Many digital agencies operate in a similar fashion — they offer similar services, share common skillsets, etc. So why do some digital agencies seem to fail after a few years, while others have long, prosperous futures?
Whether you are a small or large agency, there are certain areas you need to hone in on to ensure success and increased profits. Oftentimes, this starts with having a solid foundation. Having a solid foundation is crucial in order to give your team the ability to work more efficiently, so they have time to provide a better client experience and keep up with emerging digital trends.
Here are four things you need to focus on in order to future-proof your agency.
1. Establish Robust Systems
Creating systems for various parts of your business is key to ensuring your agency’s survival. When taking a deep dive into the systems that keep your business running, look at perfecting the following:
- Client acquisition and onboarding process
- Employee processes
- Succession planning
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2. Client Acquisition & Onboarding
Having a well thought out plan for acquiring and onboarding clients is imperative for giving your client a great overall experience. Perhaps your current plan is to “just wing it” as you bring in new business. This can give your clients the wrong first impression — that you’re unorganized and not sure what you’re doing.
An ideal system automates various aspects of your business so that your business can run on its own — even without you. This means that leads can come in automatically and your team knows exactly what to do with them.
Signing new clients isn’t always easy, so once you bring them on board, you really can’t afford to lose them. That’s why it’s important to make a great first impression and follow an effective onboarding process.
Failing to properly onboard clients can set you and your team up for disaster since it has the potential to ripple through the rest of your process. If your onboarding process could use some work, get started by following these six steps:
- Assess the Client’s Current Assets: Understanding what they do and don’t have in place should be your first step. Identify both positives and negatives in order to identify opportunities for improvement.
- Buildout Plan and Goals: Once you’ve identified areas for improvement, you can start laying out your goals with a cohesive plan. Be sure to incorporate your client’s feedback so that you can build the goals together.
- Assign a Team: Assign the best people that can get the job done effectively.
- Internal Kickoff Meeting: Brief your team on everything that has happened thus far. The team needs to have a thorough understanding of the type industry, products or services, scope of work, and what you are hoping to accomplish.
- Meeting of the Minds: Get your client and your team together to discuss campaign and client objectives, as well as expectations and next steps.
- Frequent Check-Ins: Don’t forget to reach back out to your clients with weekly or monthly check-in calls.
This process may seem like a no-brainer, but for a new employee or team member, they may not understand how your digital agency operates. Be sure to fill-in new team members on how your company functions for the best possible success rate. And, as soon as you get your process on paper, distribute it amongst current team members for a refresher.
As your business grows, and you bring on more team members, it’s important to have documented processes which are easy for anyone to pick up and follow. Not only will this clear up any employee confusion, but it will give your customers a better experience overall.
We recommend making guides on processes and frequently asked questions in order to mitigate any confusion. This should speed things up for you, too! Answering the same questions over and over can be tiring, not to mention, time-consuming. Instead of repeating yourself multiple times, you can direct people to your handbooks.
What would you do if a member of your development team didn’t come into work tomorrow? Would your deadlines be pushed back? Could you offset the workload to another team member without hesitation?
While most companies are usually gearing up for growth, you’ll also need to think about what happens if some of your employees leave.
Not only should your succession strategy include operational processes (change passwords, etc.), but it should also answer the question about who’s going to take over what responsibilities. For example, if your project manager suddenly quits tomorrow, do you have someone who could jump in and take their place, so that everything continues running smoothly? You don’t want your client’s experience to suffer if you have a sudden team member change. Planning ahead for these types of situations is essential.
2. Invest in the Right Tools & Resources
One of the biggest mistakes that digital agencies make is that they don’t make the effort to seek out applicable tools and resources. Investing in the right tools is essential for scaling your business, providing a better customer experience, and making things run more efficiently.
Furthermore, as marketing becomes increasingly driven by data and technology, ad agencies are going to need to invest in the right tools to keep up. Data enables companies to discover customer insights and create an outstanding customer experience that is both customizable and scalable. With the right information in hand, you can create repeatable marketing processes that allow your campaigns to run on autopilot, so you can focus on testing and optimization.
It’s shocking that only 15-20% of companies use data and Google Analytics to drive marketing and business decision-making. If you haven’t embraced a data-driven approach, yet, there are many tools that can help you measure your results. Google Analytics is a great place to start. You can measure important KPIs for your clients, showing the changes and progress you have implemented over time. Check out these 8 KPIs you should definitely be tracking.
Along with having the right tools for collecting data, you’ll also want to have tools in place for effective communication, especially if your business is growing. In fact, a Salesforce report found that high-performing marketing teams are 17.1x more likely to be “excellent” at collaborating within their organization. Included on your communication tools checklist should be tools for in-house collaboration and external communications.
At Mod Girl, we use Hatchbuck to keep all our lead communications organized in one place so we can see every point of communication a person has had with our company. We also use Slack and Basecamp 3 to communicate internally about project to-dos.
3. Strengthen Your In-House Technical Skills
A thriving digital agency starts and ends with having a strong, exceptional team. Long gone are the days where an agency could rely on a small team of marketers. Instead, you’ll need the right people in the right places, delivering personalized experiences with high-quality service.
After assessing your team’s strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to see where you have gaps in skills. Then, you can decide on whether you can train your current team, or hire more team members.
For agencies that are struggling to hire talent with specialized skills, there are some things you can do to help train your current team. Upskilling employees is an ideal way to empower those who already know your business.
Google, for example, partnered with P&G to implement an employee exchange program to help teach their employees how to sell things online. By focusing on digital and search marketing, they were able to help bring their e-commerce into the 21st century.
Small and mid-sized businesses can benefit, too. Providing different in-house and online training can help close the tech gap within your organization.
Not sure how to start building your dream team? Download Mod Girl’s free guide to learn which specialists to hire and which to outsource, and start building your perfect modern marketing team!
4. Multiple Agency Roster Management
It’s very difficult for one digital agency to be good at everything. In order to find the best success, you may want to partner with other agencies across a variety of different disciplines. For example, perhaps you work with one agency focused on social media, another on PR, and a third for web development.
As you can see, building a strong agency roster will give you access to powerful partnerships, which will give your clients a better experience overall, without having to take on additional overhead or spend time training and hiring employees.
Once you enlist a new agency, the most difficult part is managing that relationship. Plus, as you grow, you may add in more and more agencies, which can present new challenges. Here are some tips for successful agency roster management:
- Identifying skillsets: After you have clearly identified your goals, you’ll need to pick an agency to deliver on it. Identifying the team’s skill set and relevant experience can give you insights on who is made for the job.
- Roles & Responsibilities: Once skill-sets have been identified, it’s important to appoint clear roles and responsibilities, especially if you’re working with multiple agencies. This will reduce duplicate efforts, and clear up any confusion that they agencies may have.
- Process & Procedures: Setting up the right systems and processes hold true for agency roster management, too. Set and distribute processes for accountability, decision making, compliance to standards, common KPIs and feedback loops to make your process streamlined and efficient.
If managing multiple agencies sounds exhausting — it is. Fortunately, there is a solution. Mod Girl Marketing offers a variety of robust marketing solutions in order to help digital agencies. We provide additional expertise for your team, wherever and whenever you need it, like analytics and reporting, content marketing, auditing, SEO and social media. Learn more about becoming an agency partner, here.
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