Should You Test an Outsourced Agency Before Signing Them?

A group of people working around a table together, all on laptops.

You wouldn't buy a new car without taking it for a test spin. You wouldn't say "I do" before going on a first date (Lifetime reality shows notwithstanding). And you shouldn't sign a contract with an outsourced agency before you take them on a trial run.

As one of those agencies (or, as we say, anti-agencies) our clients outsource to, you might think we have a vested interest in putting those contracts on lock and getting new clients onboarded before they can look for the escape hatch.

You'd be wrong, though. For us, supplying our talents and skills as an outsourced agency is more about finding the right fit than finding a blank check. And we've been on both sides of this relationship, so we know that when it goes wrong...it goes really wrong.

That's why, no matter who your candidates for outsourced marketing services are, we always advise a trial period or test project before your signature hits the paper. But before we look at the merits of a trial vs. a contract, let's answer the big question:

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Why Outsource My Marketing Needs?

Since you're here, you are probably already facing some obstacles in effectively marketing your SaaS, fintech, or startup brand. Maybe you aren't getting the MQLs or SQLs you want, or maybe your brand is buried on the second or third (or worse) page of search results. Whatever your need, if your current marketing team isn't able to meet it, outsourcing might be the best choice for you. An outsourced agency should offer you:

  • Greater Bandwidth. Outsourcing frees up your staff to focus on key in-house tasks and campaigns.
  • Cost Savings. Good agencies aren't cheap (and great ones even less so), but it still beats hiring a team of full-time SEO, lead gen, email, content, and social media experts. For the same investment as one or two full-time salaries — minus benefits and time off — you can have an entire team of vetted and experienced marketers at your disposal.
  • Results, Delivered. The right outsourced agency will be data-driven and results-oriented, and the proof will certainly be in their performance. With your internal staff free to manage daily tasks and campaigns, your agency partners can buckle down and focus on moving your marketing needle.

So, you're thinking that outsourcing is the right choice for you. Now what? You've got another decision to make:

 

Year Contract vs. Test Project

We've already made it pretty clear which side of the line we fall on here, but if you made it this far, it's worth taking a look at why you need a trial period before you sign for a year with an outsourced agency. Here are the benefits of a test run with an outsourced agency:

Get to Know the Team

If you find the right agency, these experts shouldn't be faceless strangers working behind the scenes and behind the screens. They should be partners. You should know them by name, understand their role, and know how to contact them with specific needs. And you should know all of these things before you commit to working with them for the next year.

Understand How They Communicate

Do they rely on email? A project management platform like Asana? Messaging apps like Slack? Do they want cameras on or off during Zoom calls? When are their regular working hours? It's critical to know these details before signing a contract, so you can evaluate if their communication style jives with yours.

Dig into Their Tech Stack

During a trial, you'll have the opportunity to look at the tools they use most frequently, and you may discover new ones that bring value to your internal team. You may also find that the software and platforms they use don't play nice with the ones you rely on. Be sure to ask how you'll access the tools they use, if there are user restrictions, and how steep the learning curve is for those you aren't familiar with.

Seek Out References

If you find an agency you feel that instant spark with, it's easy to get a little too eager. But if you sign too soon, you might find their "morning after" look isn't quite as polished as you'd hoped. A trial will give you time to connect with their other clients, ask for references, and seek out honest opinions on how they work and what quality you can expect.

Learn Their Workflow

Jumping into an annual contract is like jumping into the deep end of a particularly treacherous lake. You don't know which way is up or down, which direction to swim, or how to find the shore. A test period gives you a life raft, a compass, and a map so that you can find your way. Use your trial to learn roles and responsibilities, processes for projects and campaigns, how they manage projects, and who will be your point of contact when you have questions or concerns.

Keep an Eye Out for Warning Signs

Once you're locked into a contract, it's difficult, maybe even impossible, to get out of it. A trial period will give you an opportunity to keep an eye out for red flags before you sign, so you can easily part ways at the end if you've noticed any concerning work or behavior. Be wary of agencies that make grand but unrealistic promises, keep their work (and their results) close to their vest, are reluctant to give you a trial or test project, or aren't upfront with their cost or fee structure.

 

Outsourcing to a Growth Marketing Agency

Oh, hi, that's us. You've probably been hearing more about growth hacking and growth marketing lately, and if not, you're about to. In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, brands like yours are more focused than ever on growth. But for SaaS and fintech especially, that growth could be tracked and measured in a couple different ways: the growth of an industry that changes at the speed of light, and the growth of your own brand. Growth marketers (or growth hackers) combine a mix of tried-and-true marketing channels and strategies — like SEO, SEM, content, lead gen, and more — with creative, out-of-the-box implementation. So, what should you look for if you're outsourcing to a growth marketing agency?

  • Industry expertise in your field
  • Experience growing SaaS and fintech brands and adapting to their changing needs
  • Knowledge of market growth, technical advances
  • Understanding of your buyer's journey, lead to conversion time, and buyer personas
  • Openness to completing a test project to find if you're a good fit

If you're looking to grow your SaaS, fintech, or startup brand without hiring a full staff of specialists, an outsourced growth marketing agency like First Page might be exactly what you're looking for. But you don't have to take our word for it. Put us to the test (we'll do the same for you), and let's find out if this is a relationship worth the commitment!

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