A great deal of time and money can go into the process of selecting a marketing agency, so it’s incredibly important to get it right the first time. Don’t forget the essentials. Data security, compliance, and quality of service might not be the most exciting points when you’re talking to creative and strategic partners, but they’re still incredibly important. Here is an essential checklist of what to look out for:
Does the company have ISO 27001 certification?
Increasingly, companies want to know how secure agencies will be in the handling of their information. The ISO 27001 accreditation is a single indicator that proves that an agency has all of its procedures in place relating to information security. That includes everything from technical aspects such as having the latest software installed, to procedures around appointing new members of staff, and even making sure that the company’s doors have adequate locks. Linehub has recently gained this accreditation, and we believe it is an essential question to ask in the appointment process.
Does the company carry out its own tests to seek out potential data leaks?
Agencies should be carrying out monthly penetration tests – also known as pen tests. In these, they will use automated tools to scan and analyze the target systems for known vulnerabilities. In addition to using pen tests, agencies should also use an ethical hacking company on an annual basis to effectively test their vulnerability with manual methods used by experienced hackers. These are requirements of the ISO 27001 accreditation, but it’s also worth asking about it.
Are they active in preventing fraud?
It’s important to gauge their commitment to fraud prevention measures. Ask them what security measures they have in place to protect against fraud. Do they conduct regular security audits and assessments to identify fraud vulnerabilities? What measures do they have in place to authenticate and verify user identities? How do they handle suspicious or potentially fraudulent activities on their platform? And do they have a dedicated team or department responsible for fraud prevention and detection?
How GDPR-compliant are they?
Where do they store their data, and is that the place where they are licensed to store it? Find out if, when they are gaining and retrieving data and if they have the right permissions to do so. Are they asking people the right questions to ensure that they are happy for their data to be used in the way it is being used?
1.1 Can they guarantee 24/7 availability?
For some high-importance services such as website hosting, just a few minutes of server downtime can have a major impact on client revenues. The ISO 27001 certification checks this as an important area, but it is also worth asking about it during the pitch process. Do they have everything in place to guarantee their constant availability? Do they have more than one data center, in case their web servers go down in one data center?
1.2 Are they monitoring for constant improvement?
How do they monitor clients’ happiness? And how do they respond to what they learn? Try to find out whether they collect client feedback, such as surveys and feedback forms. Have they assigned a dedicated team or account manager to regularly engage with clients and proactively address their needs, and ensure ongoing satisfaction?
Do they have a good rating on Trustpilot, Google Reviews, or similar online review sites?
Positive reviews on these platforms serve as social proof of a company’s competence and customer satisfaction. They indicate that previous clients have had good experiences and were satisfied with the company’s offerings. This proof can provide you with confidence and assurance in the company’s ability to meet your needs and deliver quality results. However, it’s essential to approach online reviews with discernment, considering both positive and negative feedback.
Do they have a good Net Promoter Score (NPS)?
A good NPS reflects a high level of customer satisfaction and loyalty. It indicates that the company has consistently provided excellent products, services, or solutions; that the company is reliable and trustworthy, and they focus on continuous improvement. Ultimately, hiring a company with a good NPS provides assurance that you are working with a reputable and customer-focused organization.
While there is a raft of other areas to consider when interviewing a potential service provider, it’s all too easy to forget the basics – by ensuring the above eight points are included, you’ve at least minimized the potential for sleepless nights in the future.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Barry Kampstra, Founder, Co-owner, and CTO of Linehub
Barry Kampstra is the founder, co-owner, and CTO of Linehub. He is in charge of the day-to-day management of Linehub’s technical team and has final responsibility for the technology.