Working With a Digital Agency – Part 2

Choosing a digital agency

So now that you’ve realised how important the digital world has become and what benefits it can bring you, it’s time to make the next wise decision… which agency to use. This choice is going to depend on two main factors, what you want to achieve and how much you’re willing to spend, or rather, invest.

Firstly, what do you want to achieve? Any digital activity you choose to undertake should provide you with some kind of benefit – preferably a measurable one – that can ultimately be given a monetary value.

Coming up with a clear idea of what you want to achieve can be very tricky as there are thousands of possibilities that could benefit your business, achieve nothing or actually waste your company’s resources. It wouldn’t be practical to discuss all the possibilities in one blog post but it would be advisable to ask yourself: ‘How can I use digital to motivate my clients or potential clients to do more business with me?’, and take it from there. Here’s a tip: find out what questions or complaints you receive most from you customers and consider whether these can be addressed through some kind of digital application.

The purpose of this blog post is to give you advice about working with a digital agency so we’re not going to focus too much on various digital methodologies. We’ll have a look at those in later posts.

For simplicity we are going to use a general example to explain the process.

In our example, let’s say that you have a website that sells stationery online. You would like to improve the navigation (menus, item search etc.) of your site, speed up the transaction process, integrate your ordering system with that of your suppliers, make it easier to find your site on search engines and improve the general layout and appearance. You’ve also thought about adding a login section for businesses who buy in bulk, an increasingly important part of your business development. The thought of a regular newsletter has also crossed your mind but you’re not sure what it would be about.

Based on this broad idea, you are going to need an agency that can do web design and development, web application development, search engine optimisation as well as being able to build and implement content management systems and integrate database information.

The second major factor that’s going to play a role in selecting the right digital agency is what kind of budget you are able to commit to your digital strategy.

There are a host of digital agencies and deciding which one to use can be quite a challenge. Let’s break the industry down into different players based on the budgets they work with.

Top Tier

Many of the major advertising agencies have digital agencies, often multiple agencies.

In some cases global revenues are in the hundreds of millions but they often do not separate out digital work. Top tier agencies can handle the most complex of digital builds. They often do not take projects worth less than 100k GBP and daily rates often exceed 1,200 GBP per day.

Second Tier

According to New Media Age, in 2008 there were 17 standalone digital agencies in the UK with billables of more than 4m GBP. The second tier of digital agencies have billables of between 2-4m GBP. Leading agencies in this tier often aspire to blue-chip projects while engaging in high-profile media websites to generate a higher profile. They often develop specialist technology skills or sector knowledge, such as e-commerce, booking technology or database management but will often rely on outside companies to provide them with specialist skills. Daily rates average around 900 GBP per day.

Third Tier

Third Tier digital agencies often take web and design work from their local area. Aspiring companies in this tier will often specialise in a sector (travel, music, motoring etc) and rely heavily on the design pedigree or relative inexpensive entry point. With billables of less than 2m GBP, many are boutique agencies. A select few have strong ambitions to move into Second Tier. Some strike it lucky with a big client win, some specialise in marketing or highly technical projects. Day rates vary but are often more than 600 GBP.

Don’t simply choose a top tier agency if you don’t require their full set of services and could receive the same services from a second tier agency at a much lower rate. You also wouldn’t want to use a second tier agency in order to save money if you require extensive services that they don’t generally offer, thus putting them in the situation of having to employ extra staff to cover all your needs. This would increase time to completion as well as the daily rate making the project just as expensive as, or even more expensive, than running it through a top tier agency.

Some other factors to take into consideration when choosing an agency are:

  • Client lists – What kind of clients do they have and how do these compare to you. If you find your company is fairly similar to the ones that have worked with a particular agency, then perhaps they would be a good option to contact.
  • Experience – What kind of skills and experience does the agency have? How long has it been doing business? A company that has been around for many years and has grown over the years at the same or faster pace than the industry would be one worthy of consideration.
  • Previous projects – Have a look at what kind of work the agency has done in the past. Keep in mind what your requirements are and try to find an agency that has delivered projects with similar criteria.
  • Awards – There are a multitude of organisations that present awards across various categories to digital agencies delivering outstanding projects. Agencies that have received awards from reputable organisations are proud of their work and eager to take on new projects.
  • Agency culture – Once you have spoken to a few agencies and examined their profiles, select one that has a culture similar or compatible with yours. Working with an agency you get along with will go a long way in helping fulfil the project objectives on time and on budget.

