Ask BESTSEO: Do I Need To Prepare a Request for Proposal (RFP)?

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28.5% of users click on the first search engine result page, making it a coveted spot. Ranking this high has its perks; you get more traffic and a higher chance of converting. As long as your website meets your customers’ needs, achieving this spot could provide a substantial increase in visits and conversions. However, attracting this level of organic traffic and turning it into paying customers is easier said than done.

You need to check all the SEO boxes. For instance, you should have a good link ecosystem, a fast-loading website, a stellar user experience, and riveting content. Most businesses know this and are constantly working on improving their rankings. One factor that could essentially tip the scales in your favor is the digital marketing firm you opt to work with, but choosing the right one isn’t always easy.

The ideal firm should understand the SEO world and have the right technical know-how. Most importantly, it should understand your business’ pain points to deliver customized services. That’s what makes a request for proposal (RFP) essential when vetting digital marketing agencies. 

Find out what impact a great marketing request for proposal could have on your business, and the right process to follow:

What Is an RFP, and Why Does It Matter?

Think of RFPs as the perfect matchmaking tool when searching for digital marketing agencies. It’s simply a short description of your business, its goals, and expectations. Once you have a list of agencies worth working with, you submit it to them and wait for their response.

The agencies, on the other hand, will assess your request and determine whether they are the perfect fit for the project. A request for proposal (RFP) contains a lot of information, from your budgetary range for the project to the kind of outcome you expect. 

It takes time to prepare one, but it can be a great time and cost saver. It ensures all parties are on the same page while reducing the chances of miscommunication. It also helps to filter out agencies that aren’t a good fit. While some might have issues with the budget range, others might lack the skills to deliver as per your expectations. Luckily, there are multiple requests for proposal marketing templates online that could help you get started.

Should You Prepare a Request for Proposal (RFP)?

It is highly advisable to prepare an RFP before you start the vetting process, let alone sign any contract with a digital marketing agency. Some projects might be too minor to require one, but most complex, long-term projects will call for one. Besides, an RFP will offer the ideal agency ample information about your business. The agency can use this information to craft the right pitch, increasing the chances of a successful working relationship.

Elements of a Great RFP

Every business is unique. Your approach to branding, target customers, and product specifications differentiate you from your competitors. Ideally, you are looking for a digital marketing firm that will accentuate these factors through a customized SEO strategy. In a world where 80% of consumers prefer custom content over cookie-cutter content, communicating your brand’s identity to your digital marketing agency is essential. Every marketing request for proposal (RFP) should include the following:

  • Project overview — this helps introduce your project before you can dive into your business’ details. Companies can immediately decide whether to work with your business or not. In this section, you should specify your marketing challenges and goals.
  • Company background — now that the project details are out of the way, you can talk about what your business entails, including your target market and mission/vision.
  • Selection schedule and criteria — this lets the agencies know when you expect their proposal. It also specifies your point of contact and details how the proposals are to be submitted.
  • Target deliverable schedule — this helps outline project timelines and deadlines. Companies that don’t have the bandwidth to deliver the project by the specified dates will keep away.
  • Selection criteria — if you have specific selection criteria, this is the best point to talk about it. This helps differentiate eligible agencies from the ineligible.
  • Budget range — while many businesses shy away from talking about their budget right off the bat, it might be wise to state it on the RFP. Being upfront ensures you receive proposals that match your budget.

An Overview of the RFP Process

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SEO is a long-term investment. It takes anywhere between four months to a year to potentially start seeing results, which makes picking the right candidate essential. You get to experience most of these results for a long time, whether they are positive or negative. That’s why you need to be meticulous during the vetting process. The typical request for proposal (RFP) process is as follows:

  1. Determine Needs

The RFP is simply a “help wanted” advert. That’s why you should know your needs first. Do you want content marketing help or on-site optimizations? What impact would you want to see from working with an agency? Ensure you can define your needs before preparing the RFP. You can brainstorm with employees, assess competitors’ websites, and research SEO trends to determine your immediate needs.

  1. Write and Distribute RFPs

Once you have a full understanding of your goals, you can write and distribute the document. You should have a carefully curated list of potential agencies worth working with. While it may be tempting to spread your net as wide as possible, you don’t want to be overwhelmed with proposals. Send the request for proposal (RFP) to a select few.

  1. Shortlist Candidates

Once you receive the proposals, you can start evaluating candidates. Remember, the fate of your business relies on the candidates you pick. You can divide the selection process into two: shortlisting and interviews. The former can be used to pick potential candidates, while the latter is ideal for zeroing down to the perfect fit.

In the second stage, you should conduct interviews with the best candidates. Use this period to ask agencies follow-up questions, request demos, and assess case studies and reviews.

  1. Select the Perfect Candidate

Now that the request for proposal (RFP) provided you with all the information you need, you can pick the ideal candidate. Assess this information. Look for both red flags and strengths before picking a candidate. Price should not be the only factor that sways your decision — you should focus on value, not just the dollar amount. 

As we all know, you should always read the contract before signing it. If you aren’t comfortable with some of the terms, there is always room for negotiation. Most firms will be willing to make concessions as long as they are mutually beneficial. 

Be Detail-Oriented in Your Search

It takes time to find the right digital marketing agency. A request for proposal (RFP) helps shorten this time by ensuring every agency knows what to expect. It also saves you from wasting time and money working with the wrong company. Best of all, you can easily find a request for proposal marketing template online if you aren’t ready to craft one in-house. Be thorough in your selection — your business’ future depends on it.