Question: What is the key indicator of success for an agency's online marketing program?
Although this sounds obvious and may be a statement considered innate by most, the tools and services required to maximize performance and demonstrate actionable results are not always intuitively understood.
Full-service advertising agencies have much to account for. With deliverables like development of targeted media plans, creation of relevant messaging, trafficking of campaigns and driving clickthroughs, implementing technology must be underpinned by a clear workflow process.
With this in mind, what are the key considerations agencies need to take into account to ensure success from concept to execution to reporting?
1.) Digital marketing evangelist
Every agency needs an apostle, a visionary who has knowledge of the role digital plays in the overall communication mix as well as an A-Z understanding of online campaign management. This resource should be responsible for evangelizing digital within the agency and maybe even externally to clients.
On a broad level, he or she would not only help to ensure clients' campaign objectives are met, but would engineer an operational structure to drive digital initiatives within the agency. Without this role, the agency risks implementing technology solutions without direction and the necessary resources to leverage digital initiatives.
2.) Workflow process
A formalized workflow management process, whether proprietary and in-house, out-sourced or a hybrid of both, can help agencies leverage their technology and scale their services to improve campaign performance. This process is the backbone of campaign management.
3.) Team development
A common misconception is that technology solutions automatically translate into successful campaigns. Truthfully, having skilled people working behind the scenes, providing the services that effectively manage campaign activity, is a key success factor.
Unfortunately, the traditional agency model and skill set cannot simply be transferred to support and build out digital communication programs. An entirely different skill set and level of expertise are needed for this job, readily integrating marketing and technology into one service. Once a team of knowledgeable digital marketing professionals is in place, success is easier to achieve.
4.) Technology implementation
Assessing the agency's system requirements and implementation of the technology may seem like a mere formality, but, this is easier said than done. For full service agencies, there are a number of dependencies. At the core is the need for a robust ad serving tool, one that not only allows for display creative to be served and tracked, but also has powerful rich media capabilities. Equally important is some type of campaign management tool or process that is ideally integrated with the billing system. An elegant solution of this nature will allow for scalability, driving efficiencies and expediting payment through on-time invoicing.
As the way to measure and validate campaign activity, reporting is a critical area of focus. Not only should key metrics be identified upfront, but the necessary time should be spent on analyzing the results. Just because a campaign can be measured does not mean the results will be positive. But, they will provide insight into campaign performance and trended over time, allowing for key findings to be applied. An ad serving tool with good reporting capabilities along with in-house or out-sourced skills that can bring meaning to the data is highly recommended.
For agencies to succeed in this ever increasing world of digital communication, implementation of marketing technology is just the start. Holistically, a true through-the-line channel vision will help agencies embrace digital and create buy-in at all levels. Supported by a streamlined process and specific online marketing skills, operational efficiencies will be gained and campaign launch dates will be easier to meet. Last, but not least, meaningful data will unlock the value of online campaign activity and give advertisers greater confidence to invest in this area as it grows.