Engaging an agency to manage your digital marketing can be risky. Without special attention, understanding, and care, projects can easily run out of scope, go over budget, or run over time. The damage can go beyond revenue or costs to include damage to your brand or reputation. So we consider these three qualities to be digital marketing agency essentials for strong relationships and excellent results.
Clear expectations are the backbone of any relationship, personal or professional; they establish boundaries, shape behavior, and create order. Clear expectations between a digital marketing agency and a client set the foundation for a good working relationship that supports tasks being accomplished and goals being achieved.
Inherent in these expectations is the mutual understanding that each side has experts in their respective fields, and that they can be trusted to do what it takes on every deliverable, goal, or task.
Pro Tip: Expectations work best when written down and shared with people on both sides of the client-agency relationship. These expectations should clearly identify what the client wants and needs the agency to deliver. In return, the digital marketing agency shares equally clear expectations for timelines, deliverables, client-side tasks, and communication.
Direct, Honest Communication
Another load-bearing wall in a strong client-agency relationship is a mutual commitment to direct, honest communication. The agency wants to make their client as successful as possible by reaching their goals, and that requires honesty and forthrightness from both sides of the partnership.
We encourage our clients to share everything about their digital marketing goals, so we have a full understanding of what success looks like to all the stakeholders in their organization. On the other side, a client can only be successful if the agency is equally honest about their specific goals and what they hope to achieve.
Sometimes, this means telling a client a harsh truth about the number of leads they’ll attract through a paid media campaign or sharing that the agency can achieve the goal, but only if x, y, and z happen first. Both parties have to be willing to have the sometimes-difficult conversations.
As painful as such honesty can be, it’s essential to optimal results. It prevents molehills from turning into mountains, and prevents the agency team from getting mired in impossible tasks. It also empowers the agency and the client to do what each side is good at, increasing the odds of mutual success.
Pro Tip: Two-way communication is a must, so a good digital marketing agency will make sure it happens regularly. Many of our clients request weekly check-ins to review progress and performance and look ahead to coming weeks.
Trust comes from clear expectations and honest communication, which means it takes time and effort to build. In that way, it’s like football. The freshmen don’t start out trusting each other; that only comes after they’ve spent hours together practicing, communicating, and delivering consistent results. By the time they hit senior year they’re unstoppable. They know the running back will be where he’s supposed to be, and they’ll be where they’re supposed to be, too so they can just throw the ball.
If a miscommunication or misstep occurs, the trust built between an agency and a client helps repair the relationship and get the project back on track more quickly. Earning a client’s trust is one of the defining characteristics of a quality digital marketing agency, because it takes open and honest communication, understanding of each client’s unique needs and goals, and a dedication to delivering the best possible results for a client.
Pro Tip: Remember that trust won’t happen overnight. It takes practice (a lot of working together), consistency, and accountability. Stay true to clear expectations and open communication, and you’ll see trust begin to grow.