What are standard digital agency services?
It pains me to say, but there’s more to standard digital agency services than writing. A lot more, in fact.
Many agencies today can offer what’s known as a full service – managing all aspects of your company’s online presence. This includes everything from website design to content production to social media.
In this article we’ll deep dive into what this full service looks like in practice, and how an agency can help you achieve your digital goals. We’ll split the standard services into three stages – strategy, production and amplification – and examine the importance of each in providing a well-rounded approach to online marketing.
Digital agency services: The short version
Modern digital agency services are far reaching and comprehensive. These companies can offer value stretching from a campaign’s inception to its end, from strategy through to analysis and evaluation. It’s up to you to decide how much help you want, and where it should focus.
Strategy: Agency strategy teams consist of campaign-hardened veterans who can set top-level goals to drive your SEO and SEM efforts. They also guide content producers, and report back on what went well and what needs to be changed in the future.
Creation: Blogs, webpages, videos and graphics. Many businesses don’t have the resources to produce all these types of content in house, but a full service agency can. In addition to the quality you’d expect from specialist producers, agency personnel can optimise content to give it a solid chance of ranking in Google searches.
Amplification: There’s no point in strategising and producing content if no one’s going to see it. Amplifying your output through social media and SEM is the final piece of the puzzle, and digital agencies can use their expertise to put together campaigns geared to maximising engagement.
If you want to know a lot more about each of these, and see examples of the types of deliverables that fall under each of the above services – read on.
With more and more brands building their own in-house content marketing teams, we make the case for outsourcing. Here are 10 reasons content marketing agencies have a role in your digital strategy. https://t.co/wpKWT2Y3US pic.twitter.com/dR6DpgrjCI— Castleford Media (@castlefordmedia) February 7, 2019
Digital agency service one: Strategy
In the world of digital, strategists are pretty specialised people. They tend to cover a lot of ground, and require substantial campaign experience if they’re to be of real benefit to a business.
While many companies struggle to justify resourcing for an in-house strategist, in an agency they’re indispensable.
Strategists have important input at all three stages of production, and are constantly tracking efforts to ensure that everything being done furthers your business’ overarching digital goals.
Examples of typical agency strategy offerings are:
Creating user personas
Before any production commences you need to have a solid idea of who you’re targeting. Integral to this process is creating user personas. These documents will become a go-to resource for your entire team, ensuring that all production has the end-user firmly in mind.
The popularity of services such as Netflix and Spotify are testament to the importance of personalisation for today’s customers, and this is the same across all industries. Indeed, data from Salesforce shows that 62 per cent of consumers expect brands to anticipate their needs.
You can’t hope to do this if you haven’t compiled and analysed the right info. A solid user persona should include:
- Location – As well as speaking the right language (literally!) as your intended audience, you should be aware of the lifestyles (e.g. urban vs. rural) that these people lead.
- Income – If you’re marketing to students, content on doing X or Y on a budget will be useful, whereas professionals will have a bit more spending power.
- Age – Our priorities change with age, as do our interests. Knowing what stage of life your audience is at will impact how you address and market to them.
- Values – Is your target audience particularly environmentally or socially conscious? Aligning your business with their moral compass helps you create messages that will resonate and capture imaginations.
- Pain points – People buy things for reasons (at least, that’s what they tell themselves). By understanding the problems your consumers are facing you present them with a solution.
But where does the information come from? Agency strategists have substantial experience using tools like Google Analytics and the insights that come with many social platforms to build a holistic image of your customer base.
A UX analysis is all about determining how people interact with your website, and what’s stopping more people from taking desired actions.
According to Hubspot, the top five reasons why people leave a website are as follows:
- The design looks outdated.
- It’s hard to read the content (this refers to choices around texts and backgrounds).
- People need to install old plugins.
- It features auto-playing videos.
- The navigation isn’t logical.
This tells us that there are a lot of factors to consider when attempting to build an attractive and engaging website.
As shoppers become more thorough in their research into the products and services that they buy (Nielsen), ensuring that your website is informative, easy to get around and aesthetically pleasing has never been more important.
By examining how your site is being used, agencies can identify areas of weakness that might be putting people off converting and suggest ways you can make the experience smoother and more rewarding.
In 2018, Austrailans spent $21.3 billion on online shopping, an increase of 18.7 per cent from the year before, according to Australia Post.
Making sure that your site can easily be found by search engines is key if you want a piece of this action, but the competition is tough.
