Digital Marketing Agencies, Explained: What They Are, What They Do, And How To Find The One For You

what does a digital marketing agency do

We live in an online world, where consumers around the globe spend over $4 trillion on goods and services annually via the internet. From their initial research to their final purchase, consumers are turning to Google, YouTube, and other online resources for every possible commerce consideration. Even pre-pandemic, over half of shoppers used Google to research a potential online purchase.

All credible forecasts indicate that online shopping of both products and services will only increase in the coming years. Businesses of every size and stripe know this, and understand that digital marketingthe pursuit of sales and leads online—can help grow, if not outright transform their business.

Few companies have the in-house resources to strategize, design, execute, and monitor successful digital marketing campaigns themselves. That’s why effective business leaders turn to digital marketing experts, and digital marketing agencies, to pursue their digital marketing efforts.

But what exactly does a digital marketing agency do, and more importantly, what can they do for your business?

In this article, we’ll take a look at the complex field of digital marketing agency offerings, and help you determine what kind of partnership will serve your business best.

What do digital marketing agencies do?

Seth Godin, one of the world’s foremost marketing experts, says that the mission of the marketer is “to engage with people and help them create the change they seek.”

They need to practice “the empathy to imagine what someone else would want, what they might believe, [and] what story would resonate with them.”

Good marketing is good storytelling. And digital marketing agencies help clients (like you) tell great stories using the vast online resources at their disposal. These can include:

  • Digital advertising (pay-per-click, Facebook ads)
  • Content marketing (blog posts, eBooks, white papers)
  • Email marketing (a special offer to new customers sent via email)
  • Search engine optimization or “SEO” (on-page keyword optimization, backlink audit)
  • Social media marketing (social media account management, community outreach)
  • Video marketing (YouTube pre-roll ads)
  • Mobile marketing (in-app ads)
  • Web design and development (mobile-friendly web design, expert UX)

Of course, digital marketing agencies are much more than the tactics they use.

Effective digital marketing agencies do what few business leaders have time for: they keep up with the latest marketing trends, the newest features, and the most promising case studies across platforms. Crucially, they also pair their expertise with deep experience that only comes from running successful campaigns themselves.

All the while, the agency needs to clearly communicate with you, the client, providing frequent updates, actionable insights, and transparent reporting.

The Seven Major Types of Digital Marketing Agency

As you probably guessed, providing all digital marketing services is no cakewalk. Rather than offer everything, many agencies choose to specialize in particular areas of the digital marketing landscape.

Depending on your business, you may find that a speciality digital marketing agency makes more sense to help you reach customers at scale and within budget. With that in mind, here are the seven primary types of digital advertising agency you should consider.

1. Full-Service Digital Marketing Agency (DMA)

what does a digital marketing agency do

True to their name, full-service digital marketing agencies can provide you with a complete package of digital marketing and advertising services. Rather than specializing in an area like social media marketing or pay-per-click (PPC), they are prepared to handle all things digital marketing for you. They might even offer “traditional” marketing services as well, like print advertising or media buying.

Full-services DMAs offer you a one-stop shop for anything from web design, to social media marketing, to PPC advertising.

2. Digital Marketing Agency (DMA)

what do digital marketing agencies do

Not all DMAs are full-service. Many DMAs specialize in certain services, while excluding others.

For example, a DMA might offer social media marketing, search advertising, and email marketing, but not handle SEO or web design (they will likely have trusted partners in these areas to whom they will refer you as needed).

3. Inbound Marketing Agency

digital marketing agency content marketing

In marketing speak, “inbound” refers to content that prospect customers seek out on their own: blog posts, eBooks, white papers, webinars, and more.

Inbound marketing tends to be educational, informative, and thoughtfully tailored to your audience’s needs and considerations. If you found this blog post via Google search and later became a Mediakix client, then it functioned as an effective inbound marketing asset (you’re welcome).

Some agencies specialize just in inbound marketing. And while inbound marketing might not be feasible for your business or budget, it can be a highly profitable marketing investment over the long-term.

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Agency

digital marketing agencies

Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about ranking among the top results for popular, relevant search terms pertaining to your business and sales funnel.

SEO agencies make this aim their bread and butter, with the expertise, experience and tools to yield results over time (often in combination with inbound marketing efforts).

There are many facets to SEO, including on-site and offsite optimization, keyword research and tracking, and backlink management.

Above all, trust is particularly important in selecting an SEO agency. While all digital marketing carries some inherent risk—an investment that doesn’t pay off, a Facebook ad account suspension, etc.—you want to be certain your SEO partners aren’t putting you at risk of being “penalized” by Google due to exploitative tactics.

5. Digital Ad Agency

digital marketing agency example

The advertising arm of digital marketing is enormous and growing: in 2020 alone, businesses spent over $350 billion on digital advertising.

