The landscape for digital media and marketing agencies is getting more crowded. To be competitive, agencies must stay informed of changes in algorithms and settings among social media channels. They also must study effective tactics and think strategically to ensure their clients’ content has a wide reach and lasting impact.
In a recent #SproutChat, we teamed up with Solana Beach-based agency Organik SEO to gather advice from our Twitter community about how digital agencies can achieve success in today’s market. Here’s what they had to say.
Agencies strive for a proven track record to help to win new business. That is, they need to show how they can help clients succeed.
Studying the client’s history and understanding any and all challenges will give your agency a competitive advantage. Provide your customers with insights that will help in their specific space. Be sure to present it in a way they can easily digest too. Visuals are always a great way to present information.
A1) Be a resource. Share tips, strategies, etc via content, video, webinars. Always be helping. #SproutChat
— Organik SEO (@OrganikSEO) May 6, 2015
Clients and agencies come in all shapes and sizes. Thus, certain projects might not be right for what you offer. Even if a project is big and exciting, focusing your attention elsewhere might be better for your bottom line.
It’s important not to lead the client on when the fit isn’t there. An established agency will have a process for quickly determining if it’s willing and able to take on a client. Consider the costs associated with what you can bring to the table to help determine ROI before making any agreements.
— Jed Record (@JedRecord) May 6, 2015
An agency-client relationship involves a value exchange. The agency delivers ideas, content and execution—and the client pays for this. Determining how much to charge can be a sensitive and somewhat subjective topic. The perception of what value the agency brings might look different to each party. Also, the measurement of that value can be sliced several ways.
A3: Results based pricing is agency’s confidence, Value based pricing is customer’s confidence, Hourly pricing is mutual trial. #SproutChat
— Neeraj Thakur (@NeerajT4) May 6, 2015
It’s important to note that determining the success of marketing and social shouldn’t be based solely on ROI. Both bring so much more than just an increase to the bottom line. Thus, they can’t be compared to sales in the same terms.
A3: probably a little of both, certainly no “straight commission”, that would be suicide #SproutChat
— Brad Lovett (@Brad_Lovett) May 6, 2015
While your agency may have been around for years, there should always be room for improvement through client feedback. If you work in a silo, you’ll never improve or innovate.
Check in at random intervals by consistently asking, “How can we do this better?” This is a sure-fire way to get quality, honest insight from your clients. You may have a weekly or monthly scheduled call or in-person meeting, but ongoing feedback is crucial. All of this ensures both the agency and the client are on the same page.
A4 I always put check ins at various points when I present the scope of work. It’s important to evaluate constantly on both ends #sproutchat
— LUCYrk (@LUCYrk78) May 6, 2015
Managing (& Exceeding) Expectations
Before starting any work, there should be an agreed-upon outline, budget and goals. Not getting these down on paper could be detrimental to the durability of the relationship. It’s a good idea to pad the estimated time and budget so that you not only manage but also exceed expectations.
A5: Always tell clients how much and when something will be. Pad it and get in under and early. #sproutchat
— Josh McCormack (@joshmccormack) May 6, 2015
Managing multiple clients can be challenging, so agencies need to be honest about their capabilities. The agency must set the bar for estimating how long it will take to reach the client’s goals.
A5) Never be afraid to let clients know that you can’t take on new project ASAP. If you don’t respect your time, they won’t. #sproutchat
— Sam Hosenkamp (@SamHosenkamp) May 6, 2015
Your clients are your livelihood. With their financial investment and trust, you can continue to do your job. Meanwhile, their endorsements pave the way for even more business. Maintain strong relationships by frequently showing your appreciation. A handwritten thank you note is a solid start. A quarterly or annual client party is another great way to show you care.
Of course, there’s always the straightforward business route:
A6 thank them when they hire you for the next project #SproutChat
— David Pepper (@thedavepepper) May 6, 2015
However you say thank you, make sure it’s sincere.
Catch the entire Twitter chat on best practices for digital agencies here, and be sure to join us for our #SproutChat every Wednesday at 2 p.m. CST. To learn more about our close-knit community, check out our Facebook group.
Sarah Nagel: Sarah Nagel is the Senior Manager, Brand Advocacy & Community at Sprout Social. She heads community building initiatives as well as Sprout’s advocacy program, Sprout All Stars. Sarah is a champion for empowering passionate and enthusiastic customers and believes in the huge impact an engaged community can have on an organization’s bottom line. Outside of work, she loves taking on home renovation projects, spending time with her husband and two rescue dogs and making the best guacamole you’ve ever had.