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How to Pick a Marketing Automation Agency According to Experts

Nov 22, 2021 | 8 minutes

Hiring a marketing automation agency is like adding a top-level member to your team. They can link all of or the majority of your applications to your marketing automation platform and build workflows that’ll automate any busy work that bogs you down throughout the day. You’ll not only save a bunch of time that you can reallocate to your most important tasks but you’ll also see a boost in performance in your marketing efforts.

But with thousands of marketing automation agencies on the market, how in the world do you pick the right one for your business without spending a ton of time, effort, and work on the initiative?

Worry not, we’ve got you covered. We’ve asked three founders of digital agencies that specialize in automation -- Andres Españon, the CEO of Drew, Josh Navoa, Founder and COO of Dorxata, and Stepan Doktor, CEO of 5.0 Solutions -- to give us their two cents on picking a top-grade marketing automation agency for your business.

Check out their insights on what you need to know about your own business before you hire an agency and the twelve questions you should ask the agencies on your list to whittle them down to the absolute best.

4 things to know about your team so you can select a best-fit agency

1. Your team’s skill set

Whenever your team is struggling to hit your goals, the instant, knee-jerk reaction is usually to hire an agency. But before you start taking intro calls, it’s worth examining whether the root of your problems can even be solved by a marketing automation agency.

“An automation tool is not going to solve a team’s productivity issues if its members don’t have the necessary skills to succeed in their roles,” says Andres Españon, the CEO of Drew. “That’s why it’s important to understand the skill sets of the people on your team who’re going to use the marketing automation platform and the resources at their disposal.”

If you take a good, hard look at your team and see a lot of raw yet undeveloped talent, then focus on helping them hone their skills rather than finding an agency that won’t be able to do much for you.

2. Your team’s goals and growth expectations

A marketing automation agency can certainly help you hit your goals, but if your targets aren’t very ambitious to begin with, then it’s not probably worth hiring an agency.

“It’s important to know what you expect from our own marketing team,” says Españon. “If you only want to send some emails and write a few articles, then it’s not necessary to have a marketing automation tool.”

However, if your goals are somewhat lofty and you feel like you need external help to meet and exceed them, then make sure to check each agency’s website, their reviews, and any referrals to see if they have the capabilities to not only hit your targets but also support your expectation for growth.

“If the volume of work justifies hiring the agency, you also have to take into account your expectations for growth and if the platform can handle that growth and provide you with the solution that you need,” says Españon.

3. Your marketing and app tech stack

Most marketing automation agencies are partners with marketing automation platforms so agencies are required to adopt their solution for all of their clients’ marketing efforts. That means whichever agency you partner with, you also have to adopt their marketing automation platform.

Before you even start your search for an agency, though, it’s crucial that you fully understand your own marketing and app tech stack. This will help you understand if their marketing automation platform is compatible with your technology.

“You need to know the channels through which you communicate with buyers to make sure that those channels will be able to integrate with the platform and stay functional to the company’s requirements,” says Españon.

You can also ask agencies to aid you in better understanding your tech stack and giving you application recommendations based on their analysis.

4. Your budget

Obviously, you can only partner with the agencies that are within your price range. But what if you have extra room in the budget? Is it worth shelling out the extra cash on a more expensive agency that could potentially offer better services to you?

Well, according to Josh Navoa, Founder and COO of Dorxata, mid-priced agencies can do the job -- and do it well. “I don’t necessarily think that the more expensive agencies are usually better. I find that the mid-priced agencies often meet the requirements, too.”

12 questions to ask an agency before signing with them

Now that you know the three things to know about your company so you can select a best-fit agency, here are 12 questions that our three automation experts recommend asking when you start vetting each of the agencies on your list.

1. What capabilities does your marketing automation platform have? And can they help me hit my goals?

If you have to switch to or adopt a new marketing automation platform to partner with an agency, make sure their platform has the capabilities that will allow you to hit your goals and support your expectations for growth.

2. Does your marketing automation platform have the necessary integrations to work with the other tools that we’re using?

Integrating your apps with your marketing automation platform allows you to automate tons of workflows that can save you a lot of time and boost your productivity. So the more of your apps that an agency’s marketing automation platform can hook up to, the better.

3. How have you updated your services in the past few years?

We live in a world of constant change. As a result, hiring an agency for the now could actually end up being bad for your company in the future. They might not be able to meet your needs with the initial solution that they provide if they do not innovate.

You want to partner with an agency who can grow and evolve with you. So ask them how they’ve updated their services in the past few years. It’ll give you a feel for how much they’ve innovated and how much they plan to innovate in the upcoming years.

4. How long will it take us to break even with your services?

With any investment, you want to get a return on it in a reasonable amount of time. So ask the agency what they think their timetable is to break even. Then, if you end up partnering with them, hold them to it.

5. Who are your top clients and what results did you produce for them?

Every agency touts their top clients on their website. By now, that’s table stakes. So what should you really try to find out when it comes to the work they’ve done for their top clients? The results they’ve generated for them. Because if they’ve helped top companies go above and beyond, then they can do the same for your company.

6. What is your approach to marketing and why?

Most agencies have a specific approach to marketing and don’t usually budge from it. If you even have some disagreements with their strategy, it’s going to be hard to have a productive relationship. There’s going to be a lot of friction, conflict, and negative feelings harbored about whose approach to marketing is better.

7. Which platform do you use to track analytics? Can we get a view into them/get constant updates?

At the end of the day, you hired an agency to get results. Make sure they have robust analytics that you can get a view into. You want to keep tabs on their progress and see if they’re actually moving the needle.

8. Tell me about your culture?

Being a good culture fit with your agency will allow you to get along swimmingly with them, which is crucial for having a productive relationship with them.

9. What about our business’ needs and goals do you need to know more of?

Your business’ needs and goals directly inform your marketing strategy. If your agency doesn’t know your business needs or goals, then they won’t be able to craft an effective marketing strategy for you.

10. How often will you communicate with us?

You want to partner with an agency that can clearly answer all of your questions and is proactive about communicating their strategy, any new updates, and any problems that crop up. Ideally, they’ll be like another member of your team who will make your job easier, not harder in any way.

11. What type of customer service do you offer?

According to Stepan Doktor, CEO of 5.0 Solutions, customer support is one of the most important attributes to look for in a marketing automation agency. Why? Because an agency that has onboarding services and customer success managers will make sure that you’ll hit the ground running and then thrive as you ramp up with them.

12. What type of contract do you offer?

There are some agencies that will do a one-off project for you (if you hit their minimum budget), there are some that will let you opt out of your contract like you’re cancelling your subscription to Netflix, and there are some that will make you sign a retainer agreement.

With this in mind, make sure that you partner with the agency that offers you a contract that makes sense for your business financially.

Picking the best marketing automation agency for your business

Choosing the ideal marketing automation agency for your company can feel like another full-time job at some points. But armed with this blog post, you can make it as manageable as possible and whittle down your list to the absolute best.

Just remember to evaluate your team based on our experts’ criteria -- skill set, goals and growth expectations, marketing and app tech stack, and budget. Then, fire away with the twelve questions that they’ve recommended asking above. You’ll find the right marketing automation agency for you -- and you’ll find them fast.

Clifford Chi profile

Clifford Chi

Content marketing writer at Make. Passionate about storytelling and creativity in B2B marketing. In my free time, I love to surf, play guitar, and watch baseball.

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