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    How to write a B2B SaaS digital marketing RFP that gets you the right agency partner


    Last updated: November 23rd, 2023

    The traditional RFP process for hiring a B2B SaaS marketing agency is broken.

    Here are a few specific problems we often find:

    • They take too long to create: If your RFP takes six months or more to create, you will have lost even more ground in the time you spent creating the RFP. By the time the agency comes on board, there’s even more work to do than you initially scoped out, making it more challenging to achieve your goals.
    • They encourage cookie-cutter responses: RFPs often ask generic questions, which therefore encourage generic responses that make it difficult to uncover red flags, key differentiators, and culture fit among potential candidates.
    • They treat specialized talent like buying a commodity: Companies often create RFPs in a way that evaluates various agencies the same way you might evaluate various products. Yet you’re purchasing talent – not a product. Therefore, your RFP should be similar to your hiring process.

    The good news is that these problems are solvable with a better process for creating an RFP.

    In this post, we’ll show you and the RFP stakeholders on your team how to get the most value out of the process as the by asking the right questions, moving at the right speed, and effectively evaluating candidates to select the right partner.

    You can also download our template to write a RFP, which you can use to evaluate candidate agencies more effectively and ultimately make a better hire ten times faster.

    If you’re a project sponsor on the marketing team, or a member of the procurement team looking to engage with a B2B SaaS marketing partner – this post is for you.

    Download your copy of the B2B SaaS RFP Template

    The B2B SaaS RFP template helps you create an RFP that clearly illuminates the best agency partner for your company. Specifically, it will help you get:

    • Internal agreement: This allows you to discuss and finalize your requirements with all of the internal (and agency) stakeholders before involving a further supplier.
    • Accurate proposals: This allows suppliers to clearly understand your needs so they can provide you with the most accurate estimates of their best solution.
    • Comparable solutions: This ensures that each supplier receives the same set of requirements and, therefore, replies with a similar and comparable set of proposed solutions.

    You’ll also save time creating the RFP as all the information you need will be in one clear, concise document.

    Download the B2B SaaS RFP Template here

    In the next few sections, we’ll show you how to structure your RFP so that you bring on an agency partner that’s exactly the right fit for your needs and goals.

    Company background

    The beginning of your RFP should provide an introduction to your company so that the agencies know more about who your company is, what your company strives to be, and what makes it unique.

    Some specific points to cover in the company background section include:

    • What you’re trying to do through digital marketing
    • A quick summary of what makes a good agency partner for you:
    • Why are you looking for an agency?
    • What does a good working relationship look like for you?
    • Is experience within a subject matter, organization size or comparable campaign important?
    • Scope/Timeline – a one-time project, a two-year contract, monthly strategy, execution or consulting services, etc.
    • Specific goals you are trying to accomplish.
    • Key stakeholders for the project (Tip: A single point of contact helps in any agency-client relationship to facilitate communication)
    • Digital footprint (websites, social media channels)

    This should also give a snapshot overview of the current state of your company’s marketing health, goal attainment, and current priorities.

    Goals for this RFP

    The goal of the RFP isn’t just to find a marketing agency partner – it’s to find a partner who can help you achieve your short and long term marketing goals.

    In this section, first outline the problems you’ve identified thus far. The agency may identify other problems as well, or a different root problem, but giving them an idea of the challenges you’re facing can help them zero in on the problem and therefore provide more detailed proposals.

    Here are some examples of challenges you might include:

    • Not attracting new leads
    • Not converting leads into opportunities
    • Lack of awareness in the marketplace
    • No defined process for creating and scaling content development
    • Outdated messaging that doesn’t resonate with the audience
    • Low retention rates
    • Inconsistent branding

    Based on those challenges, the next step is to clearly define short and long term marketing goals. With clear goals, you can align expectations before investing more time into building a relationship with an agency.

    To set goals, use the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) model. This allows you to hold the agency accountable and ensures the agency clearly understands what you expect from them.

    Some examples of short term goals include filling in resource gaps, such as replacing a current agency or supplementing their current team. Another example of a short term goal might be finding an expert to provide additional expertise on a particular marketing channel or challenge.

    Some examples of long term goals include:

    Related: How B2B SaaS Companies Can Leverage a Hub & Spoke Content Strategy

    • Improve the ROI of a particular marketing channel
    • Reduce churn by X%
    • Increase revenue for the next fiscal year
    • Gain larger market share in the region
    • Raising another round of funding/going public

    Defining these goals is helpful as you can then weed out agencies that have not previously accomplished these specific goals, which helps you speed up the evaluation process and ensures you don’t waste the agency’s time.

