As a business owner or marketing manager, there will likely come a time when you’ll have to get a digital marketing agency involved to help you achieve your business’ objectives.
If you have chosen the right digital marketing agency you are going to amplify your message no end and really increase the ROI of your marketing output but the thing is if you’ve not chosen the right digital marketing agency you are likely to just waste your money. The point about this is it’s your responsibility. You chose the digital marketing agency and just like with your staff, it’s also your responsibility to get the most out of them.
Grow Your Digital Marketing Literacy
If you’re bringing in a digital marketing agency to help you out you are going to want to be able to have a pretty detailed discussion about what they’re doing and why.
You might think this is counter-intuitive, after all, why are you bringing in a digital marketing agency if you already have the knowledge, but if you don’t have this understanding you won’t know when is best to challenge your digital marketing agency. You’ll either find yourself feeling bamboozled or find yourself challenging everything.
I’m not suggesting that you have to have done everything that your digital marketing agency’s specialists do, but just enough to be able to have a conversation with them and be able to understand what they’re going on about.
It’s not just important to understand the types of activities and tactics your digital marketing agency wants to carry out but it’s important that you have a good understanding about the types of activity that has worked for your business in the past. I always think it’s best to reign in the marketing of a business before you really get going with one agency or multiple agencies. This was something I did as Head of Marketing at MakeUrMove where I brought SEO, PPC and social media marketing inhouse and later bringing agencies and consultants back onboard.
There are a number of different ways you will want to think about your digital marketing agency, but I like to think about them as part of the extended marketing team. And if you’ve not got a marketing department your digital marketing agency should more than makeup for that.
As a corporate marketer, I loved to go and work in my agencies’ offices and I like my consultants to come and work in the office with me. I think this working together is so important to understand what’s going on with a business. That’s not to say that in my role at GrowTraffic I’m likely to go and work in someone else’s office too often – they’d certainly be paying me a pretty penny to do it put it that way!
If you are able to persuade members of your agency to come and work in your office then you need to take as much time to learn from those consultants as possible. Whenever you’re working with an agency you should consider it to be a learning opportunity for you and your team as well as a way to gain an extra set of hands.
Lots of people will tell you agencies don’t like to be challenged and that they just want to implement their strategies. Let me say from my experience in marketing management, as a freelancer and as a digital marketing agency owner, nothing could be further from the truth. Digital marketing agencies love input from their clients, in fact, I always say the worst kind of clients are the ones that provide no feedback at all, because I can guarantee after a few months they’ll get in touch to say it’s not working and the activity isn’t right. By then we’ve lost months.
Of course, if you’ve already got some great experience in marketing then you are going to be able to provide some brilliant suggestions and challenge your digital marketing agency.
At GrowTraffic we all have a sales role in the business and I think we all work with different types of professionals in different ways. Rachel is great at working with small businesses. I often listen to her sell and sometimes I’m dying to say “stop explaining” but most small business owners need an additional level of explaining. I speak the same language of marketers and whilst I like to think I’m the most knowledgeable person in the room, I also prefer it when my clients have the skills to do what I do, but just don’t have the time. I also like that they are able to challenge me to do more than I would usually do for other clients, not only because this helps them, but also because it helps me perform better for my other clients too.
Over the years we heard more and more of digital agencies – and specifically SEO agencies – who were secretive and didn’t act with integrity. We set out to place honesty, integrity and transparency at the core of everything we do. If you don’t get that sense from your agency you’re probably best to look for a new digital marketing agency.
It’s also important to have an idea about what your digital marketing agency is going to do for your business before you start working with them and then you will know how you are going to hold them to account.
In reality, a digital marketing agency can only offer you guarantees on deliverables. We do offer a pay on results SEO service, however, by and large, that’s not the usual way of doing things.
The main thing to remember is without KPIs you can’t get your digital marketing agency to optimise and improve the activity.
At GrowTraffic we have lots of different skills but we don’t do everything and we have areas of weaknesses. But if one of our clients wants us to do something that we’re not great at we are probably going to give it a good crack! It’s important you understand what your agency can and can’t do. It’s also important that you understand what the people working on your account can and can’t do.
When you start working with your agency they are going to show you about all the things that they’ve done in the past but what happens if one of the key personnel has left the agency since those wins? Key people could be account managers or account directors or studio managers. And let’s face it – most of the work is done by account managers and accounts execs and junior employees in agencies tend to job hop between agencies quite regularly. That’s why it’s important to understand what the individuals have done and what the agency’s processes are like because you’ll then be able to judge whether they are skilled enough to carry out the job they’re telling you they can do and challenge them if you don’t think they can.
And remember you can have multiple agencies working for you. When I brought in agencies I always liked to have multiple agencies working on my projects because it meant I would get loads more heads on the job. I brought all this together through agency days onsite where all the agency folk got together in one room and we’d come up with the best ideas together.
You always get one sulky agency though. This tends to be the agency you’ve worked with the longest who will sit there and remind you that they can do the things you’ve brought in the other agencies to help with. Sometimes you’ll find it’s best to part ways with your old agency.
And when setting up any campaigns and accounts you need to make sure you own those accounts. At GrowTraffic we insist on our customers own everything.
To conclude, I think the most important thing is to have a good level of digital literacy and then use your knowledge to hold them to account.