Finding a new digital marketing agency can be an exciting, yet scary process. You need an agency that can propose services specific to your business needs. But how do you communicate these needs in an efficient and clear way?
A Request for Proposal, or RFP, is a powerful way to prompt digital marketing agencies to send proposals your way. You, the vendor, put together a document specifying what you are looking for, and as a response, interested agencies can bid for the project by submitting a proposal.
Today, we’ll outline what you can expect when you make a request for proposal to a digital marketing agency. By the end of this post, you’ll know how to create a specific, strong, and complete RFP that perfectly communicates what your business needs – and ensure you can find a digital marketing agency that is the best fit for you.
What is a Request for Proposal?
Although RFPs are traditionally used by government agencies and larger companies, they are also the best way to shop around for the best digital agency.
When you make a request for proposal to a digital marketing agency, you can expect specific, targeted bids, compared to the more general proposal you would receive if you were to simply fill out forms on an agency’s site.
In some cases, your marketing needs may not demand an RFP. However, if your business has a more complex case to handle, you will definitely benefit from the varying points of view that an RFP will generate.
From a digital marketing agency’s point of view, your RFP provides them with all the information they need to understand your pain points and provide a targeted strategy plan.
Keep in mind that at least one member of every department should be involved in the creation of your RFP to ensure everyone’s needs are met!
Elements of a Request for Proposal
Every business is different, but all RFPs have similar structures. Here is what your RFP should include:
Project Overview: Introduce your project right away before diving deep into the details of your business. Digital marketing agencies can quickly choose whether or not this is a suitable project for them. Mentioned your current marketing challenges such as:
- Not attracting enough leads
- Your paid media campaign aren’t profitable
- Your online store isn’t generating enough revenues
- You have a hard time converting leads into actual customers
- You lack brand awareness in a highly-competitive market
- User aren’t engaging with your website
Company Background: Now that you’ve piqued their interest, give a short overview of what your business does, your target market, and your mission/values.
Project Scope: Be as specific as possible here! Outline all the details about your project and what you need in order to avoid scope creeping later on. If you leave out information here, bidders will be unable to provide you with an adequate solution. Mention the following:
- Your needs on each platform (social media, web, search engines, etc.)
- Your needs in terms of strategies, tracking, and implementation
- Your expectations for communications, meetings, and reporting
Anticipated Selection Schedule: This lets agencies know when to expect an answer (or lack thereof) from you. Some other specific dates to mention: Q&A period, proposals due, finalists presentation, etc.
Time and Place to Submit Proposals: Let your bidders know exactly how and when they can send you their customized proposals.
Target Deliverable Schedule: Digital marketing agencies need to know if they have the bandwidth available to take you on as a client. Make sure to give an idea of when you expect the project to be completed.
Elements of Proposal: Detail what you would like agencies to include in their proposal. If you don’t specify what you need, you will not receive what you need!
Responses should include the following:
- Background of the company (values, mission, etc.)
- Project approach and timing
- Previous experience in your field and relevant qualifications
- Scope of Work recommendations
- Responses to specific SEO, SEM, CRO, UX Questions
- Project management
Evaluation Criteria: Make your expectations crystal-clear. Explaining your evaluation criteria will let agencies know what your priorities are. Be sure to discuss this over with your team so everyone is on the same page.
Possible Roadblocks: This is where your RFP allows bidders to shine. What specific challenges do you foresee that digital marketing agencies will have to deal with? This information will disqualify agencies that are not a good fit while giving an opportunity for qualifying vendors to showcase their unique strengths for you.
Budget Constraints: Yes, you need to be upfront about your budget. This helps everyone stay on the same page about expectations and ensures you only receive proposals that fit your budget.
A Step-by-Step Walkthrough of RFP Procedures
With all this in mind, it’s time to draft your request for proposal to a digital marketing agency!
Make sure to include all the elements outlined above. Many businesses choose to omit certain sections, especially when it comes to your budget, but resist the urge to do this. The more information you provide on your RFP, the more relevant and helpful proposals you’ll receive.
You may choose to draft your RFP with traditional tools, or pick specialized software with helpful features such as drag-and-drop:
Once your RFP is complete, it’s time to send it over to potential digital marketing agencies.
Here’s what you can expect included in their responses:
- A detailed action plan that outlines how they will approach your marketing challenges
- Milestones and timelines for the project
- A quote for the project’s cost
- Any other relevant information
At this point in your request for proposal to a digital marketing agency, you’ll end up with a bid – or, if you sent out your RFP to several vendors, you will have several proposals to choose from.
Take your time comparing each proposal with your team. Narrow it down to a smaller list, then contact your top choices to start the negotiation process.
Writing Tips to Create an Oustanding RFP
Before making your request for proposal to a digital marketing agency, follow these tips to ensure your RFP is top-notch and increase your chances of receiving amazing proposals:
1. Double-check your RFP for any vague requests and remove them. Always be specific!
2. Make sure your timeframes are realistic.
3. Clarify why you are issuing an RFP, so that agencies know how to best help you.
4. Specify the purpose of the RFP: are you looking for a long term partner, or want to complete a single project?
5. Take the time you need to craft your RFP. An outstanding RFP has the potential to be the first step in a wonderful and profitable long-term relationship with the digital marketing agency of your dreams.
Examples of questions to ask a digital marketing agency
Can you describe your company’s structure?
Who will be our point of contact with your agency?
How many employees will work on our account and what are their roles?
Where are you located? Do all employees work on-site?
What technologies do you use internally for project management and campaign implementation?
What is your approach to project and client management?
How often do you report on performance?
How do you ensure that your employees are well-trained on new trends and tools?
Describe your approach to the creation of an overall SEO strategy.
In your opinion, what SEO tactics are effective in the current environment?
What SEO opportunities do you see for our company?
How do you measure the impact of SEO?
What measures are you taking to test and optimize SEO on mobile devices?
What is your approach to local SEO?
What tools do you use in SEO?
Describe your keyword research approach.
How do you optimize campaigns?
How do you manage campaign bids? Do you have a specific methodology?
How do you create an effective media plan? How do you allocate budget?
How do you search for keywords?
Describe the tools and technologies you use to create campaigns.
Describe your approach to sharing insights, opportunities, and recommendations.
How often do you send reports on campaign performance?
Don’t underestimate the power of an RFP. By following these guidelines you’ll make sure to attract the right agency for your business.
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