What is a Digital Marketing Company?
A digital marketing agency today covers the gamut of paid search, Google Analytics, SEO, website development, Content Marketing, Social Media Advertising, Display, Programming and other Digital Marketing services. The agencies need to be able to talk about almost everything from strategy to implementation, data, ideas, apps, marketing Technology and everything from outdated solutions to the future of digital marketing. Digital Marketing Agencies have become real business associates for companies. They’ve come out of the underground and into the boardroom where the C-suite asks for their input and respects their point of view.
What sorts of digital marketing agencies are out there?
There are all sorts of digital marketing agencies. Some are a smaller part of a larger entity. Some are full service digital agencies. Some are full service digital agencies with website development capability. Some are hyper focused on a particular discipline like a paying media agency or an SEO agency. Some are a Website development Agency or a Website Design Agency and some are Website Analytics Agencies. Some are almost full service agencies but don’t completely close the loop. Many will depend on third parties to fill in the gaps, something that works well in 2021, not so well 18 years ago. A number of agencies are using offshore resources to reduce costs and fill gaps in their offerings. Often, that creates more problems than it solves.
A digital marketing agency is made up of a number of subject matter experts from a variety of digital disciplines, including SEO, PPC, website analytics and website development. These experts must be formalized and connected to each other through a defined and validated process so that clients can benefit from their shared perspectives.
Digital marketing agencies must have resources dedicated to strategy. These individuals are able to turn that insight into a logical path for their client, with goals and expectations.
Digital marketing agencies will also deploy project leaders to manage the day-to-day communications and make sure the agencies are doing what they said they would do.
The advantages of a digital marketing agency A team of focused and skilled people continually honing their craft
They read all the relevant blogs, hear all the podcasts and attend all the conferences around their specialty. They have multiple customers from whom they can see trends and plan for the future. They are often supported by a range of technologies that they have been mastering for many years. They are usually surrounded by a team to think and debate with.
Access to a variety of experts
Would you rather go to a facility with only a cardiology service? What if the problem is muscular, nervous, blood or maybe even allergic? You want to have experts available in all departments communicating with each other and someone to formalize their conclusions into a plan of action for the future.
Flexibility and Scalability
Agencies can scale with relative ease and can be brought in to supplement existing teams. As your existing teams shift over time, your engagement with your digital marketing agency may also shift. Or you can leverage an agency to be your turnkey digital marketing team.
This brings me to two really important questions:
What work should be done by an in-house team vs. your agency?
Who should be primarily responsible for the individual elements of the digital marketing work since you’ll all be working together to some degree?
What should be done by a customer of digital marketing?
This is more difficult than you may think. “More income” is the wrong response if you want to equip your Digital Agency to succeed. An agency will never be in charge of revenue.
Income is impacted by a range of factors from C-level to sales to Technology and more. Clients need to ask what specific actionable outcome would lead the C-suite to give themselves a virtual high-five. Can it be transformed into a SMART goal? Can your digital marketing agency largely accomplish this goal on its very own or is it reliant on factors outside of its control?
Keep in minds that there can be multiple goals, but there must be one main objective that we are all rowing towards.
Providing a primary touch point in the remainder of the organisation.
If your Digital marketing agency is being asked to be accountable to in a variety of people with new or different goals, your Digital marketing agency will soon be going in multiple directions at once. Your agency is just going to have a difficult time saying “no” to any individual. They will not even be able to accomplish one goal as they scramble to satisfy several stakeholders at once. The digital marketing agencies need a dedicated champion within the agency.
Breaking through internal boundaries
Agencies can and must push for that which is needed and that which will benefit the client. Yet, we will encounter internal roadblocks. We need our client, hopefully our primary point of contact, to fight internal battles on behalf of us. If we require Generated Content or an Adjusted Title Tag or Access to analytics, we require the customer to eliminate these barriers.
Build and maintain the brand's voice
Yes, there are marketing and branding firms that are central to clients. Such squads may even exist within digital marketers’ agencies. I’m referencing the development of a dependence on your agency to speak on behalf of you. Brands can’t be authentic and authoritarian while delegating their expertise. They can’ t ask an agency to communicate with their clients.
Agencies would never know the band and their customers as well as an internal marketing team. Therefore, agencies should not take over the community management of your social channels. The agencies should not write all your content from scratch pretending to be an employee of the company. Testing to appear authentic is not a skill that a digital marketing agency should try to build.
If you agree that the brand should be in charge of its own brand voice, then you’ll agree that the brand should be heavily involved in developing content. The content encompasses Everything from the service web pages to the blog articles, Videos, and Infographics. Your agency needs to inform much of what should be developed after keyword and competitor research. This research in itself is a heavy and extremely important weight. The agency must also optimize all content produced. But the brand should produce the content in its own voice if possible.
If this is not possible, they must provide their own perspective on the content research prescribed by the agency. For example, JUBA WEB has had many positive experiences having collaborative conversations with client experts and asking them to provide detailed answers for the content that needs to be produced. JUBA WEB will then create the content using a team of expert writers or set up a phone/zoom meeting where the client pontificates their views on our recommended topic and our writers then turn into a finished piece.
What should a digital marketing agency do?
Create and drive a digital strategy to achieve established goals
Clients need to be involved and their input is important. However, agencies should be largely responsible for deciding how to achieve established goals. Which channels and tactics will attack which parts of the funnel to what degree to create the most effective results? Even more important than the initially agreed-upon strategy, agencies should be responsible for how the strategy is optimized as real data is consumed.
Strategy and execution of paid media channels
Paid Search, paid social, paid display, programming, and retargeting on every platform all require daily, weekly, and month-to-month optimization as digital agencies continually calibration towards our objectives. Even if you can deploy an in-house asset that is fully devoted to paid search and is supported by all the required tools and technology, will they be capable of coordination with all other paid media channels, along with SEO and with your analytics teams? Even if they could, I know very few Paid Media professionals who want to work on a single account every day.
Creating and Executing SEO
Search engine optimization is as the art as it is the science. There are practically weekly updates to algorithms and substantive updates each month and quarter. Content is the lifeblood of SEO. your agency has to manage all the Technical SEO and probably has advanced link building Strategies to acquire quality, relevant and authoritative backlinks that would be virtually impossible for an independent to develop. Instead, what your agency requires is for the brand to develop content. We can research the right topics, length, tone, even point of view, but the writing must be in the brand’s own voice.
Set up, Optimize and generate insights from Web analytics
Agencies should be accountable for setting up full Google Analytics installations and other analytics tools. Digital agencies should be held responsible for setting up conversion tracking by objective, allocation models, tagging strategy, Google Tag Manager and reporting, inclusive of Google Data Studio.
Your agency also ought to be responsible for gleaning the insights from this reporting. The data is “what.” What you’re looking for is the “so what” – the insight, why it is important and what to do with it. Some of these Action Items need to be managed by your Agency if they affect Paid Media channel Management, SEO or your website if your agency has a development arm. Some of these action Items should be managed in-house by the client.
Before selecting an agency
Brands should take a moment to identify the internal assets they currently have. What competencies do they have? Which skills are they seeking to develop? If you have a large enough team, you may only need an agency to patch a few gaps. If you have a small team, you’ll want to be working with an agency that not only can fill more gaps, but can do so in a coordinated way. Do they have in-house processes that connect their Subject matter Experts so the client gets the full benefit of the agency’s value?
If you are Building your own in-house team, I would suggest you look at my points above. All of that work needs to be done, and you’d better put people in the best possible place to succeed. In other words, put the best people you have in their place.