May seem relatively straightforward.
However, if you don’t understand exactly what to look for, you’ll find that the agencies you’re vetting will end up leading the evaluation process, often in their favor.
Instead, we’ve developed a list of the ten essential components to choosing the right ecommerce marketing agency for your brand. In this list, you’ll learn exactly what to look for and how to evaluate whether an agency will be able to deliver the outcomes you seek.
By the time you’re done with this list, you’ll be far better prepared to appraise potential agencies and determine whether or not they’ll be able to deliver the predictable results necessary for the long-term success of your brand.
1 – Continually Delivering Client Success
Let’s kick this list off with what will inevitably be the most important consideration when making your decision.
The best ecommerce marketing agency is the one who can deliver predictable outcomes for your brand. One indicator of an agency’s ability to do so is their track record in doing it for other similar brands.
Whoever you choose to work with should have the experience necessary to back up their claims and deliver a return on your marketing investment. Ask any of the agencies you’re considering to provide you with examples of what you can expect if they are hired.
That means former and current clients for whom they achieved or are currently achieving long-term successful outcomes. Their examples should be relevant to your product or industry and represent typical examples of their work. Not exceptional circumstances where they were able to deliver extraordinary results for one or two clients.
If, at first, you’re vetting agencies without wanting to contact them all, look at their case studies. Effective agencies are happy to show off the results they’ve achieved for other brands. Analyze those case studies most relevant to your brand and how the agency was able to achieve the result.
If you have questions, the agency should be able to provide feedback about any element of the campaign and easily articulate why they were able to deliver such outcomes for the clients they are using as examples.
Finally, their results should be up to date. Don’t expect years old tactics and expertise to translate to current success. Look for an agency with experience delivering the results you’re looking for, and you’ll likely find your brand experiencing similar results from your engagement.
2 – Technical Skills
Ecommerce marketing requires a certain amount of technical skills to be done effectively.
An ecommerce marketing agency will need to have a clear understanding of the platform you’re running. Whether or not they understand technical skills, like backend integrations, that allow different facets of your business to interface seamlessly; could mean the difference between a flawless day of sales and a broken site that takes hours or days to repair.
This is where experience working with other ecommerce brands comes into play. Overall, the better they can navigate your platform, the better they’ll be able to exploit additional marketing and growth opportunities.
They’ll also need a development team behind them that can support the functionalities and integrations that deliver the powerful performance that ties the user experience together.
Finally, they’ll need a design team that can help you create a beautiful and intuitive user experience on a variety of devices and browsers. This is a good time to explore their client portfolio to determine whether or not their client list has given them the design experience necessary to support your goals.
Speaking of portfolios…
3 – Detailed and Powerful Portfolio
An ecommerce marketing agency should have a portfolio that showcases the work they’ve done for their ecommerce clients. It should be prominently displayed on their website, giving you easy access to examples of work they’ve done for brands similar to yours.
A portfolio can help you determine whether or not the agency has the creative skills to design for your brand and your customers, as well as the technical skills to execute the functionalities that support your customer experience.
Look for recent examples of work and be sure to ask any questions as they come up. An effective agency will understand how to meet your needs and will easily deliver answers to help make your decision easier. For example, Uhuru offers a Free Strategy Session with a business strategist to help clarify goals and understand how we can help you achieve them.
While we’re on the subject of goals…
4 – Your Short and Long-Term Goals
This may belong a little further up in the list, as it’s one of the most important factors to help you determine the right ecommerce marketing agency for your brand.
A highly effective agency will only be able to help you if you have clearly defined goals. Keep in mind, while it may be up to the agency to help you flesh those goals out, going into a relationship without a thorough understanding as to WHY you’re hiring help is a fool’s errand.
Once you have both short and long-term goals established, you’ll want to use them to help you choose the agency you inevitably hire. It’s important to distinguish which agency characteristics are most important to the achievement of these goals before you start your search, as they’ll help you paint a clear picture of what you want from the team you hire.
For example, if you’re interested in a complete website redesign and are placing an emphasis on development, you’ll need to be very clear about whether or not an agency has the creative and technical skills to deliver a final product that you’re proud to display to your customers.
You’ll also need to evaluate whether or not they have the manpower to prioritize your project and get it completed according to mutually agreed upon deadlines.
On the other hand, let’s say you’re looking to establish a sophisticated inbound marketing strategy for your brand. You’ll need support establishing a powerful strategy and creating the content to support your long-term goals.
In this case, you’ll need to evaluate their ability to understand your buyer personas, their unique buyer’s journey, and their ability to create the specific types of content that will generate traffic, convert that traffic into leads, and convert those leads into paying customers and repeat buyers.
The right ecommerce marketing agency is the one that will support that attainment of your goals, so be sure to evaluate each agency based on what you need to accomplish.
5 – Established Best Practices
A highly effective ecommerce marketing agency will follow its own variations of industry best practices. Where industry best practices are known because they work, an exemplary team will have adapted them to suit the strengths and skills of its members.
It will also base their best practices on its own ability to deliver the highest level of results to clients. Rather than doing something because it’s widely accepted as a best practice, smart agencies measure their results and adapt their actions to deliver optimal results.
It’s this level of continual optimization that allows effective agencies to stand out as they are able to prove their ability to deliver predictable and scalable results.
