Once you sign that dotted line, the real work begins. Your efforts should now be focused on providing information to your agency, both proactively and reactively, and assessing their performance. But, how can you possibly grade the work an agency puts in for your business? We’ve tried to simplify the process by outlining the 3 Rs: Reporting, Responsiveness, and Revisions.
At least once per month, though more frequently for special efforts like campaigns, your agency should be sharing digital marketing reports with you. These reports should show the current audience size & engagement rates on each platform, the rate of growth month-over-month, the organic and paid reach your brand had during the month, your top performing pieces of content, any notable social traffic numbers, and comparison with industry or competitor benchmarks. Beyond just listing out the numbers, however, the agency should also be sharing any major platform updates (and what those changes mean for your business) and any recommendations or opportunities they observed.
Depending on your schedule, reports can be shared via email. If the report is concise, clear, and self-explanatory (with links for further explanation), an emailed document might suffice. However, especially in a new relationship, it would be best to either have a phone call or meeting to dig into the report and make sure you are on the same page as the folks you’ve hired to represent you online.
Between the time you executed the contract and your first report, how much interaction did the agency have with you? The first few months should be the most communication-heavy as you work to learn the marketing team & they work to learn more about you and your business. When you have questions, they should be quick to respond (within a business day for simple questions and within the week for something that requires more effort or research), but they should also be responding with quality answers. If something doesn’t feel more clear after they respond, chances are you need to get them on the phone. Spending the extra effort up front will save everyone time in the long run.
The second part of responsiveness is how proactive is your account manager in reaching out to you? Is she sharing vital information with you? Are you getting deeper questions about your messaging, target clients, or products and services? Are they sharing ideas with you? If they are simply quick to respond, but only after you reach out, then they may be doing you a disservice.
With digital marketing, timeliness is everything. Social campaigns require a good deal of advance planning. Starting the preliminary planning for a holiday campaign in November is too late. If you have an event or product launch coming up, your agency should be working with you 2-3 months out to frame out the assets needed, how efforts will be assigned, the metrics for which success will be judged, and who will be responsible for project management.
Your account manager should also be constantly reviewing initial content marketing strategy laid out for your brand. How do you know if this is being done? You should see this reflected in the key takeaways and recommendations section of your monthly reports or receive interim feedback from your team about identified opportunities. Social platforms are volatile and known to release major updates that will affect content strategy without notice. Your team must be agile enough to respond and still adhere to the content calendar. Not shifting to best practices or what Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn are demanding from brands will harm the efforts you’ve put forward.
Finally, social ads are necessary for online success. Your digital marketing agency should be talking to you about performance (cost per click, reach, engagement, website clicks, video views, etc) as well as how they tested the performance to make sure your ad budget had as much mileage as it could. A/B testing is crucial, and while your agency probably won’t go into every detail, they should be able to walk you through their process for performance monitoring and adjustments.