Julia Manoukian

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February 22, 2018

Best Practices in Managing Digital Agencies for a Better Customer Experience

Julia Manoukian

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The age of marketing generalists is over. The modern marketing leader must build a solid working relationship with a host of specialists and subject matter experts in fields like social sentiment analysis, programmatic buying and digital placement.

Naturally, a brand can't survive without a sophisticated digital marketing strategy, but that process has evolved. It's now no longer as simple as buying banner ads or ordering engaging content.

Consider the following four best practices in agency management brands.

1. Build a Management Framework That Maximizes Coverage With Minimal Overlap

In the old days, you would design a campaign, launch modified versions of it across a range of channels, then measure reach and repeat. However, today's top marketers cannot afford to be that linear. The contemporary agency ecosystem looks more like a weather map, with inputs from data providers, e-commerce platforms, CMS providers, mobile agencies, ad networks, analytics and targeting software, etc. Everything should come into your central command before the data-driven insights are shared with sales, procurement and customer service leaders.

2. Negotiate for Better Visibility Into Burn Rates, Spend Against Plan and Similar KPIs

The value of the agency is not only what it presents to the end customer, but also what it can tell you about how profitably your money was spent. The best digital agencies are at home in the world of data, and are proud of their ability to optimize spend, visualize marketing mix modeling (MMM) data, and track down attributions.

3. Centralize Command to Provide a Better Client Experience

The multi-faceted nature of the relationship means that digital agencies may be working with many different people at your organization, receiving conflicting messaging and picking up mixed signals on priorities. At the same time, they need enough time and space to foster creativity, even though they might be providing you with hard data on progress and results of various projects.

You can give agencies the freedom they need and stay on track with internal reports by scheduling regular but brief meetings, patterned on the status updates of software development teams. One size does not fit all. Experiment with reporting structures and refine iteratively to find the perfect balance of agency creative freedom with managerial visibility.

4. Use Full Range of Channels to Their Optimal Effectiveness

The consumer has changed, as seen in martech channel reports like Activate's 2017 Tech and Media Outlook:

  • 92 percent of consumers multitask across at least two media types (e.g., video and gaming, music and messaging).
  • 54 percent of workers are reading personal emails, 50 percent browse the web during work hours, and 30 percent are shopping for personal items at work.
  • The top channels for the nation's digital attention in terms of minutes spent online in 2016 were Google at 55 billion, Facebook at 51 billion and Pandora at 22 billion minutes of consumer time.
  • To compete with the few top sites that control that majority of online attention, lesser known brands are nurturing fan culture and developing communities using strategies including social and experiential marketing.

The rules of marketing have changed again, and a capability for more intelligent digital agency management has grown to become a new competitive advantage. Best practices involve strengthening agency communications, controlling data better, and developing a closer alignment between messages and the choice of channels for specific audience segments.

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