If you are planning to hire a new digital marketing agency in Lebanon or the Middle East to handle your online marketing strategies and campaigns.
Or if you were burned before by Black Hat SEO agencies and your reputation online is damaged and decided to be extremely careful about your next marketing agency choice.
Whatever your case is, my advice to you is to do your due diligence and your research and to ask the right questions before giving the green light to any marketing or advertising agency.
By any! I mean any even the big names!
In order to help you with your mission, I wrote this article for.
Below you will find 44 questions to ask your next digital marketing agency before hiring it.
To make things even easier for you I have themed and grouped questions into sections based on the type of digital marketing services required.
The Sections Are:
- Search Engine Optimization – SEO
- Paid Search Advertising
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Web Design and Development
- General Questions
So sit back, bring a pen and a paper or simply open your notepad and write down your own questionnaire and concerns based on the list below.
Section One: SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
1. How can your agency improve our current search engine ranking? Your goal here is to know their process to spot if they are using black hat tactics and if they buy low-quality links. If they immediately jump to tell you about their SEO packages and the number of keywords they guarantee and promise they can rank your company or brand for, consider this is as a red alert sign!
2. What is your strategy to build high-quality backlinks? Do they have a professional team for outreach strategies and for building high-quality links or simply they build low quality and spammy links?
3. Does your SEO agency follow Google’s guidelines? In other words, does your agency play in Google playground or not? If you want your brand to live for years online you must hire an SEO agency that has the experience and knows how to make Google gives your brand long-term Karma.
4. How do you start my SEO campaign? If they immediately jump into implementing their packages without auditing your current website to check if it is penalized by Google algorithm updates (Penguin, Panda or Humming Bird) they do not know what they are doing and if in case your website is penalized whatever SEO tactics they apply it will never rank. (Be careful many SEO agencies in Lebanon and the Middle East do not know what technical SEO means.)
5. When can I see results? If they give you an exact date, consider this as another red alert sign since SEO takes time and in general, if your website is not penalized you can start seeing results between 4 to 6 months depending on your Niche and the competition. In some competitive niches it can take between 9 to 12 months, but once you have good results and your website gain authority the butterfly effect will start and your organic traffic will grow like a snowball.
6. How can I help to make my SEO campaigns successful? Always corporate with the agency and provide them with all the information and data they require and most important be patient.
Section Two: Paid Search Advertising
7. Is your agency a certified Google Partner? It is important to know if the digital marketing agency has employees who are certified in Google AdWords so that they know all the guidelines and the updates. Being a Google partner is important but not a proof that they can run profitable campaigns for your company, it is as I mentioned important to know that the agency keeps up with the latest AdWords news, innovations and guidelines.
8. What other PPC Platforms do you have experience with? Although that Google is the king in the Pay Per Click advertising but there is also Bing Ads which are very powerful and can help you scale your campaigns to new audiences and market.
9. Are you willing to share with us actual spending with Google Adwords? Transparency is very important, you should know where your marketing dollars are spent and how.
10. What tools do you use to run and manage our campaigns? Professional PPC advertising agencies have access to very expensive and useful tools to generate ROI for your campaigns which you can’t afford to have if you decide to run PPC campaigns yourself or in-house. Some agencies developed their own tools that you can’t find anywhere.
11. What KPI (Key Performance Indicators) and metrics do you include in your report? It is important that your agency provide you with an easy to read report including useful metrics like CPC, CPM, CTR, your ads positions, the conversion rate of each keyword and all the required metrics to help you understand how your campaigns are performing.
12. Do you have experience in other online advertising platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn? Facebook and LinkedIn are shifting the game from organic reach to paid reach campaigns, if you want to reach your audience on those two powerful platforms you must hire an agency that has experience in running, managing and scaling your Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns.
Section Three: Content Marketing
13. Ask for content samples? It is essential to check content samples by yourself to see the quality of the content. Some content marketing agencies used low quality and even worse spun content in their clients’ campaigns, so be careful it is your brand on the edge.
14. Do you understand our niche and the type of content we require? Each niche and industry requires a specific type of content. It is important to your content marketing success to hire an agency that has writers understand your business and what works best in your industry.
15. What type of content do you provide? As you know there are many types of content: pages, blog posts, images, infographics, videos, reports, whitepapers, emails/newsletters, and many more. You must know what type of content you will get.
16. Will you publish the content on our website? You must know if the agency will handle publishing and properly formatting the content on your website or if you will have an in-house team to do so.
17. Do you distribute our produced content to create buzz and increase traffic? Ask them if they will market your content for you or if you will have to do this in-house.
18. Do you strategically create sales funnel content? This is only done by professional content marketing agencies that write content to your audience in a way to convert them from visitors into leads into buyers.
19. How many pieces of content will I receive from you each month? As you know in the online world content is the king that’s being said, if you have the budget to get top quality content produced, published and distributed every day you will be in a better position than your competitors in your market.
20. What metrics do you include in your report? They must include useful metrics like traffic, engagement, social shares, comments and also more advanced metrics like conversion (how the newly produced content is helping your business in gaining new customers and sales.)
