Choosing the right full-service agency partner that comes up with great marketing strategies and executes to hit business growth goals can make any marketing manager look like a legendary corporate hero. They're driving qualified leads into your sales pipeline with expertly crafted inbound marketing campaigns for case study worthy results!
Alternatively, the wrong B2B marketing agency can you leave looking pretty dumb, especially if you were the one to select them and ultimately need to report up to your management on their poor results. Maybe they're not strategic enough and just waiting on your to assign them tasks, which they then botch the implementation on or take too long to complete.
So in what seems like an endless sea of business-to-business marketing agencies, how do you choose those unicorns who will hoist you up to glorious lead generation level of crushing it? Well, let me share a few best practices on what to look for, questions to ask, and how to get the most out of your B2B digital marketing agency partner.
What to Look for in a B2B Agency
What past clients have they worked with? - do they have experience with B2B companies? It's a very different marketing approach than ecommerce, awareness, or other types of clients, so if you can work with an agency that's already traveled that road then they won't be figuring it out as they go. See if they have other clients that might have customers similar to yours.
What case studies can they share? - if they've had success with other clients who faced similar challenges as you, then they have the experience you need. By reviewing their case studies you can validate their ability to get results for their clients. Look for a case study in the marketing channel that you need support in, whether that's lead generation, social media, email marketing, SEM, SEO, PPC or web design.
Do they offer what you need? - depending on the scale of your business and channels you choose to utilize, you want an agency that can handle as many of your needed channels under one roof as possible. No agency can do everything well but working with 42 different agencies is not a good solution either. Here is a list of the most common B2B marketing services you may want to consider:
- Marketing Strategy
- Social Media Marketing
- PPC Management
- Automation and Sales Nurturing
- Web Design
- Blogging and Content Marketing
- Analytics and Reporting
- Email Marketing
- Display and Retargeting
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Influencer Marketing
How are they to work with? - taking a discovery call is a great way to get a sense of what it would be like to work with the agency.
How does their own agency website look? - if it hasn't been updated since 1998, has terrible SEO, or isn't built with UX or conversion rate in mind then that's not a good sign. One great stress test is to see how easy it would be to connect with them. Do you have to fill out a form then hope they respond to you eventually versus a simple meeting booking scheduler or live chat?
Questions to Ask
Once you've narrowed down your search of B2B agencies, you want to ask the questions that will weed out the wrong choices. Here are a few to consider:
What is your process for onboarding and working with your clients? - this question will give you a sense of how integrated they are with their clients and what level of service you can expect.
What is your fee model? - get this information during your first conversation so you can focus on agencies that fit your budget and needs. Keep in mind that (like most things) better, more experienced, and top performing agencies will probably charge a premium. They may not give an exact quote without getting more details first but should be able to share their pricing model.
What sets your agency apart? - see if their positioning fits what you need.
How to do you approach B2B clients differently? - get into their specific, specialized knowledge of B2B marketing.
Can you do a "mini audit"? - you can share with them some data from Google Analytics, Google Ads, or other channels you'd like support with and let them give you some notes on their recommendations. Consider putting an NDA in place first.
How to Get the Most from your B2B Agency
After you sign with an agency, you want to empower them, create a good working relationship, and get the most from our of the partnership. Here are some ways to achieve that:
Have a full brand download kick-off meeting - your agency should be intimately familiar with your brand, industry, and marketing. We like to do a 2 to 4 hours launch meeting with clients to deeply understand their business and find it incredibly valuable. If you already have tried some tests, or have campaigns live then show them the results so they can get a head start. If you have a specific way you like to see reporting them show them how you pull the data. Do this prior to any work starting!
Consider a commission or bonus based on results - either an a bonus incentive or paying them on a commission for results is a great way to incentivize them.
Schedule recurring meetings - whether it's weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly - regular checkins with your agency keeps communication strong.
Set your goals and adjust them periodically - let them know what you'd like to achieve and if they hit your goal then consider expanding it!
Do a QBR - a quarterly business review allows your agency to highlight their work and share a plan for the coming quarter. You can also look at new channels or areas to expand your marketing.
I hope this has given you some good ideas on both how to select a great B2B marketing agency as well as how to get the most from them. Have other suggestions? Add them in the comments below!