How to Evaluate Digital Marketing Agencies for Your Financial Advisor Firm
There are so many digital marketing agencies competing for your account, that finding and hiring one for your financial advisory firm may feel a little overwhelming.
If you’ve made the decision to outsource this critical piece of your financial advisor marketing campaign, here are some tips that can help you evaluate your prospects and hire the best digital marketing agency for your firm.
Clearly Define Your Firm’s Goals
Before deciding on a digital marketing agency, it’s important that you have your firm’s goals clearly defined. Once you know what you hope to achieve by using the services of a digital marketing agency, then choosing between them will be that much easier.
You will be able to compare your needs to the services that the agency is offering. And chances are, that after meeting with potential agencies, you’ll realize you can accomplish even more with the right partner.
Submit RFP/RFI To Your Most Promising Agencies
Even if you may be a small firm by AUM standards, that doesn’t mean you need to lower your standards or not thoroughly vet them as any large firm would. That includes submitting an RFP (Request for Proposal) or RFI (Request for Information) to your top prospects.
By doing so, you are ensuring that you’re asking potential agencies the right questions and getting an apples to apples comparison of responses from those agencies. This can be very helpful if you’re having a difficult time making a decision between digital marketing agencies.
Evaluate How They Handle Their Own Marketing
While it may seem that an agency offering digital marketing services would have solid marketing for their own business, you may find that’s not always the case.
Getting an overall picture of their internal marketing and self-promotion can be a big factor in your own decision-making process. First, consider how you found them: Was it through an internet search? If so, they likely have strong SEO practices to have made it into your results.
When you navigate their website, is it user-friendly and does it provide useful information? What about the overall aesthetic?
These are important questions to consider, especially if you are considering having this agency provide these services to your firm.
Review Past Work
If using the theory that past performance indicates future performance, then evaluating a potential digital marketing agency’s previous work is an important step in the process of deciding who to hire.
While each client and campaign may be different, by looking at examples of previous marketing efforts (as well as their results) you can get an idea of their work style and quality and if it fits the direction of your firm.
Evaluate Their Industry Experience
This pairs with the above point about previous client work.
In addition to the overall work experience and style, having digital marketing clients that are actually financial advisors or financial advisory firms will add credibility to the agency you are considering.
Having a partner with experience navigating the right messaging for investment firms as well as the compliance side of the equation should be a major consideration for any RIA.
Ask How They Leverage Technology
Digital marketing seems to move at the speed of light. There are constant advancements being made in the methods used to reach the right digital audiences at the right times with the right messaging.
If an agency isn’t staying on top of the latest digital marketing trends and practices, they (and ultimately, you) could be missing out on valuable opportunities to reach investors.
Ask any potential firm how they keep up with this technology – do they partner with digital marketing vendors? (i.e. CRMs and programmatic advertising platforms) What other ways are they staying on top of the latest and greatest digital marketing techniques?
Who Will Be Performing the Work?
When partnering with a digital marketing agency, you will likely be working a great deal with a dedicated team. Any potential agency should be able to introduce you to your prospective team before you have entered into an agreement.
This is to ensure you have good working chemistry and rapport. While asking about your team, a potential agency should also disclose what, if any work being done on your behalf would be outsourced to a 3rd party.
Ask About Their Client Retention Rate
Sure, everyone loses customers from time to time and for various reasons. However, when pressed if a potential agency has a very low client retention rate, there is probably a reason for that.
Let the agency explain and consider the circumstances. While you shouldn’t make a decision based solely on this information, it should definitely be a consideration.
Transparency in Billing/Fee Structure
How the agency charges for their services should be straightforward and clearly stated.
If not already part of your RFP/RFI, ask for a sample contract or service agreement.
This agreement should clearly outline their fees for specific services and/or monthly agreements and what that includes. Be sure you understand what is not included in the agreement and how much a la carte services are in addition to the agreed-upon scope of work.
If anything is unclear, be sure to get clarification prior to signing. Any reputable digital marketing agency should be able to explain their charges and billing without hesitation, offering 100% transparency at all times.