Here are several ways to locate digital agencies in case you were wondering:

One way is by submitting tenders on various tender sites requesting submissions for proposals from agencies. You can also consult directories such as New Media Age and conduct searches on the internet. If there are sites that you aspire to be like, find out who designed them and add them to your shortlist.

Once you’ve selected your agency, the real fun starts. In the next post we will consider how to set out a clear project brief and objectives. This is a vital part of working with a digital agency successfully and will prevent much confusion and delay later on in the project if done right.

Is There a Need For a Digital Agency?

Studies have revealed that more and more people are turning to the Internet to know about the products available. The number of advertisements appearing online has increased and the number of people going online has increased. In fact, now it has overtaken the number of people going to print media and television to know about various products. Such being the case, now it is for the entrepreneurs to guard the quality of their website and make it more appealing. This is the reason why more and more entrepreneurs are hiring the services of web designers. But, the concept of a digital agency has been floated only recently. But its importance is growing and now it recognized as an essential mechanism for proper advertisement and sales.

Role of a digital marketing agency:

The fundamental duty of a digital agency is to design a website that is most appealing and it should enhance genuine site visits. So, the designer should use the right keyword along with the right design. He must understand the business, the product and its end use. Thereafter the agency has to make a good layout and then design the web site. The agency must make enough provisions for future expansions. A digital agency plays the role of a web designer, web developer and also does online marketing. So, the agency must have competence in all these three segments of the business.

Helps the search engine:

In the absence of a digital agency, the advertiser had to separately coordinate the work of three different agencies viz., web designer, web developer and online marketing firm. In the process of coordinating with these three different agencies, the manager would have lost thread and that leads to improper working. Now, all these three segments being vested with one agency viz., the digital agency, the manager’s job will become easy because all that he has to do is to coordinate with one agency.

Be cautious before engaging a digital agency:

The advertiser should engage an agency that does not let him down or rush through a design and convince him to accept it. Proper spade work is expected from the agency and it must be available for future changes. The advertiser needs to be advised about the use of effective keywords too. Before engaging the services of the digital agency, the entrepreneur should make independent enquiries with other advertisers and he must satisfy himself that the agency can deliver the goods.

Is it wise to appoint a digital agency?

It is certainly wise to appoint the agency. But, of course it depends on the size of the business. A fairly large business will always find it appropriate to appoint a digital agency because that reduces the overall costs for the enterprise. This is because in the absence of the digital agencies, the firm would have employed a web designer, web developer and another agency for marketing. In fact, the day is not far off when the Digital agencies will begin to play a vital role in search engine marketing.

Tips to Select a Digital Agency

Digital marketing agencies are always changing due to the ever-changing dynamics of the market. There are many digital agencies today, and there is no dearth of options. Many agencies promise a lot of things. But it is wiser to take a decision after you have done a thorough research on the agency. So what should you keep in mind when selecting a digital agency? Read on.

• Are they efficient enough?

When you start your research on these agencies, find out more about them by looking at their websites, signing up for their e-mail newsletter, going through their blogs or testimonials. If you are hosting a website, then ask the prospective digital agency to provide some ideas for improvement and actionable insights that could be part of your digital marketing plan.

• Are they abreast of the latest trends?

Check if the agency updates their website or blogs on a regular basis. Go through their “About us” section and see if they are accredited by industry bodies. Smart digital agencies are active social media users. Take a look at their Facebook page or Twitter profile to see how many followers they have. This gives you a fair sense of the agency’s presence within the digital marketing industry.

• Do they provide measurable insights?

A good agency should be able to provide you regular performance indicators and in-depth reporting and business insights that will give you a sense of the value you are getting for your money. Agencies have consultants who will be assigned to you; they will help you to manage your account and will be the point of contact for you. Many businesses may not be able to shell out a huge amount of money for a digital marketing agency. Hence it is important to check return on investment (ROI).

• Choose industry experts

Choose a digital agency that has got sufficient expertise. Check their clients’ section on their website. This helps you in deciding if they are trustworthy or not. If you are looking for a specific skill set, then take a look at their team section to find out more about their talent and expertise.

• Are the staff friendly and professional?

It is important to select a digital agency that is friendly and professional. You should be able to connect with the team managing your account. It is always good to have a rapport with the team; so develop a partnership.

Choosing the right agency depends on your requirements. So do ample research before you take the final decision.