Let a digital marketing agency help you see the elephant

Like the blind men who stumble across an elephant for the first time, brands come to view the digital arena through a glass darkly, a view refracted by their agencies’ own perception of that arena.

Grabbing the tail, above line agencies describe it in terms of the brand and translating offline campaigns online. Grasping the trunk, direct agencies interpret it as a world of data and two way dialogue, they love its measurability and offer email as a means to an end. Holding tightly on to a tusk, media buying agencies see pay per click campaigns as a natural extension of their business. Finally, wrapping their arms round a leg, PR companies understand this world as one of constant flow and see content and social media as their natural domain.

Even if the client can see the whole elephant, it is distorted because all of them are making a fundamental mistake.

They are still trying to sell, when in fact browsers are essentially in buying mode. This is not to underplay the very competitive nature of many markets on or offline, nor does it mean that other marketing disciplines are to be ignored. It simply means that a different mindset needs to be applied when marketing online.

You are not interrupting people’s lives to tell them to buy insurance – something they may or may not want. You are simply saying when you are ready to buy insurance, come here.

The key is that the desire to buy is already there. If car insurance is what is wanted, the rest of the internet is now closed for business and your agency’s job is to ensure your brand is found and clearly defined from the competition. At each stage of the journey you satisfy the browser’s needs and provide simple guidance to the next stage through providing the appropriate call to action required.

Not all digital agencies are created equal – which part of the elephant they are holding is anyone’s guess. Many are capable of delivering outstanding websites, thus providing a space for purchasing to take place, however they fail to ensure that buyers are able to find the site and thus ultimately purchasing will not take place.

A good digital agency helps brands to clearly focus on the whole elephant. They understand how people shop online and the different channels they use to fulfil that urge. So they take a holistic approach and develop engaging content for all the key digital touch points that meet a browser’s needs at different stages of their sales journey.

Fresh, relevant content now comes in many forms including on page copy, infographics and videos. But it also extends to carefully crafted PPC ads, informative e-newsletters and social media that extends your brand’s reach and authority.

Great content becomes the currency that underpins your agency’s outreach programme, and which ultimately earns the links that aid your ranking and visibility on Google.

When creating content your agency needs to be able to consider the brand proposition, for example, you might be price led and that is going to dictate how you position your services online to capture the browsers for whom price is the key driver. In addition, customer insights will be important in developing content that speaks to your target market – teenage boys shopping for clothes will not expect or respond to content developed to attract middle aged women.

The digital arena is a complex and potentially very rewarding channel, but best not viewed through a kaleidoscope. It’s better to trust an agency with a clear unhindered view of the elephant.