Digital agencies hold a special place in today’s business world. Brimming with creativity and expertise, they take control of their clients’ brands, helping them shine with high-impact, full-service digital marketing initiatives.
But it’s not a walk in the park and agencies have to overcome sizable challenges in order to thrive.
Insource your expertise
There’s an old proverb that says “the shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.” It’s common that businesses specializing in a particular service concentrate so much on their clients that they leave none of their expertise for themselves. This is exactly what happens to agency owners. Even though they specialize in providing robust digital campaigns, many claim their biggest challenge is converting their own clients.
In 2020, 73% of marketers ranked increasing or acquiring new customers as their top priority for 2021. This is unsurprising as 63% claim that driving traffic and generating leads is their biggest challenge.
The incredible competition you’re up against is one of the primary reasons for this, especially for agencies based in the US. In fact, the US is home to 32% of all agencies in the world.
Where agencies go wrong
As a digital agency, you know how to overcome this challenge. The problem is never expertise. You already understand everything about having a proper value proposition, getting into the mindset of your target audience, planning the sales and marketing journey, capturing, nurturing, and converting needs.
You are aware that your messaging needs to be clear, focused, and cliche-free or the role that user experience plays in design.
You know it all. Every aspect.
So what’s the issue?
Generally, it’s to do with available resources and organization. Many marketing agencies don’t invest properly in their own marketing as they believe they have all the expertise they need. But then all your best people are already occupied providing your incredible service to your clients. They have their plates full.
You have two choices: Set up a new marketing department or better organize your internal resources.
Launching internal initiatives
If you find yourself in this situation, launching internal initiatives is the most cost-effective solution. You will need one person to head it with the vision and continuity to see it through. It will require developing a long-term strategy that is just as creative and thorough as what you would do for a client.
Begin with a sprint
Once the project head has developed a strategy and the leadership is happy with it, the next step is to begin with a sprint. Part of the agile methodology, sprints involve breaking down to-do lists into chunks, which are carried out in a set time.
At the beginning of any initiative, there is a lot of groundwork that needs to be done. By having everyone on your team focus on getting the initiative up and running, you can make as much progress in a day as you would in a month (provided the sprint is well organized and tasks are allocated.)
What’s more, by having everyone involved at the beginning, you don’t have to waste time briefing individuals on the project in the future. Lastly, you can easily set aside a day to get this done. With notice, clients can be informed of an internal training day where you won’t be available. If you have good relationships, they shouldn’t mind.
Ongoing task allocation
Once the initial work has been taken care of, you will need to settle into a routine. The trick here is to spread specific tasks out among your team. With good project management software and automated workflows, you can keep on top of your internal marketing needs.
Streamline client relations
When everything goes well, there’s nothing more satisfying as a professional than working with your clients. They serve as direct proof of the impact you’re making and the value you’re providing. Good feedback from clients—especially a positive review—is a source of pride and a powerful conversion tool.
But every relationship needs work in order to be healthy and there are challenges associated with having clients. The most common issues tend to revolve around communication and scope creep.
Effective client communication is difficult. It’s a mixture of best practices, timing, manner of speaking, and clarity. Getting even one aspect wrong can impact how successful the relationship is.
The beginning of the relationship is the most delicate time. Every agency should have set procedures in place to ensure the best possible start. The actual approach every agency takes will differ, but it must include a few common themes.
You need to be clear on the consequences of unresponsiveness and the effect it will have on timelines and deadlines! Timely feedback is vital to successful operations and being clear at the beginning will save you a lot of issues later on.
Decide what channels are appropriate. Phone messages are instantaneous but can lead to overstepping boundaries or interrupted workflows. Emails, on the other hand, can be hard to keep track of and lead to confusion. Let them know how you’d like the communication to take place.
Ask about their needs!
A relationship is never one sided and good communication also involves making sure you understand what they need from the partnership. Ask and listen to what they need from you, being clear about what you can do and being flexible where possible.
These are three simple best practices but they set the tone of the relationship going forward. You keep your end of the deal by always being reliable and producing professional work. They keep their end by being responsive and providing feedback.
Nearly 50% of projects fall victim to scope creep. With software related projects, that can go up to 80%.
Scope creep is when the project as originally defined gets bigger but without rebudgeting or extra associated costs. It can be particularly detrimental for agencies who are professional and care about delivering the right results.
What makes scope creep so challenging is that it naturally lives within the gray area of a project. Identifying what is and isn’t scope creep can be hard and by simply dismissing every new request as falling out of the project’s original scope is a good way to lose a client.
Project scope communication
Part of the solution also falls under communication. When setting out the boundaries of the project initially, you need to be clear about what will constitute extra time and expense. Within that, you should also make what is included clear as well. For example, revisions and feedback are a normal part of a project, but if you’re being forced to produce unlimited versions by the client, that would be considered scope creep. All of this should be brought up in the initial kickoff meeting.
No direct supervision
Good management is vital to the success of your project. The people you hire to complete the project are experts in their particular field—not in project management. If you let them deal entirely with the client, they’re going to carry out any request without considering the budget. They either need to be clearly taught the boundaries or have new requests approved by their project manager.
Different expectations of complexity
When we aren’t personally familiar with a field, it can be difficult to understand how much time a particular task can take. Being realistic about timeframes and not overpromising on results is essential.
Having the right technology at your side
Whether it’s problems with lead generation or client management, it’s essential to have the right technology at your side.
At Pipeline.so, we offer a full, end-to-end CRM solution that can be effectively leveraged to maximize client communications and boost lead-generation efforts. If you’d like to take your digital agency to the next level and need a tech partner who understands your needs, reach out to us today!