How Apple’s New Software Update Impacts Advertising

Overview of the change

A new privacy feature was released on Monday 4/26/21 with the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 14.5. This includes a new feature called App Tracking Transparency, a significant step for user privacy, giving people more control over their mobile phone app data and how it’s used by companies, like Facebook and LinkedIn, for personalized ad targeting.

The first time users open an app on their iPhone or iPad after they update, they will be prompted with an option to opt out of tracking that monitors their behavior and shares that data with third parties. It’s generally believed that a small percentage of users will opt-in to allow tracking. Time will tell exactly how small, but early predictions have ranged from 2% to 20% opt-in. Recently, a mobile attribution firm AppsFlyer ran a study that showed a 39% opt-in rate.

While it’s an exciting development for users, this update is causing apprehension in business owners and marketers because it impacts data tracking permissions and therefore efficacy of some campaigns. This won’t necessarily mean an end to all tracking, but as more and more users opt out of tracking, we will experience some notable changes in how we’re able to measure performance and tactics/strategies we’ll be able to deploy.

Impact on Facebook / LinkedIn Ad Campaigns

The changes to the Apple iOS 14 App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework including the Identifier for Advertiser (IDFA) will have a limited impact on these types of ad campaigns.

LinkedIn impact:

  • Shifts in delivery across LinkedIn Audience Network placements.
  • Smaller target audience sizes when using Matched Audiences data
  • Smaller audience sizes for website retargeting.
  • Potential decline in conversions, if dependent on IDFA.

Facebook impact:

  • Some campaign results will be counted differently
  • New limit on web events (limited to 8 conversion events)
  • A domain will need to be selected for each ad to measure conversions
  • Audience sizes may decrease

What we recommend for the short term

  • Enable or update to Facebook’s SDK for iOS 14 version 8.1
  • Verify your domain and enable the conversions API
  • Configure and prioritize your 8 conversion events or choose to rely on your website analytics tool to track conversions from your campaigns
  • Rethink the customer journey–review strategies and where you might need to pivot your approach

What we recommend for the long term

Consider developing “value exchange” strategies to collect first party data that you can use to build direct relationships with prospects and customers. First party data includes any data collected directly from your audience, such as the following:

  • Events/Webinars
  • Email subscriptions
  • Resource downloads
  • Form submissions
  • Data collected through web analytics platforms such as Google Analytics

Key takeaway

As digital platforms tighten up on privacy, knowing your customers, their pain points, resources and tools they need is more important than ever. Ask yourself, how current are your personas? Do you need additional customer research? How can you collect more first party data?

Reimagining Your Marketing Team and Budget

The new norm in marketing includes a shift in team roles and delivery models, with an increased emphasis on jack-of-all-trades team members who can roll up their sleeves and get stuff done. We’re seeing more and more organizations who need to micro-target opting to find partners who can think like a CMO or CTO instead of filling high-level executive roles.

Forrester also considers 2021 a year of reinvention for CMOs and their teams.

  • The research group predicts that leaders will integrate marketing and CX this year, no longer segregating acquisition from product utilization, customer service, retention and advocacy.
  • Because growth is tied to continued use of a company’s offering, it’s also imperative that marketing teams focus on acquiring customers who will stick around, reemphasizing full-fledged loyalty programs rather than frequency-based rewards.
  • Chief marketing officers will need to drive customer obsession within their teams, putting the customer at the center of everything they do – from leadership and strategy to operations.

CMOs are also prioritizing digital in their budgets.

  • The latest CMO Survey reports that while marketing spending decreased by 3.9% over the last year, marketers reported an 11.5% increase in digital marketing spend, showing us the shift in HOW they are spending their budgets.
  • Social media ad spend has continued to increase, leaping nearly 30% (Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019). This trend will only accelerate as we pull out of the pandemic.

