Online marketing and promotion is a complicated business. With so many niche suppliers and so much technical jargon out there, you may well be left scratching your head.
Between creative agencies and PR houses offering more and more digital services, creative digital agencies offering fewer and fewer data-lead services and specialist digital agencies not offering any creative services, it’s no wonder people get confused. Here’s a quick low-down to help you search out the right partner.
The Digital Agency
Digital agencies are companies that employ (relatively) normal people whose core areas of expertise revolve around some form of technology. Digital solutions could encompass social media, app creation, web design and development, email marketing, eCommerce, online PR, automated lead generation… the list goes on.
The digital agency landscape is complex. As a result of the huge amount of expertise and technical knowledge required to master every corner of that landscape, the industry actually comprises a wide array of slightly different agencies each with specific areas of focus. The easiest way to separate them is as follows:
1. Specialist Digital Agency
Specialist digital agencies are, of course, those agencies that have chosen a very particular niche in the market or industry. They tend to dominate their particular niche and so can grow to be quite large. A good example would be the back-link driven SEO agency: Usually with around 50–100 staff who all have the same knowledge and skill-base and who all follow fairly rigid procedures. After all, to dominate any focused niche you need a ‘magic formula’ (if such as thing exists in business) and that is precisely how these specialist companies succeed.
Other examples of niche areas might include:
- Email Marketing
- Social Media
- Online PR
- Mobile Marketing & App Development
- Pay-Per-Click Advertising
- Specialist Web Analytics, Lead-Generation & Customer Profiling (i.e. data crunching)
- Augmented Reality, Gamification or Software development
Clients use these agencies for one of two reasons; either they have a very in-depth requirement that goes above and beyond the normal applications of the technologies in question, or they understand so little about the technology that they simply feel better about using a ‘specialist’. You’d better hope you’re not in the latter category because these specialists cost a lot more and will still happily take on run-of-the-mill work that could be done cheaper elsewhere!
2. Creative Digital Agency
The creative digital agency sits slightly apart from any of these. They are more geared towards the creative integration and application of all areas of the digital arena. They are in many ways counterparts to the more traditional design and advertising agencies out there; where members of staff are lauded as creative thinkers and innovators. The only difference is that the focus has shifted from TV, radio, billboards and print to online platforms like websites.
Rather than having a one-size-fits-all solution that gets rolled out to any and all clients to address one part of their strategy, these companies focus on the bigger picture; generating the overall strategy and implementing it. They tend to remain at the cutting edge of a wide array of technologies in order to formulate holistic solutions that are highly tailored for every client.
What’s more, these agencies are often very design-focused, meaning they can grow your online presence from the ground up. A full package from a creative digital agency might include online branding and logo development, web design and development, social media and email integration, conversion rate optimisation and content creation; all done tactically for SEO.
There are other complimentary services out there that inevitably feature as per client requirements. By staying abreast of current trends in all of them, these all-rounder agencies supply the core online services every contemporary business is likely to need.
If you’re confused about where to go for help with online marketing, the best place to start is a creative digital agency to make sure you have your digital house in order. They will help you get all of the major areas boxed off; from branding to blogging, from email to website.
When you are active in all the right places and your efforts in those places are set up to integrate efficiently, then look into the potential benefits of using a specialist digital agency to bolster certain results if and where appropriate.