Having worked in the field for over 20 years I am often asked the question “What is a Digital Agency?”
A digital agency focuses primarily on marketing your business, products and services in the digital world. This is done through website design and development, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, paid online advertising, social media, email marketing and other services.
There has been a major shift in the marketing world – there was a time when marketing was simple and handled in-house. You could have your local radio station read your copy, hand out flyers, and take out newspaper ads with great success.
But, the world has moved on and methods like these, while they still have some value, digital marketing is rapidly replacing it. These traditional advertising methods are falling by the wayside. If you’ve thought about entering this new market, you will probably need an agency to help.
“What is a digital agency? And why can’t I continue to handle my own advertising, after all, it’s been working for years?”
Let’s Take a Look at Digital Marketing
What is digital marketing? Simply put, it’s creating marketing strategies that will take advantage of today’s digital world. Currently, the world population stands at approximately 8 billion. Of these, approximately 3.3 billion make use of some form of social media and this number is growing rapidly.
Digital marketing agencies are those who work primarily on creating marketing strategies designed to take advantage of the digital market. This includes social media such as:
But this is just the tip of the iceberg, there is so much more involved in making use of social media and having a website to a successful digital marketing strategy. You and your agency can monitor these strategies 24/7. This will show you what’s working and what isn’t at any minute.
This allows you and your digital marketing agency to make instant adjustments.
Why Use A Digital Agency?
A quality digital marketing agency bypasses the more traditional, “let’s blast it out there and hope for the best” strategy. Instead, they focus on targeted marketing, lead generation, and brand development. The typical digital agency offers:
- • Strategists
- • Digital marketing consultants
- • Creators
- • Developers
While each of these is a separate team, they have one goal in mind. This is to work together, creating a ground-up digital marketing strategy for your business that delivers results.
Although there are agencies out there that straddle the fence, many of these agencies still tend to focus on the more traditional methods of marketing.
Your company needs a website that is “eye candy” to the person who comes upon it. But, the beauty of your website needs to be more than skin deep. Your website must be easy to navigate, filled with useful information, and most of it must convert.
What does “convert” mean? It means people who visit your website make the decision to make a purchase or dive deeper into the content to learn more.
Most traditional marketing agencies lack the skilled staff needed to make this happen. While some digital agencies do still offer more traditional marketing services, they are not their main focus.
Your Agency Plays Several Roles
While we’ve answered the basics of “what is a digital agency?” there is more to it than this. A good full-service digital marketing agency will focus on these three important areas to ensure the success and growth of your business.
Learning About Your Business
It’s hard for any type of marketing agency to “sell” your business to a targeted market if they don’t understand your business. They should spend time with you, learning about your products or service, your market target, your goals, and most of all getting a “feel” for your business.
An analysis of your current marketing strategies is used to determine what your brand needs. This will allow the digital agency to work with you developing new and more powerful digital marketing strategies that will help you to reach your goals.
They will research who your “ideal customer” is and how they search and decide where they spend their money. Once you have a firm grip on who your targeted market should be, you can adapt your marketing strategy to form the necessary connection with your customers.
Mastering Your Online Branding
Under the guise of “what is a digital agency,” the right full-service digital marketing agency will focus exclusively on creating your online presence. To do this, they have several tasks they need to complete for your business.
The success of your business counts heavily on having a website that focuses on the buyer that showcases your brand. If you currently have a website, the agency will use a number of tools to analyze it. In doing so, they can determine what changes must be made to achieve the best results.
Today, it’s not enough to have a website that is nothing more than a catalog of the products you have to offer. If this is all your website contains, all but the most serious of buyers are likely to move on. Keep in mind the average person will only spend 15 seconds looking at your landing page.
This is known as bounce rate, and the digital agency you choose must have the skills needed to keep people on your site. They do this by creating content in the form of informational pages and more importantly a blog.
Blogging has become a very popular form of sharing information relevant to the company’s market. Some will cover only relevant topics, others add in seasonal, fun, and conversational content to help boost readership. While some digital agencies use in house writers, many more tend to outsource the work to a skilled commercial copywriter.
It’s important that your marketing team knows how to make the most of marketing strategies such as:
- • SEO – Search engine optimization – includes ensuring the content of your website is keyed specifically to what your customers are looking for. In general, today’s website content is designed to meet the SEO standards of Google, Bing, and Yahoo, three of the most commonly used search engines.
