How to write a digital marketing RFP, including a free template and example questions

There are a lot of benefits to outsourcing your digital marketing to a digital marketing agency. Access to a dedicated team that contains expertise across several channels, without the need to recruit or train individuals. The use of the best tech without monthly licensing fees, partnerships with third-party platforms and so on.


But hiring a digital marketing agency is a big investment, so it’s important to find one that perfectly suits your company and the work your need carrying out.


To help guide you on your journey, we are here to share tips on how to write an effective digital marketing Request for Proposal document, along with certain RFP questions to ask. Plus, our free downloadable digital marketing RFP template can be modified to suit your business’s unique needs.

Download your free copy now

Does the digital marketing agency have expertise in the channels and services you require?


Most digital marketing agencies fall into two camps: niche, or full service.

Niche agencies specialise in managing one digital marketing channel (for example, web development) and every employee has expertise in this service.

Full-service agencies manage multiple channels, often taking an integrated approach, and each channel has its own team full of channel experts. Full-service agencies also have specialisms.

For example, Search Laboratory offers full-service digital marketing and we have teams in every channel from PPC to CRO. Plus, we are also international digital marketing specialists, and Google Marketing Platform (GMP) Sales Partners, which means we are better equipped to help businesses expand internationally or leverage the advanced features of the GMP stack than a full-service digital agency who does not have the same experience, expertise and qualifications as we do.

Do they have proven experience in your sector?


It is beneficial to work with a digital marketing agency which has experience working with clients in a similar sector as you. This is because they already know what works (and what doesn’t) in the industry, and will likely have made strong relationships with key people in this sector too.

An agency might specialise within just one sector, for example, construction, or they may work across multiple sectors. But through having several clients in one industry, they can still have specialist knowledge of your sector.


Can they prove past success?


All digital agencies can talk the talk, but a truly successful digital marketing agency will have compelling case studies and industry awards to confirm whether they deliver genuinely successful results for their clients.

Is their company culture aligned with yours?


All businesses have values and beliefs which influence their brand culture, and it’s important to find a digital marketing agency whose culture and beliefs complement yours. Finding an agency with a similar culture and values, ensures they can act as an extension of your brand, as the work they are required to do for you, is a natural fit for the work they believe in.


What budgets do they typically work with?


Digital marketing agencies tend to have a budget in mind which they like to work with. Finding an agency who looks after similar-sized businesses and handles similar-sized budgets means you are more likely to work with people who are capable of delivering your marketing campaigns.


Where a digital marketing RFP comes in


A Request For Proposal (or RFP for short) is a document you can use as part of the pitching process. It allows you to get details about the digital marketing agency you are interested in working with, so you can gage if they will make a good fit.

Digital marketing RFPs typically include:

  • A background overview of the company
  • A project brief which includes goals and KPIs
  • Overarching business aims
  • A timeline of the pitching process and when work is required to start
  • Access to any relevant data and analytics, along with questions covering everything the company wants to know – from team size to case studies, to how the digital marketing agency would approach the brief.

Getting the digital marketing RFP right


A digital marketing Request for Proposal is your chance to thoroughly vet agencies before inviting them to pitch. A good RFP will weed out any agencies that are not a good match, so it is important that your digital RFP brief contains as much detail as possible.

The questions you include and choose to ask will deliver in-depth insight on everything you need to know from prospective agencies. Without detailed information on who you are and what you want to achieve, agencies are made to take a stab in the dark with their answers – meaning your digital RFP may not be a true representation of their skills and approach.


Tips for writing a good digital RFP


We’ve been asked to complete hundreds of digital RFPs – and it is through completing these RFPs, we understand exactly what makes an request for proposal great.

Give a thorough overview of your company


Working with an agency is a two-way relationship, and the RFP digital marketing process is just as much an opportunity for an agency to confirm you are a good fit, as it is for you to review them. Providing a thorough overview of your business will help agencies assess if the scope of work is suitable for them.

Look to include as part of your Request for Proposal document:

  • Your company background and current position in the market
  • Company values, team size and key stakeholders
  • Customer demographics, business goals and current marketing activity
  • USPs and a list of competitors.

A digital marketing agency should act as an extension of your in-house team. So if there is anything your marketing department needs to know; the agency needs to know too.

Outline your digital marketing challenges


The challenges you face will partly determine the strategy used to reach your business goals. So it is important you include all the internal and external challenges, in your brief, as this will help the digital agency identify where and how they should prioritise their efforts.

Anything that might impact the work – from technical issues onsite, to increasing competition from online marketplaces, outlining your challenges will help an agency determine where they can add value.

Scope of work


Your digital RFP should detail exactly what services you are looking for from an agency and what you hope to get from this activity. Be as specific as possible – ‘We want to increase our PPC revenue by X% in the next X months’ is more useful and will influence answers much better than ‘We want someone to manage our PPC’.


Clarify your business goals


Your digital marketing RFP needs to portray not just the services required, but the exact results you want to gain from the work – in terms of digital KPIs but also your wider business objectives. Understanding the distance between your current position and your desired outcome is crucial when building an effective digital marketing strategy.



Be clear on your budget and timelines


Sharing the timeline for the scope of work will ensure that any agencies who do not have the capacity to complete the work within the timeframe are filtered out. Your budget and expected time frame will play a huge part in the strategy that is proposed.

Being clear with these factors upfront allows each agency to propose a strategy they feel best uses the budget to reach your goals, rather than presenting a strategy which is out of budget and will later need to be scaled back.



Define your selection criteria


Your digital marketing RFP should explain the criteria you will use to select an agency partner, along with any scoring systems that will be used.

Responding to digital RFPs can require a lot of work from multiple people in the agency. So by including this information in the RFP, you will prevent agencies who are unsuitable from applying, saving both parties time.



Be specific with your RFP questions


An agency needs to know exactly what information you want from them, in order to respond with a cohesive RFP answer. Vague questions are likely to get vague answers that do not truly reflect the agency’s capabilities, or how they would specifically service your needs. It’s also difficult to compare answers from different agencies, when broad or generic questions are used, as they may be interpreted differently.

When compiling your questions, think about how what you want to know (e.g. the agency’s approach to a channel) can be related back to what you hope to achieve.

This can be done by either creating specific questions throughout (e.g. How would you approach X to do Y?) or outlining objectives in the brief and asking the agency to refer back to these objectives when answering each question.


We’ve created a free and downloadable digital marketing RFP template


To make writing an effective digital Right for Proposal even easier, we have created a digital marketing RFP template, which can be completely customised to suit your needs. Within the template are example questions across all digital services; these can be kept in and used as they are, tailored to specific work requirements you have, or removed and alternative questions added in.

By using our digital marketing RFP template and the above tips, you should have no trouble creating the ideal RFP document that will help you narrow down potential agencies to invite to pitch.

Download your free template here