Key questions

  • Do you have the bandwidth to generate and nurture leads?
  • Take a close look at what skills you need on your team. Do you need to train existing team members, or hire new ones? Remember, the more senior the hire, the higher the investment across the employee lifecycle – from recruiting and training, to management and engagement.
  • What’s happening with your trade show manager and their budgets?
  • In fact, what’s happening with your budget overall?

In case you missed it, check out the other installments of our CMO Intelligence series:

Your Digital Presence is Top Priority

 

Insights for going digital, refining your plan and meeting the moment

The role of the CMO has never been more interesting. The entire world has turned to life online and marketing is evolving non-stop to address the impacts of coronavirus, including flexibility in budgets, tactics, execution, reporting and staffing. Uncertain times are causing major shifts in consumer purchase behavior and media consumption habits for both B2B and B2C. In this, the first of our new 4-part series, we’ll begin serving up meaningful insights for marketing efforts, resources needed and measurable goals throughout 2021.

As Forrester’s 2021 Predictions Guide notes, “The value of your company depends on how customer-obsessed, resilient, creative and adaptive you are in jumping to the next growth curve in your industry.”


First Up: Digital Presence Is Top Priority

Innovative digital engagement has never been more important to buyers than in the wake of this pandemic crisis. According to the Forrester’s Guide, more than one-third of B2B technology buyers say digital engagement channels have become more important to their purchasing experience, and four in ten indicate that human/analog engagement with sellers has become less important.

That makes digital presence a priority for marketers who have even more freedom to create engagement as buyers open up to new and innovative digital experiences. For example, as of the fourth quarter in 2019, 36% of US consumers had tried augmented or virtual reality, and in 2021 another 10-12% are expected to experiment with the technology.

Why? Because consumers are giving brands permission to be creative, entertaining and immersive in a way they never have previously, so long as the content is created consciously and sincerely without manipulative tactics that destroy consumer trust.

Take note: this isn’t just about AI or VR, but inviting your audience into an engaging digital experience across all your channels. At the heart is a thoughtful and strategic user experience (UX). We consider this a vital marketing endeavor – now and into the future. In fact, a positive user experience is absolutely critical to grabbing consumer attention and earning customer loyalty. Making UX an inherent part of your design and development process can help increase sales and conversion rate by 87% on average.

Why waste time and money trying to dress up a broken website, mobile app or digital interface that’s not delivering results during this challenging time? An audit and overhaul of your user experience (UX) will give you what you need to compete. If you haven’t done this lately, we recommend this ASAP.

Stay tuned for the next three installments of our CMO Intelligence series, coming to your inbox soon:

Fracture Locator Tool and Instagram Posts

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting healthcare providers’ ability to work face-to-face with their patients and staff. Bioventus, a long-time Signal client, developed its @Home Experience program to help ensure that patients with fractures would receive thorough education on using their EXOGEN® bone healing devices – all without in-person interaction to keep patients and medical staff safe.

To support the program, Bioventus asked Signal to develop an interactive EXOGEN Fracture Locator Tool to help physicians give their patients a better understanding of their injury and treatment. The healthcare provider can mark the exact location of a patient’s fracture on a visual model, then give the patient an image for reference in positioning the EXOGEN bone stimulator device for at-home treatments.

The Signal team also developed a series of Instagram video posts to raise awareness about the Fracture Locator Tool.

The collaboration is a great example of Bioventus’ trust in our team to help them solve problems with digital sales enablement tools.

LinkedIn ABM: A Winning Strategy During the Pandemic and Beyond


I think everyone would agree that 2020 is a year most would rather forget, and to say that our clients and marketers in general have felt the pinch is a gross understatement. The latest CMO Survey (June 2020 Special Covid-19 Edition) presents some bleak insights and predictions:

  • Marketer optimism about their own company and about the economy as a whole are at 10-year lows
  • Companies have reported big losses across revenue (18%), profit (15%) and customer acquisition (9%) metrics
  • Marketing spending and hiring is expected to go down over the next 12 months

However, this survey also presents some jaw-dropping growth in social media spending across all sectors – 74% growth on average. And what’s more, social media is now showing the largest increase in contribution to company performance since the survey began in 2008.

