8 Questions to Ask That Will Reveal Whether Your New Agency Will Make the Transition a Delight or a Headache

There are many reasons why your company may be looking to make a change with its digital marketing agency. Whatever the reason, the transition needs to be as smooth as possible. When choosing your new practitioners, here are some questions to ask to be sure that your new partner will make an immediate positive impression and impact, without inconvenience or aggravation.

How are you going to take over my accounts?

Ask for a detailed plan of how the agency operates with transitioning accounts. Get a feel for whether they seem to have a system in place or if they fly by the seat of their pants. Do they do everything in their power to make it easier for you and reduce your work in making the change?

More specifically, they should be asking about who owns your accounts and data. Every company uses different platforms for their marketing needs, and the agency needs to be fluent in your past platforms if the transition is going to be smooth. This also relates to the next question:

Will my company retain ownership of my accounts?

Some agencies put their client’s campaigns on their own accounts and thus cannot give them to the clients if they change agencies. Some also use proprietary tools in their web design. This is terrible for you as a company, because if you want to get a second opinion on your account, or move to another agency, your past data cannot be accessed or transferred.

If you are currently locked into an agency that retains proprietary rights to your account, a good agency will nonetheless help you start a new account that you own, and use past reporting to analyze your past data, rather than starting all over. There are also resources offered by third parties that sophisticated agencies will use to build upon your past campaigns, thus reducing an lagging effect from the transition.

Will my company be contractually bound to stay with your agency?

Long term contracts (12 months or more) increase the complications of transitions. Paperwork, legal fees, and added negotiations are undoubtedly unpleasant. While there needs to be a defined scope of work to create an understanding and mitigate future disagreements, contracts that bind your company to stick with the agency are unnecessary and red flags.

The common rationale that agencies have for creating contracts sound reasonable. Here’s why the innovative and confident agencies don’t make you sign a long contract:

  1. A good agency will communicate their expected expectations so that you understand when results should start to materialize. If you understand this and choose to go with the agency, why would you need a contract?
  2. Realistic promises will actualize, sensational ones will not. If an agency wowed you during the courtship and then puts a contract in front of you, it could be a sign that they over promised and are more concerned with earning your business than having an honest relationship.  A contract will keep you on the hook with their agency longer which is good for them, but not for you.
  3. A long contract will make your transition from their agency to a new agency a massive headache. It will delay the changes, make you miss important seasonal opportunities, and after you give notice of termination, there will be a period where they own your account but have no incentive to perform good work.
  4. Long contracts prolong poor relationships.
  5. If an agency is well-established, the concerns of investing resources should be built into their business plan.
  6. An agency should believe not only in their work, but in your company. Investing resources into your company then is a sign that the agency wants to be part of your ambitions and believes in your cause.

In short, good agencies retain their clients and don’t need long contracts to do it.

What new ideas do you have that we can implement starting day one?

Look for fresh ideas from a new agency that you had not thought of or that your current agency does not do. One of the benefits of bringing a new agency into the mix is distanced perspective which can inspire innovative change. Ask for specifics to make sure theirs is a viable strategy.

What type of leads will you be tracking?

Of course you want to increase your return on investment, but to calculate this an agency must have the capabilities to track your unique key performance indicators. For example, if many of your leads are received by telephone, your agency needs to track calls that come in: where they come from, which calls are customer acquisitions, and so on. You need to partner with an agency that has the capabilities that align with your business.

How will our communication and collaboration be structured?

A seamless transition is one where the agency caters to your schedule and particular needs. Every company has a different amount of in-house resources, ideas and time that they internally can dedicate towards their marketing efforts. If you have an in-house marketing department that you plan to have working with the agency, then make sure that you discuss a collaborative setup where your marketers have frequent and regular contact with your agency to implement strategies and stay abreast of all efforts. This will have many benefits, as it will improve efficiency, encourage consistency of your brand message across all marketing platforms, and help maintain control over priorities and goals.

Ask to meet with the account executive.

You want to trust and enjoy your interactions with your account executive. Make sure that you can rely on them to be proactive about your account and with your communications. Regular meeting times should be set and parameters for accountability should be defined.

The account executive should clearly explain to you the funnel for communication and you should always know what they are working on at any given time. If you have a concern about your account, you should know they best person to turn to, and your questions should never take more than a day to be answered or resolved.

Can we contact all analysts and practitioners directly?

Sometimes your team may want to get into particulars with one of the practitioners doing the work. Agencies vary widely with how they like this communication to occur. Some have hesitation with this because they may not be comfortable with their practitioners’ communication abilities or because it takes time away from work they could be doing for other clients. A good agency puts the customer experience first and has an open line of communication to all members within the agency touching your account. This not only makes your transition smoother as you hand over your account, but the entire ongoing relationship much more transparent and collaborative. It will also help build trust which is essential.

An agency should introduce you to the practitioners in the beginning stages, but if they don’t, ask to. This will help to establish a relationship, trust, and motivate them to care about your account.

If your team has been thinking about a change but feels overwhelmed by the process, feel free to contact us for an effortless assessment.