Let’s face it, many digital marketing agencies have built their reputation by attracting intelligent but often eccentric personality types. While this is a good thing, communication can sometimes be a challenge, especially if you’re a traditional marketing manager.
As an example, if you’ve ever participated in a digital marketers meeting, you’ll know that any lingo and/or discussion based around strategy is akin to watching your first episode of game of thrones, but starting in season 6!
Unfortunately formal education for digital marketers is limited. Universities still only teach basic concepts and these are a far cry from the realities of current SEO tactics required to succeed. What’s more, as Google and Facebook are continually moving the marketing goal posts, the emphasis is on digital marketers to move with them or die trying!
Because of these facts, most digital marketers are self-taught and are faced with a changing profession unlike any other. Ultimately this often means innovating new methods and techniques simply to keep up with the shifting landscape of digital technology that’s forced upon them.
To put it simply, digital marketers are a unique breed of misunderstood data engineers who need to evolve faster than any other industry profession if they want to succeed or reach that next promotion; and herein lies the problem.
While traditional marketing managers are focusing on strict KPI’s, Brand Strategy, Reach and Sales KPI’s, digital marketers are focusing on a different range of performance metrics. Ultimately this often leads to a divide between realistic or ideal expectations in both professions.
All that said, great things can occur when marketing managers and digital marketers are ‘on the same page’. With this in mind, here’s a detailed guide which will help you to build a strong relationship with your digital marketing agency, and to implement more effective frameworks to achieve greater realistic short and long term outcomes.
There are three areas for building a strong relationship with your digital agency. These are:
Let’s take a close look at each one in turn…
Often the biggest challenge businesses and marketing managers have when dealing with a digital agency is clarity on expectations. Unlike other forms of advertising, digital marketing is not a ‘set and forget’ process. Instead it requires continual optimisation and ongoing performance maintenance. In addition, it isn’t a quick fix solution and can take several weeks or months before results can reach peak performance. As such, ensuring you set out a clear marketing brief with realistic and achievable expectations can save a lot of conflict and frustration between you and your digital marketing team later on.
Take a look below to see some examples of key areas that need to be asked and outlined before engaging a digital agency.
- What’s a realistic and achievable measure of growth?
- Include time-dated KPI’s
- The metrics that should be measured and bench-marked
- What are the known and unknown challenges or obstacles?
- Are we at risk of new Google algorithm updates?
- Do we need to improve our website design to convert higher?
- Do we need more trust-building or compelling web content?
- Who are the toughest online competitors?
- Which digital activities should we focus on first?
- Create a Gantt chart of scheduled digital tasks?
- Consider using project management task sheets?
- Ask what you need from us to help you succeed?
The bottom line is that by considering all of these factors you’ll be far better positioned to hit the ground running when you work with your chosen digital marketing team.
For best results it’s wise for traditional marketing managers to invest some time learning the basic concepts around the most misunderstand areas of digital marketing, SEO and SEM. By doing so makes it easier to have meaningful ongoing conversations with your digital marketing team. Here are the main areas you might need to brush up on…
Learning the Basics of On-site SEO
Consider investing in SEMrush or other SEO tools to help you review website errors and warnings that need to be fixed. Most reports generated from web tools don’t require any specialised web skills to read them. Instead they simply allow you to be in control of accountability so that you can question issues and review any ‘before and after’ changes.
Hint…..You should be looking for a healthy web score over 75% to know that on-site SEO has been done effectively. But at the same time it’s important to know that any software used is just a guide for further investigation and that sometimes false errors can occur. For this reason SEO is never an exact science and it’s imperative to be open to learning the reasons why.
Learning about Off-site SEO
In the most basic terms off-site SEO is about having other websites publish content about your brand and/or the services or products you provide. The key to successful off-site SEO is the ability to carefully select which sites publish content about you; and more importantly, how they link that content to your site.
Here’s a trade secret that most SEO agencies don’t want you to know….
Building links is extremely important to achieve good SEO and those who know how to do it well usually achieve tremendous results. However bad back-links can also be seriously detrimental to your business. For this reason it’s essential to know what constitutes a good or bad back-link. The good news is that despite some agencies claiming that it’s a job for the pros, spotting a good back-link isn’t rocket science. In fact there are plenty of resources available to help you do much of it yourself. Some of the best programs to use are www.majestic.com and www.ahrefs.com
Once you know how to review backlinks using these methods you can effectively take back control of your SEO performance and drive the direction without needing to learn how the SEO engine works.
Understanding Google AdWords
If this is an important traffic/lead acquisition strategy for your business, then you’ve come to the right place. Reviewing ad performance and activity is even easier than SEO! Here are some simple steps that you can take to enable you to check performance and have those all-important outcome-based discussions with your Google AdWords Manager.
Although there are other multiple methods of getting a handle on your AdWords campaign, the most important is conversion tracking. There are 3 key tracking metrics, all of which will tell you effectively whether your Adwords campaign is working. These are:
- Cost Per Conversion
- Cost Per Sale and
- Conversion Volume
A conversion is basically a valuable action completed on your website. Phone tracking technology such as www.calldynamics.com.au allows you to measure phone calls from all sources of traffic, while other valuable actions that can be tracked are:
- Form Enquiries
- Live Chat and
- E-Commerce Sales
The one thing you’ll need to remember is that whatever conversion tracking method you use, even the most effective of AdWords campaigns takes time to start delivering results. In fact, the true performance of Google AdWords can often take 6 to 8 weeks or longer to reach full potential, depending on the type and competitiveness of your industry.
If for example you sell high ticket items, bear in mind that people can take longer to make a buying decision. Conversely if you sell ‘want or need it now’ type products or services, then results can be much quicker. Consider using Remarketing if you sell long consideration type products or services. If you’re not sure what Remarketing is, then I’m sure your digital team will be more than happy to show you.
Lastly, it’s important to know that once you achieve a good level of performance it needs to be maintained. Remember that AdWords is a live bidding auction for ad space and relevance; therefore results can quickly slip if they’re not managed. For this reason switching agencies mid-stream is the worst thing you can do.
Checking if the grass is greener somewhere else means starting all over again. It can take months and months for a new manager to get to know everything about your business intimately. This includes audiences, products, account sensitivity changes, seasonality, or indeed simply knowing the exact formula that is working.
If you’re seeing amazing results then don’t lose the digital manager who helped you achieve those results. If needs be, follow their career from agency to agency.
This leads us nicely on to the final stage of understanding how to work effectively with digital marketers and that’s…..
As a marketing manager it’s fair to say that communication, sales and PR is absolute key to your ethos. What you should bear in mind however is that not all digital marketers are experts in these areas. Ultimately they’re data engineers. So when it comes to choosing the right digital agency for you, don’t choose one based entirely on their ability ‘sell the sizzle’. Instead the only real measure of their eligibility to do the job should be previous success.
Often the best digital marketers spend 90% of their time optimising, brain deep in heavy data, and significantly less time communicating it to others. If they’re not calling you on a regular basis, it doesn’t mean that they’re unprofessional. It just means that they’re busy doing what they do best. Instead you might want to cut them a little slack and let the data and results speak for themselves.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out the following related articles on Marketing.com.au:
- Marketing Agility: The Future of Marketing
- Google AdWords: The Benefits Ad Extension
- Google AdWords: How to Ensure Your Advert Has a High Quality Score
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