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40 Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency

Maybe you’re planning to hire a marketing agency for the first time. Maybe you’ve been burned by a black hat SEO agency and have sworn you’ll be more particular about the next marketing partner you choose. Whatever the case, you know that when hiring a digital marketing agency, you need to do your research and ask all the right questions.

Not sure if you’re covering enough ground with your current list of questions? We can help with that. We’ve come up with a list of 40 questions to ask before hiring a digital marketing agency. Many of them are questions that our clients have asked us—or that we wish would come up more often!

No time to read the list right now? Save it for later:

40 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency

Jump to a section:

SEO

  1. How will you improve our search engine rankings? Get the agency to talk about their process. Watch out for agencies that use black hat techniques (such as buying low-quality links) or promise that they can get your page to rank number one for certain keywords.
  2. What’s your process for earning high-quality links? Does the agency have a database of relevant placement opportunities and a process for reaching out to bloggers?
  3. Do you follow Google Webmaster Guidelines? Your agency should always follow the Webmaster Guidelines to help Google find, index, and rank your site. Following these guidelines will also help your site avoid penalties.
  4. Have you ever helped a site recover from a penalty? Can you tell me about that process? Hopefully, the agency hasn’t gotten any of their clients penalized, but they may have had new clients come to them needing help recovering from a Google algorithm penalty.
  5. How long will it take to see results? The agency won’t be able to give you an exact date, but effective SEO campaigns should start positively affecting your site in about three to six months.
  6. What will I need to do to make the campaign successful? Find out what information you can give the agency to make your SEO campaigns as successful as possible.

Content Marketing

  1. Can you show us some writing samples? Any agency that offers content marketing services should be able to show you examples of their writers’ best work.
  2. How will your writers familiarize themselves with our business and industry? You need to know your agency can handle the amount of research needed to produce authoritative content for your business.
  3. How do you optimize your content for readers and search engines? Learn about the content team’s process for connecting with your target audience. Find out how closely they work with the SEO team and whether they optimize their content for relevant keywords.
  4. What types of content do you produce? Find out if the agency has experience producing not just website copy and blog posts but also infographics, video scripts, short animations, email campaigns, eBooks, and more.
  5. How many internal and external content pieces will you create per month? If your goal is to stay top-of-mind with your audience by publishing a new blog post every day, you’ll need to make sure your agency has enough bandwidth.
  6. Will you be publishing new content on our site? Find out if the agency can add images, format content to appeal to online readers, and publish the final product to your site. If the agency doesn’t handle publication, you’ll have to assign an in-house team member to stay on top of it.
  7. What metrics will you report on? The agency should go beyond just vanity metrics (traffic, social shares, number of comments) and measure how their content assists in conversions.

Paid Search

  1. Do you have a Google Partner Badge? If your agency has a Google Partner Badge, it means they have employees who are certified in Google AdWords, have access to their own Google Agency Team, and keep up with the latest AdWords innovations.
  2. Do you offer services across multiple PPC platforms (not just AdWords)? While Google is the most widely used search platform, it may be worthwhile to find out if your PPC agency also uses Bing Ads (especially since Bing has a 22% share of desktop search traffic).
  3. What tools do you use to optimize your paid search campaigns? The agency you’re interviewing might use paid search tools that would be too expensive for you to bring in-house. They may also have proprietary tools that you can’t get anywhere else.
  4. Will we be able to see actual spend within AdWords? Your agency should be transparent about how they’re spending your ad dollars.
  5. What metrics are included in your standard reports? CPC, CTR, ad positions, conversion rate of keywords and landing pages—your agency should deliver easy-to-read reports that make it clear how your paid search campaigns have been performing.
  6. Do you have experience managing paid campaigns on Facebook and LinkedIn? As organic reach on Facebook and LinkedIn decreases, it’s becoming more valuable to hire a marketing agency with experience in paid social media.

Social Media

  1. What social channels should my company be on? Chances are, you don’t need to be on every social media network in existence. Your agency should be able to recommend the channels that are most relevant to you based on your audience and business goals.
  2. What is your process for community management across platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.)? A good social media team should be prepared to respond to comments and facilitate conversations on all your social channels—and to look for ways to connect with customers across those channels.
  3. How will you ensure our social media presence reflects our brand? Your agency should be thinking of social media strategies that are consistent with your brand rather than just resorting to tactics they’ve used for other clients.
  4. What is your content development strategy? Find out how closely your agency’s social media and content marketing teams work together when it comes to producing social content.
  5. How do you measure ROI on social media efforts? Your agency should be able to describe how they’ll track campaigns and measure the results in relation to your goals (e.g. conversions, revenue, customer acquisition).

Web Design

  1. Can you show us some of the websites you’ve designed? Although your website obviously won’t look exactly like the others your agency has designed, it’s good to get a sense of their aesthetic before you commit.
  2. Do you custom-design websites or use templates? If you have a limited budget and your website isn’t a major source of sales, a template site might be enough. However, if you need a unique site that will generate leads or sales, you should talk to agencies that offer custom design services.
  3. How much input will I have in the design? Find out if you’ll be able to see the website and provide input as it’s being created. You should also find out what the agency’s process will be if you don’t like the initial design.
  4. Will you use responsive design? Any good web design agency knows that websites need to look good on all screen sizes, from smartphones to desktop monitors.
  5. Will my website be able to scale as my business grows? Your agency should design your website so that more products, services, navigation options, and other features can be added as needed without a complete site redesign.
  6. Do you offer ecommerce services? If you have an ecommerce business, you’ll want to work with an agency that can handle shopping carts, support for multiple currencies, updating prices to reflect discounts, and more.
  7. Do you offer ongoing maintenance once the site goes live? Will the agency be able to handle troubleshooting post-launch, or will you have to find another vendor to maintain your website?
  8. What role does SEO play in your site design? Will your web design agency also be able to produce keyword-optimized content, add title and meta tags, implement a crawlable link structure, and use other strategies to make your site SEO-friendly from the start?
  9. Do you set up Analytics tracking when designing a new site? It’s important to get Google Analytics tracking set up with your new site so that you can begin viewing behavior and performance metrics.
  10. What kind of security features do you offer? It’s a good idea to make sure your agency can set up a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate to establish a secure connection for traffic between the web browser and server.

