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Sean: Hey, welcome to today's episode where I'm going to be sharing the 11 critical questions you must ask before hiring a marketing agency.

The agency you work with can make or break your app. Hire the wrong agency, and it will be detrimental, wasting your time and money. But hiring the right agency can get you to reach your goals twice as fast and at a fraction of the cost. Today I'll be sharing the right questions you must ask to ensure that you're working with the best, so stay tuned.

Hey, I'm Sean Casto, and I have helped thousands of apps over the years to go from zero to millions of downloads and sales, turn their app dream into a reality and become financially free. And it's now my mission to help others like you succeed. So, how do you build and grow an app business from nothing to millions of downloads and sales? Well, this is the “App Secrets Podcast.”

All right, let's jump into today's episode. [01:11.9]
Now, the questions that we're talking about today aren't necessarily in the order of importance, but they must all be asked—and before I forget, if you're interested, our team actually created a special PDF version of all the questions that we're going to be talking about today, and be able to use that in your next meeting. There’s no opt-in required. Just go ahead and click the link in the show notes if you want access to that.

Question #1 that you must ask before hiring a marketing agency: how many successful mobile apps have they actually already worked with so far?
The key thing to understand here is that your app will only be as successful as the team of experts that you surround yourself with. On top of that, you want to make sure that the agency exclusively works with mobile apps. [02:03.3]
There are so many agencies out there that work with any type of business and anytime a product. I strongly advise not working with an agency that doesn't exclusively work with mobile apps. It's a red flag.

It's a red flag that they work with any type of website or any type of product, and just sometimes work with apps. This simply tells you that they are not an expert in their field, because they will most likely be recommending the same strategies that they recommend for other websites and products. But the reality is marketing a website or product is very different than marketing an app. It requires different strategies and different tactics. So, don't work with the amateurs.

There are so many new app gurus and self-proclaimed experts out there that have only worked with a handful of poor quality apps. Look, you want to work with an agency that has worked with the top apps on the market, ideally one that has worked with billion-dollar apps. [03:05.0]

Why would you hire an agency that hasn't consistently reached the type of results far greater than the ones you want to achieve? So, discover what the exact number of successful apps that they've worked with are and double-check that they exclusively work with mobile apps.

Question #2: do they work with Apple and Google regularly?
This is an important question to ask because it's going to remove about 95 percent of agencies and freelancers out there from your list. Only about 5 percent of the top agencies out there have a direct relationship with Apple and Google. This is why you need to work with experts that keep up with what's working now, since Apple, the App Store and Google Play algorithms, which determine how apps are ranked, get updated regularly. What worked last year doesn't necessarily work today.
It's those that have a relationship and meet with Apple and Google that get a competitive advantage, not only from Apple's algorithm changes and the App Store’s fluctuations and Google Play’s fluctuations, but also when it comes down to paid advertising as well, such as through Apple Search ads and Google Universal app campaigns. [04:20.4]

For example, we have one client that was able to get an additional 100,000 downloads by discovering opportunities in certain keyword fluctuations on the App Store to have their app rank number one and get a competitive advantage over their competitors.

Question #3: do they offer both organic and paid advertising services?
What I mean by this is, when it comes down to mobile app marketing, there are multiple strategies required in order to be able to reach big results. You need to work with an agency that provides the best in the industry when it comes to both organic and paid advertising initiatives.

Organic would be items such as App Store optimization. For those unfamiliar with App Store optimization, it's all about how your app appears and ranks on the App Store and Google Play. This means getting your app to rank for more keywords in the App Store search results and having the highest conversion rates. [05:17.9]

When I'm referring to paid advertising initiatives, I'm referring to items such as Apple Search ads and Google Universal app campaigns. This is when you can pay Apple and Google to have your app rank number one for a particular search term or keyword.

Having the same agency work on both organic and paid advertising is critical as both initiatives are actually correlated and impact each other. Executed correctly, the more paid advertising you do, the more organic downloads will increase as well.
The team must have a cohesive work exchange and work together to be able to achieve the maximum number of downloads at the lowest cost. To partner with a company that does both may sound like common sense, but there are a ton of agencies and freelancers that not only just do inorganic marketing such as App Store optimization, but they just purely focused on that specific type of initiative, while others will only focus exclusively on paid advertising like Facebook ads or Apple Search ads. And so, you want to be able to work with an agent that can work with both initiatives at the same time, because they're directly correlated. [06:27.3]

Question #4 that you must ask before hiring a marketing agency: are they able to perform split testing and conversion tracking to ensure that your app is getting the greatest results?

For those unfamiliar with split testing, think of it as how you can test and compare one marketing assets, such as your app screenshots or app description, over another to see which performs better, in order to be able to maximize conversions and downloads. Split testing is a method that all the top apps in the market use in order to be able to achieve the greatest results. [07:06.6]

The question will begin to weed out the amateurs as only the top agencies actually do split testing and conversion tracking.

Question #5: do they provide weekly reporting on your app performance?
By providing weekly reporting and updates, it’s vital to not only understand the performance of your app, but also, more importantly, what needs to be improved in order to be able to grow, because what you measure, you can improve.

