Choosing an Agency: Common Blind Spots to Keep in Mind

Working with agencies can be a very different experience from what you’re used to. Why is that?

Common blind spots to keep in mind before selecting your next agency

Recently, we looked at big MarTech purchases and the common phenomenon after implementation of feeling like, despite your new solution, efficiency seems to go down as your MarTech investment goes up.

In a similar way, when you work with an agency to lead your MarTech implementation, you may expect all your problems to suddenly be solved…only to realize that isn’t the case and that you face some new challenges. Working with agencies can be a very different experience from what you’re used to. Why is that? And what can be done to smooth the process?

Here’s four things you should know about working with agencies and how before you implement your next MarTech platform.

Technological experts?

Just because an agency recommends a technology to you doesn’t mean that suggesting comes from extensive firsthand experience with its implementation. You might unwittingly be a guinea pig for a new capability that the agency is exploring.

Ask how many years’ experience they have with the technology or area of expertise and how many projects they have completed in this area. For instance, if your agency focuses on website implementation, don’t assume that they have the same amount of experience implementing email marketing.

If you and your agency are piloting a new technology together, make sure that is clear from the outset and be certain to address the mutual risks and potential blind spots upfront.

Likewise, technology providers have a responsibility to help partners become experts at implementing their solutions. When this isn’t a priority, third parties—like you, the end-client—struggle to master the solution.

Always ask your agency how well-supported they are by their technology partners. Does the agency receive access to training? To staged environments? Do they have a technical point of contact to escalate issues? What is their response time like?

Agencies that build but don’t use the platform

It’s a common issue: agencies’ focus tends to be on external conversion metrics, but not internal success, like efficiency, cost savings, or how successfully the back-end user interacts with a platform. Their UX/UI tends to focus on end-client experience (which has unmistakable value) but at the expense of the user experience for those making updates in the CMS. This can lead to longer time-to-market and frustration at the operational level.

Likewise, few agency experts working on your project will have had day-to-day responsibility for managing content. As a result, while your agency may design you a beautiful client-facing website, they could overlook the fact that your team, for example, lacks graphic design resources to keep the site continually updated and in line with the site’s visual concepts.

When you’re discussing your platform needs with your agency, make sure the project includes time to review your internal processes and that QA/UX will include testing for internal content management roles. Provide your agency with as much material and information as possible around your day-to-day technology and marketing operations and their needs, as every organization is different.

Disconnect between the strategy and implementation

Agency personnel who work with you to develop your MarTech strategy most likely won’t be the same people that do the implementation. Usually, the senior strategist who has been working with you moves on to another project once implementation kicks off and isn't around to ensure their recommendations are being followed. Or perhaps they’ve moved on entirely—the average tenure for developers at an agency is a little less than two years.

Because strategy functions and production functions are usually separate phases, there can be disconnects created with the main goals of the project. This is especially true of the biggest agencies, as the larger the agency is, the less integrated these divisions tend to be.

Ask your agency about how their strategy and production functions run and how closely each group works with each other to ensure that the agreed-upon vision from the strategy stage sees full and proper implementation.

In-house hurdles to implementation and launch

While it’s important to understand just what your agency brings to the table, be aware of the internal hurdles you can face to implement and launch your MarTech solution. Even when you have a fantastic team, there will be speed bumps along the way.

For example, just as you can’t be sure your agency is working from a place of expertise with the technology you’re implementing, you also can’t take for granted that all members of your project team are versed in the technology in question either. You might be working with elite developers, but your in-house product owner and QA may never have used the platform firsthand, and certainly not with day-to-day responsibility for content production—that’s not their job.

You also face potential staffing and continuity issues. Usually, the team responsible for implementation is not the same team responsible for phase two or ongoing phases of the project. Because there is so much to get done by launch, it is crucial to be mindful of the window of time available with your initial team. Losing the team dynamic can have an impact on velocity and quality.

Plan around these realities and make sure to ask the right questions. Get to know your team’s expertise and understand which members will be retained long-term for new phases and maintenance.

How Symetris can help

Symetris is an agency, but we make it a point to get out in front of the kinds of challenges outlined above. We have a wealth of experience with different business models and working to maximize common ground between client and agency. We have also established practices to identify and eliminate blind spots in these relationships.

Our average employee tenure is above industry average—many of our team members have been with us for ten years or more. Interested in how we do it? Reach out to us today to talk about how we ensure continuity and alignment through multi-phase transformation projects.

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