Digital ad agencies create, manage, optimize, and report on digital advertising campaigns. Major platforms like Google (which also owns YouTube), Facebook (which also owns Instagram), and LinkedIn currently garner the majority of ad spend. Generally speaking, these platforms offer powerfully precise targeting that previous generations of advertisers could only dream about.

Specialization within digital advertising is also common: certain agencies focus entirely on Facebook ads, while others concentrate just on Google search ads, etc.

6. Social Media Agency

digital marketing agency types

Many businesses find that maintaining a social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter is highly advantageous for reaching customers and prospects. Moreover, an active social media presence can complement an effective social media advertising campaign.

Social media marketing agencies typically manage a client’s social media accounts, conceive and create content, strategize campaigns, and cultivate community on these platforms.

Effective social media marketing campaigns might also make use of the significant and growing role of influencers online (at Mediakix, we know a thing or two about this). Influencer marketing enables brands to leverage the authority and trust that influencers have cultivated, which can generate effective groundswell for a product or service.

2. Web Design Agency

digital marketing agencies web design development

If your business operates online in any meaningful way, it’s practically a requirement to have a website. But whether that website converts prospects, reads easily on a smartphone, or loads quickly depends on web design and development.

A good web design agency is dedicated not just to great web design, but a great user experience (UX): the ease with which a prospect finds what they’re looking for, and takes the action they want to take on your site, across different devices (desktop, smartphone, etc.).

Web design agencies often provide web development resources as well: coding the website, handling the site’s hosting, and generally working to provide the fastest, most secure browsing experience possible.

Choosing The Right Digital Marketing Agency (For You)

Hopefully, you are beginning to get a sense of the kind of digital marketing agency that would best serve your business goals.

While there is no formula for finding your “dream” agency, we recommend you start by asking around with trusted partners in your industry. Who have they work with? Who do they still work with? Who is reliable? Who follows through?

Once you have an agency or two in your sights, consider the following questions to help you determine whether they are the agency for your business.

What’s your pricing structure?

It’s best to cover this early. If an agency’s fees don’t match your budget, you’re both having the wrong conversation.

What recent successes have you had either in our industry, or with a business like ours?

Generally speaking, you want your agency partner to be replicating recent successes, not using your business to pilot an untested marketing strategy, or rehashing an outdated strategy. Ideally, they might even have case studies showcasing these recent successes.

What can we expect over the first 30, 60, and 90 days of the partnership?

You want clarity on what kind of results you can expect, and by when. Even if expectations change once underway, their answer can help level set across both organizations, and will help you benchmark how things are going.

How, and how often will you be communicating with us?

Agencies aren’t successful in a vacuum. Every effective agency partnership is a two-way street in which each side provides what the other needs in a timely, reliable fashion.
Good agencies are good communicators: available within reason, clear in their expectations and requests, and maybe even a little bit of fun to work with!

How do you measure results? What key performance indicators (KPIs) will you use to measure success?

Many marketers—and marketing agencies—struggle to make sense of the volume of data generated by a typical campaign. Great agencies can find the signal in the noise, tie the data to your business goals, and speak coherently through the alphabet soup of marketing analytics (CPC, ROAS, SQL, UTM, etc.).

What specialty tools or software will you use to run and measure our campaign(s)?

Good tools don’t make a good marketer, but good marketers have invested in sophisticated tools to optimize each campaign.
If their eyes glaze over at this question, it might be time to talk to another agency.

What is your ideal client partner? How does our contract compare with your other clients?

Good agencies have a stable of long-standing clients, and can’t give you 100% of their attention all the time. This is a good sign, suggesting that they are both successful at what they do, and a partner you can count on long-term.
Additionally, if the agency caters to your industry or to businesses around your size, you stand a better chance of getting the experience they promise you. Conversely, if you run a mom and pop shop and they mostly serve enterprise clients, you should seriously question whether they will prioritize your campaign.

How To Successfully Collaborate With A Digital Marketing Agency

Hopefully, you now possess a clear sense of your digital marketing agency options, and feel empowered to evaluate whether any given agency would make a good partner for your business.

At Mediakix, we believe that the best digital marketing agency partnerships happen over time, as the agency meshes with your company culture, and gets to know your audience well. With some luck, the results they yield for your business can be felt throughout your organization, leading to healthy growth for both parties.

In fact, the right digital marketing agency partnership can even be transformative for your business.

Good luck out there.

