Wondering about the best approach for getting high quality, relevant digital marketing proposals? Follow these tips and make the selection process work for you! 

I’ve occasionally written posts about the RFP process with pointers on how to best request a proposal for web design services in general, and one particularly for a site redesign  project. That is a super common scenario—businesses rely on an RFP as a tool to garner proposals that, theoretically anyway, provide inputs that can be evaluated on and apples-to-apples basis.

We see far less use of the RFP format when brands are looking to procure digital marketing services. But, for a client who wants to put some regimentation around an agency selection, this is a clear opportunity to provide clarity around brand goals that will inform the agencies responses and support a healthy selection process.

Agencies and brands bring a variety of points of view to the process, so to set your potential partners up for success and give them a better chance at delivering the answers you need to work through the evaluation process, ask the agency to sign a non-disclosure agreement and give them the facts:

1. Historical Channel Performance

It’s important that your potential marketing partner understands the type of digital marketing your brand has, or hasn’t been running. Include the following in your RFP: 

  • Share every channel currently (or recently) running and how each has performed
  • Share media spend
  • Provide insight around seasonality, ROI by channel
  • Average customer value
  • Average lifetime value

Being honest about channel performance will only help each agency further determine how they could help you with these efforts.

2. Marketing Goals

Okay so you obviously have some goals you’d like to meet, since you’re searching for a new partner. Be specific during your search, and agencies will have the opportunity to address your goals early on. 

Some agencies will call you crazy; others will appreciate the chance to dig into current channels to evaluate hits, misses, and unsung opportunities. 

3. Access to Your Data

This might be tough to give up, but again, remember you can require potential agencies to sign a non-disclosure agreement so your information is safe. Share the following: 

  • Insight into the overarching marketing strategy, both online and off
  • Access to analytics, i.e. Google Analytics, Search Console, Facebook Analytics, etc.

Giving agencies access to the facts will help inform their proposal with hard evidence.

4. Get to Know Your Potential Partners 

Don’t be afraid to get picky with your list of agencies you want to work with. Start with a list of agencies you’ve already vetted, and go from there. Things to consider with potential agencies include:

  • Understanding their culture and whether you’d match in that sense
  • Open communication during RFP process: answer questions, provide insights
  • Being generous with response time (at least two weeks)

Practicing these steps can help you understand how your relationship may look should you decide to hire the agency. Lots of brands look at an RFP process as an arms length affair. But in reality, it’s a way to create a framework that defines work and makes it easier to an agency to explain their unique approach.

Make it work for you and give it a try! Is there anything you've found works in your RFP process I didn't touch on? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!