- • SEM – Search engine marketing – includes all aspects of creating your online presence, SEO and SMM are core components of SEM. In effect, it is an umbrella term.
- • SMM – Social media marketing – creating and managing marketing campaigns using various social media platforms. Social media is rapidly becoming one of the top marketplaces, and one you simply cannot afford to ignore.
- • MMI – Mobile market integration – creating marketing and developing your website to optimize mobile marketing for those who shop using a cell phone, tablet, laptop, or any other mobile web-enabled device. In the early days trying to look at a website page on a cell phone was virtually impossible.
The reason? Pages did not automatically rescale in order to fit in the much smaller screen. This is no longer the case, but you do need an agency that can design your site to meet the needs of the “small” screen.
- Email marketing – Email marketing is NOT dead, in fact, with the right campaign, it is still possible to achieve success. A good email marketing strategy should not just be endless advertising on your behalf. It should include informational content that is relative to your business such as the introduction of a new product or service. Many businesses also send out regular newsletters that help keep your business at the forefront of your customer’s minds.
Did you know that there are over 2.5 billion email users around the globe? This is a marketplace you cannot afford to avoid.
- • Proper placement of online advertising – Using statistics, experience, and knowledge to strategically place your online ads. Online advertising includes creating banner ads and using pay per click to generate more leads.
- • Video marketing – Sites such as YouTube and Instagram are the perfect place for advertising your business. The agency can produce videos that highlight new products or services by demonstrating their use. In the case of products, this is typically achieved with a video that highlights new items and then demonstrates their use. In the case of services, it can be a video that includes a description of the service and demonstrates their results.
The goal with SEO is to ensure that through content that “includes high search” keywords, long-tailed keywords, and key phrases appear on your website increasing your organic search results significantly. In the last few years, blogging has gone from something people did at home to becoming a powerhouse in business marketing. When properly managed, you should realize a significantly larger ROI (return on investment) than you are ever likely to see with traditional marketing methods.
Boosting Your Return On Investment
Maximizing your ROI is probably one of the most important functions of the digital marketing agency. Their goal is to ensure you see a continuous increase in your investment rather than stagnation. In doing this, they help you to see higher profits.
The digital marketing world has no room for sluggishness. It is a constantly changing and evolving marketplace based on demand and changes in technology. A quality full-service digital marketing agency never rests.
They are constantly testing, analyzing, and modifying your marketing strategy to take advantage of any changes they see in the market. Among the things they monitor closely is the amount of traffic your website sees. Their job is to develop your website to ensure the number of visitors continues to increase.
If your site sees a loss of traffic, it’s the agency’s job to find out why and make the necessary changes. For example, you won’t find many successful businesses today that don’t have a blog on their website. This is not something that just “suddenly” happened.” Blogging represented a major change in strategy and one that has proven to be highly successful.
Everything an agency does for you is geared towards generating more leads for your business. Leads convert to sales and the more generated the better your long-term sales prospects are going to be, which is the ultimate goal.
What Are the Alternatives?
Now that we’ve talked about the question of “What is a digital agency,” we should take a few minutes to talk about alternatives to hiring a digital marketing agency. The only other successful option you have is to add a digital marketing department to your business. Your department would need a staff that includes:
- • Marketing strategist or team of strategists
- • Marketing manager
- • Developers
- • A designer or team of designers
- • One or more copywriters
Hiring and maintaining a team like this is likely to represent a major long-term investment for your company. Along with their salaries, you have taxes to pay, vacations, paid holidays, and if your company is big enough benefits. Compare this to the cost of hiring a digital marketing agency.
Summing It All Up
First and foremost, the role of your agency is to create a bridge between the physical and digital world. This means matching your brick and mortar store or business with a website and a presence on the web.
Secondly, and perhaps just as important is that a digital marketing agency can help you completely rebrand your business. This can give your business the opportunity to take your business in a new direction.
Should you invest in a website? You can’t afford not to in today’s marketplace. Does your online presence need to be optimized for mobile applications? Approximately 87% of mobile device users spend their time using an endless variety of apps.
Looking at the benefits of hiring a digital marketing agency compared to a traditional agency, it becomes evident that taking this step is important. Doing so can make a huge difference in your future profits and growth.
By: Frank DePino
Frank DePino is Principal and Founder of Mediaboom. Since 2002, Frank has led Mediaboom’s award-winning staff of creative and technical professionals building the most effective marketing and advertising solutions for its clients.