Over the past year, demand for marketing agencies boomed. According to a recent study from Productive, for 51% of agencies, 2021 was their best year – or one of their best years – ever when it comes to revenue. This is understandable considering how many companies increased their digital presence in light of the global pandemic.
In this context, it is strange that a larger percentage of marketing agencies didn’t register a record year. One key factor might be the rapid rate of innovation in marketing tactics and services, which naturally differentiates winners and losers. The firms that are unable to keep up with industry leaders eventually lose their customers to their more forward-thinking competitors.
For marketing agencies that manage to stay on top of what prospective clients want, the potential rewards are huge, which is why 82% of agencies believe 2022 will be an even better year than 2021, Productive’s data reveals. The challenge for agency owners now is how to stand out in a crowded market so they can attract customers and maintain healthy profit margins. The key is to focus on what the industry leaders are doing and replicate for your niche.
Here are four strategies that you can execute, to ensure ongoing growth for your own agency by differentiating.
Competition in the marketing agency industry is fierce, and 60% of executives believe their agency needs to find a more profitable new business strategy. Many aren’t sure exactly what this new strategy might look like, but 19% recognize the need for better tech for creating client solutions.
Some agencies have realized that by providing better software solutions to their clients, they can create new, highly profitable revenue streams. Traditionally, an agency might work on different campaigns for a client and then move on but when the agency also provides software then a longer lasting engagement can be made. This brings in recurring revenue often at a low cost to the marketing agency, and it also helps to build trust with the client.
You don’t need to have the deep in-house technical expertise to offer this model to your clients. FCR built an app called Sitee that enabled them to assist clients in the complex parts of the execution of the marketing strategies the agency had delivered. This level of support helps FCR stand out compared to its competition and helped it to place second on the Digimedia Top 100 in 2021.
The Sitee app itself was a customized version of the world-leading business management platform, vcita, with whom FCR entered a strategic partnership to develop the app. This enabled them to have the solution ready to sell to clients in weeks rather than the potential years it could have taken to build from scratch.
Social media management has been a staple of the work for digital marketing agencies for many years. It’s an area where clients know that a strong presence can help convert people who are unsure whether to make a purchase into paying customers.
Building a social media following can take time however even if a marketing agency implements the optimal strategy. It’s difficult to provide evidence of a strategy working in the short term, but many agencies are forced to do this because of how common monthly rolling contracts are. According to Sprout Social, some 17% of agencies report their average contract length is month-to-month, while only 28% report an average length of longer than a year.
This puts downward pressure on the prices agencies can charge, because they need to ensure their client renews their contract each month. The best strategy to combat this is focusing on longer-term contracts where you can create a more comprehensive package because you are guaranteed stability.
Significantly, 46% of agencies with profit margins greater than 50% had an average contract length of over 12 months. In contrast, for agencies with profit margins of between 10 and 20%, only 20% had an average contract length of over 12 months.
Though it may cause short-term pain to reject month-to-month contracts, it can also signal quality to potential clients because you do not appear desperate for their business and hold firm on your desire for deeper engagements. What’s more, since having that longer-term commitment puts your agency in a position to provide superior value to clients, it’s a win-win.
Major search engines have always tinkered with their algorithms, but recent shifts by Google mean marketing agencies need to re-examine the way they position their SEO services.
Over 64% of Google searches are now “zero-click searches,” where the user can find the information they need without clicking through to a third-party site. Google does this by mining the top results and showing the user the information they are looking for directly on the page.
It can be a nightmare for companies who’ve optimized their SEO strategy for short, direct answers, hoping that content that’s highly targeted for specific searches can land them on page one and yield organic referrals.
However, your agency can stand out by adapting to the new search landscape and helping your clients to optimize for zero-click searches. In particular, you want to focus on leveraging knowledge panels and aiming for your client to appear in featured snippets. This requires mastering technical, onsite SEO disciplines like schema markup.
There is a clear gulf emerging between marketing agencies that use AI in their businesses and those that do not. A new CallRail report revealed that those who had failed to introduce AI to their business were 27% less likely to be profitable. Despite this, only 21% of those who haven’t implemented AI yet plan to do so in 2022.
If your agency is in the group that does not currently use AI and doesn’t have plans to introduce it this year, it might be time to reconsider.
Your agency will be able to analyze data faster through the use of AI and gain deeper insight into the optimal strategies for conversion. This frees up your agency staff to communicate with the client to best understand their needs rather than losing hours trying to interpret complex datasets.
For instance, you can use Natural Language Processing app Persado to create multiple campaign iterations and test them for effectiveness in a simulated environment. In practice, the platform has found that the processed copy outperforms the control copy 96% of the time. By using AI, you can not only save time but deliver stronger results for your clients too.
The growth potential of the digital marketing agency remains high, but if you use the techniques outlined here, you can be a part of the vanguard and accelerate your growth.
- Offer your own software solutions
- Target longer social contracts
- Pivot SEO Services
- Use AI to reduce repetitive tasks
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