These best practices will be created for each step of the development and marketing processes. The tools they use will also represent their version of the best practices as these are the tools that they have deemed most effective for accomplishing a given task.
All in all, these best practices will lead to a more efficient development cycle, more effective marketing, faster optimizations going forward, and enhanced client/agency relationship.
Some examples of best practices are…
6 – Effective Communication and Organization
An agency’s level of communication before you become a client says a lot about what you can expect from them once hired, as does their level of operational efficiency.
For example, at Uhuru, we emphasize “hyper-communication.” We use a sophisticated project management software that allows each of our clients to view exactly what we’re working on at any given moment, where we are in the production process, and exactly when a task will be completed. Furthermore, it allows clients to engage in the process as much or as little as they like by leaving comments or starting direct communication.
This is just one of the many tools we have implemented into our systems to ensure clients needs are easily expressed and that the entire team understands their feedback. This level of operational efficiency allows us to deliver more to our clients in less time.
Furthermore, every client is assigned to a Senior Digital Marketing Consultant who manages every project and interaction within the agency. This gives our clients a clearly defined senior level contact person within the company who is there to ensure predictable outcomes and provide feedback along the way.
You’ll need to be the judge of whether or not the agencies you contact are capable of delivering a level of communication and organization that suits your needs. Ensure effective communication and organization before signing a contract or you may find your brand waiting for results with nowhere to turn for help.
7 – The Agency’s Own Marketing
Another excellent indicator of whether an ecommerce marketing agency will be able to truly support your brand’s goals is to look at their own marketing. For starters, look at their website.
- Is it laid out in a way that immediately showcases the value of doing business with them?
- Is it intuitive to navigate and can you easy to find everything you’re looking for?
- Are functionalities in place that work to engage visitors?
- Do they create expert-level content on their blog?
- Do they have a variety of downloadable content offers that appeal to their potential customers?
- Do they provide examples of current and past client work and results they’ve been able to deliver?
For an agency to deliver sophisticated marketing to their clients, it must be able to do so for itself first. What does your prospective agency’s marketing tell you about their client deliverables?
8 – Understanding of Your Vertical
While an ecommerce marketing agency’s ability to deliver success is not directly dependant on their experience in your niche, it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Ask them about their experience working with brands in your industry to get a feel for their understanding of how your brand operates and the tactics that are most likely to have a dramatic impact on your bottom line.
If they don’t have direct experience working with brands in your niche, they should be able to deliver a clear understanding of these aspects based on thorough industry research and competitor analysis.
An effective ecommerce marketing agency will be able to walk you through an outline of the strategy they would establish, should they be hired. As well as clearly explain why each element is an essential part of the over marketing strategy.
9 – Good Fit
At Uhuru, we work hard to ensure that each of our clients represents a good fit for our agency. We’re not simply looking to work for every brand that will hire us.
Instead, we evaluate our prospective clients in the same way they should be evaluating us. While you’re reviewing potential agencies, it’s important to determine whether or not your team will mesh well with theirs.
You know your people best. If you feel like your team won’t work well with an agency, it’s important to determine why. If the reason is something that can’t be overcome, the relationship may fail after a few weeks or months.
It’s better to have a clear understanding of the dynamic an agency adds to your team and your current operations to determine whether or not you should enter into a working relationship in the first place. Again, making this determination before you get started with your contract could save you and your agency a lot of potential time and work.
10 – Investment
One of the most common ways to determine whether or not a business can afford to hire an ecommerce marketing agency is to look at the investment/cost associated with their services.
You have to decide that you’re ready to spend the money to hire an agency to help you deliver successful outcomes for your business. If you don’t have the budget to hire an agency, you’ll be fighting tooth and nail over every detail.
Rather than approving budgets for paid advertising campaigns, you’ll be attempting to cut costs where money simply needs to be spent to achieve results. Rather than approving an expert copywriter to create content that will drive traffic to your site, you may try to have a member of your staff do it instead, only to deliver a sub-par product.
Whatever the case, you have to determine whether you’re ready to let your agency take the wheel. Do you have the budget to hire an agency that can deliver the results you’re after? If you are, will you readily give them the green light to do so?
Furthermore, you’ll need to evaluate whether or not the fee is worth the results the agency is promising. You certainly get what you pay for when hiring an ecommerce marketing agency, but use the rest of the tips in this list to help you determine whether their fee is in line with their ability to deliver successful outcomes for your brand.
Whether you’re a veteran ecommerce brand or just starting out, an ecommerce marketing agency can give you the edge to achieve predictable growth and long-term success. They’ll be able to deliver the results you need to hire an entire in-house team to produce at a fraction of the cost.
However, not all ecommerce marketing agencies are created equally. Use what you’ve learned in this guide to help your brand make an educated decision based on their fit and the ability to deliver predictable outcomes. In the end, it’s up to you to choose the agency that best fits your needs and your brand.
It’s time to schedule a 30-minute call with one of our strategists. We’ll help you clarify your goals and the most effective way to achieve them. We’ll be the first ones to tell you if that doesn’t involve us.
Remember, like you, we want to work with brands which represent a good fit. Give us the opportunity to explore that with you by scheduling a Free Strategy Session now. It could genuinely change your business forever.