What would it look like to find the best eCommerce agency for your company?
If you hired that agency, how would you judge “success”? What signals would you look for to decide if they were delivering value?
In what follows, we’ll share with you how we think about delivering value. We’ll also share some decision-making criteria you can use when evaluating an eCommerce agency.
As you’ll see, if there’s one thing to look for, it’s this:
- A strategic consultant focused on results, not on a one-size-fits-all order taker.
Note: At Inflow, we work with dozens of eCommerce companies to increase traffic, conversions, and sales. Let us create a custom strategy for your business. Get started now.
What the Cookie Cutter Approach Looks Like
There are many eCommerce agencies with set packages: silver, gold, platinum, etc.
A tactical approach sounds like this:
- “We publish one blog post per week and build five links to each of them.”
The problem with the cookie cutter approach is that it is not designed to meet the needs of your company. You can identify an agency that’s taking this approach by looking for the following:
1. Same Activities for All Clients
Some agencies usually execute the same set of activities for all clients, regardless of the product, the market, or the competition.
They often have service levels such as silver, bronze, and platinum. Clients choose how much of the agency’s services they want by choosing one of the service levels.
There’s nothing wrong with service levels, of course. The problem happens when the agency’s activities never change and the activities are focused on execution rather than what really matters: the result.
2. Activities Are Standard and Don’t Change
An agency focused on tactics has a set list of activities it executes, and those activities never change.
An SEO agency might publish four articles a month, for example. A PPC agency might run three ads a week, then rotate them on your behalf. Or a CRO agency might run one conversion test every three weeks.
What’s missing from this approach is innovation and prioritization against target goals.
The agency isn’t actively trying to find new ways to meet your needs. It’s simply executing a list of activities, and those activities never change.
Finally, agencies focused on tactics are usually reactive rather than proactive.
You might have to ask them what’s happening with your account or for their insights into a recent change in the results.
This is because a purely tactical approach isn’t focused on meeting your company’s goals. It’s just focused on deliverables, so that’s what the agency focuses on.
What a Strategic Approach Looks Like
A strategic approach is goal-focused. The agency starts with your goals, then designs activities to meet those.
A strategic approach sounds like this:
- “Here’s the strategy we’ve designed to help you meet your goals.”
You can identify an agency that’s taking a strategic approach by looking for the following:
1. Activities Aligned with Your Company’s Goals
The best eCommerce agencies act as strategic partners for their clients.
They start by identifying your goals and evaluating your present situation. Then they design a strategy they believe will best help you meet those goals.
Instead of having a standard list of activities they perform, they have a menu, a group of tactics they can execute if your situation calls for it.
Think of it this way: If your house had a falling foundation and cracks were showing in your walls, you wouldn’t want someone to simply replace the drywall.
A strategic partner will focus on the foundation first since that’s what matters the most.
2. All Activities Flow from Strategy
Strategy comes first, and all activities flow from that strategy.
Instead of saying, “We publish four articles each month,” you’ll hear something much more specific.
They might say, “We believe the best thing we could do to increase sales is to increase organic traffic and your conversion rate on your product pages. For those reasons, we propose publishing four articles a month plus a series of conversion rate optimization tests on your product pages.”
See how different that is from an agency that only thinks tactically?
3. Proactive and Transparent
Finally, a strategic partner is available to discuss strategy whenever needed. They are transparent about what they’re doing on your behalf, why they’re doing it, and how things are going.
If something underperforms, they’re just as open about their failures as they are about their successes. Testing and learning from data can be a very important piece of a successful digital strategy.
Most importantly, an agency taking a strategic approach is innovative—offering new ideas and changing their tactics accordingly.
They’re proactively trying to find new ways to meet the goals you’ve agreed on.
Choose a Partner, Not a Vendor
Ultimately, the reason any eCommerce company hires an agency is to increase sales from its website.
In the early stages, however, it can take some time before the numbers really start to improve, and this is completely normal. Some initiatives can have a positive impact on sales immediately. Others build slowly over time.
That’s why it’s important to identify an agency that starts its process by understanding your goals and evaluating your current situation because this is the best way to maximize your results. Strategic partners start with the highest impact activities to improve your bottom line and meet your business objectives.
Look for an agency that acts like a partner, not just a vendor with a set list of services.
Note: Let us prepare a custom in-depth assessment of your eCommerce performance and a strategy for improving your results. Contact us to get started.