Section Four: Social Media Marketing
21. What social media channels work best for my business? Many social media agencies start building your social media accounts almost on all platform, well the question is: Is your target audience active on all social channels? No, they are not. Your agency should know what social media channels work best for your business and your niche based on your target audience and your planned goals.
22. What is your process to manage our social media accounts (especially on essential platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter)? Many agencies sadly automate posts to your accounts and charge you an arm and leg for doing so! A good social media agency manages your accounts professionally by posting useful and related content, answering questions and replying to comments and knows how to utilize social media to drive sales and profits.
23. Will your process ensure our social media presence reflects our brand? Every business is different and when it comes to social media management there is no one size fits all strategy! Your agency should create a specific strategy tailored to your business goals and your brand and should not apply strategies and tactics used before to other clients.
24. Could you tell us about your content strategy? Your social media agency should have social media experts and content marketing experts working together on a specific plan to achieve planned goals and results.
25. How do you measure social media ROI? Your digital marketing agency should be able to measure your social media marketing ROI. Social Media results are divided into two parts mindshare results (likes, shares, comments,..) and market share results (conversions, sales, customer acquisition,..) your social media agency should track both of them.
Section Five: Web Design and Development
26. What website projects did you do before? Can I see some projects? This is important since you can check the quality of their work before hiring them. As you already know for now every business is different and your website project will not and should not look like any of the samples, your goal here is to get an idea about the professionalism of the web design agency and the quality of its projects.
27. Do you use templates or build custom websites? This truly depends on your budget and the number of functions and customization your project requires. If you have a small budget and needs a simple website then a customized web template can do the job, if you want advanced options and a unique design then custom web development is your choice.
28. Can I see the design before my website goes live? Ask your agency if you can see the design so that you can tell them about all the necessary changes before your website goes live. Most web development agencies have a workflow process make sure your agency has one.
29. Will my website project be mobile friendly? Mobile is huge if your website project is not mobile responsive you will lose more than half of your market. Ask your agency if it designs mobile-friendly websites.
30. If my business grows will my website be able to help me scale my business without redesigning it? As your business grows you will have to add new pages to your website, new products, new services and new features, Make sure your web design agency designs and develops your website with that in mind so that you don’t have to hit the reset button and design a new website when your business grows.
31. Do you build E-commerce websites? If you want an online shop on your website you must ask your web design agency if they can build an E-commerce website for you. If you are not planning to have a store on your website now and planning to do so in the future, ask them if they can easily add a professional store on your website.
32. What type of maintenance do you offer once my website is live? Ask them about the support and maintenance contract. It is important to sign a yearly maintenance and support contract with your agency to ensure that your website functions well and without errors.
33. Will you do any On Page SEO to my website? Most agencies don’t do that since it is a separate service but if they do that’s great. It is important to have your website search engines friendly and ready to rank during the building phase.
34. Will your agency add analytics to my website? You can’t measure what you don’t track, ask your agency if it will add Google analytics to your website so that you can track your website metrics.
35. What type of web hosting your agency provides? This mainly depends on the size of your website project and on your budget. Make sure that they provide you with secure web hosting, good storage space, fast response time and enough bandwidth.
36. Speaking about security, ask the agency what type of security it provides? Security level varies depending on your project type, for example, E-commerce websites require a high level of security while with normal websites an SSL certificate can be enough.
Section Six: General Questions
37. What is your process to help my business stand out in my market? It is essential to hire a digital marketing agency with creative thinking and that really understands how to position your business as a leader in your market. Remember it is not about the services they provide, it is about how they can help your business grow and dominate!
38. Do you have experience in conversion rate optimization? As I always say online marketing is all about traffic and conversions ask your agency how can they improve your web presence conversion?
39. How do you measure success? It is important to know how your marketing strategy is performing and what goals accomplished as well as where your marketing dollars are spent. You must understand that marketing takes time; it may take months and even years to amplify what is working and drop what is not.
40. Did you work with businesses in our industry before? If the agency has experience with similar businesses before this would be nice, but it is not a condition to hire it or not since direct response marketing principles and marketing strategies work for all industries and businesses.
41. For how long my contract should be? In digital marketing, you will not see returns until 4 to 6 months. If you really understand marketing you know that it takes time to cultivate and grow. That’s being said a 3 months contract will not give you good results, you need long-term contracts.
42. What is your communication process? This should be clear in your contract, but what is important here is to know who is the key person or persons to communicate with and when you can talk to them and how.
43. When will you report to me? Usually, your agency should send you monthly reports, make sure that the reports are easy to understand and that they have a summary section.
44. Do you offer full digital marketing services? Successful digital marketing agencies strategically combine all the necessary digital marketing services in their clients’ digital marketing plan to achieve planned goals. Each service is like a piece of the puzzle (The Big Picture). They understand what services your business needs and what’s the best time to add them to your marketing mix.
That’s it, I hope you find this post useful and make sure the next time you want to hire a new digital marketing agency in Lebanon or the Middle East or in any place on the planet earth to ask the agency as much as you can of those questions.
Choosing the right agency that will be your success partner is critical to your business growth and success; make sure you chose the right one.
If you have any question feel free to contact us and our digital marketing experts are always ready to help you and to give you insightful advice.