So how do you reconcile shrinking budgets with increased social spending? One answer could be deploying social campaigns based on Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategies.

What is ABM?

ABM involves marketing and sales working closely together to identify a group of high-value accounts and create personalized marketing messages for them, based on their specific needs. It essentially means you’re targeting individual companies rather than personas, and offering specific solutions to their specific challenges.

While there are many tactics and channels to use within ABM, for the purposes of this article, I’d like to focus on Sponsored Posts within LinkedIn. Since Covid-19, we’ve witnessed a rapid uptick in working with clients on LinkedIn ABM campaigns.

Why is LinkedIn ABM important in today’s climate?

  • Sheer numbers, especially now that many of us are working from home – 690 million total LinkedIn members and a 26% increase in sessions last quarter alone
  • Personalized and tailored messaging means you can guarantee message relevancy
  • More relevancy leads to more engagement, better conversions and a better ROI
  • Knowing what accounts you’re targeting and how much business you ultimately gain from them makes it easier to measure ROI
  • With shrinking budgets overall, you need to reduce as much budget waste as possible to ensure the best bang for your buck

ABM on LinkedIn

With LinkedIn, you can display custom advertising messages to key stakeholders of your target companies. The messages can be customized not only for the overarching needs of the target company, but also for an individual’s attributes, like job title or job function. For example, stakeholders in Procurement might receive ads focusing on potential cost savings from your offering, while people in Operations might receive ads on time savings gained by your offering.

How we do it

  • Choose your goal and objective.
    • This decision is the foundation of your campaign. It aligns your campaign with the appropriate performance metrics and recommended ad formats to help reach your goals. For example, you may choose brand awareness for top-of-funnel brand building. Or, if your goal is to generate leads, you’re better off selecting a lead generation or website conversion objective.
  • Build the audience.
    • Work with sales to get a list of key contacts within the target account. Hopefully the list contains job titles and locations.
    • Use that list to build the audience within LinkedIn, using combinations like Company Name + Job Title + Location, or Company Name + Job Function + Experience Level + Location.
  • Create the ads.
    • Work with marketing and sales to uncover tailored messaging for the account, and ideally tailored messaging for the different types of people at the account.
    • Design compelling ads in a format that’s best for your goals. For example, we’ve seen some success with static image ads and carousel ads for driving website traffic, but we recommend using animated or video ads when possible. Our experience has shown movement in the ads generates 5x more website clicks at half the cost in comparison to static ads.
  • Install the LinkedIn Insight Tag
    • The LinkedIn Insight Tag is a piece of code that you can add to your website for campaign reporting. You will need this in place to unlock valuable insights about your website visitors.
  • Vigilantly monitor the program and optimize often.
    • Look out for things like ad frequency. Is your budget too thin? How much are you blanketing your audience with your message? We know your audience may need to see your ad more than once in order to make an impact, but when they see it too much it becomes less effective. While there’s no hard and fast rule, CPA tends to rise sharply when frequency rises above 4 views. Plan to refresh creative before reaching that point.
    • Closely monitor performance metrics and make decisions accordingly. Drilling down in LinkedIn reports will show a breakdown of KPIs by audience segment like Job Function, Job Title, Location and more.

If you’re interested in learning more about ABM or other strategies that fit well during today’s unique climate, please let me know.

planning a video

5 Action Steps for Your Next Video Project

planning a video


Hands down, video is one of the most impactful tools marketers have for connecting and converting audiences. With so many opportunities at stake, you’ll do yourself a favor by creating a thoughtful video project plan before you begin. From project conception to promotion, here are the top 5 action steps to help make your next video project your best ever.

