It is no secret that technology is playing a huge role in everyday life. If you think about how many hours you spend on smartphones, tablets, computers or even touchless interfaces it most likely account for a high proportion of the day. In fact, the average person spends about one day in every week online with 16-24 year olds as much as 34 hours every seven days.
As technology companies continue to develop products that enhance our daily lives, the challenge for brands to keep up becomes harder. Customers begin to expect more, and brands fall behind. At the same time, technology requires resource and investment that smaller businesses often don’t have. Therefore, many will turn to a digital agency to help them on their journey.
A digital agency helps businesses to reach customers utilising new media and technology. It is a little like an advertising agency that have evolved to meet the needs of marketing in a modern world. Unlike a traditional marketing agency or even some digital marketing agencies, the digital agency tends to have a more holistic focus. As well as marketing they will focus on product development and customer experience or anything required to be competitive in the digital environment. The traditional marketing agency was very much focused on aesthetics like design and content. Five to ten years ago, most businesses reaching out to agencies would be doing so to help design their direct mail, emails or write content. Over the last few years, the attention has turned more towards Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Pay-Per-Click (PPC), social media marketing and funnel management. We are now seeing the next shift where businesses need to recognise services beyond marketing techniques, hence the digital agency becoming prominent.
The way a digital agency works
Whilst digital agencies offer a wide range of services and have their own niche, the majority will follow a similar process from discovery through to implementation.
1. Understand and Review
Typically, senior strategists at both the digital agency and from the company will work together to get a deeper understand of the requirements. Technical and design team members will also be involved to establish some clear objectives for digital strategy.
2. Deep Dive
After deciding on the key objectives, the digital agency will meet with all the key stakeholders to gather full business requirements. This will most likely require various meetings and interview sessions with the right people.
3. Defining Pain Points
Following the deep dive, the digital agency will identify the common pain points and obstacles in achieving the objectives.
Research and analyse the situation to come up with potential business solutions for the digital problems. This might make use of existing data and user experiences.
Following the ideas session, the digital agency will produce wireframe and some basic infrastructure for the chosen solutions. This stage will involve a large amount of experimentation and testing to ensure the idea will work.
6. Prioritize and Deploy
Look to getting the concepts deployed. Whilst digital strategy is key to driving the business forward, it must still fit in with other business as usual processes and go through existing sign-off procedures.
The implementation phase of any digital development must be agile. Whilst digital agencies intend for their solutions to work quickly, much of the time they will need continuous and incremental change over an extended period. Although a solution works to begin with, the pace of innovation within the digital environment is so fast that digital agencies will pursue a dynamic business approach. They have experienced teams who can provide expert views in all market areas and advise on the optimal processes.
Digital agency services
Digital agencies bring together a very creative mix of artistry, science, engineering and development to fix problems in a very fast changing world. This would include marketing experts as well as web developers, product designers, project managers, strategy leaders, data scientists, IT professionals and others. Most agencies will operate in a niche like website optimisation, conversion or infrastructure but incorporate a wide range of skills and services.
Marketing Automation Strategy
As well as helping with designing and creating marketing touchpoints, the digital agency has the technical expertise to build automation tools. An example of this would be triggered campaigns through lead scoring.
A digital agency will analyse your customer journey and look to enhance the experience in order to improve conversion. Some of the key pain areas include customers not purchasing during the cart process or dropping out at a specific page. Digital agencies will use data analytics to find the answers and recommend solutions to these common digital problems.
Digital agencies will review all the content you have online and help to make it more effective. This will be mapped with SEO or PPC strategies to ensure everything is aligned.
Modern digital agencies also focus on the technical infrastructure as well as marketing and design. Whilst businesses aspire to be digital, they often don’t know exactly what this means. How do they store data in the cloud and use it? What systems should they have in-house? Digital agencies can answer these questions.
Focus on data
The same exponential growth has been seen in the world of data as well as digital technology. In fact, the two go hand in hand and a lot of digital agency tasks will have a data driven focus. If you look at the success of large enterprises like Facebook, Amazon or eBay, the key to that has been the use of data. Facebook has gained a deep understanding of their customer base to create targeted advertising, as much as 50% of Amazon sales come through personalised recommendations and eBay has digital content based specifically around want the buyers like.
One of the primary focusses of a digital agency is to connect everything together from the front-end website, SEO, PPC, social campaigns and advertising through to product and pricing. This creates a customer first approach which is vital for digital success. The only way to achieve this is from knowing the data all these sources collects and using that as a competitive advantage.
Data analysis will form part of the discovery phase that the digital agency puts together but must be continually reviewed to account for ongoing change. Some digital agencies are starting to offer data science type services to help businesses achieve a machine learnt infrastructure. That is a digital strategy that can self-learn over time through its experience with data.
Why work with a digital agency?
Whilst businesses tend to do some work in digital, it is often siloed to different departments. The marketing team will look at SEO, social media, website optimisation, customer experience and PPC. The IT team will have a focus on infrastructure and technology. The product and pricing teams will dictate want the customers are offered. The data team will analyse the data.
A digital agency will have a team of experts who can bring all these disparate areas into one central digital strategy. This allows for a customer journey that flows throughout the whole business and a common understanding of what digital really means.
As well as helping the business internally, a digital agency understands the external pressures of competition. Almost everyone is trying to put digital first. Traditional marketing is taking a back seat as organisations look to firm up their connected online presence. Audiences want to see a personalised and seamless digital experience and businesses don’t always have the infrastructure to make it happen.
Digital agencies will ensure they are on top of all things innovation to help businesses create the perfect strategy for their digital assets. In today’s world, it is all about being unique. With billions of websites and social channels to choose from it is impossible to appeal to everyone. The digital agency will review what is unique about every one of their clients and ensure this drives the strategy forward.
More importantly, a digital agency will deliver based on a specific set of goals and objectives. Whilst this might sound like standard practice, in a lot of cases this doesn’t happen. For example, a company might have a digital marketing team who work on SEO and PPC campaigns. Their targets could be to reduce cost per acquisition or get a good click-thru rate.
However, how does this translate into other areas of the business? They may be hitting their marketing KPIs, but customers could be buying the wrong products or have a low retention rate. A digital agency will ensure all aspects of the journey are measurable and quantifiable whereby each area of the business takes some sort of responsibility. Digital transformation is part of the whole business and not only one area.
The future of digital
The landscape of digital marketing has changed dramatically over the last few years. As devices become better connected, these changes will continue to happen at a super-fast rate. Digital agencies are specifically set up to deal with the rapidly changing world. As Artificial Intelligence steps up, voice-controlled devices become mainstream, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have a second coming and standard practices become even more advanced, digital will ultimately be embedded in our lives.
Digital agencies can help deliver the personal experience that your customers demand.