Digital marketing strategies for the agency of the future

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One of the major hallmarks of digital marketing is how fast it moves. Facebook got to 500 million users in under six years; Snapchat’s video views are north of 10 billion per day — and that’s up from four billion a day in September 2015.

Because of how fast digital marketing can move, what was a trend a few months ago may not be a trend worth pursuing tomorrow. Agency owners and executives need to be thinking about the ‘next big thing.’

But there’s a caveat and concern there: if you’re always on the lookout for the ‘next big thing,’ the problem becomes that you can shift focus way too much — and that a focus on the next thing takes away the ability to focus successfully on the present.

What you’re looking for are benchmarks, or foundational strategies you can take at the agency level that will help guide your agency towards the next big thing as it happens.

So, how can you find these foundational strategies?

Targeting

By ‘targeting’ here I mean a few different things, but it all aligns with the idea of using data to determine markets and intent to make a future purchase.

This is a huge business shift that some organizations haven’t come around to yet. 25 years ago, ‘targeting’ meant having a list of Fortune 500 executives and decision-makers and cold-calling them or meeting them for lunch/drinks. It doesn’t mean that anymore.

If you have the right digital tools and you know your brand value strongly, you can find a company in Wyoming who might be your best customer ever — and you would have had no idea they existed previously.

One of the best companies at helping others with targeting is Acronym; here’s a webinar they did on using customer intent to drive content strategy and here’s an interview they did with Google on “leading with intent.”

If you’re creating good content but just pumping it out into a void/chasm, that’s not effective digital marketing — and it isn’t a good foundational benchmark to allow you to shift when you need to move your agency forward towards the next step.

Building your team

Most companies still operate according to a “digital marketing” team and a “traditional marketing” team silo model, which is usually bad for business.

The decision-makers view “traditional” as the marketing channel that makes more money (ads, print buys, direct mail, etc.) so they focus more attention there and digital marketing falls by the wayside. That’s usually how agencies get a lot of their work, actually.

If you run an agency or have decision-making authority there, get clear on a few things: first of all, it will cost money, but you need to put the right people on your team — and pay them as if they’re the right people.

You need content experts, app developers, technical guys/girls, etc. You need to be able to provide a full ecosystem for client needs, and not jury-rig some aspect of it that the client suddenly needs. Invest in your team. Build it.

As you do that, you also need to clearly understand what the business value of your model is — i.e. why are people coming to your agency? Why do you want people to come to your agency?

If the answers to those questions aren’t aligned, figure out where the gap is — and align them. You want to know who your target is, how to find them, why they might find you, what they need, and how they expect it to get done. If your team is shoddy, these are hard questions to answer and you run in a good deal of circles. If your team is excellent, it’s much smoother.

Being a real social business

Many businesses claim they’re operating as a truly social business, but all they’re doing is tracking likes/shares on Facebook. That’s not truly social. A truly social business has social as a major point of ROI or a revenue driver.

I’m actually presenting at ClickZ Live in San Francisco in late August on this idea of boosting your bottom line with social.

We’ll cover everything from selecting the right platforms for your business, targeting and retargeting, how to measure/track engagement, utilizing Google analytics social reports, mobile ad spend, repurposing content for maximum exposure, and visual content on Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.

It’s a 100-minute accelerator session and I’d love to see you there. If you can’t make it, don’t worry — we’ll summarize the talk a few days after, including screen shots of a few key slides.

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