7 questions to ask your digital agency

We, as business leaders, are expected not only to understand the internet, but to make decisions which can shape the future of our companies, even if we’ve only just mastered adding a friend on Facebook.

This new marketing channel has given birth to more agencies, consultants, strategists, coaches and gurus than any other, all waiting to swap “expert” advice for your hard-earned profits. Sporting jeans, t-shirts and thick-rimmed glasses, they spout  a language that only one of their own can understand.

As the owner of an agency ? and a thick-rimmed spectacle wearer ? I stand guilty as charged. But I want to share some insight.

Here are some of the questions we would love to be asked by our clients:

  1. Please can you explain the basics of natural search, paid search and social media, so we can all make sure we are on the same page?
  2. Please can you explain what you mean by an “integrated approach” and how paid search and natural search work together? Should I optimise keywords I am searching for and vice versa?
  3. Is it okay if I tell you my business objectives and how this search project will fit with them?
  4. Please can you have a look at what we have done so far and give us some kind of benchmark compared to others in our sector?
  5. If we were to tell you five of our known competitors, could you tell us what they do online and maybe even some areas they have not exploited? Could you also tell us if there are any competitors we don?t know about?
  6. How much will this cost and, if I want to have outstanding results, how much time will me/my team have to commit?
  7. How long will it take? Is this going to be a long-term project or will I see results straight away?
As you can see, none of the questions above are about HTML, CSS, Google Analytics or what colour the project needs to be. They are questions aimed at developing a business case. In fact, they are questions which could easily be applied to any business project.

Questions like this will level the playing field between client and agency as it always brings the subject back to benefits.

Next time you are being pitched to, or even just having a get-together with the people that support your web strategy, try the questions above. If they squirm, they might be an agency focussed more on rankings and traffic than the business case.

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