Digital marketing is integral to marketing. In this day and age you cannot have a marketing plan that doesn’t encompass digital.
However, digital still often has its shiny new tag on – whether this is because it is still new to some advertisers or because there are continued new opportunities and platforms available.
The newness and buzz surrounding digital does have a lot of benefits. It encourages innovation and creativity. It brings people to the industry who are excited to work on new and expanding digital opportunities.
However, there is also the risk that this buzz leads to digital marketing not being managed as effectively as it can be.
This is both an internal issue and an agency roster issue. Both are of course very interlinked.
Internal digital marketing effectiveness
For digital marketing to be as effective as possible it is key that it is managed as an integral part of marketing. Below are some areas to explore to ensure your digital marketing is being effectively managed internally:
- Strategy audit. How many strategy documents are there within your marketing department? Do these all layer up to deliver on the overall business objectives? If you do have a distinct digital strategy does this ladder up into the overall marketing strategy?
- KPI audit. Recently I wrote about 5 key ways to ensure you have set the right digital KPIs. It is key to ensure you have set the correct digital KPIs and that these are consistently briefed and reported on across different areas of digital marketing responsibility
- Marketing structure. How is your marketing team structured and how is digital managed within this? Is digital integral to your marketing function or siloed off?
- Agency management. Who within your marketing department is responsible for which agency? How aligned are the briefs and management of these agencies? For example if your social manager is managing a social agency, your PR manager the PR agency, your media manager the media agency and your website manager the digital agency are these briefs aligned? Each of these agencies have blurred service offering i.e. all four agencies may provide social media marketing services. If they are being managed in isolation how has it been determined who is offering which service? Based on appointment, legacy work, available budget or the agency who sold in their offering at the right point of time?
- Data ownership. Does your advertising and customer data ownership clearly sit internally? Or do your agencies have ownership of this data? Is this data talking to other data or sitting within silos?
- Data reporting. Who is reporting for what? How do the reports from each manager (Social Manager, PR Manager, Website Manager, Media Manager) work in together?
Agency roster digital marketing effectiveness
Advertisers have always wanted their agencies to collaborate – to be a happy extended family with a little bit of healthy competition thrown in.
Pre the explosion of digital marketing and digital agencies to an extent, this could happen.
However, with the explosion of new marketing requirements and specialist agencies there are huge areas of expertise overlap.
When we overlay the internal client challenges just discussed such as disconnects between overall marketing and digital strategies, lack of clear KPIs and multiple project owners leading to multiple briefs, the risk is there is significant inefficiency in your roster line up.
Following are some questions to consider and areas to look at to assess whether you are managing your digital marketing as effectively as you could.
Are you clear on who in-house and/or on your agency roster is responsible for the below areas of digital marketing? How many of your roster agencies have the below expertise in-house? Who is best placed to deliver on these? Who is briefing and managing these areas?
The below matrix is an example of the number of digital marketing services which are offered by multiple agencies – many of whom may be on your agency roster:
Digital Marketing – Examples of Agency Service Overlap
|Digital Marketing Service offering||Creative agency||Media agency||Digital agency||Social agency||PR agency||DM agency||Other – Specialist agency|
|Creative (digital media)||x||x||x||x|
There is no right or wrong agency to manage a specific digital service. It is just key to ensure that these digital services are actively managed to ensure your digital marketing is as effectively managed as possible.
Below are some questions to explore to assess where responsibility currently sits, can sit and should sit across each of these areas of digital marketing:
- Strategy. Strategy is often an overused and misused term. Further to the need to internally audit your strategy documents it is key to audit which of your agencies are providing strategic work and what the scope of this is. Are you for example receiving digital, social, SEM, SEO, PR and more strategies from your agencies? If this is the case it is key to audit 1/Do these all deliver on the overall marketing strategy 2/ Are these strategies needed or are they channel tactics? 3/ Do they complement each other?
