Tis The Season of Change

As summer begins to draw to a close and it starts getting “not so hot” outside we have begun to do a bit of reflecting. If you’re an avid reader of our blog, which most of your are I’m sure, you’ll note several articles noting the digital agency business as a whole. It’s all about tactics this, theory that, cool new buzzword there. It’s hard for any marketing department to keep up. This is why we are making a change!

Changing the Digital Agency Landscape

The tough thing about purchasing digital strategy services is that you often don’t get a tangible item in return. Even worse, how many times has the agency set the success metrics for you when it comes to the tactics they are handling? These things bother us and we have decided to change the way we operate. So starting in the very near future you will see our website morph from being ‘all about tactics’ to being focused on strategy and processes. You’ll clearly see our values as a company, our vision, and our process we implement for every engagement. Our goal is to be a trusted advisor, a part of your team, an expert at your disposal. We are there to guide you through the rough waters and help you come out on the other side with a bounty of fish!

So stay tuned and see how Bluefin Strategy will be changing the digital marketing agency relationship for good!

The Digital Agency Relationship

Not long ago I wanted to rock six-pack abs for beach season. Like many people do I got a gym membership and hired a personal trainer. My trainer gave me a list of things to do, including exercises, what to eat, when to eat, and even had the audacity to tell me I couldn’t drink alcohol. When beach season rolled around I simply rocked my dad-bod, cancelled my gym membership and broke up with my trainer.

Why Digital Agency Relationships Fail

My rock hard abs are your conversions. An elusive goal that seems far-fetched, but you know one day you can achieve it. The problem is that it requires work and we just aren’t good at that. Just like the personal trainer, an agency will give you a set of recommendations and strategies around achieving your goal. That is expected by both parties, but where the expectations differ is who is responsible for implementing them?

Is It Your Responsibility or Theirs?

The answer is that it depends. Many agencies out there do a great job at implementation, others are great at developing strategies, and some claim to do both well. However, rarely is it the case that a client can simply be hands off and things just get done. I would also argue that even if it were to work that you’d be implementing your digital strategy in a vacuum with no cohesion with the rest of your team.

How to Make Sure Your Agency Relationship Rocks

Set expectations up front. Who will handle tactical implementation? How many meetings will there be? How many of those meetings will be on-site? Most importantly, set clearly defined goals at the time of contract negotiations. We’ve always shied away from defining goals in our contracts, but now we welcome them in every proposal. It doesn’t mean payment is null and void, it simply means that we are both on the same page as to where we are trying to go. Sometimes we’ll miss the mark, and that’s ok, but at least everyone has a clear understanding of who is doing what, where we’re going, and what happens when we get there.

Until then, I’m off to the gym… then maybe the wine store.

The Agency & Client Relationship

Hiring an agency is often a difficult task as many companies claim to bring you all the conversions you want despite providing a clear plan to do so. I say that hypocritically as we have that phrase prominently featured on our homepage. It is difficult for many companies or marketing teams to stay on top of the digital trends, so naturally they seek out agencies to help them. It’s a win-win situation, agencies get a client where as clients get the assistance they need. It is all about transparency though, which is something we ensure every client receives Here are some things to consider on both sides of the fence when entering into a new relationship and how to make your expectations very clear from the start.

The Beginning

Both parties should agree on the goals and success metrics up front. Sometimes it’s even beneficial to have these metrics as an addendum to the initial contract. There will be metrics that are quantifiable and those that are not, but both parties need to understand what defines success of the agreement they are engaging in. Here are some quantifiable metrics to consider:

  • X% Increase in organic search traffic & conversion
  • X% Increase in overall website conversion
  • X% Decrease in overall website bounce rate

The Honeymoon is Over

Clients, please give the agencies enough time to implement their strategies. Agencies, please understand that clients need to see results. Never the less, after the initial excitement of starting a new campaign or strategy there will be things that work, some that don’t, and new ideas presented. You must work together as a team to overcome these issues and make tweaks to the initial strategies. Short leashes don’t work for college football coaches and they sure don’t work for digital marketing partnerships.

Black, White & Grey

Web analytics will tell both parties a lot about the effectiveness of campaigns. While the numbers are pretty black and white there will always be grey areas where a conversation regarding the strategy must take place. For instance, Social Media traffic may have an abysmal bounce rate and terrible conversion rate. However, this could be due to the targeting, the creative, the landing page, and a myriad of other issues. It should be the responsibility of the agency to point these things out, but again, this is a team effort and we must work together for our common goals.

A Few Reminders

Hey Agencies…

  • It’s not your client’s fault that they don’t know the proper calls to action or creatives to show
  • Your client needs direction in what content to write and what keywords to target, not just a big list of terms
  • It is your responsibility to be your client’s eyes and ears, so continue to bring new ideas & strategies to the table

Hey Clients…

  • Agencies are an extension of your team, so please keep them in the loop (eg: Product launches, organizational changes, etc)
  • Are you unhappy with the current strategy direction? Work together to change it by discussing your concerns with the agency
  • Do you need help implementing those recommendations? Just ask, because not implementing those recommendations hurts everyone’s chance at success

There are so many things to consider, but at the end of the day it is transparency. Agencies should not be hiding keywords, costs, nor strategies behind some curtain. It is important that you both consider this a partnership and that everyone is on the same team with the same goals in mind!