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blog | February 5, 2018

Five Keys to Selecting the Right Digital Agency: Key #3 Technology Resources

By Gary Hooker

Here’s a question to ponder during the agency selection process: How important are an agency’s in-house technology resources to the success of my digital initiatives? If you answered “critical,” then give yourself a gold star.

When it comes to developing and operationalizing your web presence, technology touches virtually every aspect of it. From front-end through back-end development, to IA and user experience, to making impactful creative come alive, to designing a site that is scalable across all device form factors, to ensuring long-term cyber-security, technology is the underpinning of your entire interactive enterprise.

In a nutshell, without technology there is no digital world. Period.  At Imaginuity, we don’t view technology as a commodity; we see it as a vital cog in your digital ecosystem, which begs another question. Why would you trust your digital assets to an agency that does not have deep technology resources and expertise in-house? If you answered “I wouldn’t,” then move right to the head of the class.

Selecting an agency devoid of in-house technology resources may doom your initiatives from the start. Yet, time and again, clients who come to us with incomplete projects have been with an agency that does not possess basic in-house technology resources necessary to successfully complete most interactive projects.

The overwhelming majority of smaller agencies do not place significant value on technology; they view it only as a commodity to be marked up. Consequently they do not invest in technology and therefore have to outsource this crucial component of your project. Then they justify their “strategy” by telling you that outsourcing can save both time and money and make you look like a rock star. And they might be right, to a certain point.

Unfortunately, that point quickly passes and gives ways to intense pain and anxiety. Just ask our CMO friend. Suddenly, you are hemorrhaging both time and money as your project spins out of control and catapults over budget while your dreams of becoming a marketing rock star evaporate into thin air.

In reality, technology outsourcing usually leads to myriad issues including the use of poorly written or borrowed code and various unstable plug-ins which effect everything from site performance, to search engine optimization, to exposing your organization to serious security threats.

Before you engage with an agency, verify their in-house technology resources. Using LinkedIn as a research tool is an easy and accurate way to confirm the number of technologists an agency has on staff and what technologies and programming languages they are proficient in.

When viewing an agency’s LinkedIn page, click the “See All” option on the upper right hand side of the screen under the “How You Are Connected” section. From there, you will be able to see the agency’s roster of full-time employees. Then you can cull through that list and determine how many full-time developers are on staff. Look for titles like Technology Manager, Junior and Senior Developer and Front End Developer, as they are typically associated with full-time technologists.

Further, if the agencies you are vetting say they specialize in only one or two programming languages and/or always recommend one content management systems (CMS), this should raise a red flag. You want to ensure that your digital agency is multilingual in development languages and platform-agnostic when it comes to CMS. This will also allow you and your new agency partner to collaboratively choose the CMS that best fits your budget and business requirements.

If you want to earn another gold star, and achieve marketing rock stardom, give this step in the agency selection process due consideration; the importance of in-house technology resources cannot be overstated.

Lastly, if there is one thing I hope you take away from this post, it would be this: Depend on technology as if the success of your organization’s digital marketing initiatives, and perhaps even your career, hinge upon it, because there is a very real chance they do. Learn about the other steps to selecting a digital agency, including longevity, size, walking the walk, and price.