What Brands Should Look For In An Agency Partnership

By Tino Doan, Zehner

When searching for a digital agency partner, brands need to find
an ideal symbiotic relationship — not just a vendor. You want a partner that is
just as passionate about what they do, and proud of their results, as you are.

To find the right match, explore the following four areas with
your prospective e-Commerce agency.


Their Mastery Of Technology

If you’ve gotten as far as interviewing digital agencies, you’ve
at least done your homework. You might not know the new platform, but you know
what you want and what you don’t. You’ve also likely figured out the names of
the major e-Commerce platforms that might be under consideration.

With this in mind, get the agency talking about their experience.
What are the pros and cons of any recommended platforms? Based on their
responses you might be able to discern how familiar they are with that
technology. And if you can’t, let them take you into the weeds a bit to try to
impress you. Alternately you can do a little testing of your own by posing
scenarios and asking how the new platform might respond.

Most importantly, get them to talk about data migration. This
piece is critical for a business with many years’ worth of data. What’s their
level of expertise in this area? If they outsource this to a third party, you
want to know about their working relationship with their vendor. Ask for
examples of unexpected issues they’ve encountered and how they handled it. How
many times did it take for them to migrate data to the new platform?

Their Familiarity With You

If you have, in fact, done your homework then you’ve likely chosen
an agency with experience in your vertical.

This is important because user flows and behavior are not the same
across all categories or verticals. Time spent on the site, how many pages are
viewed during a session, as well as average order value and other data points
can vary wildly from one vertical to another.

An agency partner with deep experience working with fashion brands
might, on the surface, seem like a perfect match. However, if you are a men’s
fashion brand the work of an agency whose only fashion experience is working
with women’s brands will likely be at a disadvantage. Women’s online shopping
behavior is very different from men’s in terms of user flow and behavior.

You really want an agency that has worked in your specific

Their Track Record

Be sure to review their prior work. Look for a successful track
record of delivering quality digital experiences. Does the site design allow
the brand’s unique selling propositions to be clearly presented? Is the
conversion funnel smooth and free of unnecessary distraction? Is the site
fully-featured but also intuitive? And do you like the overall look and
functionality of their prior work in your space?

Determining their level of expertise and understanding of the
digital space — and expertise in your specific vertical — is essential. You
want to choose an agency partner that will not only support your business but
help it grow from launch.


What’s just as important in building your digital experience is
what you do after launch. How are you going to get visitors to your site, and
how will your site evolve to improve the user experience and maximize

You’ll want to make sure your agency partner has a keen
understanding of digital marketing and conversion rate optimization. Talk to
them about their strategies around SEO, paid search, email marketing,
organic/paid social, retargeting and affiliate marketing. Discuss their track
record for increasing conversion rate and what UX/UI or functionality changes
were applied to get there.  

Also, don’t be shy about asking about the capacity or size of the
team behind the curtain and who the resident experts are. These days you need a
team of specialists with laser focus operating your digital marketing and CRO
program. If your agency is relying on just one or two people for all their
digital marketing services, you’re going to have a hard time getting their
attention. What’s worse, the changes you want to effect on your business may
take longer.  

To wrap your head around all of this, sit down with the account
director or key strategist and have them walk you through their programs, proposed
strategies and techniques at a high level. You’ll need to understand how you’ll
work with their team (e.g. points of contact, frequency of updates, meetings,
schedule of deliverables, etc.).

You don’t have to be an e-Commerce expert to find the right e-Commerce
agency partner, but you do need to know what qualifications to look for and
what to ask. After all, your business depends on it.

With nearly 10 years of experience in the Digital Marketing and e-Commerce
spaces, Tino Doan joined the Zehner team as Director of Commerce Strategy in
January 2019. Having worked previously with Outerknown, Vince, Rebecca Taylor,
Planet Blue, and Getty Images, Doan has a proven record of leading digital
marketing, design, merchandising and technology teams to optimal positioning in
their respective markets. Doan’s proficiency in analytics allows him to excel
particularly in web site conversion funnel optimization, digital marketing
strategy, content management and data science. Doan’s work heading up strategy
for Zehner’s commerce clients will further ground Zehner in its mission to put
the overall success of the client first.

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