It’s that time of year where most businesses will be reviewing their marketing strategies and budgets ahead of the new financial year. Looking at what is and isn’t working, where they want to focus their budget, and which agency they should spend this budget with.
Digital Marketing has never been as competitive, there are so many brands wanting to embrace the different channels and technologies available to them and so many innovative agencies to choose from. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for a brand to decide they want to switch digital agencies and appoint a new one after just 12 months or less.
So what are the most common reasons for why an organization may look seek a new digital agency?
A fixed contract renewal may be coming to an end and the organisation may be required to start the pitch process again from scratch, or they might want to speak to engage for a fresh new approach to the account if they have been with their current agency for several years. This will involve circulating a brief to several agencies to pitch against which can often include two or three phases. This is often mandatory in the public sector where agencies are scored on specific criteria such as price, culture, experience and project processes.
A very common reason is simply due to budgets and available marketing spend. The previous year may not have been as profitable for the client, or there may have been an influx in recruitment, and they need to scale back. This can often mean an agency needs to review its marketing spend (sadly often one of the first ‘budget pots’ to be cut) and reviewing which channels are contributing to the most leads/sales. The outcome could result in the organization choosing a smaller digital agency who may be able to deliver more for their budget, or potentially even a freelancer.
If an organization is experiencing rapid growth, then they find their current agency does not have the services, resources and capacity to meet their needs. Perhaps they need dedicated development resources, or quicker turnarounds which might not be possible with their existing agency team. There could also be a requirement to onboard new channels and services that the current agency cannot provide, so they may look to consolidate all services into another larger agency.
Perhaps a client may feel their agency are not meeting the expectation set when it comes to the output/deliverables. Dependant on the services agreed this could mean many things – not hitting the deadlines agreed in the project plan, poor communications and not delivering the ROI that was forecasted. Pro-activity is key and it’s important to ensure that new and fresh ideas are being provided to the client to keep them engaged.
Sometimes the agency and organization don’t always align in terms of communication styles, personalities and approaches to a project. Building a relationship is hugely important, but there isn’t a one size fits all approach to be a client or an agency lead. Some organizations are fast paced and require timely responses, and some are much slower paced. Being out of sync can cause frustrations especially if a client is relying on their agency to provide something important for a senior board meeting or an event.
Previous working relationships
New team structures client side can also be a factor in the decision to switch agencies. New staff may have a preferred agency who they’ve worked with in previous roles and had excellent results. They may decide to re-engage them at their new workplace due to the strong working relationship and trust in place.
If you’re looking to switch agencies in 2020 then my top tips to consider are:
- Go and meet your agency in person and get a feel for who they are and meet their in-house teams. Meet the client services team and the delivery teams, so you know who could be potentially working on your projects in the future. If you have an Umbraco website, then do your research to check the developers are Umbraco certified.
- Find out what the onboarding process looks like so you can get an understanding of what’s to come. Often a discovery phase will take place, which requires lots of preparation from an organisation to ensure the agency has all the information and plans in place to hit the ground running. Tell them as much as you can – strategy, teams, goals, objectives, known plans and roadmaps!
- Paying competitive rates doesn’t always mean you will be getting ‘value for money’ no matter how big the agency or how many awards have been won. Make sure that the output of your channel marketing reports provides actionable insights and recommendations to improve performance rather than telling you what you already know. Ensure that the quality of your website code is built to best practice so it’s future proof and scalable and no corners have been cut.
- Ask your agency about account management and communication. What they deem as a reasonable time frame to respond to requests for project quotes and support requests. Do you want them to be proactive rather than reactive? If you’re a fast-paced business with many plates to spin, this will be a huge factor to consider.
If in doubt, speak to an agencies’ existing clients! On-boarding a new agency to execute your future projects is a big commitment. If you want re-assurance speak to their clients who have worked on a similar project to yours to get the reassurance, it’s the right decision for your business.