As a marketing manager, every decision you make has to lead to success.
Choosing the right agency to support your website is no different.
It’s a long term investment and you’re stuck with the decision you made - good or bad.
Making sure it's the right fit for your organisation requires research and careful consideration.
When it’s your first time being responsible for finding a website support agency, it’s not easy getting your head around all the details that come with what seems like a simple move.
You know you need to get this right, but where do you start?
Do you go with the top search on Google?
Do you ask for recommendations on Linkedin?
But even when you’ve got a list of potentials, how do you decide who to talk to?
The bottom line is you want your website to be in safe hands. You want to find a reliable supplier who understands your business objectives.
We’re in an always-on and always-connected world, your company's website becomes your primary shopfront for your business.
We’ve come up with a one-stop-shop of what to ask and how to find the right support agency for your site.
Take time to understand you.
Your agency needs to take time to understand you and what your website needs from a support and maintenance plan. They’ll want to learn what success looks like to you and what your priorities are.
If you’re having these types of conversations the agency is asking you the right questions.
I spoke to our support team recently to get an idea of what you need an agency to answer before you sign any contracts.
A good place to start is getting your head around how their support will work.
You need to establish if they’re an agency that supports your technology - e.g. your CMS platform.
You need to be getting a feel for their workflow and if it fits how your team works.
For example, if your team needs to submit an issue that is blocking their work, how quickly can it be looked at and how do they prioritise? In essence, what are their average response and resolution times?
Finding out what your support time can be used for is important to know, especially from an operations perspective.
Different plans will look very different so it’s essential that the agency you choose will use your support time according to your website and team’s needs.
Some may only monitor and make core updates while others may allow for change requests that help with performance. Either way, you need to know what your support time is being used for.
Following that, you need to make sure you know where to turn when something does go wrong.
You need to know what line of communication is available and what would be done about it. Do they have a service desk where tickets are submitted, can you email or phone up if you’re having issues?
Your website is a 24-hour sales and marketing machine, it needs to be kept well oiled and operating at its best. Making sure that the agency's main goal in your relationship is to work with you at enabling your website to drive customer acquisition and aid you in reaching your goals.
Checking their history
The whole point of outsourcing to an agency is to give you breathing space to work on your campaigns and be on hand for your team.
Not to mention, a team at your fingertips when something technical goes wrong on your site.
Now you’ve found an agency that can assure you they can work to your needs, it’s time for you to delve deeper into their background!
Just like you would any other big purchase, do your research and see if there are any good or bad reviews before investing.
A quick search of their business name online could bring some articles to your attention that could push or pull you away from your decision.
Some slates just can’t be wiped clean!
Another great place to do a quick search is social media. You might come across employee profiles or the main business account that show the true colours and culture of an organisation.
If you’re part of a community of marketers, it’s always worth a quick ask around to see if anyone else has used them before and what their experiences are.
Questions to put to the agency might be about the certifications or accreditations they hold. It’s also worth finding out more about the team that’ll be handling your site!
Always check that the service level agreement (SLA'S) align with you and your business’s needs.
Back up what's 'on paper'
How many times have you scrolled through google and seen brands and businesses claim titles like the ‘best’ or the ‘UK’s biggest’ but with nothing backing it up - probably most weeks!
If an agency doesn’t have any tangible certifications it’s a red flag from day one.
If they don’t have any certifications, find out if they’re taking steps to improve. If they're not, chances are they’re not up to date with best practices and won’t be able to guarantee your website is putting its best foot forward.
A few good examples to look out for include the ITIL certification helps make an IT service function more robust. AWS certifications give you confidence that your agency can look after your infrastructure. If your website is built on Drupal, it’s worth asking about any Acquia Drupal certificates. The holy grail is if they have any Grandmasters in their midst, we’re lucky enough to have two!
Questions that can back up their ‘on paper’ service are a key factor in your buying process.
The questions you should ask
We’ve given you the highlights of how to find the right web support agency for you.
If you’d like an in-depth look at the questions you should be asking a potential support agency to ensure you hire for success, download our question template which will guide you on what to ask potential support agencies.