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Digital Marketing RFP Questions You Should Ask

After you have established and optimized your Digital Marketing RFP process, it is time to develop the core questions. Start by involving everyone that will be impacted by the change in agencies, from members of your marketing team to the final decision maker, to ensure that the RFP will cover all relevant topics.

A brainstorming session can be quite useful to generate questions, confirm budgets, and discuss “deal breakers,” however, make sure questions are fully reviewed and organized before they make it into the final RFP. Rephrase questions as necessary so that they are differentiating and open-ended, yet specific. For example, “What is your approach to…” vs. “Can your system do X?”. Consolidate questions that are essentially asking about the same thing and, if it will not be insightful or worthwhile to read all the different responses to a particular question, consider just excluding it.

The following is not intended to be an exhaustive list but are some sample open-ended questions you can use in your own RFP:

Paid Search

  • What is your general approach to developing a prioritized strategy for our program?
  • How do you accommodate multiple goals/targets?
  • Explain in detail your approach to and tools used for:
    • Managing bids
    • Building keywords
    • Developing ad copy
    • Selecting landing pages
    • Testing
  • How do you calculate bids for low traffic keywords?
  • How do you handle fast-turning inventory?
  • How do you handle seasonality or short-term promotions?
  • How do you structure the account architecture?
  • How will you leverage your relationships with the search engines?
  • What is your approach to and experience with managing Product Listing Ads (PLAs)?
  • What is your approach to and experience with managing mobile?
  • What is your approach to and experience with cross-device and in-store attribution?
  • What is your approach to and experience with geo-targeting internationally?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • What is your general approach to developing a prioritized strategy for our program?
  • Explain in detail your approach to and tools used for:
    • Researching keywords
    • Benchmarking
    • Optimizing on-page/technical factors
    • Developing content
    • Optimizing off-page factors
  • How do you keep up with the ever-changing algorithm updates?
  • How do you overcome the challenge of “(not provided)” query data?
  • What SEO tactics do you oppose using?
  • Have you had a client penalized by a search engine?
  • What is your approach to and experience with mobile SEO?
  • What is your approach to and experience with social SEO?
  • What is your approach to and experience with local SEO?
  • What is your approach to and experience with international SEO?

Display

  • What is your general approach to developing a prioritized strategy for our program?
  • What platforms, ad servers, and exchanges do you use?
  • How do you determine what will be the best platforms/ad servers/exchanges for us?
  • Explain in detail your approach to and tools used for:
    • Researching audiences
    • Developing creatives
    • Managing bids
    • Targeting users
    • Valuing view-through conversions

Comparison Shopping Engine (CSE)

  • What is your general approach to developing a prioritized strategy for our program?
  • What CSEs and marketplaces do you use?
  • How do you determine the best CSEs/marketplaces for us?
  • Explain in detail your approach to and tools used for:
    • Optimizing product feeds
    • Managing bids
  • How do you handle fast-turning inventory?

Reporting

  • How do you track performance for each service?
  • What reporting tools do you use?
  • How will you integrate with our analytics or attribution platform?
  • What segments, metrics, and granularity can be reported?
  • How often are reports provided?
  • What is the average lead time for a custom report request?
  • Are there additional costs for custom reports?
  • How often do you meet with clients in-person?
  • What alerts or notifications are available?

General

  • What is your agency’s competitive advantage in each service?
  • How do you integrate information from data feeds?
  • How do you manage to a budget vs. ROI?
  • Who will own the accounts and data?
  • What are the benefits of having you manage multiple channels?
  • What do you require from us to ensure a successful partnership?
  • What are some examples of your Digital Marketing thought leadership?
  • How will our account team be structured?*
  • What is your fee structure?
  • Can you provide 1-2 case studies for each service of clients that are similar to us?
  • Can you provide contact information for 2-3 clients that are similar to us?

*The RFP is too early in the selection process to ask for detailed biographies of the specific account team. While asking for biographies of senior management and generic profiles of the potential account team is fine, asking all responding agencies to identify and “reserve” the potential team in the event that one of them is selected is unrealistic, especially considering that top agencies are usually responding to more than one RFP at any given point in time. Unless the account personnel is of critical importance to the decision-making process (if it is, this should be made explicit in the RFP), agencies will be more apt to provide generic profiles until the presentation stage lest they be accused of pulling a “bait-and-switch” due to natural shifts in internal resource allocation and priorities that occur over the course of the lengthy selection process.

What other differentiating questions out there might be useful to include on a Digital Marketing RFP?

  • Kearby Chen
    Kearby Chen is a Marketing Strategy Director at RKG.
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    1. [...] 11/18 Update:  Our follow-up post with recommended Digital Marketing RFP questions is now live. [...]