The digital world and the customers in it are changing, and no one knows this more than a company’s marketing department. Marketers now require solidified skills and understanding of the digital world more than ever before, and senior managers in growing companies need to surround themselves with advanced digital expertise. For a corporation with a robust marketing department, or existing branding and creative efforts through an ad agency, it’s hard to imagine where a digital agency might fit in.
While incorporating an agency into your practices may be an option you have already considered, it can be a difficult decision for a large business with an existing marketing process to casually act upon. However, there are many different aspects to an agency that can be beneficial to your company. From strategists and analysts, to designers and developers, there are a lot of roles that a digital agency can play in the growth of your established brand. Below are just a few examples of what a digital agency can do for you.
When the word on the street is all about Big Data, the people in the C Suite are waking up and paying close attention. While companies have spent years placing the people, infrastructure and most importantly, the processes in place to read relevant data on sales and product trends, the data analysis behind digital behavior is often sorely lacking. Which customers are purchasing products online; and how are they behaving? It's not enough to have an e-commerce site: It's time to understand how it is performing by putting the people with the expertise to read, analyze, and optimize the website into place.
Going over sales data was once the Friday afternoon activity in any company. It's time to expand that to digital data, to learn how the customers are behaving, and what can be done by your business in order to cater towards their wants and needs. Monitoring e-commerce data goes beyond reviewing the sales numbers and associated costs - it is about understanding what the data tells us about our customers, and how we can modify the online experience to maximize sales. Which pages are they visiting throughout their path to purchase? Did they come to the site multiple times before finally buying an item? Tracking their behavior along the way can help you make educated decisions about what changes or alterations need to be made to your site. This information can be used to increase the user experience, and optimize your conversion rate in return.
Quick Monitoring and Insights
With digital we can find out more about our consumers and competitors than ever before. Responding quickly by understanding what your competitors are doing through monitoring and insights, and learning how your consumer behavior might be changing is paramount.
Imagine having the ability to review the exact pattern of how customers walked around your store, engaged with your salespeople, or tested a product: digital tracking tools provide that visibility, and your digital agency's experts are there to help you read it. Forget visiting every competing store in the mall: Your digital marketing agency will provide a competitive analysis to determine what is going on in your industry, and what your company needs to do in order to rise above the other options within your market.
With monitoring tools on different social media platforms, you can watch what is happening elsewhere, the numbers behind it, and how audiences are responding to it. Your digital agency can provide you with data like the chart below - telling you precisely when a brand's audience is the most active on social networks and therefore the most attentive to listen to a business' deals or giveaways. It is another opportunity to strategize your content, and determine when the best time to reach your customers is.
For an offline example: say a competitor places a billboard on the highway, and suddenly their store at the local mall is inundated with sales. In the past, gathering data may have taken weeks to surmise. However in the digital world, we are immediately notified of competitor activity. Analysis, tools, and data help us to see the effectiveness of their behavior, and allow marketers to quickly make educated and responsive decisions to further their own company’s branding efforts.
Traditionally, marketing research; product development and R&D departments have lived by monitoring trends and incorporating them into ongoing strategy. As social networking becomes a primary activity for all ages — not just young people— it's time to use creative thinking to expand research and garner greater shopper insights. Digital agencies are able to incorporate technological trends into creative strategy, whether it's adding mobile experiences for older shoppers or incorporating a social networking community for an ageing population.
The thorough analysis of your market, competitors, and target audience, allows strategists to think outside of the box and determine new ways to make your business stand out. They can collaborate with you in order to maintain your branding efforts while positioning your company for online growth and success.
Advertising agencies have long lived by the adage of shiny, well-branded sales copy: “This car is sleek, goes fast, will get you women.” While this traditional model may continue to work when an extensive ad budget is focused on video, it's important to expand the focus to digital trends in the industry. Search trends can provide valuable metrics into the content consumers are looking for, or the type of entertainment they're likely to engage with.
For example, if you had a digital agency that took a look at what copy would best sell cars between being sleek, going fast, and getting women you'd know that, surprisingly, being "sleek" is currently more interesting to consumers than getting women or going fast:
Channel-specific ad strategies that focus on interactive media beyond a 30 second ad clip can provide experiences that are native to digital and provide an added layer of excitement to your product that would never have been conveyed on the TV screen. Use your digital agency's expertise to understand how a standard creative ad campaign can be repositioned and realigned to cater to a targeted audience on specific digital platforms.
It's not just enough to take your ad and slap it up in the digital space. A billboard that works on the highway won't work the same on social media or the homepage of a major website. Just as a brochure that works great when handed to customers won't have the same impact if it's a simple downloadable pdf on microsite. Digital experts can help you optimize your ad campaigns according to the outlet you want to pursue, while tailoring the digital media to succeed in its new online habitat.
Including relevant calls-to-action can encourage visitors to become a part of your online community and draw them towards your business in a way that a billboard or a commercial can’t do. Asking for email signups and social follows, while making sure your microsites and landing pages follow SEO best practices can go a long way in terms of creating a brand identity for your company online. Keep your content updated, current, and most importantly, shareable, and integrate your campaigns across social networks in tandem with print and television. Your digital agency is there to work alongside any existing creative efforts in order to optimize the perfect digital campaign.
Complement Internal Resources
A digital agency isn't here to replace your internal team, we're here to partner with you and supplement your efforts. Sales and marketing experts with decades of experience in the industry might be perfect for facilitating an online Q&A that will help you sell your business online, but it's up to your agency to help you make sure the event is marketed so that potential customers actually show up.
Taking your business online goes beyond a simple website or Facebook page. For a correctly optimized digital presence, integrating every aspect of your sales cycle, your product development process, and your customer service management into your digital strategy needs to take place. Digital agencies are partners in progress as businesses navigate an increasingly complex landscape. It is time to stop thinking of digital agencies and internal marketing teams as two forces that don't mix. Instead, think of them as two different but essential parts of any effective online marketing effort.
What do you need from a digital agency? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us @BFMweb!