No More Burning Through Cash, Wasting Months on End or Having to Deal With Another Agency That’s All Fart & No Poo.
No More Burning Through Cash, Wasting Months on End or Having to Deal With Another Agency That’s All Fart & No Poo.



You’ve had a bad experience with e-commerce marketing agencies eh? Tell us something new… When it comes to being burnt by incompetence or dishonesty, you're not alone. But not all e-commerce marketing agencies are bad, instead, and as with everything, there are great e-com marketing agencies out there.
Agencies that are high-level professionals, well-organised, genuinely care about the outcome, provide consistent results, and a positive ROI and experience.

Yes, they exist!
No, they are not impossible to find.
Yes, this is exactly what this guide is going to help you get.

The old Way

You wing it when it comes to the questions on the discovery and sales call, take the plunge even with some uncertainty but just hope it's the right decision. You end up kissing A-lot of frogs in hope to find your prince. Wasting precious time, burning through a lot cash and leaving with a bitter after-taste from the whole experience.

The right Way

You ask all the right questions before leaning in for the kiss, cutting through the B.S, to see if the e-commerce marketing agency's claims stack up, (their results, their team, their processes, their focus and much more) so you know for a FACT if they are indeed a good fit for your e-com brand and its goals.
After hearing so many nightmare stories from prospects and clients that jump over to us, and getting a lot compliments on how we do business *Hair flick*. We thought, why not provide value that goes beyond the limited clients we can serve at any given time and instead help ALL e-com brand owners find their match quicker, with less costly mistakes and headaches along the way. And hey, if this leads to some interest in our services, then that’s good too.
13 questions that will cut through B.S and allow the good e-commerce marketing agencies to rise to the top.
13 questions that will cut through B.S and allow the good e-commerce marketing agencies to rise to the top.
A Guide to Asking All The Right Questions to Ensure You Finally Get What You're Looking For.

  • This scorecard aims to help you determine if an agency is best positioned and equipped to help you grow your e-commerce brand while ensuring a positive return on investment and overall experience.
  • This scorecard is an actionable, easy-to-follow guide to help you ask all the right questions so you can be confident that you are partnering with an e-commerce marketing agency that will produce the best results for your specific e-commerce brand.
  • This scorecard is a bit like Chat GPT it will get you 70-90% of the way there, because, naturally, there will be nuances. Ultimately, the weighted scores aim to help you turn a subjective decision into an objective one so you can make a highly informed and calculated decision to ensure your next hire, is you last hire... in a good way.
2 Ways to use this Scorecard:
  • Just the Questions:
    Follow the sequence of questions and follow ups to get a clearer picture on whether the ecommerce marketing agency is a good fit or you. (subjective).
  • Questions + Scorecard:
    Follow the sequence of questions and follow ups then use the scoring points system to compare 2 or more ecommerce marketing agencies to help you choose the best fit for you. (Mostly objective).
  • pro tip
    Print it out for a smooth process during your next discovery/sales call.
So here it is…
The E-COMMERCE Marketing Agency Scorecard - By E-com Growth:

Q1 How long have you been doing this?

Less than one year = 1 point
1-2 years = 2 points
3-5 years = 3 points
Over 5 years = 4 points

Note: Fewer clients over the long term are better than high-volume clients in the short term, also a few recognisable/credible clients (brands) outweigh many small ones. Cross-reference this question with Q8 (average retention rate) to get more context and clarity.

Benchmark: Aim for at least 3 points here, any less and you will be part of their learning and growing (experience) process.

Q2 How many team members do you have?

Points Not applicable. but an important question to ask.

Note: Size matters yes… However, more is not always better, which is why we didn’t add a score to this question. Who the team consists of, their level of engagement and how the workload is shared is a lot more important than just the number of employees. Which is what is asked in the next question (Team Focus Q3-Q3.3).

Q3 Are your team full-time or part-time, i.e are they sub-contractors, freelancers, employees, or partners?

Part-time subcontractors or freelancers = 2
Full time employees = 4
Full time + partial ownership = 5

Note: Anything less than full time employees (for core services) and you risk getting an unfocused, highly volatile workforce. Agencies that use subcontractors and freelancers don’t have control over the systems or time of their workforce and so you will inherit the weaknesses that this brings and end up with a reactive workforce that simply puts out fires for one agency to another.

Benchmark: Aim for 4 points. Nothing less.

Follow up

Q3.1 Who they are, where are they based and how long have they been with you?

Different time zone = 1
Same time zone = 4
In-house = 5

Note: as you will know by now, managing teams is already a difficult process, add in a different time zone and it becomes even more so. There is no issue with having a virtual team so long they are in the same time zone, however, in-house teams trump all.

Benchmark: 4 points.

Q3.2 What’s your average employee retention rate?

Under a year = 0
Over a year= 1
Over 2 years = 2

Note: this one is a bit more nuanced as we see agencies hold onto talent because of affinity rather than client results. That aside, and in most cases, under a year is a red flag and over 2 is good.

Benchmark: 1 point, no less.

