in the agency-client relationship. Many companies ask the agency to first provide a quote, but most prospective clients have a cost in mind for their project. The right firm will ask about your expectations early. That way, you and your agency can be on the same page when it comes to understanding the level of engagement – and whether the project is suitable for them as well.
Once a firm has submitted a proposal to work with your company, you can evaluate how well your questions have been heard.
Agencies should also plan a discovery method at the start of a project to ensure everyone is aligned on the approach and requirements. At WebEnertia, our Velocity Workshop provides a vital means to align the goals, expectations, and realities of the project with every stakeholder. With communication established early, you can ensure your project is on track from the start.
In addition to establishing a timeline for your project, an agency should be transparent about how its work will be done.
A project proposal should include specifics about who will be working on your project, including the team makeup, where they’re located, and whether they or their leads are accessible to you. Often, once you’ve built a relationship at an agency with a point of contact, that person disappears once work on your project begins. Confirming your points of contact early will prevent surprises later.
Given the discovery stage will illuminate key details around your project workflow, the right agency will work with you to establish a budget and timeline that meets your goals. But there are other numbers to evaluate as well.
If your project involves a website redesign, your agency should have KPIs in mind that targets your needs. Whether your organization is aiming for increased conversions, engagement, or session duration, the agency should offer a data-driven approach to its solution. If an agency reveals the metrics behind their methods, then your agency is thinking about delivering measurable success.
Once you like what you see from an outside firm, don’t just take them at their word about their work. Proposals and presentations are part of a web design agency’s job, and we do it a lot.
Once you know enough about a firm’s process, you should get specific about those details with one of their past clients. Ask for references to find out about how the agency managed risk, solved issues, and delivered on their proposal.
Even professional review websites like Glassdoor can offer additional insights into an agency’s work performance. Although it’s primarily a job-seekers resource, it’s a great place to get a transparent lens on the culture and leadership of the agency, and how they run their business.
But even after asking all the right questions, the answers found through meeting your day-to-day contacts on a project are equally informative. Ultimately, you want to know you will get along over the life of your project. Even after you define many specifics around numbers and workflow, that level of engagement may be most critical.
Finding an agency isn’t easy, but with a thorough evaluation process, you can eliminate the stress of not knowing whether you’ve found the right partner. In the end, not only will careful consideration help anticipate difficult issues before they arise, but also ensure you’ve found a collaborator who can deliver the work and workflow your business needs.
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