    Target audience and ideal customer profile

    Providing an overview of your buyer personas helps the agencies more effectively audit your channels, messaging, and general marketing strategy. Ideally, include an overview of your sales pipeline’s health as well, as this can give the agency insight into whether or not the strategy you’re using is attracting the right audience.

    As you describe your ideal customer, include as much demographic and psychographic information as you are comfortable sharing.

    If your team has created customer journey mapping or personas, include these. Here are just a few questions you can answer:

    • How does your ideal customer find you and interact with you?
    • How do customers discover you (e.g., offline marketing like referrals, events and partnerships or digitally through SEO, PPC, etc.)?

    It’s also helpful to provide some context into your company’s key differentiators to understand why these customers choose your product over a competitor’s product.

    Current digital ecosystem

    This section should give the agencies an overview of what you’ve done so far, your current available resources, and the results of your existing strategy so that they can better understand where the growth opportunities lie.

    This allows the agencies to create more detailed proposals, which will make it easier to compare their marketing plans and strategies.

    Here are a few specific things to include in this section of your proposal.

    Shared beliefs

    • What do the project sponsors and marketing executives in your company believe about earned, owned, and paid media as promotional channels?
    • How long does data show it takes to generate demand and measure its ROI?
    • What is your history towards the specific digital marketing strategies you’re asking agencies invited to your RFP to bid on?


    Most RFPs just state the marketing channels the company has tried, but this doesn’t give the agencies the information they need to understand why the channel did or did not work.

    Without detailed information on the strategy, agencies can’t prescribe a solution, and all of the proposals will likely include very generic information that makes it difficult to fully evaluate a marketing agency’s skill and strategy.

    So instead of just saying, “we tried SEO and it didn’t work,” state exactly what you did.

    For example, did you try to redesign a website and wanted to create content, but didn’t actually get around to creating content?

    Or, did you create 30 blog posts and they never ranked, or the traffic never converted?

    This level of detail allows the prospective agencies to dive deeper into your current strategy and craft a more specific strategic plan.


    The agency needs to know more about the resources available on your team and the leadership structure so that they better understand how they can effectively support your existing team and communicate efficiently.

    In terms of team structure, here are a few specific things to include in your RFP:

    • Remote vs hybrid vs. in-person team
    • Global vs single location team

    Specific details your RFP should include are:

    • Key points of contact for reporting
    • Project sponsors
    • Teams/individuals the agency will work with on a daily basis
    • Other agencies your new marketing agency will be involved with
    • Adjacent teams, such as stakeholders

    An agency should also know your company’s general operating style to ensure they align well with that approach. For example, do you operate asynchronously through a project management tool like Basecamp, or do you prefer real-time communication through Slack and live meetings?


    It’s helpful for agencies to understand the skill level of your team so that they can better understand how to efficiently fill in the gaps.

    In addition to notating the people and roles you currently have on your marketing team, include details like:

    • Each person’s core expertise
    • Each person’s background and experience level
    • Each person’s particular role and responsibility

    If you just include the number of people on each team, it can make it difficult for the agency to understand where you need the most help. For example, you might have two people doing paid media, but if they’re both versed exclusively in Google Ads and don’t have LinkedIn ad expertise, that’s a critical gap the agency must be able to fill.

    Similarly, you may have five people on the SEO team, but nobody proficient in technical SEO. In that case, it’s critical that the agency has a strong technical resource.

    Current Marketing Ops tech stack

    Agencies also need to know what your current tech stack looks like so that they can evaluate whether or not they have the expertise to work with that tech stack. Alternatively, if you don’t have a solid tech stack in place, this is helpful information for the agencies so that they can include a diagnostic or implementation in the proposal, before committing to a plan to hit specific targets.

    It’s also helpful to know what kinds of metrics your company is currently tracking so that the engagement begins with all parties on the same page in terms of data integrity. If the engagement starts with mad or missing data, it can be impossible to hit a goal when that goal was established under an inaccurate set of data.

    So in your RFP, include the CMS, analytics, and CRM platforms you’re using, as well as any other critical tools in your marketing ops system.

    Scope of work

    This section is where you’ll want to provide more detail about your project. You can go as far as listing all the services you are seeking so only agencies that are a good fit respond.

    Keep in mind that you should ideally break your deliverables into phases for budgeting, timing, or resources.
    In the scope of work, you should include:

    • Your needs per platform, channel, or business objective
    • Your requirements for strategy, implementation, and training
    • The cadence of meetings, reporting, and reviews.