Analytics allow you to understand what works and what doesn't to obtain actionable insight that you can begin to incorporate into your app right away. Without tracking your growth or decline, you won't fully understand how or what to improve. It's so important that it's one of the first things that we cover with our private clients. Remember, you can't improve what you don't track. [08:00.0]

Question #6: what type of communication will you have with the agency? Do they provide 24/7 support?
Look, for most, your app is your baby. I get it. It's something you've been working on for over a year, and spent quite a bit of time and money on. It's critical that the agency you work with is available 24/7 to make sure that you're taken care of and treats your app as if it's their own.
You want to make sure that you have someone that works with you step by step to ensure that you're on the path to reaching your goals. Only a very select handful of agencies operate this way and that's why it's important to ask upfront.

Question #7: can they provide a case studies with before and after results?
If they can't provide a number of case studies, it's a red flag. They should be able to provide case studies, having reached far greater results than what you're looking to achieve.
You can also, as a bonus, actually look at their Clutch reviews. Clutch is a third-party review platform that not only accepts legitimate client reviews, but they actually follow up and speak with each client, so that you know it's legit. [09:18.8]

Again, you want to ask, Can they provide before and after case studies? And, also, as a bonus, you can just double check their clutch reviews online.

Question #8: how many years have they been in business?
The agency should have a bare minimum of five years in business. I speak with so many app business owners that are working with amateurs, who just are learning app marketing in the past 12 months.

Look, don't work with amateurs or freelancers just because it's cheaper or easier. Don't jeopardize the success of your app by working with people with limited experience.

Instead, work with the best in the field that you can find. I promise you they're out there. You just need to find them. Have them solve the problem for you. And don't just delegate; have them actually own the result. [10:10.4]

Question #9: do they have experience in marketing an app in your country?
I can't emphasize enough how important it is to work with an agency that specializes in the country that you are targeting. They should be located in the country that you're marketing your app in. The reason I mention this is because, for example, the majority of marketing agencies now are overseas.

Think about it. Why would it be a good idea for a company in India to market an app for those in the U.S.? For example, if you're targeting an app, let's say, in the U.S. market, you need a U.S.-based agency.

Don't be fooled either. Some may say they operate in the U.S. and even have a U.S. office, but you'll find out that 90 percent of the operation is actually based in either Ukraine or India. We see it all the time, so you have to ask. [11:12.0]

I've heard so many horror stories from app business owners that hire an agency or freelancer overseas and get burned. I don't want that to happen to you. They typically don't work out because of three reasons: 1) The lack of expertise in the country they're targeting. 2) The communication barriers. 3) Going back to actually question #6, they're unable to provide 24/7 support purely because of the time difference.

I have heard many stories of people who hire an agency or freelancer overseas, who hire them and then they just don't hear back from them weeks at a time. So, don't jeopardize the future success of your app by going the cheaper option and working with someone not located in your country that you are targeting. [12:00.0]

Question #10: what percentage of clients come back to them for ongoing marketing support?

This will help you uncover their existing customer satisfaction. If they say it's less than 50 percent, then that's actually a problem, because that's saying that half of the clients that they work with don't like their services enough to continue working with them.

You want to work with an agency that has clients value their service so much that they were turn and come back on an ongoing basis for support.

Lastly, question #11 that you must ask before hiring a marketing agency: how many apps have they got featured by Apple?
This is an important question as it will actually, again, weed out about 95 percent of agencies and freelancers out there, as only about the top 5 percent consistently get their clients featured by Apple. [13:02.6]

Having an app handpicked by Apple and featured on the homepage of the App Store has always been like the Holy grail of any app creator, as it can result in getting additional 100,000 downloads for free just from that feature.

Unfortunately, Apple only selects about less than 1 percent of apps that are being submitted. They love and tend to feature apps like Uber, Netflix and Instagram. But, as I mentioned previously, there are some agencies that know how the game is played and can dramatically increase the probability that your app has gets featured by Apple. It’s important to understand their expertise and their ability to be able to do so.

That being said, just because they got their app featured, I should say, doesn't necessarily mean that your app will be featured as well, so don't get too excited. The purpose of this question is not necessarily because of the probability of getting your app featured, which would be fantastic, but to really understand their level of expertise. [14:04.2]

All right, to wrap it up, the key thing to remember here is that your app will only be as successful as the team of experts you surround yourself with. But, again, I'll be honest, the good ones aren't really cheap, right? So, the good ones are going to be very expensive. I mean, our agency, PreApps, is one of the most expensive ones out there, simply because we're able to get the best results, and we'll be able to achieve the type of downloads and traction that our clients are looking to obtain.

Look, I believe you can achieve anything, as long as you enroll the right people to do so. Here’s what I want you to do—the next time you're considering hiring a marketing agency, find the best in the industry that can help you and ask these critical questions, and it will save you a ton of time and resources.

As I already mentioned earlier, if you liked what we talked about today and would like a PDF version of all these questions with more detail, go ahead and simply click the link in the show notes and you can get access to that. There's no opt-in required. [15:08.7]

I hope you enjoyed and found this episode valuable. If so, please make sure to share it with someone you think it might help.
As always, I appreciate you, and I encourage you to live a bigger life, a bigger app business, as you continue to make your dream a reality.

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