General

  1. How will you help me stand out from my competition? Your agency needs to understand your target audience and what you can deliver to your audience that your competitors can’t.
  2. How will you improve my site’s conversion rate? The agencies you interview may talk about how they can improve your visibility and increase traffic to your site, but they ultimately need to increase conversions/sales to make your investment pay off.
  3. What experience do you have working with businesses in my industry? It’s nice to know if your agency has experience with other businesses in your industry, but it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker if they don’t. You could also ask: What steps will you take to become an expert on my business and industry?
  4. How will we communicate? Find out who you’ll be working with on a regular basis and how often you can expect to talk with them.
  5. How will you report on our progress month-over-month? Will the agency deliver an easy-to-read report and summary every month? Will they walk you through the report in a monthly meeting?
  6. How do your different marketing efforts fit together? Ideally, you’ll find a digital agency that sees all its departments as working together towards big-picture goals, rather than existing in separate silos.

We hope these questions will help you in hiring a digital marketing agency. And don’t forget: Leverage offers all the services described above. Contact us to learn more, and subscribe to our biweekly newsletter to have helpful marketing advice delivered to your inbox.

Madeline Jacobson

Madeline Jacobson

Digital Content Team Leader at Leverage Marketing
Madeline is a writer and Digital Content Team Leader for Leverage Marketing. After receiving her B.A. in English, she moved from Washington state to Austin, Texas, where she worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer and college prep coach before pursuing a career in content marketing. When she's not writing, she enjoys running, attempting to cook, going to trivia nights, and exploring Austin.
Madeline Jacobson
20 replies
  1. Cult London
    Cult London says:

    That’s a LOT of questions! All valid of course, but if any agency you employ actually has the patience to give you an answer to all of them I think you’ll be on the right track!

    Reply
    • Madeline Jacobson
      Madeline Jacobson says:

      You’re right, it is a pretty long list of questions! I think it’s important for companies to do their due diligence before investing in marketing services, though. And they can, of course, tailor the questions to the specific services they need (for example, if they’re just looking for SEO and content marketing, they could focus their questions on these services).

      Reply
  2. Simar
    Simar says:

    Well, I read 90% of it. All points in this posts are valid. Bookmarked this thread for future reference. Actually, I have recently open Seo Agency and I guess these questions will prepare me for tackling clients and also improve my services by questioning myself, like #35, My Agency website doesn’t have it. Going to implement it now.

    Thanks, Madeline. Keep posting.

    Reply
    • Madeline Jacobson
      Madeline Jacobson says:

      Thanks, Simar! I’m glad to hear the questions are useful for SEO agencies as well as marketing clients.

      Reply
    • Madeline Jacobson
      Madeline Jacobson says:

      Thanks for the positive feedback, James! I hope you find value in future Leverage blog posts as well.

      Reply
  3. Scott Adams
    Scott Adams says:

    I’m so glad that you mentioned asking if you need to find someone else to maintain the website, after the launch. I have been wanting to start a website, and I’ve been looking for different companies. I can see how it would be good to find someone that also offers maintenance on the site.

    Reply
    • Madeline Jacobson
      Madeline Jacobson says:

      I’m glad that question was helpful! That’s definitely something we think about at Leverage since we have a lot of clients who need us to build their site and provide ongoing maintenance.

      Reply
  4. INGIC
    INGIC says:

    Thanks, Madeline for posting

    Well, I read 90% of it. All points in this posts are valid. Bookmarked this thread for future reference. Actually, I have recently open Seo Agency and I guess these questions will prepare me for tackling clients and also improve my services by questioning myself, like #35, My Agency website doesn’t have it. Going to implement it now.

    Reply
    • Madeline Jacobson
      Madeline Jacobson says:

      Thanks for reading! I agree that these questions can be useful for new SEO agencies as well–it’s important to know what questions your future prospects could be asking you.

      Reply
  5. Adnabu
    Adnabu says:

    Yes, you’re right! These questions are really necessary before hiring any digital marketing agency. Also, check out the digital marketing companies previous work and reviews.

    Reply
    • Madeline Jacobson
      Madeline Jacobson says:

      Yep, it’s always a good idea to look at testimonials or even reach out to some of the agency’s past clients to learn more about their experience. If the agency can’t provide references, that’s a red flag.

      Reply
  6. Philip Redmond
    Philip Redmond says:

    I always tell people thinking of going with another SEO agency to ask the company to show some competitive keywords that they have ranked the website for, there are so many companies promising the world yet quiet often failing to deliver

    Reply
    • Madeline Jacobson
      Madeline Jacobson says:

      Good point! I think it’s good for agencies to be able to share SEO case studies showing competitive keywords they’ve ranked a site for as well as the results of that increased SERP visibility (e.g. increased traffic, conversions).

      Reply
  7. pulse digital
    pulse digital says:

    Thank you for the helpful blog post. Madeline!
    We are working to apply these methods in an innovative way in Pulse Digital agency but your words give us instructions to do it differently
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Madeline Jacobson
      Madeline Jacobson says:

      You’re welcome! I’m glad the questions in this post can be useful for both agencies and businesses looking for a digital marketing partner.

      Reply

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