What Are Clients Looking for in a Digital Marketing Agency?

Carly Wujcik
Carly Wujcik

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Gone are the days of brand and agency monogamy. We’ve reached a time in business where it’s common to employ multiple agencies in a marketing strategy. In fact, realize it or not, it’s often a prerequisite for brand and campaign success. The digital space (and all the opportunities it brings) has given birth to many exclusively digital shops to fill the strategic void sometimes left by traditional advertising agencies. But, because of the expansive nature of digital and online advertising, even those agencies billing themselves as such have a set of service or channel specialties. With so much to consider today, what are clients expecting from a digital marketing agency?

Clarity

First and foremost, make sure that what your agency does is unmistakably clear across all of your branded communications. We’re marketers, yet all a little guilty of struggling to effectively market our agencies. A good rule to live by in the digital space is the simple fact that the words “digital” and “interactive” bear different meanings and expectations for everyone reading them. Do you excel at app design, mobile, social promotions, motion graphics? Spell it out clearly for both your prospects and clients.

Don’t Make Them Think

As an agency, this can present both problem and opportunity in the client relationship. Clients fully expect that once they’ve hired a digital marketing agency they no longer have to keep their ear to the ground when it comes to the latest in digital and online. In fact (and this is the opportunity part), they often trust that the agency has assumed that role for them. Make the most of this by digging in early and often to understand the personality and nuances of their brand and what marketing, brand and public relations initiatives they’re embarking on offline because they’ll also be expecting you to help them with the great integration puzzle. With the unprecedented access to performance, audience and behavioral data that digital agencies typically have, comes the insight to build a more effective brand presence — online and off.

Results They Can Take to the Bank

Digital agencies have the ability to access detailed analytics to measure ROI (among many other performance metrics) and therefore deliver a more tangible set of results than possible with traditional channels. The expectation for lofty returns on digital marketing investments is just part of the equation. Clients also seek agencies that can help them paint a bigger picture of marketing and brand success and, of course, use the digital marketing performance metrics to optimize their overall strategy.

Proof That You Can Play Nice

It’s no secret that the agency world is a competitive one. In fact, it’s a point of fascination in our culture. But that fascination falls short on your client because they certainly expect that their digital agency can coexist with their traditional agency, their PR agency and their internal teams without making continual plays for a bigger share of the pie. And coexistence alone won’t do. Most clients expect that their digital agency will actively collaborate with their other marketing and advertising talent, in-house teams and third party vendors to develop a cohesive campaign or strategy. So contain the Olympic-grade, adrenaline-pumping urge to take it to the mat. But be smart about it — clients want to trust that their best interest is what guides all of your actions. If they find a hole before you’ve suggested a plug, the blame’s on you.

Despite the expectation for definitive returns, strategic marriage with other agencies, cross-channel integration strategy and overall excellence beyond that which they’ve ever seen — client’s don’t expect much from digital marketing agencies. (Thick layer of sarcasm.) It’s certainly true that expectations are high in the digital space. But it’s to be expected because the channel is still so new and the road map is being created as we drive on it. Embrace the risks that clients are willing to take when partnering with your digital agency, and use analytics to your advantage to justify the relationship. The Internet is a vast space, after all, and brands are looking to digital marketing agencies to get them into a prime position and show them an impressive return on their investment in going digital.

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