Q3.3 How many clients do they each manage?

More than 5 = 1
Up-to 5 = 3

Note: following up from Q1, workload and focus is key, solving a handful of problems is hard enough, trying to solve problems for more than 5 clients at once starts to get unrealistic unless they are extremely talented at time management which most aren’t. So in this case and to mitigate risk, it’s best to look for a team that works with less not more.

Benchmark: 3 Points.

Q4 What areas do your team and service specialise in and most succeed in?

Unconvincing answer = 0
Convincing answer = 1

Note: Make sure the core services you need are their speciality, not an item in their services list.

Benchmark: 1 point obviously.

Q4.1 How would you say it’s different or better than others?

Unconvincing answer = 0
Convincing answer = 2

Note: Do they have a clear USP over other agencies you have used in the past? If no then they might just be the same.

Benchmark: Again 2 points obviously.

Q5 What niche-specific work have you done in the past that’s most relevant to my brand? What were the results? (ask to be specific, example: over 6 months working with brand x, we increase revenue by X% while maintaining first order profitability)

Unconvincing answer = 0
Convincing answer with 1 example = 3
Convincing answer with multiple examples = 5

Note: the clearer they articulate the result and the more relevant it is to you the better.

Benchmark: Min 3 points.

Q6 What results have you managed to consistently achieve with most (if not all) clients?

Unconvincing answer = 0
Convincing answer = 3-4

Note: the more consistent their outcomes, the more likelihood it will happen for your brand.

Benchmark: Min 3 points.

Q7 How are you achieving this consistency? You must have a results mechanism, Can you give me a brief idea of how it works? (Results mechanism definition: repeatable systems that lead to repeatable outcomes)

Unconvincing answer = 0
Convincing answer = 5

Note: what you want here is to hear a clear process set out, not knowing what the term “results mechanism” means is not an issue, as people may call it differently, but not having a results mechanism is (an issue).

Benchmark: 5 points.

Q8 What is your average client retention rate?

Less than 6 months = 0
6-12 months = 2
1-2 years = 4
Over 2 years = 5

Note: More is more here for obvious reasons. And more importantly, anything less than 6 months is a red flag, signalling clients are jumping off as soon as contracts are up.

Benchmark: Min 2 points.

Q8.1 What is / was your longest client partnership? (if it did end, why?)

Unconvincing answer = 0
Convincing answer = 3

Benchmark: 3 points.

Q8.2 What was your shortest? (why did it end?)

Unconvincing answer = 0
Convincing answer = 3

Benchmark: 3 points.

Q9 What are your communication standards? How long does it take to get back to messages?

Unconvincing answer = 0
Convincing answer = 2

Note: nobody wants to be left on ‘seen’ in the slack channel, let alone you, the business owner. By all means, you don’t need comms to be instant, in fact, you want the team to be busy doing the work (in focus mode) not chatting in the channel. But it’s not too much to ask for daily communication and if it’s time-sensitive then hourly.

Benchmark: 2 points.

Q9.1 How am I kept up to date with progress, how often do you report on results?

Unconvincing answer = 0
Convincing answer = 2

Note: Regular, standardised updates are ideal.

Benchmark: 2 points.

Q10 What does your tech stack look like (i.e what platforms do you use for communication, task management, reporting, attribution, etc…)

Unconvincing answer = 0
Convincing answer = 1

Note: Again you booking for an organisation, most notably task management, they must have a PM tool. Otherwise, it is most likely chaos.

Benchmark: 1 point.

Q11 How would you describe your knowledge of e-commerce outside your channel-specific speciality? (Business ops, financials, and others that are outside the realm of marketing).

Unconvincing answer = 0
Convincing answer = 3

Note: This is really important and often missed by most. What you don't want is an agency that doesn’t have a grasp of all the different facets of an e-commerce business. Just knowing marketing is not enough, they must know, not be experts, but know and understand business ops and financials and be aware that there’s more to e-commerce success than Facebook ads or emails.

Benchmark: 3 points.

Q12 Do you have any testimonials from niche-relevant (ideal, or other) brand owners?

Follow up: Would you be willing to introduce me to those brand owners so I can ask about their experience with you?

Note: Extremely important. Be sure to do your background checks, research the testimonials they have on their website to confirm they are credible and reach out to prior clients (where possible) and hear what they thought of their experience with the agency. Not all should be extremely positive, but most should.

Benchmark: 8 points.

Q13 How do you measure your marketing performance? What KPIs do you use?

Unconvincing answer = 0
Convincing answer = 3

Note: what you're looking for here is clarity in the answer, KPIs that are actually KEY not soft metrics.

Benchmarks: 3 points.
So there you have it, 13 questions to get you closer to making a highly informed decision on your next agency hire…

We highly recommend downloading the ready-to-print version (below) which has the added benefit of additional context to questions and benchmarks. So you can evaluate better and make the whole process easier.

Have questions or need support? Feel free to email us at
Download To Print: The E-commerce Marketing Agency Scorecard (Bonus: added context to Questions and Score Benchmarks)
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