Moz has shown that organic results ranking on Google’s page one receive over 71 per cent of clicks. In fact, the top five websites returned claim 67.6 per cent.
Organic results ranking on Google’s first page receive over 71 per cent of clicks.
So, how can you claim a top spot? Well, a great starting point is an SEO analysis. Digital marketing agencies produce these reports to demonstrate how your current site is being interpreted by the search engines. This then allows them to make changes that will help optimise your site’s content to improve SEO performance in the future.
While they won’t be the ones writing or making it, strategy teams have an intrinsic connection to the creation of quality content.
Thanks to a suite of algorithmic updates from Google, content today needs to hold real value for the reader if it’s to rank well. This has given rise to the popularity of ‘cornerstone content’ – comprehensive blogs and webpages that give you a detailed insight into a single topic (kinda like this blog). Think of cornerstone content as a one-stop-shop on a given subject that seeks to address as many related areas as possible.
However, the creation of such content doesn’t happen ad hoc – it requires careful analysis. Using information gleaned from creating user personas, and experience with content optimisation tools such as MarketMuse and AHREFS, agency strategists can present you with topics, headlines and keywords that will resonate with your target audience and rank well in search.
Digital agency service two: Creation
The most common offering associated with digital agencies is the creation of content.
Many such organisations have specialist teams who can produce work to fill niches at all stages of the sales funnel, following briefs from the strategy team or you directly.
In this section we’ll look at four of the most common types of content offered by digital agencies, and why they’re important.
Cornerstone content is just one (albeit an important) example of modern day blog production – but blogs can come in all shapes and sizes.
There are several reasons why blogs are important to digital marketing:
Providing value to customers – More than a third of consumers interviewed as part of PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey 2018 named ‘trust in brand’ in the top three reasons for choosing a particular retailer. A well-written, thoroughly researched blog with references to trusted sources (for example, PwC) helps position your business as an industry authority.
Driving traffic to your website – Writing blogs posts adds to the number of search engine indexed pages on your site. This increases your chances of showing up in the results for relevant searches, and shows Google that your site is active and worthy of new crawls.
Helping with lead conversion – At the bottom of your value-laden blog post you can place a call to action (CTA). These can encourage readers to do anything from downloading an e-book to getting on the phone and giving your team a call.
Agency writers are multi-talented folk. We aim to produce blogs to please both readers and the all-seeing search engines. By working in close coordination with strategy teams, we can create content that draws on their research and gives the best chance of meeting marketing objectives.
The average user spends 15 seconds on a webpage, according to Tony Haile of Chartbeat writing for Time magazine. This means you’ve got to be engaging.
As we saw above, a searcher’s desire to stay on your page will be affected by a number of factors.
But think about it: Would you give time of day to a website with poorly written or boring content?
The average user spends just 15 seconds on a webpage.
Agencies won’t just help you optimise your site through the addition of a variety of SEO tags, they can also assist in making your website reach out and grab the user’s interest from the word go.
They can also develop different types of pages to achieve specific goals, including:
- Standard landing pages – Landing pages are entry points to your website. Users arrive to this destination when they click the link from a related Google search.
- Conversion landing pages – These serve as home for your gated content – for example, a whitepaper or e-book. To access the content users are required to surrender some personal information that will help you nurture them through the sales funnel.
- Search landing pages – Search landing pages are hybrids between a blog and a standard landing page. They’re informative like a blog post, geared to the specific offerings of your business and designed to perform well in search.
Graphic designers help bring your brand to life, capable of creating a number of different visual products. These include:
- Infographics: Humans remember 80 per cent of what they see and do, versus only 20 per cent of what they read (Wyzowl). Therefore, infographics are great ways to minimise text while still delivering a powerful and memorable message to your customers.
- Custom images: Custom images serve like mini infographics to underline a crucial piece of information in a blog or website – this could be a stat or a brand USP.
- E-book design: Appearance is everything these days. Even the most informative e-book in the world is going to be passed over if it’s not thoughtfully put together and illustrated.
Crucially, content such as infographics are perfectly adapted for sharing on social media. According to Social Media Examiner, 80 per cent of marketers make use of visual assets in social media marketing, and 32 per cent say this content is the most produced by their business.
Quality videos require not only specific expertise and training to produce and edit, but also equipment and software that usually doesn’t come cheap.