    Giving a specific list of deliverables will give the agency a better idea of what to budget and plan for, giving you a more accurate estimate in return.

    If your company’s legal department insists on implementing a standardized MSA (Master Services Agreement) or Scope of Work agreement, provide this to your short list of candidates as soon as possible.

    Providing this expedites the process in two ways:

    1. It helps align with the language and the expectation that your company wants to use your copy of your MSA and scope of work.
    2. Work through some of the legal red lines to ensure the documents are ready for both parties to mutually agree to the final terms.

    Providing this information up front can get the right people involved in advance, which ultimately expedites the entire process.

    Expert Tip:
    In our experience, using a pre-approved SOW and MSA, if you already currently have an agency and are seeking a new partner, saves nearly 25% in the selection and placement process.

    Timeline and budget

    Giving the agency an overview of your timeline and budget can help agencies that aren’t a good fit immediately pull out of the process, which saves you time and money.

    While you may not want to provide a specific number that you’re willing to spend at this moment, providing a range is useful.

    It’s also helpful for agencies to know how you structure your costs. For example, do you work on a time and materials basis or a value-based cost structure?

    It’s also useful to provide timelines for the RFP process and engagement. Some dates to include are:

    • Notification of intention to bid
    • Q&A period
    • Proposals due
    • Notification to finalists
    • Finalist presentations
    • Vendor selection
    • Project start Date

    Selection criteria

    If your RFPs have traditionally received generic responses from agencies, it’s often because the agencies are unclear on what you’re looking for in a partner.

    So rather than hiding it from them, let them know the details of your evaluation criteria so that they can give you the information you need to compare each one on a level playing field.

    Common ways to define selection criteria include adding a parameter and weighting.

    rfp scoring1

    How will RFP’s be evaluated? Using a standardized scoring system, “points”can be assigned to each criteria component according to the degree (extent) to which the proposed solution meets stated requirements. This is illustrated below:

    rfp scoring2

    Provide clear guidance on the materials you want to receive as well. Here are some materials we recommend requesting from each agency:

    • Background of the company
    • Project approach and timing
    • Relevant experience & Qualifications
    • Scope of Work recommendations
    • Responses to specific SEO, SEM, CRO, UX Questions
    • Project management
    • Pricing

    Lastly, specify the number of copies you would like to receive and to whom they should be addressed.

    The main point of contact information is:

    • Full name
    • Job title
    • Address
    • Phone number
    • Email

    Candidate questions & answers

    Accepting questions from candidates bidding on the RFP

    In the early stages of accepting candidates to bid on your RFP, it’s important to give them the option to ask your team clarifying questions about the potential partnership.

    When you issue your RFP, indicate your desired period and timeline for accepting questions so that expectations are clear to all parties. Set clear boundaries so that this period doesn’t needlessly delay your selection process.

    Mention that all questions and answers will be distributed to all attendees with reasonable time to update their proposals.


    Questions arising during the proposal period must be directed via email to

    [Your Company] will not accept questions any later than two (2) business days prior to the RFP Submission Date. If [Your Company] chooses to answer any question, both the question and answer will be distributed to all vendors.

    What questions to ask bidding candidates

    Below we list out some specific questions you can include in your RFP that you require candidates to answer for satisfying the requirements of your selection criteria.

    We recommend that you only select about 20 of the most important questions that align with your goals.

    Otherwise, you’ll end up reviewing thousands of responses, which is overwhelming and can make it difficult to accurately assess which agency is best for solving the most critical challenges you’re facing.

    About the Company

    1. Describe your company structure? (to understand if they have specialization)
    2. What is your revenue per employee? (to understand if they are productive)
    3. What is your team structure? (to understand their role diversity)
    4. What fraction of your employees work in client services (account management) vs marketing?
    5. What is your typical team utilization rate? (to understand if the team is appropriately resourced)
    6. Who will be our Point of Contact on your team?
    7. Will we have access to experts and specialists on your team? How?
    8. Where are you located?
    9. How many staff are at your satellite offices?
    10. Where do you prefer to have most meetings?

    Core Values

    1. What are your core values?
    2. How do you use core values for decision making in your business?
    3. What are your marketing and advertising beliefs?


    1. What are the major technology products you use?
    2. What percentage of revenues do you spend on technology and software products? (to understand if they are leveraging technology to create productive output)
    3. What technology do you use for communication (external and internal), project management, meetings and conferencing? (to understand if they are going to have lag in communicating efficiently)
    4. What systems do you use for delivering marketing services? Technology-based? People-based?
    5. How do you train staff on your systems?