Digital Media Taking Billions Away From TV

YouTuber Ingrid Nilsen Miss Glamorazzi as Covergirl Glambassador

Billions Of Ad Dollars Going Towards Digital Media, Online Video In 2014 Alone

While the battle for online video supremacy continues between YouTube and Facebook, both giants are collectively working towards one powerful trend: the billion dollar shift of ad dollars from TV to digital media and online video. Advertising Age recently published new research from Standard Media Index (SMI) illustrating how billions of national TV spend had been repurposed towards digital media equating to a net loss of $1.7 billion. This trend is the latest amongst many that points directly to the growing shift of major marketing and ad dollars towards digital media (specifically online video) and conversely, quickly away from traditional TV advertising.

As companies head into the later half of 2015, here are a few notable industry trends to help marketers and advertisers best plan their digital media spend:

  • In response to YouTube’s 60% increased watch time (2015 Q2), analysts at Jefferies & Co. noted “online video ads could be a $17 billion opportunity in USA alone by 2017, and YouTube looks best positioned to benefit” (via Reuters).
  • At VidCon 2015, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki shared that the video publishing platform “reaches more 18-49 year olds than any other cable network in the US” (via Forbes).
  • Wall Street Journal reports on end of 2014 Nielsen TV study: online video jumps 60% whereas TV viewing for 18-24 year olds continues to drop double digits, down 17% in 2015 Q1 (via MediaPost).
  • All from Mary Meeker’s digital trend report: Snapchat generates 2 billion video views per day. Single events like Coachella can generate 40 million views to Snapchat Live Stories. Facebook gets 4 billion video views per day. “Watching video games like it’s TV is becoming a top entertainment choice.”
  • In partnership with Pixability, Google’s Agency Blog recently published trends from the Top 100 brands. Standout stats include a doubling of branded content views in last 12 months and a near 50% increase in brand channel subscriptions. According to Google, “brands are now adopting similar content strategies as some of our most successful creators on YouTube.”
  • Nielsen data reports traditional TV viewing for 12-17 year olds declined drastically to 18 hours each week (down from 21) just in 2015 Q1. As such, many traditional TV networks are quickly pioneering digital divisions or YouTube influencer strategies (WSJ) in order to stay relevant (via VentureBeat).

Examples Of Major Traditional TV Advertisers Shifting To Digital Media

In light of the aforementioned trends, increasingly more brands are proactively choosing to develop their online video presence via sponsored advertising, branded content, and/or marketing with prominent digital influencers to quickly grow their views and brand awareness.

Here are a few examples of companies who have traditionally advertised on TV but are now venturing into custom content creation on new and emerging social publishing channels and networks:

Dr. Pepper – the soft drink beverage giant recently partnered with several Viners for a multi-platform marketing campaign.

Toyota – running inside Snapchat’s localized Live Story feature, Toyota is the first car brand to leverage the online video platform’s geo-targeted ad format.

In Ad Age’s “Marketer’s Playbook” video series, both Macy and Gatorade detail “going all in on digital.”

Companies Utilizing Vloggers To Maximize Digital Ad Spend

In a targeted effort to best connect with consumers and build brand affinity, both TV networks and major companies are partnering with top video bloggers (“vloggers”), YouTubers, and other digital influencers. Nike, Mercedes-Benz, and J. Crew have partnered extensively with YouTuber Casey Neistat for several online video campaigns. Major TV advertiser, CoverGirl, was one of the first to team up with beauty vlogger Ingrid Nilsen to expand and augment their brand offerings online. VidCon 2015, the world’s premier industry conference for online video, marked the first time where a major TV network (Nickelodeon) held open casting auditions specifically targeting digital influencers. Both Universal and Marvel began promoting their movies by creating short form web content with prominent YouTubers (see Terminator YouTube Chronicles, Ant-Man + Trainwreck)

Also See Our Posts On:

VidCon 2015: Everything You Need To Know

Top Social Media Influencer Series 2015

Facebook Shares Ad Revenue With Video Content Creators 

How Do Bloggers Make Money?

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How Do Bloggers Make Money?

Since 2004, bloggers have been sharing their favorite topics across the internet with like minded people. Bloggers were the original digital influencer. Though they remain the quintessential online influencer, in some respects top bloggers are quickly being superseded by popular YouTubers, Instagrammers, Viners, and Snapchatters. Some of the best bloggers have transcended the shakeup in the influencer space, while others have evolved and migrated to new social publishing platforms. Incredibly, some of the top fashion bloggers, are among the most followed top Instagram accounts.

Originally, blogging was a hobby and avocation. The most widely recognized bloggers devote themselves full-time to their efforts; however they began their blogging journey part-time until they secured enough sustainable income from their blog to make it their primary endeavor. Now, top bloggers and influencers (like Danielle Bernstein of fashion blog, We Wore What and Emily Schuman of Cupcakes & Cashmere) can command six figure partnership and sponsorship deals.

