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13 Digital Marketing Skills Clients Want in an Agency

Sourcing, hiring, and retaining the right talent is a big concern for agencies. 

Tech startups have attracted specialists and young professionals who are looking for opportunities. 

And agencies are struggling to retain top talent who can easily move into the freelance world. 

We asked 13 entrepreneurs what skills they think are underrepresented in marketing and advertising agencies they've worked with. Consider if these skills are lacking in your own company. 

1) Speed

The digital age moves at lightning speed, and agencies need to have the ability to adapt and keep up with the pace. As well, at agencies there are often multiple layers of reviews, which slow things down and holds up the ability to be active in real time. It's critical for agencies to evolve the speed factor so that they move as quickly as consumers do.

Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

2) Cyber Security

Every website out there is going to be hacked at some point and 99 percent of all agencies have zero idea how to protect your website besides changing your password. This is an underrepresented market that really needs to be fixed.

John Rampton, JohnRampton.com

3) Human Behavior Knowledge

Agencies need to understand the science of how people behave online to increase clicks, engagement, and views. Digital marketing agencies should prioritize understanding how eye-tracking studies, color psychology, and micro-expressions change the effectiveness of online campaigns. Too many agencies don't understand the art and the science of digital marketing.

Vanessa Van Edwards, Science of People

4) Real-Time Optimization

Many agencies staff around strategy, creative, and client services. They build beautiful ideas and implement them in creative ways that they communicate eloquently. But when it comes down to executing on the digital plans, they don't always build in the required time and flexibility for making the necessary optimizations.

Ryan Wilson, FiveFifty

5) Industry Expertise

Most agencies have a wide client base and dabble in several industries. You can have them help you with your digital marketing skills, but sometimes it doesn't really feel worth it if they have to come back to you to ask about technical-or industry-related things anyway. Take the time to learn about the industry you are trying to help a business in!

Stanley Meytin, True Film Production

6) Conversion Optimization

I have noticed that most agencies focus a lot on design but completely ignore conversion optimization. As we move forward, we will see more agencies investing in people who are experts in conversion optimization because all businesses want more conversions.

Justin Beegel, Infographic World, Inc.

7) Data Analysis

I guess it depends on the type of agency you're referring to (an analytics agency may not fall into this category), but most agencies overvalue intuition, judgment, and opinion -- which leaves data underrepresented in the decision-making process. Many agencies talk about, or aspire to be, "data-driven" or "data-informed," but very few are at that stage yet.

Kevin Eichelberger, Blue Acorn

8) Adaptability

Digital marketing keeps changing and evolving. What worked a few years back doesn't necessarily work today, and what worked today might not work well in a few months. The best skill any digital marketing professional needs to have is the ability to adapt to change. If you are a creature of habit, create a habit to change.

Joe Apfelbaum, Ajax Union

9) Customer Retention

There is a tremendous amount of focus on getting new customers through acquisition and conversion, but almost no emphasis at agencies on customer retention. Ultimately, a low churn rate is the only way that a company can achieve long-term growth. Understanding "red flag metrics," the metrics that cause a customer to churn, would be a valuable differentiation for any agency.

Sathvik Tantry, FormSwift

10) Creative Content Marketing

So many agencies know how to produce "content," but very few of them know how to create truly engaging content unless you're spending major money to get the best of the best. This is because it is a relatively new field and the experience and training hasn't become mainstream. However, social audiences are tuning out fast to the overabundance of posts, and it's instrumental today to stand out.

Andy Karuza, SpotSurvey

11) Customer-Centric Marketing

Customer-centric marketing requires a lot of time because you have to track and compile data about your most valuable customers, and that can turn off agencies. However, customer-centric marketing is the most effective way to reach key clientele and future long-term customers -- the loyal clients that will keep your business running.

Jason Kulpa, Underground Elephant

12) Psychographic Research

These days it's not enough to just throw a well-crafted message at an audience. You need to understand the entire collective of things that interest them and why. By understanding psychographics and carefully researching the target audience, agencies can more effectively craft messaging and campaigns.

Lisa Nicole Bell, Inspired Life Media Group

13) Writing and Human Relations

There is a tendency to think that everything can be automated, but that's only partly true. It's still the case that relationships are key to your company's success. Show that there is a human behind your content, your tweet, and your PR pitch, and you'll differentiate yourself from the rest.

Nacho Gonzalez, Mailtrack.io - The double-check for Gmail

These answers were provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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