We’re always looking for ways to measure success. Sure, measuring effort is common, but since we strive to be the most innovative and effective marketing team in the world, that means moving the needle. Defining clear KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is an obvious solution and an important part of any successful campaign. But, to take it a step further, we’ve developed a simple visual that we call “the results ascent” to help you visualize progress with your agency.

A quick reminder before we dive in – results take time depending on the strategy. For example, within digital marketing, you can buy traffic today with PPC, but SEO and content marketing strategies take longer to pay off. Similarly, you could be on TV within a week if you have the budget, but guerrilla marketing and brand awareness campaigns take time to build momentum. Before you become unhappy with results, take a step back and make sure your expectations are realistic.

The Results Ascent

The Results Ascent

Relationship + Trust

You hire an agency based on potential results and trust. You don’t buy “stuff” from an agency – you buy results, skills and expertise. After you pay the first invoice, you don’t have a tangible item to show off. So early on, if you don’t have a healthy relationship based on trust that the agency will generate results, you shouldn’t have hired them!

The Chasm of Buyers Remorse

Usually, the first 30-60 days into a new agency relationship is the worst. The client is paying bills, but the agency is still cranking to deliver first batches of work. The client starts wondering if they hired the right team, and the agency knows it. The agency is frantic to show progress of some kind, but knows that good work takes time. You’ll likely not enjoy this valley, and, trust me, neither does the agency. Instead of panicking, remember to trust your agency but don’t hesitate to ask or communicate concerns either!

Unique Insights

Here comes the light at the end of the tunnel! The agency will start communicating unique, clever and valuable insights that they’re finding as they dig into your campaign. You’ll hope to say things like: “Whoa, we didn’t realize that about our own business.” Again, the agency probably will not show measurable results yet, but you’re seeing their genius applied to your problems and learning how they are identifying and navigating around roadblocks.

Scope + Quality Work

Along with those insights, the agency is starting to deliver, well, deliverables. You’ve now seen how your agency works and how they collaborate with you. You should see that they’re working hard on the scope you’ve defined together. At this point in the relationship, you’re getting a sense for their quality or work, communication skills and attention to detail. Still no results, but you now trust the decision to hire this agency. Or, on the flipside, you know now that they can’t do good work and you’ve got a deep ache in your stomach knowing you need to fire your agency.

Secondary KPIs

Secondary KPIs are things like organic traffic, web leads, time on site, email list growth and decrease in cost per lead. The summit is in sight! It’s still not the results you were expecting, but your agency is working to move the needle and it’s all part of their process and strategy to finally get you to the results you want to see.


The final stage of the ascent: what you hired the agency for (we hope). Many agencies get hired for deliverables. Hopefully, instead you’re looking for measurable, attributable financial outcomes in sales and marketing.

A direct comment about Magneti now. We can help you grow, and we work hard at that. We define what’s measureable early on with each client, but if we’re not doing work that’s making a tangible difference, we’d expect you to fire us. Yep, I said it.

What happens if you don’t get to the <insert results ascent stage here> with your agency?

  • Relationship + Trust – If you never trusted your agency, then why did you hire them in the first place?
  • Unique Insights – If you feel like your marketing team never provides insights unique to your business or problem, there’s no excuse. You should always feel like your agency is bringing clever learnings to the table! Heck, we’ve written a whole list of reasons why you should probably fire your agency.
  • Scope + Quality of Work – If you don’t sense that the agency is getting you to this point, again, fire them early. You should be able to tell right away (within a couple months) that they’re executing to the scope you hired them for, and that the work they’re producing is a good reflection of your brand and expectations.TIP: if you have expectations for the agency, make sure you communicate them! Also, when the agency delivers work, give feedback. They should be listening, so make your thoughts known. Agency people might be smart and clever, but I have yet to read a resume that includes mind-reading.
  • Secondary KPIs: Yes, you should see progress here, but depending on the strategy, you might need more time. For example, SEO results can start to pop up in as little as two weeks. Sometimes, it takes between four and six months to see stable SEO growth.If you never get to this point, do you have the right KPIs? Was the scope and plan designed to drive these KPIs? If you’re doing a heavy email marketing approach but your social media isn’t growing, maybe you need to chat with your agency about scope and plan. Especially if you trust their quality of work —question the strategy or plan.
  • Re$ults: If secondary KPIs are moving but results are still thin, I hope you have a healthy partnership to chat with your agency. Are the secondary KPIs well-aligned with the results you’re trying to measure? Your agency should be able to collaborate with you each step of the way. And if they can’t, it’s surprising you made it this high up the ascent!I’ll be honest for a minute: we don’t always get to the results level with clients. And in some cases, we encourage them to fire us. We successfully ascend past insights and quality, start seeing KPIs move, but our efforts just aren’t driving sales. Usually when this happens, we’ve built enough trust that the client knows that we’re a trustworthy team, but that we need to reassess our plan and scope together.

Use the results ascent with your agency. This will ensure you’re talking about the right outcomes at the right time. The quicker up the ascent, the better! But good things take time. Have questions? We’d love to discuss this idea with you.