Can the agency transform the company vision into a positive experience where the outcome can be measured? Does it have the expertise and responsiveness to advise on conversion, competition and crisis? Does it have a team that can map business with the creative? How fast can it respond, do you need to wait till their manager gets to his own manager? Can it work as your extended team?
The agency you select should be responsive and be able to define a digital roadmap around your corporate strategy. It should have the technical knowledge to integrate traditional marketing into advanced mobile and web strategies. It should be able to recommend appropriate new technologies that lead to a great result and return on investment. Only an established agency that has the experience and processes can deliver outcomes swiftly and consistently. It would be a good idea to check how many projects they have delivered and for how long they have been in the digital business.
Some agencies moonlight as digital services. It is always better to go with a dedicated team that is focused on digital. You do not want an agency whose focus keeps shifting with trends, or you will end up having to explain your business to rookies looking to make a quick buck and an even quicker exit. Find a digital partner that is committed and passionate about its work so they understand your needs better and respond with insights and not jargon.
Ensure your digital partner understands the entire process of strategy, User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) and backend programming, testing and marketing. Understand their engagement model in order to get a better grip on the project time and effort spend, so it will help you map your budget better.
Discipline and work approach
Marketing and production managers have to work with multiple teams and managing the communication flow from one team to another both internally and externally is a complex task. For this reason it is better to work with a partner who has established processes that allow you to track every piece of information and ensure a smooth project from start to finish.
Is the agency open to collaborative tools that help in managing projects more efficiently? What happens when a key team member falls sick, goes on leave, worse, quits his or her job? Do they have shadow resources available, or do you have to depend on their key team members who are inflexible and hard to access?
Creative freedom is fine but do they have the internal discipline to deliver on time? Can they work collectively as an extended team with joint discipline? The inability to articulate timely information and feedback affects both delivery and quality. In a nutshell, if they can’t commit to writing it down, they probably can’t execute it. Therefore it is good to check in advance what kind of work processes they have to ensure that projects are delivered before the deadline.
Trust and transparency
Perhaps this is the most crucial yet intangible aspect of any working relationship. Finding a partner who not only understands your pain points but can also deliver a customer centric solution is easier said than done.
The most successful agency is not necessarily the right partner for you if their values do not align with yours. Meeting with the team members and an exchange of open communication can give you clues to their work culture.
Are they flexible and transparent in their engagement, what kind of service level agreements (SLAs) and governance do they have? Do they have the courage and experience to recommend what’s best for you rather than what’s more profitable for them? In business it is not always the right price but the right outcomes that help in establishing trust.