Choosing the right digital agency partner for your ecommerce business is no easy feat. With so many to choose from, you need to be sure you’re partnering with the right people with the right skillsets. At WunderTalent, we work with a range of capable and dynamic candidates for the ecommerce and SaaS sector, so we know what it takes to employ the best people for the job.
A high quality, performance led team is imperative for the success of your business, and outsourcing aspects of your ecommerce business can help you focus on critical areas, plus deliver sophisticated skills and insights that are unavailable in-house.
Most agencies offer services that include brand strategy, experience design, technology implementations, online store optimisation and marketing services. They can also offer change management services, content strategy, writing and editing, and custom and native mobile app development.
Then there are ‘full-service’ and niche agencies. Full-service agencies are often expensive and therefore seek larger clients, while smaller, niche agencies often have more flexibility and lower rates.
Using our personal expertise, we’ve put together some steps to help you find your perfect agency partner.
It helps to understand exactly what you need from a prospective agency partner before you approach them. Is it for a one-time project or an ongoing program? Some agencies can be better suited to one or the other. Once you’re clear, be sure to:
- Explain why you’re investing;
- Be clear about your vision;
- Describe the specific outcomes you’re targeting;
- Explain how you measure success;
- Outline the problem you’re trying to solve;
- Address deadlines; and
- Explain your budget.
The Selection Process
Your selection process will influence prospective agency partners on how they staff the engagement to deliver the required services, so it’s important to be clear from the start. They’ll often spend a lot of time and money preparing an approach, estimates, and plans, and knowing a potential client is both committed and has the budget will influence their efforts.
Prepare to disclose who is sponsoring the engagement, including the decision maker/s. Your budget also needs addressing. Is it established, or do you need assistance in building a business case? More often than not, businesses make the mistake of withholding some or all of this information from potential agency partners, but a true partnership should start with trust and transparency from the very beginning. One way to establish trust is to sign a mutual non-disclosure agreement upfront. It not only protects both parties, it makes sharing information much more straightforward, speeding up the process of discovering if there’s a potential fit.
Let the agency have as much information as you can about your needs, such as:
- Your known requirements;
- What you don’t know;
- How the work is currently done, including any gaps;
- Your tech requirements;
- Any competitor issues; and
- Any staffing resources you’ll provide.
User stories, use cases, reports, and data can also help a potential agency. Consider sharing:
- Style guides and goals for evolving your brand experience;
- Analytics and data for your online store and digital channels;
- Customer feedback;
- Target markets, personas, customer journey maps;
- Product information, such as categories and SKUs;
- Revenue by channel; and
- Sitemaps and taxonomy.
Making a decision
In our experience at WunderTalent, a scoring method can help you identify the right agency. Match the scoring to your objectives and how you’ll measure success. This scorecard can be as simple as a spreadsheet that lists objectives and then scores each agency on its experience, approach, and your perception of their ability to execute your needs. Involve all your internal stakeholders in the scoring so you can get a robust outcome that reduces the potential for disputes further down the line.
The following information can help with your decision, so be sure to ask the agency for their:
- Experience in your industry and your engagement needs;
- Approach to meeting your requirements and delivering your work;
- Projected timeline and staffing model;
- Location of work (i.e., local office, regional office, multiple offices etc.);
- Internal process (i.e., planning, communications, delivery);
- Reporting, plus frequency. For example, with marketing projects you should expect real-time analytics and weekly reporting at a minimum. For design work, how many versions will you review?
- Customer case studies; and
- Examples of work products, such as search-engine-marketing campaigns and metrics, wireframes, requirements documentation, and brand guides.
Selecting an agency is often intuitive, but these steps should ensure you find a partner that has the expertise and experience that complements your business, helping you to grow and prosper. For further information on how WunderTalent can help, visit us online here.