How to Pick the Right Digital Marketing Agency [7 Questions]
1. What's the process you use for working with a business to help with this type of project or service?
The agency should be able to easily outline how they will interact with your staff and accomplish the goals of your engagement. This should also be clearly enumerated in any proposal or scope of service they provide. Some examples of elements that would likely need to be covered might include how many calls per month will take place, How the marketing strategy will be determined and shared, and which team members will be responsible for various deliverables.
2. How do you track results for your clients?
The answer needs to focus on what you think success should look like for YOUR financial institution. So if your CEO is focusing on loan growth, then the agency needs to use these revenue benchmark numbers to drive their suggested strategy and track any short-term marketing metrics back to longer-term revenue growth. Don't let an agency push impressions or reach on you without a strategy for generating actual conversions and positive revenue impacts.
3. Do you have experience in the Financial Industry?
Now don't get too hung up on this one. Often agencies with experience outside of your niche can offer new perspectivies, but it's important that your agency understands the mission of your institution and all of the regulatory boxes that must be checked. It's also helpful if your agency partners can speak to members of the C-suite or your board in terms they will relate to, which often comes with experience working with other CUs or other community financial institutions.
4. How will you target the specific audiences we are trying to reach?
A good agency will use a mix of digital targeting and online ad placements to help you reach your goals. Whether these are custom audiences targeting current members on Facebook or Instagram or Search Engine targeting methods based on keywords that you want to rank for, granular targeting is key to your success in the digital space.
And make sure the agency isn't planning to optimize ads for just impressions or reach, you want engagement and clicks to be the main digital metrics of success, which will drive leads to your website.
5. How will your agency help us create engaging and high quality content to support our marketing efforts?
We work with business writers who take our keyword strategy and suggested titles and then create high quality custom content for clients. This is what you will be looking for from your digital agency partner. Supplementing this kind of custom content with more general blogs is also fine, but make sure your chosen agency will help you connect your social media and search keywords with content development so that all of the digital content pieces are aligned and working toward similar goals.
So, if you want to run a Home Equity campaign for the first quarter, make sure your content, social media and email efforts are all aligned to support this promotion.
6. Will you work with our internal team and train them in areas of need?
You don't want to find yourself in a situation where your CU staff members are out of the loop on various marketing campaigns or digital assets. We've seen countless examples of agencies running ads for clients from their own internal agency ad platforms, so if the client leaves then they lose all of their past performance data. Make sure that any partner agency is truly acting as just that -- a partner. If they are keeping your best interest at heart they will be willing to involve your staff in all campaigns and provide some level of training so that you could take over certain areas of responsibility should this become necessary in the future.
7. What's your timeline for results and how much will the service cost?
For this question you want to see both short-term and long-term estimates for results. Digitally you can grow an audience and begin to engage them within 2-3 months, no problem. But driving measureable revenue impacts typically takes quite a bit longer and may need to involve your sales department or other tools to enable lead capture and conversion tracking. You also want to fully understand exactly what is covered with your agency fee, and perhaps more importantly, what is NOT included.
Often your ad budget for things like social media ads or search engine marketing will be a separate line item. So make sure you understand what your full budget will need to include.
About Meredith Olmstead
Meredith Olmstead is the CEO and Founder of Social Stairway, LLC, which provides Digital Marketing & Sales services to Credit Unions and Affiliated Organizations. With experience working with financial institutions in markets of various sizes around the United States, and as an experienced Director of Online Marketing, she has helped design and implement numerous marketing and sales campaigns. Since 2013 Meredith has led the Social Stairway team, working exclusively with Credit Unions, taking staff step-by-step through the process of launching all of their Digital Marketing efforts, as well as implementing full Inbound Marketing campaigns and providing Sales Enablement training and support. Meredith recommends a very clear and measureable strategy to all of her clients, and then works with them to re-evaluate the success of these efforts on a continuing basis, all with an eye on moving toward a clear return on your online sales and marketing investment.