Read more here to see how bloggers make money:

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3 Ways to Create Great Sponsored Content With Social Media Influencers

sponsored content with social media influencers

Top 3 Ways To Create Standout Sponsored Content With Social Media Influencers

Influencer marketing is one of the fastest growing digital and social media marketing channels. With the rapid growth of social media publishing channels like blogs, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and others, everyone from Samsung to Target to Tiffany & Co. is working with digital influencers to create brand sponsored content. Brands like Mountain Dew with extreme sports or Jamba Juice with fitness have created campaigns featuring YouTube channels and influencers to build brand awareness and engagement.

Here are the 3 steps they took to create the best brand sponsored content with influencers and YouTube channels:

1. Put Content First

Start with creating great content. If the content is great, it will get shared, liked, commented on, and engaged with throughout social media. Audiences have a low threshold for what they feel is “selling-out.” You can instantly spot it on YouTube, because the comment thread will erupt with negative comments and dislikes. By and large, great content comes from the YouTube channel creator and the influencers. They know what their audience likes — let them lead the way. As a stellar example of great sponsored content, check out Jamba Juice’s video with Blogilates star, Cassey Ho.

2. Allow the Creator to be Authentic With Your Sponsored Content

Most influencers will vet out the brands they might consider to remain authentic to their audience (see our post on Steps to Picking the Right Influencers for your Brand). If they are considering working with you, it means you’re a fit for both them and their audiences. Allow them to keep and build on that authenticity. Create a campaign and brand brief, but don’t give them a script. Ask them to provide an outline of how they’re envisioning building in the brand to the content, but don’t get overly controlling on each and every aspect. Authentic content allows for social validation and positions the brand in great favor with the audience.

3. Keep the Audience in Mind

What may be most interesting to the audience from both the creator and audience’s perspective may be completely different than what you envision. Brand sponsored content is not a scripted commercial. Being flexible in working with the creator can allow them to highlight what they like most and find most relevant about your brand/product/service. This is likely what the audience will like most about it as well. Audiences aren’t adverse to advertising, but they do want it to be relevant, and a fit for the content and who they are. Today’s savvy consumers look to influencers that resonate with them to find the newest brands and products. By offering something valuable, such as a a well-integrated post that is in harmony with the influencer’s writing style and content, or an exclusive promotional offer to their loyal readers, audiences will engage and respond in a more positive way.

Also See Our Posts On:

Top Instagram Accounts: Fashion & Beauty

Best Social Media Influencers 2015 Series

How Brands Market With Top Instagram Influencers

Mediakix builds strategies and campaigns around online influencers on blogs, YouTube, Instagram, and emerging social media channels. Great sponsored content has been part of the highest driving ROI channel among advertising media for our clients including Birchbox, Blue Apron, Sleep Number, Hallmark, HauteLook, NatureBox among many others.

5 Ways To Drive e-Commerce Marketing ROI

e-Commerce Marketing ROI How To

Drive e-Commerce Marketing ROI With These 5 Best Practices & Strategies

e-Commerce has become one of the most competitive spaces for brands. More brands are turning to e-commerce versus traditional brick-and-mortar retail in order to cut down overhead costs and reach a wider customer base. With U.S. adults spending on average 11 hours a day on digital media, and websites being accessible 24 hours every day, brands have a wide potential reach and customer base at all times.

For most brands, ad dollars are routinely spent on the most well-known tactics and media regardless of effectiveness; these rote methods include display ads, press releases, and celebrity gifting. However, with an online based business, advertising efforts yield the best e-commerce marketing ROI (return on investment) when consumer audiences are precisely targeted through appropriate social channels.

Advertising and driving e-commerce marketing ROI to brand sites can easily be accomplished when utilizing these five steps and best practices.

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5 Questions To Ask When Choosing A Blogger For Your Influencer Marketing Campaign

Influencer Marketing Campaigns Finding Bloggers

Influencer Marketing Campaigns: 5 Questions You Must Ask To Find The Right Blogger

1. Is the blog/blogger relevant to my brand?

The first thing you need to do when looking for potential bloggers for your influencer marketing campaign is to make sure that the blog and its content are relevant to your brand or product. Is the content relevant to the lifestyle you imagine your target audience living? Can you imagine your brand seamlessly fitting in with that content? Note that if any of the blogger’s content directly contradicts your brand message, you’ll want to keep looking.

2. How often does the blogger post new content?

The next thing you need to do when looking for potential bloggers is to make sure you don’t waste your time looking through blogs that don’t post content often enough. If a blogger doesn’t  blog often, readers are less likely to check their blog on a regular basis. Therefore, sponsoring a blog with consistent and recent content is key to running a successful influencer marketing campaign. Additionally, when a blogger posts often, it shows that they take their blog more seriously and will be more likely to respond to your business inquiries.

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