The time of “if you build it, they will come” is long gone. Today, if you build it, you will need to market the hell out of it.

And with this marketing agency guide, we can help you learn the difference between a digital agency and a digital marketing agency AND how to choose the right type of marketing agency for your business. But first, if you’re having doubts about going digital, here are some hard facts you should consider:

  • Companies that publish blog posts more than 15 times per month observe 3.5 times more traffic and 4.5 times more leads than companies who don’t blog or blog once a week.
  • Visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content, according to Buffer.
  • 74 percent of people say they use Facebook for professional purposes.
  • Content consumption on Facebook has increased by 57 percent in the last two years.
  • When talking about email marketing, 86 percent of consumers would like to receive promo emails from companies at least on a monthly, and 15 percent claim they would like to get them daily.
  • When looking buy an item online, more than 65 percent people click on Google ads, according to WordStream.
Digital Campaign Map Digital Marketing Agencies
A lot of factors go into a successful digital campaign, such as content, social media, design and more.

Did we convince you that you should be investing in proper digital marketing? Great!

There’s more to marketing than just general advertising – that's only one of marketing’s many, many branches. Marketing also deals with market research, customer segmentation, product identification, research and development, price determination, selection of distribution channels, and promotional activities. It can encompass digital marketing, traditional marketing, inbound marketing, social media marketing, creative campaigns, and everything in between, too.

Marketing also creates a demand and then fulfills the customers’ needs -- and since we're entrenched in the digital age, achieving all of this online and through digital mediums is imperative.

Enter: Agencies. 

Many of you may have heard about a digital agency or digital marketing agency. While it's common knowledge that experts from these companies can help build a brand and execute marketing campaigns, the actual difference between a digital agency and digital marketing agency is often blurred. It might look like it’s the same thing, and while the differences are subtle, they do exist!

Plus, not all marketing agencies are alike. Some have a “boutique” approach, some are full-service and all-encompassing, and some offer only particular services.

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Why Digital Marketing Agencies Are Better Than Traditional Marketing Agencies

The fact of the matter is that digital marketing is taking over the marketing landscape, bring greater importance to online initiatives. In fact, nearly 80 percent of surveyed chief marketing officers expect that their digital marketing budgets for digital marketing will grow by 75 percent in the future. What's more, content marketing costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing and brings three times more leads.

For a long time, marketing has been a one-way street. Traditional marketing campaigns like TV commercials, radio and newspaper ads still work this way. When you air your brand message across these channels, you just hope it will stick -- but it's harder to measure the real impact. However, digital marketing leaves a "paper trail." You can unequivocally tell you how many people have seen your content (plus when and where), who is visiting your website, and how that overarching consumer journey looks. Digital marketing gives you direct contact with your customers and prospects.

Meanwhile, the downsides of traditional marketing are evident. It can be:

  • Time-consuming and expensive – sometimes simple, traditional marketing tactics like hard-copy brochures or leaflets can put a serious dent in your budget, TV ads are expensive, many times they take much more time to reap results. Digital is much faster and adaptable to any budget.
  • Unmeasurable impact – how can you know how many people watched your TV ad, radio campaign or actually paid attention to your newspaper ad? Digital marketing offers measurable results and simple ROI metrics. You can even tell you how much one customer click will cost you, the time customers spend on your website, how many times the ad was displayed, and so much more.
  • Limited audience reach and availability – TV ads will run at scheduled times and… that’s it. People may be working, eating, fast forwarding, or just not paying attention. It’s easier and more efficient to go with digital marketing and reach the right kind of targeted audience.

With digital marketing, the time is always right. You will directly target people who are more likely to engage with your brand, and the ad will be served when they are online and most likely to consume that content. 

Think of traditional advertising as an aggressive monologue, and digital marketing as a two-way conversation where your customers like to be heard.

