Happy New Year 2016!
Hiring a digital marketing agency this new year? It is a very good move considering all the activity and buzz in the online and social media space.
As a digital agency, we receive phone calls, emails and social media enquiries almost every day from Startups, Small Businesses, SMEs and Non-profits looking to engage with us for digital marketing. It is great to see many companies making the right move by deciding to partner with a specialist for digital marketing.
Why invest in digital marketing in 2016:
In my earlier blog, I listed out 6 compelling reasons for why you should invest in online marketing. It could turn out to be one of the smartest steps you take in 2016. Here are the top highlights of that blog:
- Your customers are starting to spend more time online – So, your business needs to be online.
- Your customers are starting to get faster internet access – So, connectivity is not a problem anymore.
- Your customers are starting to use their smartphones (more) – So, your mobile presence becomes important.
- Your customers are starting to get on more social media channels – So, your social media presence can bring in leads.
- Your customers are ready to spend on the internet & mobile device (not just browse) – So, you need to have a content-driven e-commerce strategy in place.
- Your customers are starting to read reviews and reports online, before making a buying decision (Social Proof) – So, plan to collect reviews from your existing users.
Hiring a digital marketing agency can help you get a head start in the digital space by reducing your learning curve and by giving you access to a team with expertise, specialisation, industry knowledge, strategic insights, skills, talents, experience, tools, measurement processes and abilities for running successful digital marketing campaigns.
Time and Resource Intensive: One of the other key reasons you should consider hiring a digital marketing agency is that running a successful digital marketing campaign is a time-consuming and resource-intensive activity. Rapidly changing trends and techniques require you to keep a tab on industry updates on almost a daily basis, making online marketing a constantly moving target that is difficult to hit. Having the right specialist next to you will allow you to focus your efforts on your core business, while the specialist handles this crucial task required for overall business success.
Is your business prepared and ready?
While it is great to see that you recognise the need for a digital marketing partner, are you ready for this partnership? You are going to invest not just money but also your time and effort in this partnership. Are you ready to make the best use of it? How do you prepare for this agency partnership? What is the best way to maximise it and make it produce good results for your business in the long run? Here is a useful checklist to help you answer these questions.
Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency? 5 ways to prepare your business for this partnership
1. State your vision – Write down the top 3 results you wish to see through digital marketing
Writing down your vision and identifying the top 3 objectives for digital marketing will help you decide what type of services you need from an agency. It helps you finalise the scope of work with your agency. Most digital agencies today offer a wide range of services – website design, mobile apps developments, social media marketing, email marketing, written content creation – blogs, visual content creation, videos, animations, SEO, PPC, etc. So there is a high chance that you will find yourself looking at a menu card that is exhaustive. Preparing yourself by writing down 3 objectives will help you go to the right section of the menu card and choose the services that might bring in the most value for your marketing dollar.
Practical Tip: If you are not sure of your objectives or have too many of them in your list, it might be a good idea to hire a consultant to help you narrow it down. You could also discuss this with your agency before starting the campaigns. Any good agency will have a process of discussing objectives, KPIs and campaign plans with you during initial discussions before they begin work.
2. Evaluate – Take stock of your current digital marketing setup
Before you engage with a digital agency, it is good to take stock of your current online assets and current performance. This will give you clarity on where you stand before the engagement. This can also create a good benchmark for you to assess the growth based on the activities of the agency post-engagement.
Practical Tip: Some of the evaluations or audits you may want to do before engaging are:
- Assets evaluation – Is your website/mobile apps/web apps ready for marketing campaigns? Do they have key marketing elements built into them? (See this blog post for what marketing elements are required for a website)
- Content evaluation – How much content do you already have? Do you have a repository of the content? Can you reuse or repurpose them in future?
- Channels evaluation – What are the social media channels that you already have a presence on?
- Campaigns evaluation – What type of campaigns have you already run for digital marketing? Were you able to measure them? What were the results?
- Offline Effort evaluation – What are the current offline marketing efforts? How do they align with your vision for online marketing?
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3. Budget – Decide how much you would like to spend on digital marketing
What is your digital marketing budget? How much are you willing to invest? Digital marketing is a long-term game. It takes consistent activity on various channels over a period to time to start seeing results. You may have to invest in it for a few months before you see a return-on-investment. Preplanning your budget also helps you plan your PPC and other paid advertising campaigns. See our earlier blog on allocating a digital marketing budget for more information.
Practical Tip: Some of the elements you may want to think about are: paid advertising budget, agency retainer fee, IT development cost (for websites and apps), cost of the coordinator, subscription costs for tools, etc.
4. Time – Decide how long you would like to engage with the agency
There are two situations based on which you will decide the engagement duration.
- One is to do a specific assignment like running a PPC campaign for a specific event or product launch, etc. In this case, you will engage for a short-term or a one-off basis. Choose the agency based on their expertise in that specific field (like PPC).
- Two is engaging with an agency for an ongoing, long-term partnership. In this case, look for an agency that fits into your work culture and is aligned with your core values. Like I said earlier, digital marketing takes time to produce results and requires consistent campaign activity for a prolonged period of time. So look for an agency with whom you will feel comfortable working with in the long run.
Practical Tip: Digital marketing is highly measurable, so ask your agency if they will provide regular reports which can help you track progress to see if the relationship is working and if the efforts are producing results. Reviewing the reports and discussing with the agency on a regular basis can help you determine the engagement duration in the long-run.
5. Team – Decide who will represent you and coordinate this effort from your side
While most agencies will assign a client-servicing or account executive from their side, you need to be prepared to assign one person from your side to enable smooth communication and coordination. A good agency will strive to understand your business as deeply as possible so that they can come up with campaigns that are relevant to your audience. To do this, the agency usually requires quite a bit of input and information from you, especially in the initial stages. Having a good coordinator helps in this process
Practical Tip: The coordinator from your side plays a crucial role in the overall process. So, it is better to deploy a person who not only understands a bit of marketing, but also has a good view of the entire business process. Because when they discuss campaigns with the agency, the coordinating person needs to know if each campaign makes sense to the business and what changes can be made to create a good impact. A bit of knowledge in marketing surely helps, but it is more important to have someone who is good in task management and time management because the agency might ask for requirements that need to be met on time. Delays from coordinators create delays on all sides.
Partnership – Are you looking for a vendor or a partner?
Finally, ask yourself, if you are looking for a vendor or a partner. The answer to this question can make all the difference to the way you approach this business relationship. If you look at an agency as another vendor, your attitude will be to just get them to do what you want and pay for the service. But if you look at your agency as a partner in your business, and if they reciprocate by looking at this as an opportunity to partner with your business, then the campaigns have a better chance of succeeding. Irrespective of the payment terms, the agency will then start to go the extra mile to deliver value to you and you will go the extra mile to provide all the support they need. Simply because both of you are working towards a common goal.
Hope this helps you prepare and find the right digital marketing partner agency this new year.
About Open Minds Agency: We are a digital agency with operations in India and Australia. I am one of the strategists in our agency with more than 9 years of experience in running digital marketing campaigns. I have worked with clients from various industries worldwide. We have a team of incredibly talented and creative folk who love digital marketing, and we have been adding good value to our clients over the years. If you think we can partner with you for digital marketing, contact us and we can chat more about it.
All the best for 2016!