    1. What do you think will be the biggest challenges with the requirements outlined in the RFP? Explain your approach to client-vendor relationships and what you anticipate needing from us throughout the process.
    2. While your tool expertise is assumed, explain the relationships you have with vendors of relevant technology.
    3. What is your approach to project and client management?
    4. What is the nature and frequency of reporting and status updates you provide?
    5. What tools do you use for communication and project management? How will you use [our project management tool(s)]?
    6. Describe at least one difficulty you’ve encountered in this type of work before and how it was overcome.
    7. How can we ensure that the value of this work is maximized throughout the organization?
    8. What should we be thinking of as a next step beyond the scope of this RFP?

    SEO Service Questions

    1. Describe your approach to the creation of an overall SEO strategy. What is your typical SEO workflow/process?
    2. What SEO tactics do you view as effective in the current environment? What advantages or disadvantages might [client] face?
    3. Describe the opportunity for [client] as you see it in SEO.
    4. Please provide a market assessment of SEO at this time, and any trends [client] should be concerned with over the next three (3) years.
    5. How do you uncover user intent and align it with keyword research?
    6. Describe your approach towards aligning content form, format, and function with user intent.
    7. What is your approach towards low-value or duplicate content pages?
    8. Describe your approach to conducting keyword research and validation of [client]-supplied keywords. How do you determine which keywords would be the most effective? Describe your approach to ongoing keyword targeting strategies (adding new keywords, etc.)
    9. Describe your approach to evaluating the current site structure/ on-site factors as they pertain to SEO and making recommendations for structural improvements for optimal search engine exposure.
    10. Indicate your ability to provide specific technical guidance to [client] developers for changes that affect SEO.
    11. Indicate how important you view site content and what capabilities you have to guide the creation of content and/or provide SEO optimized content where needed.
    12. Describe your approach to finding right-fit link opportunities and conducting outreach. Will we be able to review your outreach communications if needed?
    13. How do you report on link acquisition?
    14. Do you offer a Pay for Performance link acquisition program?
    15. How do you stay within Google Webmaster guidelines when acquiring links?

    Paid Media Service Questions

    1. How do you rank the following elements of paid search in importance?
      1. Account structure
      2. Ad copy
      3. Bidding
      4. Data analysis
      5. Keywords
      6. Landing pages
      7. Match-types and negatives
      8. Quality score
    2. What is your monthly account optimization process?
    3. Do you have a bidding methodology? Describe it.
    4. How do you align user intent with account structure and keywords?
    5. How do you align landing page content with user intent?
    6. Describe your research process for writing ad copy headlines, descriptions, urls, and call to actions.
    7. Describe your approach to offer creation. Do you create specific offers & creative for specific audiences? How do you deliver these?
    8. What landing page platforms do you have the most expertise in?
    9. Describe your approach to funnel optimization.
    10. Describe your keyword research approach.
    11. Describe your decision making process on how you’ll either continue with our current account or create a fresh account build.
    12. Describe how you use technology and manual processes to build the initial state of the account.
    13. How do you allocate budget by campaign type and objective?
    14. Campaign Optimization:
      1. Describe your weekly optimization process.
      2. Describe your process for spotting winning and losing ads, keywords, ad groups, and campaigns.
      3. Do you use a bid management platform? Which one, and why?
      4. Describe the level of bid automation you use, if any.
      5. How often do you prune accounts for keyword and user intent fit?
      6. How often do you revamp accounts to optimize quality score?

    Data & Reporting

    1. How often do you typically report to clients? Why?
    2. What is the best format for this report?
    3. Describe your approach to sharing insights, observations, and recommendations.
    4. What segments, metrics, and granularity can be reported?
    5. How often can reports be provided?
    6. Who will own the accounts and data?
    7. What do you require from us to ensure a successful partnership?
    8. What are some examples of your Digital Analytics thought leadership?
    9. What is your depth of experience working with [analytics/reporting/CRM tool]?

    Download your copy of the B2B SaaS RFP Template

    If you’ve felt overwhelmed by agency responses in the past, this RFP template should solve the problem and clearly illuminate the handful of agencies that have the skill, experience and expertise to overcome the marketing challenges your company is facing.

    Use this guide as a framework to build the perfect RFP that will attract A+ B2B SaaS marketing agencies to work with you. You can also download your copy of the RFP template outlined in this post.

    Powered by Search gets invited to B2B Technology and SaaS Marketing RFPs regularly, and we specifically built this guide to put an end to bad RFP’s that benefit no one.

    Would you like to work together to achieve your marketing goals? Reach out to us today for your Free Marketing Plan.

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