Does it mean that traditional marketing is dead? Well, it has certainly felt the impact of the digital age, but no – traditional marketing will be around as long as we are still consuming content via TVs, newspapers, magazines, and radios. But according to Campaign Monitor, marketing industry trends predict that by 2021, chief marketing officers will spend 75 percent of their total marketing budget on digital marketing rather than traditional marketing. Digital marketing trends are on the rise -- and every business should jump on that bandwagon.

Consumer Targeting Digital Marketing Agencies
Know your audience and identify your consumers before embarking on a digital marketing plan.

The Differences Between A Digital Marketing Firm & An Inbound Marketing Agency

It’s the same with the difference between a digital agency and digital marketing agency - while both types of marketing agencies use the same platforms for placing their content, their approach to content is very different. Digital agencies focus more on researching your ideal target audience and then market your products or services to them through paid advertising. The digital marketing agency’s role is to offer market research for the digital product or a service that brand offers, and development of overall marketing strategy. The full-service marketing agencies go beyond the strategy, they offer execution as well, in the form of website creation, content creation, video production, app development and more. Check out these agency listings for all-encompassing agencies for your business.

When talking about digital advertising preferences, digital marketers use Facebook ads (staggering 84 percent), Google ads (41 percent) and LinkedIn ads (18 percent). It’s worth noting that Google is responsible for 95 percent of paid search ad clicks on mobile.

How do inbound marketing agencies stack up? They leverage meaningful content. Inbound marketing agencies use blogs, video blogs, podcasts, whitepapers, eBooks, newsletters, infographics and such to promote brand awareness and drive the lead nurturing campaigns. By adhering to SEO good practices, such as keyword research, optimizing meta tags, using internal linking, optimizing the site’s loading speed, and buying high-quality backlinks, these types of content will appear more in search engine results and in turn, increase website traffic.

If we look at the facts – nearly half the buyers (47 percent to be exact) say that they viewed three to five pieces of content online before talking to a sales representative. And a staggering amount of 96 percent of B2B buyers are looking for more content with inputs from industry leaders.

Digital marketing ad campaign might help with customer acquisition and brand visibility, but the campaign will only last a specific amount of time, while blog posts can pull in a lot of new readers over time. When talking about inbound marketing, we recognize two types of blog content – compounding and decaying.

A compounding blog post is a post whose organic search traffic increases over time. It’s obviously a well-picked subject that people are interested in learning more. Compounding posts require specific tactics, keyword research, and trend monitoring. The best way to create a compounding post is to write how-to guides or create blog posts that aim to help people. Usually, one in 10 posts is a compounding one.

Decaying posts are also valuable and bring in the search traffic to the site, but they usually cover a more recent topic and people’s interest might fade quickly, so naturally, the website visits decline over time. According to HubSpot, one compounding blog post is worth six decaying blog posts, and it generates a 38 percent of overall traffic.

Ads can promote a product or a service and create potentially unqualified leads and pump the traffic without conversions. But inbound content educates people about those products and helps them make an informed decision in their purchase process.

While a digital agency can bring you value and increased ROI, an inbound agency can help you nurture leads in the long run. Companies who employ lead nurturing techniques generate 50 percent more leads who are ready to make a purchase and at a 33 percent lower cost. Companies who nurture their leads have an almost 10 percent higher sales quota.

There isn’t a question which one of these agencies is better – both bring the high-grossing value, through different approaches. When digital marketing agencies meet inbound marketing, it’s easy to promote evergreen content and maximize the impact of ads and nurture valuable leads. Inbound marketing efforts provide valuable materials for digital marketers, and digital marketing agencies can track the campaigns and results, and provide strategic approaches to future strategies. Bringing these agencies together can bring smashing results to your campaign.

The Difference Between Creative Agencies & Digital Agencies 

A creative agency is a company that focuses more on how something will be done (not the why, or analytics, behind that). Thus, its main focus is on the creative campaigns. Those campaigns can be digital -- but they don’t have to be.

