Part of our series on & control, transparency and accountability when working with outside experts
In this article, we’re going to talk about how to get transparency and accountability from your outside marketing agency. To clarify, here is what we mean by transparency and accountability:
Transparency: Seeing for yourself what an agency or consultant you’ve hired is doing (especially inside a third-party platform like Google or Facebook ads)
Accountability: Getting an agency or consultant to provide helpful reports (i.e. remain accountable), so you know the results and the actions they’re taking on your behalf
Transparency in Marketing
To create transparency, you need to be able to go inside the third-party platforms you’re using—such as Google or Facebook—and review the change history. Seeing the change history report tells you what is being done in your marketing campaigns (and how much). Even if you don’t know anything about how these platforms work or what the actions being taken mean, you can start to learn enough to create transparency.
One caveat in covering this topic: there are many ad platforms and explaining how to review what your agency is doing in your campaigns in all the different platforms would make for an extremely long article. Therefore, for the sake of brevity, I’m going to explain how you can review the change history in the two most common ad platforms: Google and Facebook.
Here are the steps to find the change history report in Google Ads:
– Go to the left sidebar
– Make sure that the “More” option has been opened, then go down to “Change history.”
– Inside the change history screen, you can change the date range to see what changes were made during that time period.
Here’s how to access the change history report in Facebook Ads:
– On the left, check the campaigns you want to review.
– After selecting the desired campaigns go to the far right side and click this button (circled in blue) showing a clock. This will bring you to the change history report.
(Again make sure to check the date range that you are reviewing, which you can see is in that dropdown just above and to the left of the change history button.)
In case it’s not obvious, being able to review the change history allows you to see exactly what your marketing agency or consultant is doing—the actions they are taking in your ad campaigns.
Accountability in Marketing
It’s easy for an agency or consultant to hide behind a monthly report—especially if a campaign is effective. After all, if a campaign is bringing you results every month, it’s understandable to think that they have earned what you’re paying them.
However, regardless of results, your outside expert should always be working to improve. Unless you set up an arrangement to pay them per client, lead, subscriber, donor, etc., there should be obvious actions taken every month. More work doesn’t necessarily mean more and better results, but there is a big difference between taking actions and doing nothing at all.
The change history report is certainly not the only standard to use when measuring your agency or consultant’s effort. There are a hundred different tasks they could be doing outside of ad campaigns. Similarly, they could be reviewing campaigns and deciding it’s better to leave them running for a time to test changes that have been made, and a change history report cannot tell you that.
Which is why in addition to transparency, accountability is very important when working with people outside your organization.
Every marketing firm should send their clients a report on results. This is a no brainer. However, most of the time this report is mere data—money spent, the number of times ads were seen, clicked on, acted on, etc. This is important information, and should be used by both you and your agency or consultant to make decisions about what to do next. But at the same time, your agency or consultant should include in their report the actions they took—something along these lines:
“Here’s what we did:
- We created this page
- We tested out this new audience or bidding strategy
- We tested this copy
These were the results . . .
Because of this, we concluded that . . .”
The results they share may or may not be related to the work they did for you that month. Usually, the work they do in one month won’t actually affect your results until next month or even later. But as they report the actions they’re taking, you will both learn more about marketing and perhaps even be able to give feedback or make suggestions about other things they could be doing.
Ultimately, between transparency and accountability, you will build a trusting relationship with an outside expert and ensure that you work together as a team to continually improve your marketing efforts.
What to do now
When you get your next monthly report, ask if your agency or consultant can give you a bulleted list or an explanation of the work they did for you. If you don’t understand what that work was or means, have them explain it to you. The more you understand about marketing, the better!