9 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Digital Agency

If you ask the right questions, you’ll get the right answers. Here are the questions you should ask a digital agency before deciding to hire one for your business.

digital agency

1. What are your primary services?

The agency’s primary services should accommodate your project vision. There are agencies that focus on back-end work alone while others are experts in digital strategy, marketing or creatives.

2. How is your setup?

If you know the agency’s structure, you’re already breaking the ice and beginning the vetting process. You should ask how the agency operates, how many employees it has, and the qualifications of the team members who will manage your project. It’s also a good time to ask about the agency’s core values and see if they align with your organisation’s.

3. Do you outsource any of your services?

It’s important to know what aspects of your project will be managed in-house and which, if any, will be delegated to third parties. Outsourcing isn’t necessarily a deal breaker but, by any means, it’s not ideal. You should ask the agency to give you detailed information about their partners’ qualifications. If you still have doubts, ask for a meeting with both the agency and the third party. Also, make sure to confirm with the agency how project management and communication will be handled together with you, the agency, and their outsourced teams.

4. What are your typical project management approach and implementation process?

Building a website or app can take a long time, so expectations on both sides should be realistic and clearly communicated from the very beginning. Regardless of the nature of your project, the process should be well-defined and the project managed efficiently. A well-organised agency will have a standard implementation process documented in some fashion — the account manager should be prepared to speak of his/her project management processes — and how it keeps its clients updated on milestones, deadlines, and delays. So, before you select an agency, discuss all of your milestones and build a timetable for the project.

A good agency outlines key performance indicators (KPIs) and goals with a customer before the project begins and uses them to drive project management. Clearly defined metrics prevent the customer from being distracted by irrelevant topics. Goals/KPIs can be an increase in revenue, better customer satisfaction with self-service, saving cost by digitising a process or simply creating a mobile version of the client’s site. After the project, the agency will compare these previously defined goals with the actual results to measure project success.

5. Which technology and systems do you use and why?

Digital agencies usually specialise in a specific programming language and a particular CMS(es). Ask the agency to explain why they prefer certain systems and what the benefits are for your business.

Here are some key considerations:

  • Platform’s extensibility and flexibility to support present and future business needs
  • Strength of the repository and the ability to customise the content model
  • Ability to deliver content on sites, to apps and the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • The future (Think ahead!)
  • Ease of integration with internal and third-party systems via application programming interfaces (APIs)
  • User experience for content creators and developers (most especially if you may take the project in-house down the road)
  • Availability of extensions and the roadmap

Also, don’t forget to ask about the limitations of each system, and listen for a transparent, well-informed answer. Afterwards, you can do your own research on the systems.

6. Can you show me similar work from your portfolio?

Ask the agency to walk you through some projects for its past clients in the same industry, product type, and primary challenge. Find out what the agency learned from each project. See if they can deliver some best practices and show they know the pitfalls to avoid, and listen carefully to how they talk about their clients’ KPIs. Good agencies internalise their clients’ KPIs for the end product and how they talk about their past works will speak that they do.

7. Can you make a proposal with some alternative approaches?

Challenge your prospect agencies to show they can think outside the box. They’ll surely give a proposal but you should request if they can provide some alternative ideas as well. You may unearth some new insights and you’ll be able to test if they can solve a problem in multiple ways.

When discussing the proposal, you should pay attention to the picture they’re painting. Are they being transparent about potential complexities or areas where there are trade-offs between two approaches? Favour the agency who proposes clear ways to break down a project into phases and deliver on incremental requirements (which is a good indicator of business value and project success).

8. Can you give me 3-4 client references?

Surely, most references will be vetted by the agency and are quite positive but you should just strike up an honest conversation and listen.

9. Beyond technology and strategic expertise, what else do you offer to build a strong partnership with your clients?

Building a website or app is an intimate process that involves regular interaction between your team and the agency. Pay attention to how a certain agency answers this question and, generally, how they interact with you throughout the process.

 

These questions will help you build a strong foundation for your agency selection process. Before choosing one, you should compare quotes from different agencies, taking into account their proposals, portfolio, vision, and references. At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself which among the agencies shows they understand your business and goals and has the project experience and expertise to deliver the result you want.

Consider working with a social media, business brand and directory like Top4. If you’re interested in learning more about us, how we can help you reach out to a larger audience, feel free to contact us.

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