So you’re looking to join a Digital Marketing agency. Maybe you’re in-house and you’re looking for a more specialized growth marketing or demand generation role. Maybe it’s just time for a switch and you’re looking for more progression, more opportunity, and more diverse clientele. Whatever the case, you’ve bagged a few interviews – now what?
While it’s important to prepare for the interviewer’s questions, it’s equally as important to prepare your own questions for the digital marketing agency you are looking to join. After all, you’re a talented, valuable asset, and you want to make sure they are a good fit for your wants and needs too.
There are a few criteria that every digital marketing agency job candidate should consider before jumping headfirst into a new agency. Whether you’re looking at a large global firm or a small but mighty agency, the following five digital marketing agency interview questions will help you evaluate your options:
1. How does the agency choose its clients?
There’s a litany of resources advising clients how they should select a digital marketing agency. But how should a digital marketing agency choose its clients? After all, digital marketing agencies can be selective too. The most important factor here is that there is some kind of qualification process in place. No agency is the right fit for every client. Good agencies know their target market and their Ideal Client Profile. They ensure prospective clients match their domain expertise and skill set, that there is alignment on expectations, and a solid set of product differentiators that make that client marketable across digital channels. And they ensure there is adequate capacity within the agency to devote to a new client. When there’s a strong fit, agency teams are set up to succeed.
On the other hand, agencies that lack focus — or take on any client with a budget — are setting their teams up to fail. The result will be constant client churn and staff burnout. That’s not to say that agencies shouldn’t stretch themselves by working with clients that will allow them to expand their expertise and grow their business. But it must be a carefully calibrated decision to ensure a positive outcome for clients and teams alike.
2. How does the agency provide counsel to clients?
Client management is a major component that could make or break your interest in an agency. Digital marketing counseling includes not only developing and sharing strategies, but also building trust, setting boundaries, being realistic and honest about expectations, communicating to clients when they are asking for too much, and knowing when and where it’s appropriate to just say no.
While it’s tempting for an agency to overservice clients, it’s important that your agency be able to stick to the scope of the agreed-upon digital marketing program/services and stay within budget — especially paid media ad spend. This takes data-backed rationale, a solid backup plan, strategic communication, and great tact. A healthy client-agency relationship depends on the ability of both parties to accept constructive criticism and be responsive. Ask your interviewer for specific examples of how they’ve managed client expectations.
3. How do team members expand their skill set?
Working at a digital marketing agency should include the opportunity for personal growth. Growing in your position at an agency isn’t just about training; it’s also about exposure to different people with different skill sets. It’s no good having a broad range of expertise throughout an agency if you never get to work together. Siloed teams are very common within agencies, and you may end up pigeonholed into a department that only focuses on one industry, client, or digital marketing channel (SEO or Paid Media for example). Ask if there will be frequent joint client meetings with different practices, joint brainstorms, diversity, and mobility. Account teams should be able to input to creative teams and vice versa.
There should also be evidence of the agency providing opportunities for progression, and enabling team members to engage in outside skill certification programs. Top digital marketing agencies encourage their team members to reap the benefits of independent learning opportunities.
4. Where does the agency get its business from?
There are several different effective methods for a digital marketing agency to attract new clients. It is generally accepted that the number one way to get new business is through referrals. Does this agency have a robust pipeline of referrals? If Yes, that’s a sign they do good work.
Other effective methods include a robust digital marketing strategy for the agency to generate their own leads, networking, industry board participation, answering a call for an RFP, personal or corporate branding, and attending industry events, and awards, which generate interest when they win industry kudos. While these are all common and effective ways to get business, the best sign by far is a long list of strong referrals.
5. What is the impact of the agency’s work?
A digital marketing agency job candidate should ensure that this agency’s strategies are working and that credit is being given where credit is due. How does the agency measure its impact on its clients? What is the communications strategy for sharing this impact with team members? You want to find out if people feel like they’re having an impact and if their contributions are recognized by the agency and the client.
Make sure there are accessible tools and processes in place to quantify the agency’s impact on the client, each team’s contribution, and the efficacy of different campaigns. If they can articulate the impact they’re having on clients, with examples, chances are they truly are doing strategic work and are able to articulate that to team members too.
Digital marketing agency job candidates should evaluate all prospects through the lens of these needs and goals. Working at a digital marketing agency can be a highly rewarding experience if you do the homework ahead of time and thoroughly vet out the best work environment. After all, you don’t just want to know how to land an agency job – you want to know how to find the best match for your skills and expectations.
Don’t commit to the first digital marketing firm that falls into your lap. Ask yourself: Will I be challenged? Will I grow? Is executive leadership strong and supportive? Does this agency have healthy relationships with its clients? Is the integrity of this agency recognized by the industry? Will I have the opportunity to learn new digital marketing skills from my peers? And will my contributions be meaningfully measured and recognized? If yes to all, it’s a match. Go for it!
Alastair is Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing at Firebrand Communications. With over 15 years of both creative and analytical marketing he combines wisdom from both arenas to drive measurable and memorable marketing results for clients. Prior to joining Firebrand, Alastair has been a web designer, creative specialist, and PMM, for a tech manufacturing company, entertainment agency, and mobile gaming startup.