Let’s say you’re engaged in a search to find a new B2B marketing agency. After narrowing down your list, you’ve discovered a few that seem to have the right portfolio and list of services . But how can you be sure which one will deliver the best return on your investment? And then, once you’ve signed on the dotted line, how you can you hold your agency partner accountable to its promise of delivering ROI?
Use these “pre-sale” and “post-sale” guidelines to get the most ROI from your B2B marketing agency.
Qualifying a B2B Marketing Agency Around ROI
If you want to take ROI seriously, you first need to confirm that the B2B marketing agency you’re talking to puts just as much of an emphasis on ROI as you do. You can tell if this is something they are capable of delivering by asking them about their analytics practice.
Once upon a time, there were very few, if any, ways to track the exact impact of marketing campaigns on business goals. You’d print a magazine ad or record a radio spot, cross your fingers, and wait to see if sales went up or not — and even then, you couldn’t be sure if the sales were driven directly by the ad or not.
But times have completely changed. Online, with properly set up analytics, you can now see how many people viewed your ads, clicked on them, and even made a purchase. It’s easier than ever to track the success (or shortcomings) of nearly every type of marketing campaign. If the ROI of your marketing efforts is important to you, you should be working with a B2B marketing agency that uses these capabilities to measure progress and report on ROI.
Given the many ways to track marketing data, if an agency can’t describe how it reports on its activities, that’s not a good sign. A good B2B marketing agency should know how to collect basic marketing data, monitor KPIs (key performance indicators), make improvements toward stated objectives, and report on ROI.
If you have specific metrics that are really important to your business — such as the number of leads generated per month, for example — you can ask a prospective agency how they would track such a metric when it comes to the marketing activities in question. If you don’t have certain data points in mind, asking broader questions about reporting and accountability will also give you good information. Try these out:
- What sorts of results have you achieved for clients with similar needs?
- How would you go about monitoring progress on one of our campaigns?
- What metrics do you use to measure your own marketing efforts?
- How often do you send client reports, and what might a sample report include?
- How do you know something is working, or if it’s time to make a change, from looking at the data?
Once You Start Working with Your B2B Marketing Agency
From initial brand development to providing a full suite of marketing services, there are multiple ways that a B2B marketing agency can deliver desired ROI.
Part of this is definitely on them. They need to be able to communicate your company’s unique value to your target audience. But you also have to ask yourself: What can we do to ensure we’re getting the most value from our client-agency partnership?
With this perspective in mind, here are some steps you can take to reap the most ROI from your industrial marketing agency:
- Ask for progress reports – The agency should provide regular progress reports throughout the client-agency partnership. If they don’t, make them. And if they don’t do them as often as you like, you can always request an increase in frequency.
- Keep the lines of communication open – Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be sure to alert the agency of any new product launches or new developments that could impact your marketing calendar.
- Assign a Subject Matter Expert (SME) – This should be a point-person who can effectively tell your company’s story. Choose one of your knowledgeable employees and make sure they are readily available for client-agency interviews.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for change – During the client-agency partnership, you may realize it’s time to add new services to your marketing mix. If you feel like a change to the game plan is in order, don’t be afraid to ask!
- Be open to new suggestions – Just because you’ve never hosted a webinar before doesn’t mean you should eliminate that option from your marketing plan. Try to keep an open mind to new suggestions from your agency team.
- Give your agency team space to work their magic – High-level conversations and daily contact are expected in the early stages of the client-agency partnership. Once a particular project is underway, it’s okay to relax and let your agency team deliver results.
- Don’t be afraid to sound the alarm – If you spot a red flag at any point during the marketing process, alert your agency team immediately. Don’t wait until the end of a project to mention the message isn’t on target.
Building a Partnership with Your B2B Marketing Agency
It takes work to build and maintain a client-agency partnership, but the rewards can be significant for your business — not only in terms of ROI but beyond.
To recap: When vetting potential B2B marketing agencies, ask plenty of questions to make sure you’re on the same page. Once you’ve made your choice, keep the lines of communication open with your agency team.
If you follow these guidelines, you should put yourself in a good position to find the B2B marketing agency that can deliver the best ROI for your business.
And don’t forget that it’s not just about ROI, although that is incredibly important. For a broader checklist of considerations you should take into account when trying to find the right B2B marketing agency for your business, check out the free guide, “How to Choose the Right Industrial Marketing Agency.”