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4 Questions to Ask When Hiring an Ecommerce Digital Agency

By Snap Agency January 28, 2015

Finding an agency to fit your specific ecommerce and digital needs can be an arduous process, but an important one to go through. In order to aid in this quest, we present to you four questions to consider prior to signing an ecommerce digital agency.

Do you get along well?

When hiring someone to complete work for you, the fit has to be just right. The goal is not just to hire a group of individuals to complete a project, but to build a relationship that will be beneficial for your business for months and even years to come. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’ll be able to hire an agency and never interact with them. What’s their culture like? Will it mesh well with you and your business?

Take their selection process into consideration as well. A good agency won’t work with just anybody. They’ll ask the right questions and if they have any concerns, you’ll absolutely know about them. The best digital agency will aim to be just as selective as you should be. (This is just one of the many ways you’ll be able to learn from them). You are trusting this group of individuals with your life’s work. You want to be sure that they’ll take care of it in a way you see fit.

Do they understand what you need?

First and foremost, no work should begin until your goals and objectives are thoroughly discussed. The agency you decide on should make it clear that they both understand and have the ability to meet your goals. Better yet, if they can offer suggestion as to how to build on these goals, you’ve found a keeper.

All reputable agencies will have a detailed research process where they seek to learn everything they can about your business. Every agency has a different routine, but it should go something like this:

First, the agency will ask a detailed series of questions about your goals and objectives in working together. Often times they’ll take it a step further and ask for information about your business’ branding, your current digital strategy, what are your strengths and weaknesses, and the same for any of your competitors.

This is just the beginning. When you seek out an agency for help, what you already know about your business is just the tip of the iceberg. They’ll be more interested in the aspects of your company you aren’t already aware of, and what they can learn about them. They want to know everything they can about you, the industry you’re in, and your competitors. How do users typically search for services or products in your industry? Digital agencies will want to perform a full audit of your online presence. How does your website fare when checked for on-page optimization? Does it have credible backlinks? How are your customers being directed to your website? Without this essential information, they won’t be able to deliver a successful strategy unique to your business.

Finally, the agency will be able to determine what services they offer that will complement the goals you initially set out to achieve. Maybe you set out to redesign your website to increase conversions, but the real problem is your SEO strategy. You need to be confident that the agency you choose will build a strategy around the goals you have for your business while staying true to your brand.

Do they practice what they preach?

If you’re looking for a chef, would you hire one who doesn’t eat his own cuisine? When hiring for ecommerce, things can get a bit trickier. Plenty of digital agencies have helped ecommerce companies to improve their online rankings with SEO, or developed a new website for their online store, but few have first-hand experience as an ecommerce store in addition to their other areas of expertise. In fact, we at Snap only know of one that can claim this honor.

Why is it so important to hire an agency that’s successfully specialized in ecommerce before? Simply put, dealing with the online sales of multiple products is an entirely different animal than the average website. Many sites exist to perform a single goal, regardless of the visitor. Whether this goal is to fill out the contact form, sign up for the mailing list, or download a whitepaper. This is nowhere near as complex as attempting to sell inventory from an entire catalogue while simultaneously optimizing according to best web practices. Ecommerce sites are dynamic, tricky, and can get extremely messy if something goes wrong. Don’t you want someone working on your site who has had first hand experience?

Search Presence

Make a priority to verify an agency’s authenticity. It’s important that your ecommerce store is searchable. After all, customers have to be able to find you easily. If an agency claims to be an expert in search strategy, verify that they’re telling the truth. Try searching for them as if you don’t already know who they are to determine if they’re as good as they claim to be.

Usability Know-How

Another essential priority for any ecommerce site is usability. If it’s not usable, customers will leave before looking at a single product. A usable ecommerce store will be optimized for conversions, visually appealing, and functional. Were you drawn to contact your prospective agency’s after looking through their website? If so, they can probably do the same for you. Try downloading one of their case studies to test out their calls to action, or subscribe to their newsletter.

Measure Everything and Make Application

The beauty of an ecommerce site is that results are easy to measure. Are you making sales, or are customers landing on product pages and not converting? If conversions are low, something has to change. The simple part is knowing when there’s a problem. The bigger, more important challenge is deciding how to fix it. Your perfect agency will have an understanding of a functional sales funnel, and how to build a website that allows for visitors to flow easily through it. Decisions for ecommerce sites should be data driven, and never a “best guess.” At Snap, we ensure that our decision makers are all Google Analytics certified so that if your website isn’t converting, we’ll know why.

Are they confident?

Don’t hesitate to ask yourself those tough questions. For example, is there any chance that you’ll be stuck in a contract that’s not mutually beneficial? If you have to sell your soul and guarantee a year’s worth of business to an agency that’s working on your website, it’s probably not the place for you. You want to be sure that if things aren’t working out for one party or the other, you’ll be able to leave without fear of punishment. This agency should be good enough to let their results speak for themselves, and not bind you into an unbreakable contract.

The terms of a contract should be clear. You should always have an idea as to what’s going on behind the scenes. No loopholes, no mysterious pricing, and easily measurable results to make it clear if this agency is doing exactly what they say they’re doing.

If you haven’t guessed yet, we think we know a great agency to fit your needs. We at Snap offer Search services (SEO/SEM), responsive web design, and of course, ecommerce expertise. Learn how we can get your product flying off the warehouse shelves with the proper strategy. Get in touch to see if we’re a great fit for you.