 

1. Spell out your strategy.

Does your company have a video marketing strategy? Digging into the following questions can help you make sure your message is communicated in a pithy, powerful way.

  • What is the core purpose, goal, subject, and message of this project?
  • Who is the target market(s)?
  • How and when will this content be used?
  • What’s the desired length?
  • Are you looking for high, medium or low production value?
  • What do you like (or dislike) about any previous or competitor videos?
  • What are the budget and timeline?

 

2. Clarify who is responsible for the script, storyboard, and assets.

Before you can get cracking on creative concepts, you need to know who on your team – or which trusted external resource – is handling the important tasks.

  • Who is responsible for creative direction? Creative concepting?
  • Who will write content for the storyboard/script?
  • Will the video contain audio (speaking subjects or voiceover) or will it be silent, with text on screen only?
  • Do you have the necessary assets (including images, footage, and graphics) or do they need to be created?

 

3. Get into the weeds on video production.

Video production will most likely require the most coordination with both internal and external resources, so knowing what’s needed is absolutely key.

  • If video and/or photoshoots are required, how many are needed, in what locations, and with how many cameras?
  • What are the estimated shoot duration, travel time, and expenses?
  • Do you need to plan for wardrobe, makeup, props, or any special equipment?
  • If you are using a vendor, do they have any specific preferences or requirements?

 

4. Know what’s needed to finalize the video.

Post-production is where your strategy and creativity come together for a video that makes a splash. Ask these questions to ensure your hard work translates into a great final product.

  • What new motion graphics (intro, outro, titles, transitions, etc) or 3D animation need to be created, and who will create them?
  • Who is the talent for audio voiceover and when will they record?
  • What audio soundtrack or sound effects are needed, and who will procure them?
  • How many clips will be created?
  • In what format(s) will the video be exported?

 

5. Prioritize promotion and measurement.

An amazing video quickly loses its worth if you don’t give it the promotion it deserves, and don’t know if you’ve hit your mark.

  • How, how often, and on what channels will the video be promoted?
  • What are the requirements for analytics and tracking?
  • What are your desired results or KPIs?

Video projects are multifaceted and demanding. Taking the time and effort to create a thoughtful plan before you jump in can improve your team’s performance, and the audience experience. With hundreds of successful videos under our belt, the Signal team is here to answer any questions you have!

 

 

Human Connection in Video

The Value of Human Connection in Video


When it comes to reaching an audience, video is unparalleled. And when it comes to creating a human connection, using people in videos is the key to success. Whether you’re creating internal messages or targeting your prime marketing audience, the voices – and faces – you use in a video can increase the effectiveness.

Creating connection

In business as in marketing, there are three key characteristics of success: relatability, leadership and emotional connection. That is especially true of video marketing. Faces and voices in a video create:

  • Connection – We empathize with other people via their facial cues and tone of voice.
  • Relationship – Eye contact makes a huge difference in the way people react to what a person is saying – even in video.
  • Human touch – Putting a face on the brand helps people emotionally connect with your product or message.

People love faces

The fact is, the best thing you can do to not only convey your message, but also elicit the precise emotional response you’re seeking is to put a face in your video. Studies show that the human brain has a special place for faces – dedicated neural circuits that respond only to faces.

As an example, consider whether employees would rather watch a personal video message from their CEO, or read an email with the same information. The video wins hands-down, and chances are high that the employees will remember the message for longer.

Voiceover spices up text

While most of our communication is geared to take in facial and body language cues, video voiceovers can also be a boost to video effectiveness when it’s not possible to include faces. A voice reading the text displayed in a video is still more engaging and memorable than text displayed alone.

What to look for in voiceover talent

Whether using in-house talent or a professional voiceover specialist, it is important that they be engaging and well-spoken to capture and hold your audience’s attention. Words should be articulated in a warm voice with expression, drawing the viewer in. It’s important to choose the right person for the job – someone with great energy who speaks with an authentic tone that adds credibility to what they’re saying.

