How hard have you worked to make your digital marketing agency a success? You probably need a nap now just thinking about it.
But don’t shut your eyes yet, because we need to talk about digital marketing contracts — a key element of agency success.
No matter how hard you work, a weak marketing services agreement can tank your efforts, erode your profit margins, and even threaten your agency’s long-term viability.
An airtight contract is a critical business component because it protects you, your agency, and even your clients.
Does your current agreement minimize the chances of scope creep, non-payment, and legal issues? Our guide will make sure you’re using a rock-solid contract.
Key elements of a digital marketing contract
Some parts of marketing contracts are self-explanatory, like the sections outlining the value you’ll deliver, and stipulating payment terms. But other aspects of the agreement are just as important but harder to nail down, like managing client expectations.
So before you hit send on that client contract, double-check that it includes the following elements.
1. Clear scope of work and objectives
Scope creep is time-consuming, expensive, and can put a major dent in your agency’s profitability. But you can avoid this by clearly laying out the services you will provide to the client. Add as many details as needed to create a complete picture of what the contract includes — and what it doesn’t.
2. Timeline and deliverables
Include a milestone schedule in your contract if you’re performing project-based work, such as building a website. Or, if you’ll be delivering ongoing work to the other party, lay out the schedule for that. For example, you could list that you will deliver one blog post and two social media posts each week.
3. Compensation and payment terms
Cover the total pricing, one-time and recurring fees, and any other expenses the client will be responsible for paying. Clearly break down the costs and the payment schedule. Will the client need to pay part up front and the rest on the delivery date? Or will you invoice for monthly flat-rate payments?
Remember to outline the consequences of non-payment too, including late fees and termination of the contract.
4. Intellectual property rights
You also need to state who will have access to and/or own any intellectual property created or used to fulfill the contract, such as trademarks, copyrights, patents, and any trade secrets. (Did we lose you yet? Don’t worry, there’s a handy template further down.)
5. Legal clauses and protections
More legalese — but we promise it’s important! Legal clauses and protections help make service agreements clear and ironclad. So in addition to everything we’ve already mentioned, your contract should cover confidentiality, non-disclosure, and conflict resolution.
6. Indemnification and liability
An indemnity section spells out how much risk each party is willing to accept and helps protect both parties from lawsuits. Include language that covers limitations of liability, which puts a limit on how much one party must pay the other party if the business contract causes them to suffer losses.
7. Termination and contract renewal
"There are 1000s of clients who are looking for a reputable and honest agency. Once you get rid of that bad client, you can start focusing on landing more of these positive clients, and of course, put more time into catering to your truly positive clients." ~ Ron Lieback, Founder of ContentMender
Sometimes, a client may decide to go in another direction. Or an agency might need to fire a difficult or unprofitable client. Other times, both agree the contract should be dissolved.
Either way, a termination section in a marketing contract clearly explains how to terminate the business relationship. Include how far in advance the termination must be requested, how it must be requested (email, registered letter, etc.), and under what circumstances the contract can be terminated.
Best practices for drafting a digital marketing contract
If one word could summarize what it takes to write a strong marketing contract, it would be thoroughness. If you leave out details or use vague language, it can cause confusion and disagreements between your agency and your client.
Some of the top objectives to keep in mind when creating a marketing services agreement are:
Tailor your contract to the specific needs of your client
Create a contract that succinctly communicates how, why, when, and what you’re doing for the client. Spell out each service in detail, along with payment and confidentiality requirements. Blanket statements are too vague to use in these documents. After all, this contract is what protects your business.
Seek legal advice and consultation if necessary
Find and meet with an experienced attorney to go over your marketing contract. They speak legalese, so they know how to word all of those important provisions and clauses that protect both parties. In addition, they can help you avoid missteps that could open your agency up to risk.
Review and revisit the contract periodically
A digital marketing agreement contract is binding, but not forever. There may be service changes, price increases, and other situations that require revisions. If, over time, either you or the client wants to change items in the contract, it’s possible.
Contracts are editable at certain times — if both parties agree. Most of the time, changing the terms of a contract requires the prior written consent of both parties. In some cases, it’s easier to terminate the contract and forge a new one.
Establish dispute resolution mechanisms
Alleviating disputes is one of a contract’s most impactful functions. Unfortunately, disagreements are a common part of doing business. When they occur, an ironclad service agreement guides both parties in managing the issue.
So every contract should address things like: what happens if there’s a breach of contract, which governing law applies, and how you will resolve disputes (mediation, arbitration, etc.).
Sample digital marketing contract template
Crafting a thorough, strong contract can be a challenge, but the stakes are too high to risk leaving anything out. So instead of starting from scratch, you can save time by using this contract agreement template.
[Your Company Name and Logo]
Digital Marketing Contract
[Client Name], hereinafter referred to as "Client"
[Marketing Agency Name], hereinafter referred to as "Agency"
2. Scope of Work:
The Agency will provide digital marketing services, including but not limited to:
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
Social media marketing
Content creation and marketing
Website analytics and marketing campaign reporting
The Client will provide necessary access to relevant platforms, websites, and branding materials.
3. Objectives and Goals:
Increase organic website traffic by 30% within six months.
Generate a minimum of 50 qualified leads per month through PPC campaigns.
Increase social media engagement by 50% within three months.
4. Timeline and Milestones:
Project Start Date: [Date]
SEO Implementation: [Start Date] - [End Date]
PPC Campaign Setup: [Start Date] - [End Date]
Social Media Management: Ongoing
Monthly Reporting: First week of each month
5. Compensation and Payment Terms:
Per the terms of this agreement, the Client agrees to pay a monthly retainer fee of [$XX], with payment due on the first day of each month. If the monthly payment is not received by the 10th of the month, a late fee of [$XX or XX%] will be applied.
Additional costs for advertising budgets, tools, or third-party services will be approved by the Client in advance and reimbursed to the Agency.
6. Intellectual Property:
All creative assets, including but not limited to graphics, copy, and content, created by the Agency will remain the exclusive property of the Client upon full payment.
The Client grants the Agency a non-exclusive license to use the Client's branding materials for the sole purpose of providing digital marketing services to the Client.
7. Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure:
Under the provision of this agreement, both parties agree to keep all confidential information, including business strategies, customer data, and proprietary information, strictly confidential. Either party may seek and obtain relief and compensation upon release of such information and any other legal recourse according to the laws of the state. This provision remains in effect after this agreement is terminated.
8. Dispute Resolution:
Any disputes arising from this contract will be resolved through mediation, with both parties agreeing to participate in good faith.
In the event mediation fails, the parties agree to pursue legal remedies within the competent jurisdiction of [Jurisdiction].
9. Termination and Severability:
Termination of this agreement by either party is permitted with written notice of [X] days.
In the event of termination, the Client agrees hereunder to compensate the Agency for services rendered up to the termination date.
10. Acceptance and Signatures:
This digital marketing contract is valid for [X] months, starting from the project start date stated above. Both parties have read, understood, and agreed to the terms and conditions stated herein.
Keep your projects moving with Teamwork
Digital marketing contracts are vital for building and maintaining good client relationships. They also serve to protect your business. As your agency brings on new customers, make sure your contract is doing its job and covering your interests. When in doubt, seek an attorney’s advice.
And once you have a signed contract, make sure you’re managing your agency's projects effectively. Teamwork is the only project management software built especially for agency work. Create and assign tasks and milestones, find potential bottlenecks sooner, and help your team collaborate better with our easy-to-use platform. Efficiency is just a click away!