So your company has an outdated site that sits stalely on the web doing nothing for business, and you can’t remember the last time it sent an actionable lead across your sales desk. It’s past time for a complete rewrite. So you hit Google and start searching for a firm to do the work.

Hold on there, you need to take a step back and prepare yourself and your company for this project. I’ve put together a list of things you will want to make sure you do before you undertake a web project, from website design to a social media campaign, with a digital marketing agency.

Create a dedicated team

I really can’t stress this one enough as we’ve seen companies assign their next great website to be done by their office manager, in between their other day-to-day duties. It’s a great way to slow down or stall a project entirely and stress the poor person charged with the task. Instead, set up a dedicated team for the project.

Your team should consist of people that are intimately familar with the topics that will be included in your project. In most cases the marketing team is included, however, often the sales team or manager is often neglected. As the sales team interacts daily with prospects, customers and lives and breaths your sales cycle, any team will be made more effective by their presence.

Other types of staff you should consider for your team: writers, information technology staff, product specialists, partners, and support staff with front-line customer experience.

Give your team lead authority to make decisions (without you)

While a firm like ours always strives to bring all stakeholders to the table for big decisions on any project, it’s important for one person to have the authority to pull the trigger.

Entrust your team lead with this authority, we have seen projects stall due to the decision maker, often a C-level or “boss”, being too busy, uncommitted, or otherwise unavailable to make decisions. Simply put, decision makers that aren’t elbow-deep in the project make bad decisions.

Set goals and gather benchmarks

What are the goals of your project and what factors need to change in order for victory to be achieved? I recommend picking one or two major goals for your project but reign in the desire to set many goals.

Fewer goals means tighter focus and focusing on a strong strategy to accomplish those goals means they are more easily achieved. Set ten goals and you’re sure to fail to meet all but the top few. Make your goals concrete and actionable:

  • Raise traffic by 30%.
  • Increase Facebook likes by 80%.
  • Increase website engagement by 50%.
  • Improve content quality by 50%.

These are all just examples, yours can and should be more detailed, just make sure they are actionableand realistic. If you don’t know what a realistic figure is, just put down that you want to, say, “Raise traffic”, and work with your agency partner to define a good achievable figure.

Of course you can’t know how well your campaign is performing without a starting point. Based on your goals, gather all of the current relevant statistics – the benchmarks – and give them to your chosen agency partner at the onset of your project.

It’s more important to take the time to get it right than it is to get it done quickly.

Set a realistic timeline

I know when your current web presence is terribly outdated or just plain awful there is a lot of pressure to replace it immediately. While the gut reaction is to set a tight timeline I caution against doing so as it will definitely hurt your chances of success.

The planning fallacy tells us that people are notoriously unable to predict how long it will take them to complete a task of decent complexity, so even if you can find a firm that will agree to your tight timeline, they will more than likely deliver behind schedule. It’s more important to take the time to get it right than it is to get it done quickly.

Gather your content assets together

You want the agency you eventually hire to be focused on strategy and execution, and not waiting around for your team to piece together content. Gather everything you have before you find an agency. Hand it over at the beginning of your project, or better yet, provide it during the audit phase of a content strategy process.

Unless you have talented copywriters on your staff, much of the copy your company provides will be revised or rewritten to fit your audience and marketing strategy. Data, on the other hand, may be needed to support data driven features like mapping tools, ecommerce stores, etc. All of this data must be created or curated at some point. It will save you a lot of time to have it ready before you start the project.

Ready? Now get going!

Got your team, your goals and benchmarks, a realistic timeline, and your content assets ready? Great, now you can start looking for a firm to take you to the next level.Why don’t you start with Sagetree?