Maximize Results from Your Digital Agency
Working with a digital agency can be a fabulous marketing experience. It can help you get new ideas and strategies and move fast on marketing initiatives, which would never get done without outside help. An agency can help set and reach marketing goals to drive business growth and fill in the gaps in your team providing support where it is needed.
Your working relationship with a digital agency can also go sideways ending in confusion and failure.
- Why do many companies feel like they were burned by an agency?
- Why do website projects fail or take too long to launch?
- How do you maximize results in working with a digital agency to design a great website and drive digital marketing results?
- What’s it like to work with IW or a digital agency?
- How do you implement a sustainable process of analysis and improvements to your efforts?
Let’s answer these questions and take a look at the key processes and the fundamental rules and planning that must happen for an agency relationship to be successful. Here are seven key steps that lay the groundwork for client and agency success.
Sales Meetings and Proposals
The time has come to launch a new website and take your company’s digital marketing to a new level. You are considering working with an agency like Intuitive Websites (IW) to help you get there. The starting point is a sales call to determine your specific needs and scope the projects.
The initial sales meetings are an excellent way to get an understanding of the agency’s services and expertise. Use this meeting time to get free consulting and better understand how the agency will approach the work. Share digital marketing data with the agency team during the sales call and also summarize what is working and where you need help.
Look for strategic insights in these meetings. Steer clear of “opinions” and look for key insights and strategic guidance from your prospective new digital marketing partner. These sales meetings result in a proposal outlining the scope of work. The digital marketing proposal must clearly outline your goals and expected outcomes from working with an agency. The proposal should be flexible and cover key timelines, services and budgets.
There are several key provisions you should expect to see in the proposal.
The proposal should be a shared document allowing for notes and comments.
The proposal should be flexible enough that you can suggest changes and updates before you sign off.
Pricing should be clear and negotiated in advance of signing the proposal.
Your company should own all the website content and digital marketing work.
You should be able to edit your website, host it wherever you like and own all the design files and images.
Your company should own all the accounts you pay for, like Google Ads, Leadfeeder, SEO tools and more.
We do all this and more at IW and include it in our proposals.
Proposals aren’t perfect, nor should they be time consuming to write. Proposals must have the flexibility to offer a range of services that can be changed as needed and also state the clear outcomes expected from the project. You will see this in proposals from IW.
Understanding Digital Marketing Agency Budgets
Let’s talk about digital agency pricing. For the most part, digital marketing agencies basically price in three ways.
Flat Rate Fee Estimates
IW prices either a flat rate estimate, scoped prior to the work, or monthly retainers. Flat rate estimates are usually for a website design and development project. Retainers are best for ongoing work, which may include website design work as well as a wide range of digital marketing services. We rarely work on an hourly basis because it often takes more administrative time than is worth it.
How Do Retainers Work?
Our most popular program is our monthly retainer. This is true of most digital agencies because effective digital marketing and website work requires attention on an on-going basis.
Retainers should include the following:
Retainers should be month-to-month so the client can see value every month.
Retainers must include a range of services and a deep digital marketing team.
There should not be a focus on hourly production, but rather overall results.
Agency Account Managers drive communications, meetings and action items.
Retainers set the agency up as an extension of your marketing team.
Digital marketing agencies prices can vary greatly. Retainers can start as low as a few hundred dollars a month to over $10,000 per month. IW’s average retainer is around $5,000 per month. We have found this to be effective for most clients, given the variety of services they need. It’s a bargain because this amount of expertise and access could never be possible from an internal team member at this monthly budget.
Let’s Talk About Expectations and Commitments
Digital marketing and website projects are exciting and loaded with potential upsides for your company, brand and overall sales and marketing efforts. They generally start with much enthusiasm and great expectations. Reality usually sets in after a few weeks as the team works through the many details needed to insure digital marketing success.
Those details make or break a project.
Unlimited Options and Decisions
Building a website results in an almost limitless amount of options from colors, fonts, design, graphics, layout and more. There is no right or wrong, there is only a live site or a development site. The “right or wrong” will define success for the website based on your goals and how people interact with the website, as seen in your website stats.
A well-prepared digital marketing plan or roadmap strategically answers questions and provides direction. Stay true to the digital plan and modify the website after launch when the data is available to provide more concrete direction. Otherwise, too much guesswork is a part of the process and can delay results.
The same is true of digital marketing results and data. The digital marketing plan will also provide direction and strategies for inbound marketing efforts to build visibility and awareness. Launch ad campaigns, SEO, social content and other inbound marketing tactics; modify them after you have had enough time to get relevant data.
No Mind Reading Allowed!
Both the agency and the client must not make assumptions about expectations and specific requirements during the project. Be very clear on your goals with the agency and make sure the agency is asking smart questions to better understand what you need done.
Avoid Sample Size of One Strategies
Keep in mind, your personal opinions about digital marketing are based on a very narrow sample size of one! Your website will most likely be seen by thousands of people, all with varying degrees of opinions on what they like or don’t like. Use data to drive key decisions and open up the sample size to many more people.
Everything can be tested in digital marketing. Often, those tests go a long way to determining what will work best to reach your goals. This includes A/B testing on the website, key landing pages and more. Remember, you can only get data and test when your website and digital campaigns are live.
