How to write an effective digital marketing RFP

December 2020 10 minute read

It can be difficult to find an agency to help you with your digital marketing goals. In fact, this is constantly becoming more of a challenge as more players enter the industry claiming to be the best!

One of the most vital steps when working on any project is to put together a Request For Proposal (RFP). This is important because it clearly communicates and defines what you seek to achieve from your digital marketing project. This is the best way to ensure that you and the agency you hire are on the same page.

With that in mind, we have put together this guide to help you write an effective RFP for digital marketing services.

Let’s take a look at how to write an effective digital marketing RFP:

Some basic guidelines that you should follow

Make sure that your RFP is clear and that it is easy to read.

An optimal RFP structure includes the following information:

  1. Relevant information about your business – a brief history, etc.
  2. An overview of what you’re looking for. What kind of project do you want?
  3. Realistic targets and KPIs
  4. Current performance benchmarks
  5. An estimated budget for the project
  6. Your expectations
  7. Potential roadblocks and issues you could face in the future
  8. Project timeline
  9. Future projects
  10. Resource availability
  11. Relevant questions
  12. RFP distribution and selection criteria
  13. How to get further information

The language should be user-friendly. Don’t complicate matters. Make sure that your objectives and aims are clear. You also need to make sure you share any project constraints. Being upfront and honest about everything from the start will ensure your project has the greatest chance of success.

What information needs to be included in your digital marketing RFP?

The optimal structure for a digital marketing RFP will include several key pieces of information, including information about your brand and company. You also need to outline your agency expectations, budget, existing performance benchmarks, project overview, KPIs, and targets for the project.

You should also ensure that you cover RFP distribution and selection criteria, any relevant questions, resource availability, future developments, a timetable for the project, and any critical requirements and roadblocks.

This is a lot of information to cover, but it is imperative to the success of your project and ensuring that you choose the best agency for the job.

So that you understand the details which should be included, we’re going to take a look at each of these sections in further depth below.

Company and Brand Background

You should provide a clear summary of your brand and your business. This includes a brief history of your company, as well as any critical data about your stakeholders and key personnel. Rather than overloading this part of the document with information, it is a wise idea to add some links to where more information can be found online.

Project Overview

The project overview should provide a description of what you are aiming to achieve from the project. Make sure that all of the agency’s areas of involvement are covered. You should also ensure that details about your target audience are offered at this stage, including who and where they are, as well as their expectations and attributes.

Project Targets and KPIs

This is one of the most important parts of the document. You need to ensure your project goals are defined alongside the key performance indicators that will be used to assess and measure performance. Digital marketing objectives need to be directly related to company aims, so it is advisable to demonstrate these relationships while you are defining your targets. Make sure your goals are attainable and realistic.

Current Performance Benchmarks

Your current performance status will have been unearthed while you were defining goals and KPIs for the project. It is advisable to share these metrics with the agency so that they can be used as benchmarks.


Next, you need to make your budget evident. A lot of business owners are reluctant to share this information. However, it is advisable to ensure that prospective agencies are aware of any constraints you currently have in terms of budget. By providing a detailed budget you will be in a better position when you receive proposals from different agencies. You don’t want to hit roadblocks later down the line because you have run out of money because you were not upfront about your budget.

Agency Expectations

What do you expect from the agency in question? This is something else that should be outlined as it will help you to eradicate any agencies that do not meet your expectations. Look at some of your current and past relationships with different agencies, as this will help you to figure out what does and does not work.

Critical Requirements and Roadblocks

There are usually mission-critical elements in all digital marketing projects. It is imperative for you to identify these elements and ensure that you communicate them to prospective agencies in the RFP. You also need to define any known roadblocks and constraints that relate to the project, for instance, a lack of in-house technical-know-how.

Project Timetable

Your project timeline is another vital thing to consider when learning how to write an effective digital marketing RFP. There are some imperative dates that you will need to share at this stage.

This includes the date from which the documents for RFP are being shared, the period in which you would accept questions from agencies, and the final date by which you need all of the proposals to be sent in. Aside from this, you must share the dates by which you will provide a shortlist of possible agency candidates, a date for presentation shortlists if these are going to be conducted, and the date on which you will announce the agency you have chosen. The start date for the digital marketing project is also imperative.

Future Developments

Despite your aim with this document being to locate the best partner agency for the digital marketing project in question, you need to remember that excellent client-agency relationships extend into the long-term. It is always beneficial to find a great agency that you will be able to work with time and time again. While you are focused on your digital marketing goals at the present time, it still makes sense to consider the future and what you may want from a digital marketing agency at that point. It is therefore wise to provide an overview and an outline of your company vision beyond this point.

Resource Availability

Next, we recommend including some information about the availability of resources. Details on resources should include a summary of the capabilities that you have in-house, as well as the details of any third-party suppliers you are currently using. For example, if you have an external partner who manages your social media account, you can include this information. You can also include information about any tools you use at the moment, such as instant messaging software.

Ask Relevant Questions

Now is your chance to ask any relevant questions that you want to be answered by the agencies who will respond. The questions you ask will depend on the nature of your project, yet you may want to find out about the different digital marketing tools that the agency uses.

RFP Distribution and Selection Criteria

It can also help to provide some information on how your documents are going to be distributed. For example, who are you sending this proposal request to? You do not need to include a specific list of agencies, but you may want to list how many agencies will be in receipt of the information, so that prospective agencies can know how many they are up against.

How to Get Further Information

The final piece of the puzzle is to make sure you include some details for prospective agencies in terms of obtaining more information from you. State how people can get in touch if they have any queries about the project or the proposal. You may even want to consider setting up a dedicated email account so that you can handle it efficiently and effectively, ensuring quick responses to any emails you may receive.

These are the general outlines of what should be included. Nevertheless, every business and every project is different, so you can tweak this to suit your needs. However, make sure you cover all of the vital parts and that it is clear.

We have many years of experience in the industry and we have previously handled many RFP documents. If you would like more information about writing an RFP for digital marketing services, or if you are looking for an agency to create a bespoke digital marketing project for you, get in touch with us.

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