Need help making your videos pop? Signal’s in-house experts are here to answer your questions.

Digital Path for Customer Experience

Clear the Digital Path for Your Customers

Clear Digital Path Customer Experience


In recent years, companies have been focusing on digitizing their customer experience to empower their customers online. Social distancing measures have only accelerated this trend, so it’s more critical than ever for businesses that depend on brick and mortar locations, face-to-face interactions or traditional paperwork to take action and implement an end-to-end digital customer journey.

Organizations that provide a comprehensive digital experience make their operations more flexible and scalable. They also differentiate themselves from competitors by offering the excellent service and control that customers expect. With powerful online tools at their fingertips, customers are now making large, complex and life-changing decisions and purchases completely online, without seeing physical products or speaking with anyone.

Combining a customer-centric approach with modern technology can transform traditional product and service offerings, and lead to game-changing results. Familiar examples include Rocket Mortgage’s “Push button, get mortgage” approach to the cumbersome mortgage application process, and Carvana’s turnkey model that allows customers to find and finance vehicles and have them delivered to their door without ever speaking to a salesperson.

While these are large-scale examples, the same approach can be applied on a smaller scale to remove friction when selling any product or service. Standard web technologies may be used to create user-friendly interfaces for your prospects and customers, and connect existing internal systems to remove any barriers to doing business.

Start with a digital customer journey map

To get started, create a digital customer journey map that outlines the ideal path for customers, from becoming aware of your offerings to becoming a strong customer advocate for your brand. These are some examples of areas in your customer journey that may need attention before you digitize the customer experience:

  • Awareness
    • Is your brand prominent enough on the channels where your audience is today (search engines, social channels, affiliated websites, etc.) to generate leads?
    • Do your website and other digital communications include the engaging content (copy, photography, video) needed to thoroughly showcase your offerings and generate interest? Rich media – such as videos or motion graphics – is proven to create an engaging customer experience, leading to a higher interaction rate.
  • Research
    • Do you offer digital tools (product selection, visualization/build your own, value calculators, FAQs) that help users connect with your products or answer common questions (Which product is right for me? or What cost savings or performance increase can I expect?)?
    • Do you offer enough educational and value-added content (blog posts, newsletters, etc) to highlight your knowledge and expertise and build credibility?
    • Do you utilize landing pages that speak directly to your various audience segments? Tailoring specific messaging and imagery is proven to improve conversion rates and sales.
  • Consideration
    • Do you make it easy for users to engage with sales to ask questions or request more information? This includes online request forms, live chat, text messaging, and video conferencing.
    • Can customers generate estimates and proposals online?
    • Do communications integrate with a marketing automation platform and/or your CRM to help automate quick, consistent and targeted follow up with prospects? Platforms like Hubspot, Marketo and Pardot trigger automatic, personalized follow-up at the right intervals and keep customers moving through the funnel.
  • Purchase
    • Do you offer e-commerce functionality that allows a customer to securely buy online?
    • Are any contracts leveraging digital workflows and signatures to make signing paperwork quick and easy for customers?
    • Do you provide customers with online profiles/accounts to track the status of their projects or orders and make updates?
  • Retention & Advocacy
    • Do you offer online support tools to allow customers to find guidance for common problems or request help?
    • Do you routinely collect feedback from customers to ensure they’re satisfied, resolve any issues and improve your processes?
    • Do you provide customers with reporting to show how they’re benefitting from your product or service?
    • Do you use automation to personalize and streamline communications with existing customers?
    • Do you offer social sharing features to allow customers to easily provide recommendations and referrals?