If you are discussing hiring a creative agency, it’s important to first understand the brand’s need. If your business already has a satisfactory design but needs more leads or sales, a creative agency is not for you. Instead, look to a marketing agency, which exists to solve those problems. However, if you're looking for branding, design, visual content or a creative campaign to increase brand awareness, a creative agency might be the perfect fit! 

Although branding isn't their only service, creative agencies focus more on the visual idea for the campaign instead of market segmentation and target audience. For example, a creative agency can come up with a strategy-backed idea for the website design and user experience, and a full-service digital agency could create it, tailor it to fit specific business goals and demographics, and promote it further.

The best combination would obviously be to enlist a comprehensive digital agency with a complete creative team in-house. You should also consider going with trusted cloud services which can round up the whole package. This gives businesses access to experts who are well-versed in design, marketing, and analytics and are familiar with collaborating on projects together.

The Difference Between A Social Media Agency & A Digital Marketing Company

Top-level digital marketing companies pay a lot of attention to areas such as marketing research and segmentation, product testing, finding the perfect target audience, market analysis, sales, and advertising. Actually, advertising can be one of a digital marketing company’s major departments. A great digital marketing firm can also offer social media services, among many others, but that is why the price to commission them can be significantly higher.

Conversely, social media marketing companies usually offer a boutique approach and set their price accordingly. They have one department and that’s all they bring to the table – complete social media service for the brand. And considering that there are 1.74 billion mobile-only monthly users of Facebook and 93 percent of shoppers are directly influenced by social media, brands want a piece of this action.

Depending on their needs, a brand could thrive with either of these partner agencies. For example, a small business with a strict marketing budget may see incredible results and increased revenue with clever and carefully executed social media campaigns, because they have a dedicated team working in the area they know best: social media.

Social Media Digital Marketing Agencies
Social media is a vital tool for digital marketers.

The Tasks Of The Best Social Media Marketing Agencies 

Simply posting on a social network won't cut it when you're trying to build a brand or grow a business. Unfortunately, this might be exactly what you get if you hire an in-house junior social media manager for your company.

However, if you are commissioning the social media agency’s services, you can expect full coverage. That includes a professional (or team of experts) who’s adept in graphic design and copywriting, and can create a monthly content calendar together with strong visual content and to-the-point copy. Depending on your contract, social media agencies also provide a social community manager, who is responsible for managing your online customer service, which includes informing clients, resolving complaints, answering questions and gathering reviews.

Why is good community management so important? Well, answering a complaint and acknowledging it increases customer satisfaction by 25 percent, and leaving it ignored and unanswered can decrease customer advocacy by 50 percent. This customer service has made its way online in recent years -- 67 percent of consumers like using social media (mainly Facebook and Twitter) to solve their problems with a brand. A community manager can also proactively engage users, nurture positive posts about the brand, and maintain a strong reputation management. It’s also important to know that 71 percent of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are more likely to recommend it to others, further increasing the importance of strong social media management and strategy.

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Depending on the brand and social media customer support volume, many businesses prefer employing an in-house community manager due to the number of inquiries. Nonetheless, it is estimated that 90 percent of businesses will use social media for customer service and support by 2020.

In addition, social media marketing agencies might also offer strategies and actionable results when it comes to finding and securing social influencers and managing the outreach process. Another key role a social media agency should fulfill is the analytical approach and campaign optimization processes. The most important KPI (key performance indicator) is ROI (the return on investment) and how much the social media campaigns are actually earning your business. Having a team of experts in place who can provide actionable insights into buyer personas and target audiences is the best way to fully monetize the campaigns.

Depending on your brand, it might be useful to outsource the role, or at least assess the social media agency’s talent. For example, if you have an e-commerce business, the best person for the job would be someone who truly understands the targeting and how to provide the right product to the right audience. If we’re talking about a lead generation and funnel optimization, then the person will need to be in tune with the buyer’s journey and their evaluation process.

If you want to get the ball rolling or formulate comprehensive questions for a potential social media marketing agency, here’s a list of the best social media tools that can help you grow your brand and manage your online business in 2018.