There is No Perfection – Only a Live Website
Websites are never perfect before launch. In fact, they will constantly be evolving and growing, especially after they go live.
Your website is not a brochure or going to production or print. Websites are constantly evolving and must be updated. Therefore, a website should launch when it is better than the current website and offers more value. This usually comes early in the development process and most websites can launch sooner rather than later.
Let the Agency Be Your Guide
You hired the agency as an expert, so let them drive the process. Require the agency to provide data to show progress towards your goals along with estimated completion dates. Data provided by the agency helps you make decisions to get on the right path. This is another reason to launch a website.
Digital Marketing Requires Teamwork
Success in digital marketing relies heavily on clear communications between the agency partner and the client. This communication starts with a clear understanding of the project goals and expected outcomes. Clear goals and expectations must be set early in the process and communicated to the teams on both the client and the agency. They should be written for the team to see in the digital marketing plan and roadmap.
A clear understanding of the goals and outcomes provide the direction needed to build a solid and effective team. When this is lacking, expectations and outcomes get confused and lead to frustrations.
Team Differences Must Become Strengths
It’s important to understand the differences between the teams working on websites and digital marketing projects. The differences often create communication issues, but when leveraged well with clear marketing direction, these differences make the team stronger.
There are three very different disciplines that must come together to make digital marketing successful and to design great websites. Those areas are marketing, design and technology. A successful agency partnership helps your company leverage the talents and strengths of these three disciplines and focus them on reaching and exceeding your sales and marketing goals.
The IW team is skilled in a variety of areas and you will be working with a variety of team members who are pros in marketing, design and technology.
A strong agency has developed processes and tools to keep the team functioning in harmony. At IW we leverage the team’s talents to get marketing and sales results.
What is the Client’s Role?
When working with an agency, clients play an important role in digital marketing teamwork. It starts an information transfer to the agency.
Be ready to share your marketing plans, content, company history, target market data, customer profiles, personas and more. At IW, we work with clients to ask the right questions as we get to know our clients. These questions are used for our digital marketing plans and to help our clients better understand their own marketing strategies.
Think of the agency as an extension of your sales and marketing team ready to fill in the gaps. Work out these details following a review of the first draft digital marketing plan.
Do You Have a Sales Rainmaker?
Successful organizations almost always have a sales and marketing leader who can make it “rain” sales. Often, this is the person who grew the company when it was founded or is a major contributor on the sales team.
The rainmaker’s knowledge must be shared with the digital agency. What they know is at the heart of what will drive sales growth for your company. The rainmaker holds the keys to unlocking digital marketing and website results.
The Importance of Account and Project Management
Digital marketing and websites live and die with project and account management. Most agencies have solid account managers as they can’t survive without these important team members. However, issues happen when this support is lacking on the client’s team.
The key to successful project management is having project managers on both the agency and client teams.
Be ready to assign an internal team member as a digital marketing project manager or key contact to work directly with the agency. This helps communication and keeps projects moving to completion.
Click here is a detailed blog post on project management.
Digital Marketing Progress Takes Time and Requires Patience
Getting digital marketing right takes time.
The IW Four-Step Process starts with strategy. The strategy is researched and developed in a digital marketing plan. The second step involves messaging and the communication of the strategy. This work lays the groundwork for the next step, inbound marketing.
Websites and Digital Marketing is Hard Work – There are No Quick Fixes
A new website, updated SEO, HubSpot, new content or a fresh set of Google Ad campaigns will improve your marketing results, but only after the proper strategic planning. Digital marketing requires a comprehensive approach with many factors and people contributing to your success. Marketing is not always an exact science, there is much gray area and many paths to sales success. It takes testing, tweaking, A/B testing and more to find the path that works best. You can only find the best path if you try various options. It takes constant testing, tweaking, and improvements over time.
The Proof is in the Data
Once your new website launches and inbound marketing starts to drive leads, the results will be measured in your Google Analytics, SEO and HubSpot reports. This is where digital marketing success is truly evaluated.
The Growth Driven Design (GDD) Approach
Too many companies fall into the trap of trying to roll out websites and digital marketing strategies and shoot for the moon. Teams quickly lose focus, and when one thing goes wrong, launch dates are missed, and an entire year’s worth of planning is derailed.
That’s where GDD comes in, a HubSpot methodology based on agile project management.
Unlike traditional web design, which involves a lengthy and costly process of creating a website from scratch, GDD enables you to be more nimble and intentional in your approach – fostering data-driven decisions, guided by website metrics, and user behavior. With GDD, you not only see what your users want, but you respond to their needs and expectations in quarterly sprints.
The GDD model is perfect for organizations looking to stabilize a stale web presence and start collecting valuable user information, or for companies who want to connect with their customers on an even deeper level online.
The Proof is in the Data
Once your new website launches and inbound marketing starts to drive leads, the results will be measured in your Google Analytics, SEO and HubSpot reports. This is where digital marketing success is truly evaluated and served up to you as marketing insight gold.
Today’s highly competitive digital marketing environment requires a competitive advantage. A digital agency partnership can be an advantage for your company and provide excellent ROI.
Follow these six steps and you are on your way to sales growth and digital marketing success.