12 Expectations to Consider When Engaging a Digital Agency

Hiring and working with a digital agency comes with a lot of considerations. Not only will you need to think about how to appropriately vet a digital agency, but also what the working relationship will look like. In order to ensure that you are getting the most out of your digital agency – and that you aren’t driving them crazy – consider these factors.

Proposal and Strategy

When you are initially engaging with a digital agency, you should expect to receive some form of value upfront before you invest in their services.

This can take different forms such as:

Getting value upfront will help you evaluate the expertise of the agency and demonstrates that they are serious about helping you.

Niche Speciality

Any agency you engage with should ideally have experience working with other clients who are similar to you in terms of both your specific needs and the market you operate in.


Understanding the legal side of your relationship with your agency will ensure that you don’t have any nasty surprises.

When you sign a contract with an agency, here are some things you should expect:

Cost Expectations

When you are hiring an agency, you are engaging in a form of outsourcing.

But despite the connotations, outsourcing doesn’t necessarily mean cost savings. If you work with the best agencies, you will have to pay adequately for their expertise.

Some agencies may promise to do the same work for less, but there is always a logical reason why one agency charges more than the other. Chances are, they have more experience and expertise.

It’s important to also keep in mind the cost difference between hiring an agency and building an in-house team. Consider how much it would cost you to hire the top talent in a particular field, versus hiring an agency who already has them.

Project Scope

Oftentimes, business owners engage with an agency without a clear understanding of exactly what they want.

Although this is understandable, you should speak with your agency and get a crystal clear idea of what the scope of the project is.

You will need to consider:

Results Expectations

Getting results for your business is the ultimate goal when hiring an agency, but it’s important to have a realistic perspective on what success looks like.

Hiring Multiple Agencies

Something you may be thinking about is whether you should hire multiple agencies or just one that can handle everything.

Working with different agencies has perks including:

  • In theory, you will be able to find super-specialized agencies for each of your marketing needs. This should provide better results
  • You can leverage and gain insights from different perspectives
  • You diversify the risk of relying on one team

But there are some limitations too.

  • It can create a lot more work having to manage multiple agencies. If managed badly, performance can suffer
  • Not all the agencies may be as good as each other
  • It may be difficult to get agencies to collaborate together on a holistic marketing strategy

Hiring multiple agencies can be useful if there is something very specific that you need to solve. For instance, if you are in a niche market and need content creators who have deep knowledge of your market.

Personal Workload

When you engage with a digital agency, you are leveraging an external team that can help you achieve your goals.

However, this doesn’t mean that they are going to take over your business and do all the work for you. Particularly when engaging with a digital marketing agency, you will still have some responsibilities:


Micromanagement is typically never a good thing, but you are more likely to pull it off successfully if you are working with a small in-house team.

Working with a digital agency is another story.

Your digital agency will have their own set of processes and ways of working which you won’t easily be able to oversee and become involved in.

Remember that an agency operates in a different manner to your employees and they aren’t simply there to do as you tell them.

There are also logistical barriers even if you wanted to micromanage an agency. You may only have direct communication with an account manager and not the other members of the team, for instance.

And not only will the agency not be in the same location as you, but there is a chance that they could be in a completely different timezone.

Business Fundamentals

Here’s the deal.

If you have a bad business, it wouldn’t matter if you hire the best digital marketing agency in the world. They would simply be sending traffic into a blackhole.

You need to deeply understand whether your current challenges are a result of your marketing strategy or a weak business in itself. Before talking to a digital marketing agency, think deeply about the following:

Have you validated your product?

If you barely have any customers, hiring a digital agency probably isn’t the best idea. Find out if there is a strong demand for your product first.

Is there a large addressable market?

Digital agencies will help you build out scalable marketing channels. And to see the best results, you need to have a product and a market that can scale. Selling personalized homemade cookies in your local area probably isn’t the right fit for a digital agency.

Do you have any proof of marketing potential?

In addition to proving that you have a product that sells, you need some inclination that digital marketing channels will work for you. For instance, are their competitors in your space that are doing well online?

Agencies Have Multiple Clients

Digital agencies structure their business so that they can work with multiple clients. And like any other business, they are usually trying to grow, which means taking on new clients.

What you need to keep in mind here is that any given digital agency will never put 100% of their resources and focus onto your particular goals.

You will be assigned an account manager, and depending on the work involved you may have direct contact with the team members who are executing on the marketing strategy.

But you will likely not have access to the senior team, unless you are one of their biggest and most important clients.

It’s also important to keep in mind that even the account manager and marketing people you work with will likely be working on other projects too. It is unlikely you will work with agency members who are 100% focused on your project.

Agencies Have Their Own Processes

When you start engaging with a digital agency, you will quickly come to find out that you are essentially integrating with another company.

This means that there has to be a good symbiosis between the different parts of your company and theirs.


Having the appropriate expectations will set you up for success and a more harmonious relationship with any digital agency you work with. The main takeaway here is to understand what an agency can and can’t do for your business.

As talented and experienced as they may be, they can only work with what you give them. You will need to ensure that your own house is in order first so that when you do work with an agency they can help you scale up what’s already working.