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One Size DOESN'T Fit All! 6 PPC Agency Solutions for Your Brand
Written by Kayla Kurtz, Associate Director of Sales
Far gone are the days when agency-based digital marketing solutions could be cut and pasted from one client to another. The main driver behind this evolution lies in your needs, as the brand, becoming more intricate as the quarters and years pass. These complex scenarios are a result of a similarly ever-expanding scope of engines, channels and platforms through which new consumers can be targeted.
The path to finding new consumers requires many layers to be expertly maneuvered. Then, you must efficiently manage them so returns can be as high as possible without losing sight of growth. So, what brands don’t need is noise for the sake of sound. Everyone participating in the digital marketing management for any given brand should be bringing something to the table – agencies included.
The agency’s goal should be to drive or guide as needed and to be prepared with a solution that can be properly tailored to that need. Some in-house PPC teams know exactly what they need assistance with; other brands that may have been through a handful of agencies simply want to find something that finally fits.
When it comes to looking at new digital agency partners, fully evaluate your situation and needs first – then you can research which teams offer the solution or flexibility to build something that perfectly suits your requirements.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
A more traditional approach, this would be the fit for a scenario where you need all facets of your paid digital landscape to be managed externally. Full management solutions within themselves have a lot of options to choose from, dependent on engine coverage, length of engagement, total budget, number of brands (read: URLs) to be managed, etc. We see teams coming to us for this kind of support who have either been using an agency for some time, have grown their efforts in-house but it now balances too many responsibilities, or PPC has outgrown their experience level in the channel.
Trust and confidence are paramount to a full-time partnership, so the most crucial step of vetting for this solution is to allow for plenty of time, so no stone goes unturned. If you’re seeking this kind of engagement and have typically used agencies, consider what you’ve liked and haven’t loved about those relationships to help build your new partner criteria.
In this scenario, a brand seeks out an agency’s assistance or management skills to help with just a portion of their paid digital efforts. This could be an existing segment (i.e. display, social, non-Google engines), an expansion opportunity the in-house team doesn’t have a lot of daily experience with, a problem-child campaign type (i.e. competitors, device-specific) or any other sliver of the channel.
Partial support needs can be short or long term. The potential engagement to match those needs will also range, typically as either management or retainer (one-time or ongoing).
A key area to keep in mind when researching support for this area is communication. Since the inhouse and agency team will be managing near or alongside one another, there must be complete clarity on responsibilities and expectations. The agency and in-house team should be complementing each other here and that can sometimes be tough to cultivate.
REVIEW & RECOMMEND
As the paid digital space matures, there are expectedly more (and more experienced) people with management capabilities. Additionally, for a lot of brands it’s more cost-effective and controllable to have paid media managed internally. But what happens when there’s a performance issue that the team can’t seem to crack? Or if there’s simply a request from leadership to look at opportunities to further improve and they want an outside opinion? These are likely scenarios where something, such as an audit, could hit the mark. Audits tend to include a deep analysis and review of a particular piece of a paid program, or the entire program itself. The analysis phase is subsequently followed by a presentation of recommendations based on findings and usually some initial steps for optimization.
Considering again the experience levels present in the paid digital industry, pinpointed audits are becoming more and more common (i.e. technology/platform selection, CRO/landing pages, social engines, etc) – so don’t be afraid to request something specifically tailored toward that area. Not every audit has to be comprehensive, but they can be that too! Full audits can be truly enlightening in scenarios where the same team has been behind the wheel for some time (everyone is prone to tunnel vision) or when problem areas and their solutions require a third party’s assistance.
CONSULTATION + STRATEGY
Let’s say your in-house team is absolutely killing it and hitting all their marks, but across the board you’re struggling with a huge question: What should we be doing next/now? A tremendous benefit of partnering with an agency in this case is they can bring new ideas and strategies to the table that they’ve tried in other situations similar to yours. Even better, they can suggest and provide background on how they’ve supported other brands that may not be in your specific situation, but could still be a helpful and applicable perspective. You can lean on an agency with a more open-ended approach for consultation and guidance without handing over the reins from a full management standpoint. CMOs everywhere are clamoring for this kind of relationship, according to AdAge and other industry-leading publications, so there should be opportunities for solutions that address more of a consultative need and approach.
Hanapin’s version of this is called the In-House Partnership. We’re particularly proud of this offering, because it tackles not just the need for direction and strategy with paid media, but it’s also a flat fee structure (making it simple for in-house teams to budget for), flexible (terms are month-to-month) and provides unlimited consultation with some hands-on support as icing to the cake. If you’ve got a team that can do, but need a team to show you what to do – seek an engagement similar to our In-House Partnership and you’ll find a paid digital compass to guide your brand forward.
IMPLEMENTATION + EXECUTION
What if your team is experiencing the inverse of the above and they know what to do, but aren’t fully confident on how to make it happen? The team may also know how to make it happen, but plenty of in-house people experience capacity issues, so there may not be time. What you need are some extra hands! Again, there might be a short or long-term need in this scenario, so you’ll likely want to look for something flexible in case the course shifts.
Most agencies refer to these as retainers or staff augmentation solutions. They’ll likely be hourly based, either ongoing or one-time terms and do require guidance from the client-side team on initiatives to be tackled – but you secure more manpower with low drag internally. It’s a win-win for a team that knows what they need!
And of course, beyond all the possible variations of those examples outlined already, there are still yet scenarios that require a more creative approach. This might include the combination of solutions (audit that transitions to a one-time retainer; In-House Partnership that transitions to partial support management, etc) or a unique approach you’d like to see, but aren’t sure how to structure. Every digital agency in 2017 should be striving for a consultative approach with their clients, which means the solutions should bend to the need – not the other way around.
Build out what your perfect solution might look like and work with your agency partner(s) to devise a hybrid model that fits. Your brand is unique, so your solution should be as well!