Digital Advertising Agency vs. Digital Marketing Agency

Digital advertising agencies promote a product or a service, but digital marketing agencies test the market, create the strategy and execute it in a manner that solves a more specific problem. 

Digital marketing agencies can follow your brand throughout your entire journey – from the conception to operating a successful business. They understand every step of that journey and can offer a strategy that will support you. Advertising agencies are mainly preoccupied with digital advertising. While speaking about the strategies and plans marketing agencies offer, it’s important to note that they will make sure the same message is portrayed on all channels and in all types of content. And having a unified approach improves brand awareness, brand recognition, and overall campaign strength.

It is actually one of the key differences between a digital advertising agency and digital marketing agency – a marketing agency’s goal is to help you achieve business goals through a strategic, data-driven cross-channel approach. Advertising agencies will just focus on the paid ads, and achieving your business goals but in terms of KPIs like increased website traffic, more conversions, better click-through rates (CTR), and so on. While this also isn’t something that should be thrown away, it’s worth knowing what agencies can offer in order to know which one to choose.

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Should You Partner With A Digital Marketing Company?

This is a question that will largely depend on the needs of your brand and your budget. What are your goals? Supporting an in-house team might be more costly than the ROI you will get, but then again, hiring marketing agencies brings forth the pro-con situation.

The pros would be that these agencies have access to industry tools that wouldn’t be feasible for you to invest in, as a brand. And since they have many clients, using such tools brings them added value to their services. When you hire an agency, you hire the entire team comprised of their complementing talents and expertise. Their analytical game is top-notch, and they can read the same data more than you ever could, and even provide you with identified areas for improvement that you might miss.

Depending on their creativity or offered services, agencies can come up with solutions because they can objectively see the situation and analyze the brand. One of the main positive points for hiring a social media marketing agency is the fact that they know what works. Their expertise allows them to assess all the possible strategies and employ the right one, while you might be subject to a lot of trial and error before hitting the mark.

As with anything, there are some cons, too. No one can know your brand better than you, and sometimes agencies will simply lack in understanding the industry-specific segments. Also, what happens in your office stays at your office unless you clearly communicate it to the agency. There is a huge risk of miscommunication and missing events or opportunities that arise in everyday business operations. Therefore, it's imperative to find the agency that understands your brand, has experience in your industry or with your ideal business goals, and can create a rock-solid contract that you feel comfortable with. 

Also, if they are developing content for your brand, it’s important to implement a strong approval system so that no time is lost in over-communicating and under-delivering. Community management can suffer because of that, especially if the community managers don’t have all the information, which can increase response times and affect customer satisfaction. Ensure you determine a consistent workflow and timeline, and that you are aware of exactly how much time agency team members are dedicating to your project or account.

The good news is that a happy medium can always be found! If you have an in-house team, you have the option of enlisting another full-service marketing agency to provide consultation services and help you out with strategy or problem identification. Marketing agencies can also fulfill certain roles and fill the gaps where you need them if you believe your in-house team is stretched too thin or doesn’t have the necessary knowledge. It's a simple "divide and conquer" tactic. However, many times agencies are much more well-versed in full-scale projects,  omnichannel marketing, and all-encompassing approaches, meaning they will have the expertise and manpower to plan and execute all your campaigns from the beginning to the end.

Which Digital Marketing Agency Is Right For Your Business's Needs?

Understanding all these similarities and differences can help you with formulating the right questions when choosing the perfect marketing agency for your business. Assess their approaches and don’t be afraid to mix and match in order to create full multi-channel coverage. As author and businessman Seth Godin said, “The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.” And while that is true, the perfect digital agency can help you produce the right results each and every time.

Also, take the time to understand that the online users are everywhere now, and you need a comprehensive digital marketing strategy to reach them. Traditional marketing relies on a one-size-fits-all approach. But now, your customers are using computers, tablets and social media while consuming video content, influencer ideals and more. A digital agency will help you formulate an omnichannel marketing approach that will grow your company and build brand awareness.

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