- Rob Spijkers
An Enterprise Digital Agency
How to select the best Digital Marketing partner?
Many enterprises have challenges in defining a Digital Marketing Strategy and even more companies don't know how to draw a roadmap for digital success. It is both an essential and complex area, with added parameters when you consider using external agencies for all or part of your Digital Marketing activities.
In many cases using an external Agency is preferable over and beyond keeping all activities in-house, and selection of the right external supplier is of paramount importance. Whatever your strategic plans are, try to cut inevitable complexity into manageable chunks and in the first instance, ask yourself the question : ‘What has to be achieved?’. Whether you are a small-to-mid sized company or large multi-national, your Digital Agency must deliver you campaigns that result in unequivocal revenue increases while saving cost. Cost reduction as a % of revenue is a given.
Your Agency must be able to understand your business processes, create global campaigns and localise these for different countries and cultures. The type of Agency that can achieve this is called an Enterprise Digital Agency. Enterprise Digital Agencies are able to plan and execute a roadmap that spans multiple years, that increases the company’s digital marketing maturity and that can take responsibility for the Change Management process. Not everybody realises that outsourcing even simple digital marketing activities must encompass basic business process enhancements.
Smaller mid-size companies with limited in-house Digital Marketing roles may find it difficult to achieve the cost economies seen by larger companies, but by selecting an Enterprise Digital Agency ensures a methodical and tailored approach to the individual business needs and its existing end-to-end marketing solutions. Such an EDA can efficiently scale the level of services required to fulfil its needs, timelines and targets. A recent study executed by HamiltonRoche of 324 companies shows that the majority of companies using digital marketing outsourcers selected Creative Agencies to perform this role. These agencies were tasked to deliver cost reductions, to make qualified technology staff available for a wide range of tools, to adapt processes where required and to set up and run Program Management Offices (PMO’s). In many cases the companies selecting the agencies were not equipped to execute these tasks simultaneously themselves. The study concluded that 72% of these companies would have made a different choice of supplier if they had the opportunity to do so. They were mainly disappointed since cost reductions and technology goals were not met, while these agencies appeared to be more focused on its creative performance than on a process and result driven approach. These companies now realise that technology orientated Digital Agencies have higher rigor and performance standards than most Creative Digital Agencies and maintain standards that even go beyond those of its own company’s employees. This is why an increasing number of companies are looking for external suppliers that add value though end-to-end digital marketing capabilities. These companies are building and maintaining relationships with technology orientated agencies to move up the value chain. The typical way ahead is moving from staff augmentations to outsourced projects and from there towards end-to-end outsourced tasks. This is Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). BPO allows the company and its Digital Agency to refine to shift away from transactional compensation schemes towards result driven compensation schemes. However, such a scheme can only be implemented successfully when the Digital Agency owns deep knowledge of the company’s processes, has top marketing experts and is able (and willing) to do whatever is possible to ensure a seamless transition to the Enterprise Digital Agency. There are multiple options for executing this strategy, but a hybrid BPO model has proven to give the best results. Whether Fortune 2000 or mid-sized, companies should look for an Enterprise Digital Agency (EDA) who can fully apply their industry knowledge to seamlessly transition tasks from internal only towards a global delivery model. Reducing internal transition time and ‘time-to-market’ are key in realising efficiency and bottom line value, and can only be achieved by integrating the company’s and the EDA staff towards mutual goals.
Such a successful partnership is based on a solid consultative approach to regularly assess the operation and to deliver process improvements and leadership on trends, use of channels and other important factors. This thought leadership is the cornerstone to building a trusted, value added relationship, which will be intensified by the ability to present actual results, in as close to real time as possible.
A high achieving EDA will therefore provide dashboards, application interface suggestions for business process improvements, and workarounds to help making the marketing organisation an invaluable asset across the business. The most important consideration in selecting the right Enterprise Digital Agency is the approach the supplier suggests for the transition. Many providers take the first year to fix all process improvements prior to taking full responsibility for the outsourced tasks. This approach may fit in some cases, but is sometimes interpreted as a lock-in mechanism to that supplier. Therefore companies have to select an EDA that will take a more flexible approach; that fixes major process issues and pain points while delivering high value quickly, and continues to build on this value over time. This approach yields more dynamic, measurable results based on small steps and, while the company is leveraging these accomplishments there continues to be a series of positive steps that deliver seamless changes and improvements over time.
It is recommended assessing your agencies transition approach and to ensure this approach matches your philosophy and culture. In the end, always remember that an EDA must allow your company to focus on core competencies and strategic value while they are managing all or part of your Digital Marketing functions.