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Choosing the right digital marketing agency for your B2B company may sound as overwhelming as making the calculations for an Apollo rocket launch. It may also feel as risky as space travel: If you've never done it, working with a B2B digital marketing agency is a bold exploration of unknown territories.

Still, many B2B companies turn to external marketing services. For some, the drive is the lack of in-house resources; for others, it's the need to innovate their marketing approach.

If you are considering collaborating with an external marketing partner, here are 10 of the most important questions you need to ask B2B agency. They can help you make sure your launch calculations are spot-on.

1. Do you have experience in our industry?

A digital marketing agency that has worked for companies in your vertical is more likely to know the ins and outs of your trade. You can minimize risk of failure by assessing their experience in your industry. If they are familiar with the language and keywords, value propositions, and customer behavior that are typical for your business, this will help them grasp your marketing needs faster and better.

Even if your potential partner doesn't have experience in your industry, it might still be a good idea to work with them if they can prove their qualifications. You need to ensure your agency of choice understands the intricacies of your business and that it can develop the needed skills quickly.

In any case, make sure you don't go for a marketing partner that's operating as a jack-of-all-trades. Otherwise, you risk a mediocre performance on their part, and dissatisfaction on yours.

2. Are your specialties a good fit for our marketing needs?

Some digital agencies focus on one field of marketing activities that they have turned into their specialty. For example, they might be SEO-oriented, or they may focus mostly on email marketing. Other agencies take a multidisciplinary approach and offer services for all channels. Which type you need depends on the challenges you're facing and the goals you want to achieve with your marketing efforts.

When selecting your marketing partner, check whether they have mastered the channels you are using and are skilled to execute strategies on them. Since you are seeking their expert help, let them also evaluate your marketing needs and suggest their solutions. Then run a thorough analysis of your own whether their offer is truly what will launch your business into orbit.

3. Can you walk me through the results you got for other companies in our industry?

Creative and well-executed campaigns are great, but they need to also lead to business results. Besides looking at an agency's portfolio, ask them about the numbers behind the pictures. Clarify the metrics they used to measure the efficacy of their work for other companies in your industry.

Case studies and testimonials from companies in your niche can give you insight into the agency's expertise. Check whether their work is authentic and illustrates innovative and non-formulaic marketing techniques. Ensure they are well-versed in content creation, and check whether their marketing approach is designed to bring leads and sales to their customers.

4. Do you know if we are we targeting the right audience?

One of the first things you need to clarify together with your potential agency is whom you are talking to. Your marketing partner should be able to give you a data-driven answer to the question of whether you are focusing on the right target audience.

They must showcase their methods for buyer persona analysis and formulation. This is also a chance to learn more about their segmentation practices and how they are planning to identify the subgroups in your target audience.

5. How will you approach our prospects at the different sales stages?

Image source: TopRank Marketing

Your digital agency should understand the profiles of your prospects at each stage of their buyer journey. A one-size-fits-all approach is a signal for trouble. You need to make sure the agency understands the nuances between the stages and can target your customers in the right way, at the right time.

They should be able to explain how they will craft and assess their targeting efforts for each sales cycle stage.

6. Which channels are you planning to focus on?

With this question, you can get insight into the channels that the agency perceives to be its core capacities. It's also a way to understand whether they stick to the predefined rules, and whether they are willing to experiment and go the extra mile.

If you have proven success in a certain channel, you would want your new partner to incorporate it in the strategy. At the same time, it makes sense to allow the agency to make new suggestions. There may be a channel you have been underestimating. For example, many B2B companies still think Facebook is not the right choice for them, whereas metrics show the opposite. In any case, make sure you hear the agency's full offer.

7. How will you measure ROI?

You need to talk numbers with your digital agency from the very beginning. You are investing your budget in return for a promise of a certain result. What metrics are they planning to use to showcase their achievements toward reaching your goals? The key performance indicators (KPIs) can be website visits, new leads, or converted new customers, among others. You need to set the targets together to ensure the deliverables are clear.

This is also important for balancing between revenue goals and branding objectives you want to achieve with your marketing. Your agency should be able to deliver solid contributions toward your lead generation and sales. At the same time, it shouldn't underestimate the importance of branding and its role in building your B2B company's profile.

8. How are you going to collaborate with our Sales?

It's important to ask the agency about their approach to collaboration with your sales team. Since your marketing efforts should ultimately feed into the work of your sales colleagues, your external partner should be tuned in to your internal cycles. That's how you can ensure alignment between Marketing and Sales.

Asking this question can also give the agency a chance to inquire deeper into your sales process. They would want to understand more about the current collaboration between Marketing and Sales. Doing so will help them successfully integrate their work your current workflow.

9. Can I meet the team that will be assigned to my account?

For many companies, committing to a long-term collaboration with an agency is difficult. One way to break the ice with your future marketing partner is to meet the people who will be working on your account.

The in-person meeting is also a chance to gain insight into the agency's workflow and processes. It also allows you to ask the team the questions that you're pondering regarding your collaboration. You can learn more about the way they work with clients, how they formulate strategies, and how they measure their success as a company.

10. What do you need to ask us to get started?

Once you've covered the main topics you want to discuss, it's time to give the floor to your marketing partner. The type of questions you receive from them can also inform your decision. The more spot-on they are, the better they understand your business and the needs they have to address.

Start compiling your questionnaire for choosing the right B2B digital marketing agency

Selecting a digital marketing agency that matches your company's needs and communication style is a complex process. Undoubtedly, working with an external marketing partner can be a daunting task—or the right fuel for skyrocketing your B2B company.

Though you can never fully ensure success, if you ask your potential agency the most important questions, their answers can give you clarity on any future collaboration.

What other questions should a B2B company ask its digital marketing agency? Please share your insights in the comments.

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10 Questions to Ask When Interviewing Your Next B2B Digital Marketing Agency

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image of Alexander Kesler

Alexander Kesler is the founder and president of inSegment, a Boston-based digital marketing agency, as well as INFUSEmedia, which helps B2B organizations drive full-funnel results via demand generation solutions.

Twitter: @alexanderkesler

LinkedIn: Alexander Kesler