What Is an Ecommerce Agency & Do You Need One

If you’re looking to ramp up your ecommerce store’s marketing, you may be considering hiring an ecommerce agency.


But what exactly does an ecommerce agency do, and how can you make sure to hire the best fit for your online shop?

We’re going to walk you through what an ecommerce agency is, the benefits of working with one, and how you can choose the right agency to work with.

Let’s dig in.

What Is an Ecommerce Agency?

An ecommerce agency is an outsourced team that partners with your business to help grow your online store and reach your goals.

Agencies can be a great help when you’re first starting out and can’t afford a full in-house marketing team or if you simply want some supplemental insights for your existing marketing strategy.


Because you often get access to an entire team of experts all at once, hiring an ecommerce agency can be the most cost-effective option for getting marketing help for your online store.


While that’s a great added benefit, it’s not even close to being the only one. More on that below.

Benefits of Hiring an Ecommerce Agency

There are a number of benefits that come with hiring an agency to help ramp up your sales and marketing strategies. We’re going to walk you through five of the most important benefits you’ll see when working with an agency (like EngineScout).

Up-to-date insights and ideas

With an agency, you get access to an entire team of marketing specialists who are constantly keeping up with the latest trends and strategies that are taking the industry by storm.

They’re working together to implement the best possible tactics to ensure each of their clients sees success and results.

Additionally, agencies work with a variety of clients, testing out different tactics. So they have a good idea of what will and won’t work for different businesses.

Get an outside perspective

When you’re building an online business, focusing on the ins and outs every day, it can be easy to get a bit of tunnel vision and become too close to the product. You start focusing too much on your product’s features and use cases versus the benefits.

Working with an agency helps to get that outside perspective and create messaging that focuses on what your customer actually wants to hear—rather than just what you want to tell them.

Access technical expertise and top technologies

Ecommerce agencies tend to utilize premium technologies that might not make sense for your business to budget for on its own. This gives you even more insight into your marketing’s performance and helps the agency streamline their processes, giving you more bang for your buck.

And as I mentioned, agency team members are in the trenches, working on increasing sales and revenue for a number of ecommerce sites, giving them technical experience and know-how that an in-house marketing team might not have.

Implement an expert ecommerce marketing strategy

When you hire an agency, you know you’re getting access to a full team ready to implement an expert ecommerce marketing strategy.

They know the tools they use inside and out, they have experience in a number of different niches, and can easily implement a full-service strategy that hits your goals and objectives.

Receive important reporting and analytics

Many agency retainers come with monthly or quarterly reporting and analytics updates. This information helps you see if you’re on the right track or if there needs to be some tweaking. Plus, agencies have processes for gathering and sharing data with clients, so it’s easier than putting this on your in-house marketers.

Hiring an Ecommerce Agency vs. Full-Time Employee

Now that you know the benefits you can experience when hiring an ecommerce agency, let’s tackle this next question: which is better—an agency or a full-time employee?

The answer to this is going to be different for every company, but it all comes down to three main components: Cost, expertise, and dedication.

Cost

When you hire an agency, you tend to get one dedicated account manager, but you still have access to the entire team. Having a single point of contact makes communication easy, but the agency likely has team members who specialize in different areas. In short, they all work together to implement your marketing strategy.

However, even when working with several people, you pay one set monthly rate. This could be for a set number of hours each month, a set number of deliverables, etc.

When you hire an in-house team, you have to consider the full-time salary of each person on that team—your social media manager, content marketer, ads specialist, graphic designer, videographer, and more.

While not all of those roles are necessary and you may hire some on contract for part-time work, it can still get expensive to pay for each of those roles individually.

This is where agencies become much more cost-effective. If you’re on a budget but want to make a major impact, hiring an agency might be your best bet.

Expertise

We’ve already mentioned how agencies give you access to a full team’s expertise, insights, perspective, and more. Because agencies work with a number of clients in different niches and industries, they’re able to gather ecommerce marketing experience faster than someone who just works in-house at your company.

On the other hand, someone who solely focuses on your product offerings is going to be much more well-versed in its features, benefits, use cases, and the like.

You have to decide what’s more important for your brand at this point in time—marketing insights or an insider’s knowledge of the product.

Dedication

With an agency, you’ll likely have a single account manager that you’re in contact with. However, due to the nature of agency life, they still have a number of other clients they’re also working with.

