How to Build a Successful Digital Marketing Agency and Client Relationship

How to Build a Successful Digital Marketing Agency and Client Relationship

Digital marketing is an ever-changing, fast-paced industry, which can make the relationship between an agency and client very complex. If you’re a company that chooses to partner with an external expert to develop a digital marketing strategy, and lean on them to subsequently push that strategy through content creation, SEO, and amplification, it’s important that you establish a transparent and collaborative foundation. In this article, we discuss the best way to build a successful digital marketing relationship with your agency.

Your agency should create a smooth onboarding process

Over the years, we’ve recognized that the client onboarding process is the most important first step in the agency-client relationship. We revamped our process in 2017, and continuously ask new clients if they are satisfied with the onboarding process during our client satisfaction surveys.

Here’s what our process looks like now:

1. First, the introduction meeting. This meeting is for the sales team to hand off the new account to the day-to-day contacts (Account Manager and Project Manager). It’s a quick meeting, but it accomplishes a lot; it establishes roles and responsibilities, communication expectations, timelines for review, and action-items.

2. Next, is the internal kick-off meeting. The full project team, i.e. subject matter experts/people executing on the work, is included in this meeting. The purpose of it is to discuss the project and upcoming needs/questions.

3. Last, the client kick-off meeting. A clear agenda should be set before this meeting occurs because lots of information sharing occurs between the digital marketing agency and you, the client. At this point, your agency team should have everything they need to move forward with project execution successfully.

After these meetings, everyone involved should have clear expectations, which leads us to our next recommendation…

Your agency should set clear expectations, and so should you

Clear expectations should start early in the sales process but carry through the length of the agency-client relationship. One of the most important first steps for our agency is to understand your goals as an organization.

We like to ask, “How will our agency be measured” or “What does success look like for you?” Knowing how we’re going to be measured will help us strategically plan between service offerings in the months to come.

CMI's 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends - North America

Your digital marketing agency should also keep you looped into project timelines, and as changes are being made. At the same time, you should also be looping your agency in when you have specific milestone dates that need to be hit.

Expectations are crucial for each deliverable we present to the client. These expectations can come in a variety of forms. For example, a project manager may send an eBook or infographic, and include specifics on how you can provide feedback efficiently for our team. Or, an SEO strategist will include a priority list of items that need to be fixed on your website and the timeline for each in the onsite SEO audit.

Both parties need to communicate transparently

Transparent communication starts during the onboarding process. In addition to sharing goals, we ask for access to the tools you use to execute marketing strategies. This allows your digital marketing agency to have a complete picture of how your website and various digital marketing campaigns are performing. For example, it would be a disservice for your agency to perform a lead nurture analysis without access to your marketing automation platform. That would lead to a very high-level audit instead of a thorough analysis with strategic recommendations.

Ongoing communication between you and your agency is important to keep you both in sync. Our digital marketing agency maintains communication by doing the following:

  • Scheduling weekly or bi-weekly calls
  • Responding to emails within 24 hours
  • Monthly measurement reporting
  • Quarterly business reviews

Our monthly measurement reports show several items:

  • Outline of your goals so that we’re always keeping those top-of-mind.
  • Recaps of the work completed during the month.
  • Analysis of the progress and recommended action items to improve moving forward.
  • Data: traffic to your website, marketing qualified leads, and sales qualified leads.

Quarterly business reviews involve several people, i.e. your account manager, digital agency’s subject matter experts, you, and executive level members of your organization. The purpose of the meeting is to step out of the day-to-day tactics and have a strategic conversation. We review high-level performance to understand what’s working and what isn’t working. We discuss how our relationship can improve, and set goals for the future quarter.

How can you communicate transparently? By providing consistent feedback at every step in the relationship, whether it’s through constructive feedback on deliverables, updates during weekly calls, or quarterly business reviews. Your transparency helps us get to know you better, and be a better partner.

Treat your agency like a partnership

Communication is only one aspect of creating a partnership. We like to say that it’s important to “treat your digital marketing agency as a partner instead of a vendor.” Your digital marketing agency should be an extension of your marketing team.


It starts with trust. You should trust that your digital marketing agency has your best interest in mind. One of the most common mistakes we see made by clients is a lack of trust. Our agency makes strategic recommendations that we believe will help build your audience. We build your audience so that you in turn can gain real revenue from it. Essentially, your success is our success, so you should trust that your agency wants to see you succeed.

As in any relationship, your digital marketing agency should be collaborative along the way. One of our most collaborative services is the digital marketing strategy. It would be impossible for our agency to be successful at strategies without your involvement. We may be experts in the digital marketing industry, but you are experts in your own field. The same principle flows through every aspect of the relationship.

How do you know if it’s the right fit?

When you’re on the hunt for your next digital marketing agency, make sure you look beyond the initial appearance, i.e. their service offerings and client roster. You should see hints of the aspects outlined in this article in your conversations with the agency. Ask the hard questions to determine if you think the agency would make a good fit for your organization.


Are You Ready to Work With Us?

When you work with Vertical Measures, you work with a team that will treat your business as if it was our own. We are your partner every step of the way, whether you are looking for expertise in content marketing, SEO, or PPC Services. We help our clients build their own audience, then leverage it for real revenue growth.

Start the Conversation Now!

Jenn Tanabe

Jenn Tanabe leads the project management team at Vertical Measures, in addition to managing a handful of enterprise-level accounts. She has over 7 years of digital marketing experience, including content marketing, SEO, website development, and email marketing.