It’s important today for leaders to ensure they’re working with the newest technologies to be more efficient and stay up-to-date. Having technical proficiency gives companies an edge compared to companies that ignore the latest tech tools.
Technology is especially important in today’s digital-first advertising and marketing industries, and clients should confirm that their potential agency partners have the right tools and skills to advance their projects before signing a contract. Below, a panel of Forbes Agency Council members shares some of those essential proficiencies and why they’re important to look for in an ad or marketing agency.
1. Hard Technology Skills
Clients need to separate a great presentation team (what I call the TED Talk winners) from the people who actually run the technology and can truly integrate ad and social platforms to a client’s CMS/CRM. Clients will waste three to six months trying to understand why implementation doesn’t work—must have been that pitch team. – Matt Wilson, Eastport Holdings
2. Consistency And Accuracy
Consistent, accurate and helpful automated reporting and a complete understanding of how the project is going to be managed are both keys. Additionally, there should be ways for the client to check on project progress without having to send an email or call. – David Kley, Web Design and Company
3. Reliable And Scientific Results
Scientific rigor is essential. I can’t tell you how many times I see “analysis” that lacks any science at all. Everyone talks about “testing” and “experimentation,” but far fewer people actually deliver any scientific (read: reliable) results. – Gyi Tsakalakis, AttorneySync & EPL Digital
4. Direct Experience And Certification
Make sure the agency partner has directly obtained the official training/accreditation from ad networks. Many agencies outsource advertising efforts to third-party companies and don’t have the technical proficiency in house. This would result in your not having a line of sight to the actual experts running your campaigns. – Darrell Keezer, Candybox Marketing
5. Use Of Business Automation Tools
The use of business automation tools by agencies is a must. You can tell how professional the agencies are by looking at their e-mail templates, questionnaire forms and the landing pages on their websites. Also, you should check their portfolios to see how they’ve optimized and improved their processes for clients. – Oganes Vagramovich Barsegyan, Digital Beverly Marketing Solutions
6. Quality Data And The Right Tools
Data proficiency is essential in digital marketing today, and data-driven marketing requires having the right resource—quality data—while also having the right skills, tools and understanding to utilize it the best way. As a recent MarTech article puts it, “Data is worth its weight in gold to marketers, as long as it is managed and activated right.” – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.
7. Mastery Of Marketing Automation
In pro services, marketing automation is a must. If an agency cannot demonstrate mastery of these toolsets, they are likely missing skills that could really help service firms grow. I believe we must walk our talk. So I like to demo how we use marketing automation as an example of best practices. Prospects are often blown away by what they see. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group
8. Strategically Placed Ad Buys
To make the most of your ad dollars and ensure optimal performance, be sure your agency or partner uses syndicated research data and tools to inform their media buying decisions. Most agencies that are worth their weight invest in the data and the software to target and measure. Creating the campaign is only half the battle; to meet your marketing goals, your ad buy must be placed strategically. – Michelle Abdow, Market Mentors, LLC
9. Experienced Staff To Manage Projects
This may sound biased given the services my company offers, but businesses should verify that potential agencies have experienced staff to manage Google Ads. So many agencies outsource these services. They reach out to companies like mine to create and manage their ads, which is great for us, but having someone in house is better for the client. – Marc Hardgrove, The HOTH
10. Technologically Compatible Processes
Make sure that your partners and clients can use your document management system, file system and way of doing business. We have had clients in the past that only wanted to use print notes. They would print out our content/mockups and send back scribbles. This is simply not the way we worked and was not a good fit. Walk them through your process so you can see if the tech meets their needs. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
11. Ownership Of Data And Assets
Ownership is key in any advertising and marketing deployment. While your agency partner should fully understand how to implement and utilize the technology, the keys should be owned by you. Agencies come and go, but when they leave with your data and assets, you’ve lost a significant investment. – Douglas Karr, Highbridge
12. Distilled, Understandable Feedback
An agency should not only be fluent in tracking and interpreting analytics but also in spelling that out in digestible information for the client to understand. Look for agencies with proven success with a range of clients/industries, and stay away from those that outsource their efforts externally. A good agency can effectively communicate how they measure both clients’ success and their own success. – Katie Schibler Conn, KSA Marketing
13. High-Quality, Clear Analytics
This could be them using Google Analytics or Hubspot or another marketing automation platform, but your marketing partner should have a strong handle on analytics so that they can report results back to you with quantitative data rather than just sharing that “the campaign went well!” – Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.
14. Collaboration On A Project Management Platform
You should agree on a project management platform that meets everyone’s needs. Clients don’t want to be shoehorned into the system their agency uses. The decision on how to communicate and report should be a collaborative effort, and both parties need to be comfortable with the decision—without hours of training involved! – Nancy A Shenker, theONswitch
15. Certifications In The Tools And Services Offered
It always amazes me how many people or agencies will say they can advertise on Facebook or Google, but they do not have certifications with those platforms. Most digital ad platforms have free training and certifications that people can take to ensure they have a basic understanding of how the platforms work and how ad budgets should be effectively managed on different platforms. – Brian Meert, AdvertiseMint