With change comes opportunity.
Often with change it can also mean opportunity. And 2020 has most definitely brought with it a lot of change, included in that is the agency client model. Businesses have faced huge decisions and continue to work through the rippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially in terms of what the business should and shouldn’t continue to invest in.
In particular, businesses are looking for more diversified services or new ways to reach their audiences, so now is prime time for agencies to respond and adapt to meet these changing demands. But how exactly do we do this?
Engagement from consumers is essential
Along with opportunity, change also brings a shift in behaviour. As a result, your brand needs to adapt accordingly to ensure the consumer remains engaged. To help agencies understand how to best meet clients’ needs, Google commissioned Forrester to conduct research with 300 brand marketers and 500 agency executives across EMEA.
The report found that rapidly shifting consumer behaviour means brands need to evolve dynamically or risk facing disengaged customers.
Generally, consumers have switched off from generic ads and connect better with brands who communicate and engage using authentic, relevant content. This has only been reaffirmed during the pandemic. Brands are realising this and looking to their marketing agency for support in this strategy.
Quality content has been the driving force behind successful SEO for a while now, but is even more important than ever during these times. This is exactly where agency experience can help businesses re-engage with their audience.
Agencies continue to add value
The same report also identified that agencies continue to add value to brands. Especially now, when online marketing spends are increasing to meet the shifting trends of the consumer. As a result, agencies and the support they offer in this area are more important than ever.
In fact, most brands say they need agency partners to help create customer-first strategies to drive growth across markets. What’s more, the Forrester research even highlighted where agencies are currently adding value for their clients.
- Strategy. Clients need the support of strategic partners such as digital agencies to keep up with the continuous shifts in consumer behaviour. Additionally, a digital agency can help provide unique insights at scale, and develop tailor-made solutions and strategies to drive your business forward.
- Data. There is so much data available now that it can be hard to know what is valuable and what isn’t. Not only that, the valuable data will look different for every business. Therefore, businesses require help with data and analytics. If you have quality data you can drive targeted, personalised engagement.
- Expertise. As a result of forced budget cuts many businesses are having to outsource their marketing. As a result, agency spend is increasing due to the demand for up to date digital marketing strategies in line with consumer behaviour. Not to mention that businesses are seeing a better ROI from digital marketing. Therefore the expertise of agencies is crucial right now.
So how can the agency client model help businesses move forward?
Here are three areas where agencies can help and develop their skills and capabilities.
- Data and analytics. Knowing which data you need to monitor will significantly help in terms of driving business growth. It also ensures that you reach the right audience. It’s imperative that you understand what your audience wants, but just as important, is understanding the value they bring your client.
- Combine technology and creativity. Marketing tech is used to describe everything including data and analytics— but it goes deeper into elements like audience activation technology, dynamic creative, and automation. It’s about connecting creative content to tech, allowing for real-time optimisation around consumer behaviour.
- Customer centricity. Consumers are fluidly navigating between platforms and devices, and demand a seamless experience. Agencies need to hone in on customer loyalty and how that’s connected to e-commerce and purchasing to maximise opportunity.
The most important thing to remember is that it’s about engaging consumers and ensuring seamless digital experiences — building more meaningful relationships and customer / audience loyalty. To accomplish this, clients and agencies need to work together.
Obstacles to overcome
While the agency client model isn’t new— it is happening much faster. And although recent events have increased urgency, it hasn’t removed some of the obstacles that stand in the way of transformation.
Digital marketing agencies are increasingly expected to do more with less, especially as clients tighten the purse strings. However, as the marketplace has become more complex, agencies need to provide more specialised services — which ultimately costs more money. These services require particular expertise that need to be paid for.
That being said, it might be time for brands and agencies to move from fixed fees to outcome-based compensation — which means meeting a set of aligned targets and objectives as opposed to working on a set fee basis.
It is a common misconception that agencies should be reducing prices as automation capabilities increase. But really, all automation is doing is standardising basic tasks in order to add more value in more complex areas. If an agency is able to automate more processes, they can focus their efforts on the more complex growth areas and growth strategy.
3 areas to drive growth
- Be a strategic partner. You are your clients’ marketing consultant, so align goals and ambitions accordingly to deliver the results they need.
- Embrace a smarter process. Make decisions based off data and take advantage of the tech available, in order to automate where possible. Subsequently freeing up time to focus on growth strategies. so you can free up time and specialised talent to drive growth for clients.
- Build compensation models around outcomes. Build it around meeting a set of aligned targets and objectives.
The future of the agency client model
While the landscape will continue to change, the top priority of any agency remains the same— deliver work that resonates with consumers, drives engagement and delivers results for clients. There is no doubt that digital marketing is valuable as a key strategy for business growth, but it is down to the digital agency to demonstrate that.
Having access to such valuable data carves the path of what to do next and gives a clear insight into what works for each business. The focus should always be on accelerating growth.
You should also take a look at The Importance of Knowing the Gross Margin in Your Business