The role of a digital marketing agency is to provide marketing services to a business that is looking to develop its presence online. If you’re new to digital marketing, it can be a blurry line between where the role of the internal marketing team ends and where the external resource of a digital agency starts. This post helps to explain the benefits and considerations of working with an external agency and will also give some tips on the background work that can be conducted by the brand/business before commencing an agency in order to get the most out of working with them.
So you think you might need a digital marketing agency.
There are usually three reasons why you’re considering using a digital marketing agency – a lack of expertise, a lack of time to implement those expertise or a lack of fresh ideas. An agency is likely to be able to help you with as much or as little as you want depending on which combination of those three areas you’re struggling with.
1. Using a digital agency because of a lack of resources:
You know you need to do it and you know how to do it but you just don’t have the time or the team members available to actually turn things around. This is when outsourcing makes a lot of sense. Outsourcing like this works well for short-term projects such as interim content creation like blog writing or creative work such as an advert. It also works well for longer term projects such as Google Adwords (PPC) management where ongoing optimisation can be a time intensive business.
2. Using a digital agency for their expertise:
In this instance, you might be aware of some digital marketing tactics but you’re not confident with the why or how of utilising them. An agency will be able to create a relevant plan of action for your business and help you to execute it.
An agency will be best placed to help you develop a strategy because of their experience in the industry and their experience working with previous clients. Specialisms such as SEO, media planning/buying and user experience all benefit hugely from the resources that an agency will have such as industry specific methodologies, software subscriptions (usually not cost effective for an in-house team to use) and exposure to being in the digital landscape day in and day out.
3. Using a digital agency for fresh ideas:
One of the best arguments for an external digital agency or digital consultancy, is the opportunity to get a fresh perspective from individuals who aren’t so close to the brand or internal structures of the business.
Very often ecommerce processes, brand messaging or user experience are there due to inherited decisions made when the landscape was different and the customer expectation wasn’t what it is today. Getting an external view of what is and isn’t working is vital for businesses to grow and evolve at the same fast pace environment of e-tailing, digital media and brand building.
The importance of a digital strategy:
Typically, a digital marketing agency will be able to help you develop a digital marketing strategy and then recommend the best tactics to hit the agreed KPIs. So let’s start with the strategy – a digital marketing strategy is not the same a marketing strategy or a business strategy but it should complement them.
For example, you can come to us saying you simply want to sell more products but it really helps if you explain:
- Who you want to target specifically (e.g. which demographic is being missed by your current marketing or is it a specific audience segment such as lapsed customers or those shopping with competitors)
- The message you want to target them with (Special offer, brand positioning, clarifying your offering)
- The estimated cost per acquisition you’re looking to spend based on your products or services
- Specific time frames or percentage uplift from the year before
- Any other ecommerce conversion metrics that you’re hoping to achieve
This may seem obvious but the role of a digital marketing agency is not to conduct your marketing research or establish your business goals – it’s to interpret your knowledge and ensure you hit those targets using the most relevant digital tactics. We can provide digital consultancy to help establish ecommerce KPIs but the more the business brings, the better the results you will get from your agency partner.
But what if I already know which tactics I need?
Ok, so let’s pick the most common example of SEO. You know you have a lack of visibility in search results and you just want to be seen more.
Even if the tactic is obvious, knowing your basic marketing strategy is critical to establishing a relevant plan of action. SEO can be a very time intensive (and therefore expensive!) exercise if you’re developing a content plan or using keywords that simply do not engage with your relevant audience. This is why starting with a simple SEO audit is essential in evaluating next steps and this falls under the umbrella of digital strategy.
Is it more cost-effective to have someone working full-time or use a digital agency?
This really depends on the scale that you’re operating at, how invested you are in your digital marketing and how much your agency are charging you.
Digital marketing often benefits from having a dedicated member of the team in-house to coordinate various digital marketing channels and ensure they are all working hard together. This individual needs a good knowledge of the different channels and their roles in the marketing mix. However, it is rare to find someone who is equally happy directly implementing a PPC account while also happy to write blog content and juggle facebook adverts because each digital marketing channel is a specialism and often needs a different skill set (analytical, copywriting, creative, etc) to get the most out of them.
Ultimately, the cost of an agency tends to be less than that of a full-time salary, while including access to tools and specialist skills that wouldn’t make business sense to have for one brand. Therefore, working with an agency is usually better value for those looking for a sophisticated marketing strategy or skill set.
We hope that this post helped to clarify the role of a digital agency and how it can help add value to your existing marketing plans. Ideally, a digital agency should be working in partnership with your business to help provide specialist knowledge and insight that will serve to strengthen your in-house team or If you want to know more, please get in touch!