So, you’ve gone through the obligatory pitching process and one agency has shone brighter than the rest. The dotted line has been signed and your new partnership is secured, now the hard work starts. Drawing up a series of meaningful Key Performance Indicators should be one of the first steps you and your agency takes. But how do you know what the right KPIs are and how can you ensure your agency is going to remain accountable? From setting expectations to ongoing open communication, this guide will offer you a whistle-stop tour of the ins and outs of KPIs.

Set measurements and expectations

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It’s easy for agencies to take the simple road of dictating a series of KPIs that are more meaningful for them than they are to you and your brand. While a list of KPIs might make the agency in question look good, hollow metrics aren’t going to cut it for your business, so if you’re not given a valid reason for the inclusion of certain metrics it’s well worth questioning this.

Some agencies will actively discourage KPIs due to the way they can sometimes mask business performance in both a positive and negative way. Missing just one KPI could divert attention from an otherwise great campaign.

At the end of the day KPIs should meet the sweet spot, aligning with both your business’ goals and that are well within your agency’s control. It’s a two-way street that requires a conversation – not dictation. The agency should be working with you to solve any issues that may arise in the future when it comes to reporting on success.

Be clear in your language

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Communication is paramount when it comes to working with an agency. In essence, they are an extension of your brand, so to get the best out of them you need to be as clear about your goals as you would be if you were explaining them internally. Ensure that your language is plain and that individuals on both sides are confident from what you require. Poor communication can lead to errors further down the line and can cause friction between both parties.

Your agency should do the same thing. If you’re unclear, ensure that you ask questions and look for clarifications where necessary. A good agency will be happy to explain anything you need to know.

Give clear feedback

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This point ties in with the last one. Without feedback, your agency won’t know how to improve performance in the future. This isn’t about taking the opportunity to dish out negative criticism or heap praise where it may not be deserved; rather, it’s about measured, helpful comments that will help guide forthcoming activity. Good, frequent feedback will make it easier for them to understand what you like and dislike, which is only going to benefit your brand in the long run.

At the same time, your agency should be in a position where they’re open to feedback. Work can never be improved if the agency refuses to listen to fair critique. If this does happen, it needs to be addressed as soon as possible to ensure that it doesn’t become a larger problem down the line.

Don’t hold your agency at arms length

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We’ve already mentioned that your agency should be seen as an extension to your business. Bringing your agency into the fold and working closely with them is fundamental in nurturing a solid relationship, making everything we have previously talked about that much easier to achieve. Make sure that they are in the loop with relevant stakeholders, that open communication is flowing both ways and that they feel as if they’re part of your brand. If you treat your agency as a separate entity then it creates a psychological disconnect that may bring difficulties down the road.

Look to the long-term

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Alarm bells should be ringing if your agency shows up with projections taking you to the top of the SERPS in a couple of months. Even if they could manage this, it wouldn’t be future-proof, which is why having smart KPIs planned across time, whether it’s 12 months or 24 months, is crucial.

Your agency should ensure that realistic KPIs are set across this time, with regular touch points to show objectives have been achieved. Importantly, if KPIs aren’t met for whatever reason, what are the solutions your agency can put in place to make up any shortfalls?

If you want to learn more, Stickeyes has produced a whitepaper about How to get the best out of your digital agency.

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