A digital customer journey map will clearly highlight the biggest obstacles that customers must overcome to do business with you. Prioritize the biggest challenges as the biggest opportunities to make a customer impact and pursue each as individual initiatives. By focusing on one project at a time using an agile process, you’ll improve the customer experience to ultimately help your company realize the benefits and success that a digital transformation offers.

dark patterns and ux design

Ethical UX and Dark Patterns

ethical ux and dark patterns


Dark patterns are features of online interface design, crafted to intentionally force or manipulate users into doing things they would not otherwise do under normal circumstances. These tactics, drawn from extensive behavioral psychology research, benefit the website’s business and are unethical to use. Soon, they may also be illegal: legislation has recently been introduced to prohibit the use of dark patterns. It pays for marketers to know what they are and to avoid them.

Examples of dark patterns

You’ve probably experienced one of the most frequent types of dark pattern: the frustrating disguised ad that pretends to be a video or other content to get you to click on it. Other examples of dark pattern use include:

  • Sneak into basket – the site sneaks something into your cart through the use of an opt-out radio button or check box
  • Privacy Zuckering – named after the infamous Facebook CEO, this entails tricking people to publicly share more information than intended
  • Misdirection – Using design to focus your attention on one thing in order to distract your attention from another
  • Confirmshaming – Shaming the user into opting into something using clever wording in the option to decline
  • Obstruction – Making it easy to sign up for a recurring charge or subscription, but hard to cancel

Abuses of power

Twitter users are sharing dark patterns as they find them with the handle @darkpatterns. Take a look at the Hall of Shame to see what’s been reported. TurboTax may have the dubious honor of employing deception at every possible turn to scam users into paying to file their taxes when it should have been free.

Dark patterns are prevalent

A Princeton University study recently combed through 53,000 product pages from 11,000 shopping websites to characterize and quantify the prevalence of dark patterns – that is, designs that trick the user into doing things like clicking a link to subscribe to a service, or hiding the “Close Account” link with a myriad of other links to make it harder to leave the site. Here’s what they found:

  • 1,818 instances of dark patterns on shopping websites, which together represent 15 types of dark patterns
  • The patterns were present on 1,254 of the 11,000 shopping websites – approximately 11.1%
  • Shopping websites that were more popular, according to Alexa rankings, were more likely to feature dark patterns
  • A total of 234 instances of deceptive dark patterns were found across 183 websites
  • 22 third-party entities provided shopping websites with the ability to create dark patterns on their sites

Legislation to combat the problem

U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Deb Fischer have introduced legislation in Congress aimed at prohibiting the use of dark patterns. The Deceptive Experiences to Online Users Reduction (DETOUR) Act seeks to curb manipulative dark pattern behavior by prohibiting the largest online platforms (those with more than 100 million monthly active users) from relying on user interfaces that intentionally impair user autonomy, decision-making or choice.


UX and UI: The ethical dilemma of dark patterns

While the use of dark patterns may not be illegal at this time, there are certainly some concerns about the ethics of employing them in UX and UI design. Let’s look at the differences:

  • UX, or user experience design, identifies pain points and user needs in a web design, creates a prototype for solving those issues, validates the prototype through testing and then builds a product that brings resolution to those issues.
  • UI, or user interface design, looks at the visual design of the site (the look and feel, personality and brand) and considers how people will interact with that design.

UX designers could be considered the architects of macro-interactions, while UI designers are more the makers of micro-interactions. However, both play a role in dark pattern tactics. UX design should carve out a path for the user by putting their needs first. It’s the path the user expects, not a design strategy that takes advantage of the user by misleading them or by trapping them in a maze of confusion from which they can’t escape. Likewise, UI design should not be undertaken to use the site’s look and feel – its colors, fonts, and other design elements – to manipulate the user into making potentially harmful choices.

Our best defense against dark patterns use – as designers and users – is awareness of this unethical behavior. Companies risk their reputations and the goodwill of their customers by employing dark pattern tactics that sabotage the user. In addition to losing customers, they may incur negative press, or be shamed on social media, finding the consequences outweigh the benefits of such designs.

When planning, designing and prototyping your next project, ask Signal keeping the user’s best interests at heart.

Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Digital Agency

If you’re looking for a new digital agency, chances are that you’re either unhappy with your current agency, or looking to supplement an unmet need on your team, and you want to explore options. Either way, it’s an important decision. Understandably, you want to make the right choice. Otherwise, it’s like hiring someone who isn’t quite right for the job, with negative consequences that can last a long time.

As a digital agency ourselves, we know the importance of being a good fit for our clients, which helps us both enjoy a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship. Every agency really does have a unique DNA. We recognize it’s difficult to choose based on a meeting or two, but hopefully the ideas outlined here will help you be better prepared for the task.

Below are some questions to ask yourself and potential agency partners, across the following critical areas: Staffing, Strategy, Content, Design and Technology.

Staffing

Before meeting with potential agency partners, take a look at your team and be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. What gaps do you see? Effective marketing campaigns require careful planning and execution, and your organization may not have all of the resources to do it in-house. What kind of talent do you need?

Once you begin a dialogue with a potential partner, make sure you ask about the agency’s staff members and their top competencies, so you can fill your gaps. Generally speaking, digital agencies with a well-rounded team are better equipped to handle your brand’s needs in today’s marketing world. Look for a team with a deep enough bench, but one that won’t get you lost in bureaucracy. And look for experienced professionals with diverse capabilities such as interactive design, application development, user experience (UX), marketing strategy, content development and video/motion graphics.

Strategy

This will typically dovetail off of the staffing question, but before meeting with potential partners, it’s important to know if you’re interested in driving your own comprehensive strategy with a collaborative agency partner, or if you’re looking to turn over the reins to the agency. This may help you decide between a smaller, specialized agency or one that’s more full-service.

When you meet, ask what experience the agency has within your industry. Or, what steps will they take to become an expert on your business and industry. It’s nice to have an agency that understands your unique purpose and goals, especially if you’re looking for an agency to drive the strategy. Choosing an agency savvy about your industry can save valuable “onboarding” time.

Content

Before hearing any pitches, take a look at your content and think about what needs improvement, updating or deleting – and consider any new content you need an agency to develop. It helps to look at your analytics to see what your audience is engaging with – and what they’re not. You can also ask your sales and customer service teams what topics they’re currently hearing for great insights.

When you meet, ask about the agency’s content development strategy. Remember, a good process starts with understanding your industry and audiences. Make sure to find out how closely your agency’s social media and content marketing teams work together when it comes to producing content. And, look for an agency who is experienced in delivering across email, search, social, PR and sales enablement. As a resource, think about our 5 Steps to Content Marketing.

Design

Before meeting, review the agency’s portfolio online. An agency is putting the best of the best on their website, so this should give you a sense of the group’s design chops.

When you meet, it’s important to find out the process behind the design – how the agency ensures an optimal CX and UX. These are not just buzzwords. Positive UX is critical to your audience’s engagement with your website, tools and key touchpoints along their customer journey. It’s important to find an agency who can describe their process, and who knows that good UX isn’t just about design, but also all of the elements (content, information architecture, interactivity and functionality) which underpin design. Read our UX Demystified feature for more tips.

Technology

Before meeting, make a list of the software and platforms used by your organization. At a minimum, this includes your CRM, marketing automation platform and CMS. Are they seamlessly integrated, or are there gaps in your tech?

When you talk, find out how familiar the agency is with all aspects of your MarTech. Some agencies “go deep” and are very specialized in a particular platform, while others work across many and can bring a fresh perspective no matter the technology. Decide what’s better for you.

Final thought – How will you measure success?

Expect this question from your agency, and know how to answer it. Regardless of the measurement tool, the results should be reported in a format that you and your stakeholders understand, like leads and revenue. Get prepared by reading how to create a measurement plan. When you meet with potential partners, make sure you’re comfortable with how they intend to show results.

Knowledge is power when it comes to choosing a digital marketing agency. Ask good questions to help you make the most informed decision.