For these reasons, videos are often sidelined by businesses who don’t have the time nor the resources. This is unfortunate, as they are highly popular with consumers. Indeed, a Hubspot survey found that videos were voted the content that customers most want to see from brands they support.
Videos can serve a number of purposes, for example:
- Raising brand awareness – You can use videos to describe your company’s vision and mission, as well as its products and services.
- Demonstrating a product – The combo of moving visuals and audio can be great to get people’s heads around a new release, especially if it’s complex.
- Proving your sector expertise – What better way to show your thought leadership than an interview with a highly qualified member of staff?
- Showcasing customer testimonials – Clips featuring satisfied customers are highly shareable, and a potential way to build brand advocacy.
Many digital marketing agencies will offer a variety of related product that fulfill a similar role as video. These often include slideshows and motion graphics.
Digital agency service three: Amplification
Let’s turn this up to 11. Here are some common ways that a digital agency can help you promote your content and get your brand out there:
Australia has some of the highest social media penetration figures in the world, according to a 2018 report from WeAreSocial. Over 69 per cent of Aussies are active social users, and access to these platforms on mobile devices is growing at a rate of 7 per cent a year.
Chances are your audience is already active on social – so go meet them there.
Australia has some of the highest social media penetration figures in the world.
When it comes to social media, agencies are likely to present you with a campaign structure that will give you flexible options as to exactly what they do for you. This will often include services such as:
- Posting links to website content or blog posts from your social platforms.
- Creating content specifically for social sharing – this could be photos, banners or video-type posts.
- Social media ad campaigns.
- Reports to demonstrate how effective these actions have been.
Depending on the level of support you want, some agencies will provide a plan for you to implement based on their research, or can take over implementing it on your behalf.
Search engine marketing is great to use in conjunction with organic tactics to further boost your digital marketing efforts. Tools such as Google Ads have many advantages that, with the right expertise, can be harnessed to benefit your business.
In the real world, how often do you get to say, ‘’Hey, have you thought about my brand?’’ at the exact moment a customer is thinking about buying something that you offer? I haven’t read anything about telepathic marketers recently – so I’m guessing the answer is ‘’never’’.
Well, Google Ads is about as close as you’ll get. You can target ads based on the following criteria:
- Keywords – By bidding on specific search terms or phrases, your business will appear when prospects make relevant searches.
- Location, age and language – Your user personas will give you a target demographic, so make sure these are the people seeing your content.
- When they appear – You can select the times at which your ads show, and how often per day.
- Devices – Google Ads can appear on all types of devices, but you can make adjustments if you know certain gadgets are favoured by your target market.
By fine-tuning your ads, you can help ensure that you’re targeting only the most qualified leads. In addition, another significant advantage of this type of marketing is that you only pay when someone performs the desired action – pressing that mouse button.
However, Google Ads doesn’t operate on a ‘set and forget’ basis. To maximise the potential returns that this tool offers, you need to closely monitor the results. Search habits change, and you must ensure that your keywords and bids are still working to show your ads to the right people.
Digital agencies will can help both set up and manage these paid campaigns, taking the work off your shoulders and making sure that everything runs smoothly and effectively.
Some see email campaigns as outdated, but far from. According to McKinsey and Co, email is almost 40 times more successful than Facebook and Twitter combined when it comes to customer acquisition.
Among the benefits offered by email campaigns are:
- Personalisation – While there’s no guarantee your recipient will open it, your email is a direct line to their inbox and (if you’ve done your targeting right) this shows you know their interests and pain points.
- Behaviour monitoring – A well put-together email drip campaign can help you gauge how ‘warm’ a lead is. Are they regularly interacting with your content? If so, maybe it’s time to give them a ring and take the relationship to the next level.
- Encouraging action – A common CTA in an email campaign involves asking the receiver to give you information in return for access to a gated asset – for example, an e-book. The details you ask for should start broad (e.g. name, age, occupation) and can become more targeted the further through the drip campaign you get. Gaining insight into common roadblocks, for example, can help you better direct future content to this person, and nurture them through the sales funnel.
In the realms of email marketing, digital agencies can help you by:
- Designing templates to use in the campaign.
- Creating assets to use – for example, custom graphics.
- Writing copy or populating the email with pre-existing content.
- Offering support with monitoring results.
One real advantage that agencies offer in this sphere is providing expertise in the planning phase of your email campaign. They can take data from your CRM or Google Ads to design a plan that will target the right people, and tailor the campaign to meet your specific objectives.