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Selecting a Digital Agency


Digital agencies love to explain how digital they are but very few of them live in the reality of today’s digital world. You can’t say you are digital and then behave like a traditional agency. Having a twitter account doesn’t qualify as being digital. Here’s my check list for how to measure just how digital your agency might be. A real digital agency or firm…

  • Understands and provides integrated digital marketing solutions: A truly digital agency will have a solution that considers all elements of your digital marketing and design. Where will your traffic be generated? How will you measure your SEO campaigns? Do your web properties maximize the conversion opportunities created by the marketing? One of the biggest inefficiencies in digital marketing is the number of tools, agencies and strategies at work. It’s in the interest of both the client and the agency to eliminate inefficiencies buy reducing the friction created when there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Reduce the of players, size of the core team and make sure the agency is using advanced processes to get work done. More tools and more people do not equal more output. Like any machine, the more parts the more things that can go wrong. Look for an agency or studio that can offer the core solutions without having to cobble together dozens of overlapping tools and resources. This does not mean they can’t work with other teams, it just means there should be a universal approach.
  • Understands analytics and measurement: My favorite excuse for agencies being all art and no science is that being too focused on metrics reduces creativity. Complete crap. A focus on scientific metrics makes creativity work better. It reduces the guessing beyond the first iterations and allows creative people to drive home what really works.
  • Understands offshoring and nearshoring: No agency can do everything and still be efficient. Agencies that live in the real world know that in order to deliver value at the right price you need to make use of outside resources. Offshoring is not a dirty word anymore, its a way of life. Smart digital agencies understand that having a team in Argentina or Costa Rica can bring advantages to the bottom line. The key here is to keep the project management close to home. Digital agencies with offshore teams that still manage the process close to the client are making use of the hybrid model. These hybrid models often use Agile methodologies to provide additional efficiencies.
  • Understands that platforms are a solution for long-term client success: Digital agencies need to have a scalable platform to managing the process and avoid gaps in the delivery cycle. The only way to support your ambitions is to have a platform that will grow with your needs. For most small and medium size businesses this means a CMS and a CRM that is integrated (there’s that word again) and scalable. How does your lead generation campaign integrate with your email system? How do you manage your blog and SEO campaigns to be in step with each other? Who develops your content for your social networking campaigns and how does it fit into your CMS package?

Author Richard Banfield

As CEO, Richard leads Fresh Tilled Soil’s strategic vision. He’s a mentor at TechStars and BluePrintHealth, an advisor and lecturer at the Boston Startup School, and serves on the executive committees of TEDxBoston, the AdClub’s Edge Conference, and Boston Regional Entrepreneurship Week.

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