It’s a super important question to ask too, because, if you think about it, when you hire a marketing agency, chances are you’ll be working with them for at least a year. When you hire a web design and development company, chances are you’ll be working with them for a few months.
So what are the common issues that can arise? Shouldn’t you know them before hiring an agency? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Forethought, and planning to avoid common pitfalls is something that’s really important to me and my team.
We want to educate you so that you’re armed with knowledge before hiring us or any other agency. Below I address common problems that arise often between clients and agencies, and offer advice on how to avoid them.
Usually, problems start at the beginning, when a potential client goes about choosing the marketing or web design agency with which you’ll work. Often, crucial questions are not asked.
Instead, clients focus on asking: how much their project will cost; how long it will take; and whether similar projects have been completed before (all important questions, to be sure, but not the most important ones actually).
At this point, if the agency’s answers match a prospective client’s time and budget constraints, usually they’ll be retained. Missing from the critical list of questions (and more important than “have you done this type of project before?”) is:
Whether you’re buying a new website, looking for new marketing services or both, it is important to ask your prospective agency to provide you with their plan of attack.
You, the client, should also be clear with the agency’s team. Explain that, as of today, your business is generating X-amount in (revenue, traffic, leads, and so on) and that within a set timeframe (let’s say a year) you want to generate X-amount more.
What is the actual plan? And not just rudimentary overviews. You need specifics that explain how the website or marketing services will help increase traffic, generate more leads, increase conversions, and so on.
You want to know all of those things because without them chances of you getting what you want are significantly lower than with those hard expectations in place.
So you’ve got to make sure that you ask the right questions and get the right plan in place before you hire a company.
Once you hire an agency, here are the common pitfalls that can arise.
Website design. Every client has his/her unique tastes and opinions. Often, clients want to interject in the web building process and tell professional designers to change colors (to minute shade-differences), or certain types of imagery or copy. Often, those colors, images and copy are implemented with a purpose in mind.
Experienced web designers make the choices they make based on experience with what drives traffic and leads, which is the entire point of a website.
Of course the agency you are working with should care about your personal preferences. But also keep in mind that you are hiring, hopefully, experts in the field of web design and development and it pays to consider deferring to their judgement.
For instance, our art director has 20 years of experience in the field, is a university-educated designer working on major brands and high profile campaigns (like Disney movies). He clearly knows what he is doing and yet, sometimes, we have clients ask that he change the shade of green on their website.
Sometimes it pays to instead ask why a particular shade of green was chosen, rather than ask to change it right off the bat.
All good agencies will build your website according to best practices that ensure proper marketing results. Sometimes clients’ request we make changes that would contradict those best practices, and that can be a big pitfall.
This is just one example, but this type of scenario happens often. And the back-and-forth between client and agency takes a tremendous amount of time that could be better spent building your project infrastructure.
Whenever we work with clients, we always explain the project we’ll be delivering to them. We explain why it will be structured, written or designed a certain way. Providing this clarity goes a long way in ensuring a smooth working process.
The other pitfall arises when proper marketing expectations are not set ahead of time. Clients are, understandably, very eager to see results. But some types of campaigns take a bit longer, and require some time to ramp up.
For example, with search engine optimization, progress can take a considerable amount of time as search engines need to rank your site according to the best practices that new site has just been built on.
One factor that impacts SEO-results, for example, is whether your website was ever optimized before or if we, the agency, are starting absolutely from scratch. There are so many other factors to consider, like how tough your competition is. Are they holding the top search positions? In some cases it can be really hard to displace the giants.
With pay-per-click advertising, the client and agency must also discuss what it will take to dial in the ads and optimize your spend for the results you’re seeking.
It is really important for your prospective agency to give you all the right information upfront, during the discovery process, before you actually sign up for services. This is to ensure proper expectations are set so you truly understand what’s at stake and how things are going to progress.
If you do this, or if you ask an agency the right questions and they give you the right information, chances are you are going to have a much smoother experience than others might.
To help you out, down below we’ve created a checklist of questions to ask prospective agencies. Through those answers, you will (or should) really come to understand their process, what the expectations are and how to move together as a solid team. This in turn will help you generate results in the fastest time possible with the least amount of waste.
Use the checklist when you are interviewing other agencies.
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