- Digital reporting/analytics/insights. Many advertisers have 5+ agencies who may be delivering digital reporting (e.g. Media, Digital, Social, PR and DM agencies) to their advertiser point of contact. On top of this clients are reporting internally. While it is key each of these agencies monitor, optimise and report on their work it is key to ensure this is done in an effective a manner as possible.
- Data. Data is both being used and created by multiple agencies. To both avoid misuse of data and to ensure you are drawing data points together it is key to ensure data isn’t managed in silos. As an advertiser the opportunity is to ensure you own your own data and actively manage this across all marketing contact points.
- Influencer marketing. Influencer marketing may be offered by your media agency, your social agency, your PR agency or by an influencer specialist who may have contacted you directly. It is key to stop and assess who is managing this component and whether this is where it makes sense for this responsibility to sit. There is no right or wrong answer. But rather than this decision being based on legacy it is key to assess where it can be most effectively managed.
- SEO. SEO may be offered by your digital agency, your media agency, a specialist SEO agency or you may have skills in house. There are pros and cons to each – the key is to stop and assess who is currently managing, what this decision was based on and what works best for your current situation.
- CRO. Conversion Rate Optimisation may be offered by your digital agency or a specialist agency or not being done at all. This is a key component to maximising the return from your digital marketing activity. It is key to ensure that this is effectively working in with your digital marketing campaigns and not being managed in isolation (or it may be something you have not yet tested).
- Community management. Community management responsibility can sit in multiple places – internally in marketing, PR or corporate affairs or externally with your media agency, digital agency or specialist agency. It is often due to legacy where this responsibility sits. It is key to look at what your Social Strategy is and where it works best for Community management to sit.
- Content. Content is key to most marketing channels. As a result, it is something most agencies provide to some extent from strategy to content production. The race to produce content and the associated hype around this has meant that content is often produced from multiple sources. This is not necessarily wrong but it is key to stop and ensure this content fits within your marketing strategy and is being produced in as effective a way as possible – balancing creativity, quality and cost. It may be that you should centralise with one agency, source from multiple or bring in an additional content production partner.
- Paid social advertising. Given the myriad of agencies providing Social Media services the paid social component is also a very duplicated service with media, digital, social, PR and specialist agencies offering this service. There are pros and cons to the model you take – for example keeping this with your media agency allows social spend to be planned as part of an overall channel plan while keeping this with the agency who provides community management may provide closer social integration.
- SEM. Search Engine Marketing is a digital channel offered by media, digital and specialist agencies. It is key to look at whether your model is due to legacy decisions and whether this is still the best solution.
- Programmatic. While programmatic is an increasingly key component of media agencies activity, programmatic is also very much offered by a lot of specialist digital agencies. In many ways this stems from the Google factor – agencies offering SEM services by extension usually offer other Google products such as Google Ads and the Google Marketing Platform. When evaluating who is best placed to provide these services some of the questions to explore are fees, experience levels, technology used, budget planning models and use and integration of data.
- Creative (digital media). The number of creative media assets required has exploded in recent years as digital channels and targeting options have expanded. In many cases the type and volume of creative being developed has not kept pace with the optimal amount required to allow for the degree of personalised advertising available. To satisfy channel requirements many digital, media and social agencies also provide creative development e.g. for SEM, Social, Programmatic. It is key to balance creative integrity vs channel requirements. The opportunity is to stop and audit what your ideal creative requirements are and look at who and what technologies are available to deliver on these.
Digital marketing effectiveness
When you stop and assess your current matrix of agency digital responsibility this may be due to:
- Specific appointment (fantastic).
- Legacy areas of responsibility. For example, your digital agency who is managing your website proposed SEM before your media agency so have always managed it.
- Salesmanship. For example, your media and social agencies may not have proposed influencer marketing as they prioritised the budget towards other activity but your PR agency or a specialist agency proposed an exciting new test using key influencers.
Given the immense overlap between agency service offerings it is key to actively manage which agency is responsible for what and be open and transparent with this decision. This reduces inter-agency conflict and competitiveness which enables agencies to collaborate more opening and transparently with each other.
To achieve this, it is of course key to have the structure and processes in place internally to be effectively assessing and managing your agency roster.
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