This means you don’t get 100% of their time focused on your business and marketing avenues. Instead, you’re likely paying for a portion of their time each week or month.

If you’re looking for a more hands-on marketer, working with an agency might not be the best direction for you to take.

In the end, having a dedicated team member who works alongside the agency could be the perfect solution. You’re not paying the salaries of an entire marketing team, but you still get the best of both worlds.

How to Choose the Right Ecommerce Agency

There are so many ecommerce marketing agencies out there. How do you know if you’re making the right choice and fit for your business?

While you’ll never truly know until you begin working with them, there are a few precautions you can take that can help you avoid a bad agency-client relationship.

1. Check out their experience in your industry.

What is their track record with businesses like yours? What do you see in their portfolio?

Finding an agency with a proven success rate in your industry (or one similar) helps you to feel better about their performance when working with your business.

To find this information, check out their website and look for a “Clients” or “Case Studies” page. If they don’t have one, ask them directly for testimonials or a list of clients they’ve worked with that are similar to your business.

If an agency you were considering has zero experience in your industry, that might be a sign that you should start looking in a different direction.

2. Look at their customer reviews.

The next step is to look closely at customer reviews so you can learn more about the experience other clients have had.

Try to find reviews that talk about the agency’s work throughout the contract as well as their after-work approach. What we mean is: You want to make sure the agency does a great job while you’re paying them, but also sets you up for success when you go your separate ways.

Make sure you’re only considering agencies that have mostly positive results. However, some negative reviews shouldn’t be a complete dealbreaker—not everyone meshes well, so one bad review in a mix of great ones isn’t necessarily a bad sign.

3. Consider company culture and location.

Is the agency a good fit for your company? Do they work in a way that will work well with your processes? Company culture is important for employees, but it can be just as important for clients.

Another important issue to consider is the matter of location. Do you want to work with an agency nearby or are you okay with some distance?

If you prefer to meet in person versus video or phone calls, a local agency is going to be ideal. However, if your team is remote, it only makes sense that your agency doesn’t need to be location specific either. Just make sure you’re in similar enough time zones.

4. Make sure they fit your budget.

This one is obviously very important. You can’t work with an agency you can’t afford.

When vetting agencies, ask how they create their packages or monthly retainers, what the cost is, and how it’s distributed.

However, there’s one thing you need to keep in mind—your budget should also consider the ROI of using this agency and the new business they can help bring in.

5. Ask a lot of questions.

Our last tip is to make sure you ask a lot of questions. Don’t go into an agency-client relationship blindly. You want to do your research so you feel comfortable that the agency can get your ecommerce brand to where you want to be.

Here are a few good questions to ask.

What is your typical strategy and process?

How does the agency get started with a new client? Do they have a similar strategy that they follow along with for each of their clients or do they cater it to each specific brand?

What kinds of information will they need from you during the onboarding process? How long does it take to get set up?

This is the kind of information you need to know before diving in. You don’t want to get stuck in a situation where just the setup is taking weeks or months when you’re hoping to start seeing results.

Which metrics and KPIs do you track?

This is a good question to ask so you know the agency will actually be paying attention to returns. Having your own goal metrics in mind is also a good way to help the agency get started.

For example, if you’re looking to increase your return on ad spend (ROAS) so that you can increase your ad budget and get even more return, this is something they need to know.

What timeline can we start to see results in?

You don’t want to be unrealistic. Paid strategies don’t start pulling in major results overnight—and organic strategies take even longer.

But having an idea in mind can help put your mind at ease as you start the process. It can also be a way to filter out those agencies who promise huge results immediately. That’s a giant red flag as in most cases, it simply isn’t possible.

How will you work with my team?

If you have a team in-house (or even if they’ll just be working with you) it’s important to know what kinds of communication to expect and what they’re going to need from you in order to do their job.

If your team needs to approve content, ads, copy, budget, etc., before they can go live, you need to make sure you’re on top of that communication. Otherwise your strategy will be at a standstill and no one will be happy with the results.

Asking a few solid questions before signing the contract can ensure that expectations are set and everyone will be satisfied with the working relationship.

Find the Right Ecommerce Agency for Your Brand

Ready to start looking for an ecommerce agency? We’re here to help. Get a proposal to learn more about how Engine Scout can skyrocket your ecommerce sales. We’ll work with you to make sure we’re the best fit for your business.

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