Designing a results-driven marketing strategy is an essential priority for business leaders who want to stay competitive. As Gartner noted in a 2022 report, about half of CEOs planned to push growth. And it’s impossible to expand or scale without a well-executed marketing plan.
But it can be tough to do it alone. That’s why so many companies — including 90% of smaller companies — outsource their most pressing marketing needs, like graphic design, copywriting, and video production.
But remember: Your strategy is only as good as the people executing it. No amount of “special sauce” add-ons, such as unique processes and proprietary technology, can overcome the limitations of a lackluster team.
So how can you judge the effectiveness of your agency partner? Look to your account manager.
4 Qualities of a Good Account Manager
From the start of your agency partnership, you’ll want to make sure you experience the following qualities of a good account manager.
First, your account manager’s communication should be clear and consistent. Your interactions with your account manager should be like clockwork. This regular cadence of communication lends peace of mind and ensures you and the agency are up to speed. It also ensures both sides are alerted to any problems. The best account managers run at problems, not from them. For example, when your account manager hears your article was turned down by a publication or your SEO strategy is lagging, they should tell you ASAP.
Second, your account manager should be inquisitive but consultative. You should be asked a lot of questions, but you shouldn’t be left with the burden of all the creative thinking. Your agency partner should bring ideas to the table for your input. If your account manager keeps asking, “What do you think we should do this month?” they are just a “yes person” and probably won’t contribute to pushing your business forward.
Third, your account manager should be a great listener — and honest. They should listen to your concerns and thoughtfully consider them, but they should also be willing to say when you’re wrong. This is incredibly healthy and productive as long as it’s done respectfully and tactfully.
Finally, your account manager shouldn’t take all the credit. The best account managers are proud of the talented individuals who are designing and deploying your Facebook ads or crafting the copy for your next landing page. Confident account managers give credit where credit is due and tell you who’s working on your projects. They’ll also allow you to speak to those individuals if it’s needed (though this should be rare to save you time and keep your workflow efficient).
3 Green Flags That You’ve Found a Great Agency Partner
Knowing the qualities that make a good account manager and actually seeing them play out in reality are two different things. That’s why I’ve outlined three “green flags” below. These scenarios indicate that your account manager — and, in turn, the agency — is a great fit for your business:
1. Your calls, texts and emails are acknowledged.
Few things make your heart sink faster than having an account manager who refuses to respond. You can only conclude that you’re being ghosted. And you’re hardly alone. A Harvard Business Review article notes that ghosting is on the rise — but it shouldn’t be tolerated.
You shouldn’t be relegated to just getting robotic monthly updates without any touchpoints in between. In this case, you’re being treated like a number, and that’s a bad way to ensure your marketing strategy is effective. Instead, you deserve some give and take. This doesn’t mean you can expect your account manager to work 24/7 and respond immediately. Getting a response within 48 business hours or less is reasonable.
2. You’re learning.
World-class account managers love to share insider details with clients. Having a better understanding of not only what’s happening, but also why it’s important puts you in a stronger position to make decisions. It also helps you better understand the customized strategy your digital marketing agency is executing on to reach your company’s goals.
At my company, we constantly strive to share knowledge when we collaborate on projects. Consider our content creation workflow with clients. We strategize together and have an open forum for brainstorming and knowledge sharing. Our objective is to help clients feel more comfortable with common terms and digital marketing tactics they might not have been familiar with before. At the same time, we tap into their profound experience to better understand them.
3. You receive reports consistently.
Reports are essential to make sure your strategy is moving forward. Unfortunately, only 53% of most marketing decisions are based on analytics. If your account manager backs up strategic decisions with data, they’re a keeper.
Even if you don’t understand all the nuances of such reports, you should still receive them, and your account manager should explain them to you. It should be a huge concern if your account manager never sends you data-driven reports on at least a monthly or quarterly basis (depending on your contract). Without reports, you are in the dark as to what’s working and what’s not. You could be losing out on countless opportunities — and money, too.
You need a solid strategy to keep your business moving in the right direction. However, you can’t put your faith in just any digital marketing agency. One of the wisest ways to judge your agency’s fit is by reviewing your interactions with your account manager. When it’s green flags all the way, you’re more likely to enjoy smooth sailing — and success.
Contributed to EO by Kelsey Raymond, the COO of Intero Digital, a 350-person digital marketing agency that offers comprehensive, results-driven marketing solutions. Kelsey has over a decade of experience helping businesses achieve their growth goals through digital marketing strategies. She leads a team of experts in content marketing, PR, web design and development, Amazon marketing, social media, video, and graphic design.