As 2022 winds to a close, many companies are feeling uncertain about the state of the economy. It’s natural for companies to look for ways to make changes in your business as we face the possibility of a few bumpy months ahead. But the reality is companies still have to meet or exceed goals.
Let’s talk about the specific ways a great digital marketing agency can help you weather the storm and still come out on top.
What can an agency do for you?
Partnering with the right agency gives your company access to a team of marketing experts that are uniquely qualified to deliver results. As the economy shifts, these results become more important than ever. Unless your plan is to board up the shop, ride out any coming storms, and then re-open once the forecast is a little clearer, you’ll need to find a way to keep powering your sales efforts throughout any potential downturn. Working with a good agency unlocks a level of expertise and creativity that’s hard to replicate in-house.
What does a good agency bring to your team?
A wide scope of knowledge. The specific challenges your company faces may feel unique, but we’ve found that the answers to uncertainty often lie in other sectors. A good agency can discover what’s working for other companies—regardless of the specifics of their business—and translate those successes into solutions that work for you.
Close partnerships with platform vendors. Remember that marketing platform you were so excited to start using 18 months ago? Your company may have struggled to fully integrate it into your workflow, but there’s an agency out there that uses that specific piece of software for multiple clients every day—and has a direct line to a real person there. Teaming up with the right agency not only helps your individual platforms perform better than ever, but it can align your entire stack to unlock synergies between products that you aren’t currently taking advantage of.
A team of experts. In our recent survey, 50% of B2B tech marketing leaders cited a lack of internal expertise as a challenge to effective personalization in their marketing efforts. Our research was focused on personalization, but that stat speaks to a bigger point. It isn’t practical for most companies to have experts on everything in-house. Instead, important work often gets assigned to the person who’s most capable of doing it. Tasks get done, but the overall work suffers. Partnering with a digital agency brings real experts into your team and allows your in-house resources to get back to working on their own areas of strength.
A shared focus on real growth. The right agency knows that your business doesn’t run on marketing KPIs; it’s fueled by growth. Partnering with a digital agency that treats your growth as a primary focus gives decision-makers in every part of your company an ally that will help keep you on track. Yes, they’ll know the latest trends in the digital space, but they’ll also know the times you shouldn’t follow those trends. A good agency should talk you out of the ideas that won’t lead to growth and help you align your sales and marketing teams behind the tactics that will.
Do you need a digital marketing agency in 2023?
Some companies choose to go it alone and keep the responsibility for their digital marketing efforts in-house. There are some good reasons for this—handing the keys over to someone outside of your organization can definitely feel scary. Sometimes this fear comes from bad experiences in the past. Other times it can stem from feeling like you already have so much invested in your internal marketing team that partnering with an agency feels like spending more money on a problem that might be impossible to solve. (After all, with such a great internal team, wouldn’t they have been able to find a solution?)
One of the biggest reasons we see that companies are hesitant to partner with an agency is that, frankly, the team that’s already in place is doing a good enough job.
The idea that the status quo is good enough is a line of thinking that we consider to be the most dangerous—and it’s the one that makes choosing the right agency to partner with so important. The “good enough” excuse is also a reason some companies may be looking to end relationships with agencies heading into 2023, believing that their internal team can carry them through the market uncertainty.
One aspect of working with an agency that is often overlooked is the ways an agency can actually save your company money. With an increased pressure to meet the same (if not higher) revenue goals, the efficiency an agency brings to your budget can make a big difference in your bottom line. As an example, Iron Horse recently worked with a client to improve the hand-off between online forms and their CMS, saving them 3.5 full-time equivalents in the process.
We always believe you should aim higher than just keeping the status quo, but even if that’s your goal, the right agency can help you reach that bar more efficiently and improve your financial outlook in the process.
Four questions to ask any digital marketing agency.
Many digital agencies haven’t been designed to be real partners in your growth. When the economy’s strong, that’s not too big of a problem. The things those agencies are good at—driving traffic, increasing opens, lowering bounce rates—can be all you need when people have extra money to spend. When things tighten up a little, the math changes.
Here are four questions you need to ask any agency you’re considering working with. (If you’re sticking with your internal team, ask them these questions, too!)
How can you help us make better use of our martech stack?
The easiest suggestion an agency can make is always “add some new tech to the mix.” It lets them be the hero and it can deliver results, but it can also saddle your company with increased license fees from new products you weren’t planning on using. Asking an agency how they plan to evaluate the products and platforms you currently pay for offers a great window into how they’ll approach working with you. (Ideally, they’ll help you integrate the technologies you’re already using and help you take advantage of the things you’ve been paying for that are just collecting dust.)
How do you make sure your efforts align with our sales efforts?
The right agency will know that their strategies aren’t going to exist in a vacuum. Your sales team will be the ones to convert leads into contracts. Developing a digital marketing strategy without a vision for how it impacts your sales efforts might feel like progress, but it rarely translates to sustained growth.
What should we stop doing?
One of the most helpful things an agency can do is to tell you what to stop doing. Pulling back in the areas that are underperforming saves your company money and allows you to reprioritize those funds into areas that have more potential for growth. Again, be wary of an agency that tells you to stop everything— if they claim to have a magic solution, you’d better be pretty sure they’re right.
How will we define success?
Internal marketing departments and digital marketing agencies love KPIs. There’s nothing that feels better than being able to send off a PDF full of graphs that show things like site views, email opens, and form submissions are all trending in the right direction. But KPIs are only an indicator. They aren’t the goal. A good digital marketing agency is more focused on the growth of your company than they are on your Google Analytics.
The Iron Horse insight.
The economic outlook for 2023 is uncertain. We tend to agree with analysts – things might get worse before they get better, but that upswing might only be a few fiscal quarters away. The right agency will help you do more than survive any downturn the new year might bring. They’ll help you get ready to take advantage of the growth opportunities that reveal themselves when things start to turn around.