​How marketing automation is transforming the agency client relationship

​How marketing automation is transforming the agency client relationship

The pace of change for businesses is accelerating, and as a result they’re demanding more and more out of their marketing and design agencies. For better or worse, marketing departments and agencies are now forced to justify nearly all activities in quantifiable and measurable ways - usually as direct ROI figures. It’s no longer enough to simply create good creative. You now have to also measure its reach, effectiveness, and track its direct effect on sales.

Older agencies need to adapt

By whatever buzzword you want to categorize it, growth hacking, content marketing, inbound marketing, or marketing automation, the traditional agency model is near expiration. Blind creative and gut feelings are now out performed by data-driven marketing that’s self-correcting and targeting.

From a consumer perspective, shoppers and prospects are wary, and unswayed by old-style broadcast messaging. Consumers now discover and absorb brands on their own terms and in their own ways. Most are skeptical and disinterested in being spoken at, and instead respond only favorably to being engaged and titillated by a brand.

Agencies are now expected to be adept at all aspects of marketing - singular-focused firms are less desirable as marketing channels converge. If content is king, then creating it, distributing it, and tracking its results is paramount. And the modern agency is expected to provide this type of service. It’s not enough to design a website or to create a brochure or a billboard. Agencies must now create traffic, optimize conversions, and track campaign success to justify their continuing partnership.

Marketing automation provides this transformative power

By creating and tracking interest across marketing campaigns, prospects become leads and leads are nurtured into becoming customers - all while the investment to do so is monitored for its value. The web provided an explosion of communication in the 90s and now it’s the central conveyance and core collector of activity. Whether the customer contact originates via internet-based communications or from out-of-home marketing, it can be captured into online systems throughout the communication process.

Technology provides the capability to track long-term prospect and customer activity and to engage with interested parties in a very granular and personal manner. Even offline marketing can be corralled into the data-driven world - as billboards and ads utilize custom, unique phone numbers for track-ability and inbound calls are recorded, tracked, and fit into automated marketing programs configured around interest levels and lead scoring.

Agencies and clients must partner more closely

Only a few years ago the agency relationship usually revolved around projects or short duration engagements. A new product launch or an upcoming trade show required assorted marketing materials and activities. Afterwards the agency waited for the next call from the client. But now agencies are required to become true business partners - with intertwined fates and fortunes.

Agencies now need to offer creative backed up with marketing automation tools that provide tangible proof their brilliant designs are working and that they’re converting. They must be well versed in the latest technologies and tools to implement truly integrated campaigns for their clients.

Today, clients must work more closely with their marketing partners while simultaneously holding them directly accountable. Instead of asking for marketing deliverables clients should now be describing business goals and objectives. And then looking for measurable solutions.

Clients and agencies are now more connected by the data that drives and directs marketing decisions. Marketing automation activity is triggered by interaction data and subsequently tracks conversion and return on investment on these activities. Closing the loop for both the client and agency as was never before possible.

Today, the old adage, “I waste 50% of my budget, I just don’t know which half,” is far less true than only a few years ago. When nearly all sales activity can be traced and connected back to the marketing that initiated the lead, you no longer have to wonder what percentage isn’t paying for itself - and you can stop wasting time, effort, and money.

All it takes is a close working relationship between the agency and client to achieve success in today’s world. Fortunately, marketing automation is providing the platform for mutually beneficial partnerships where results, success, and profits are easily measured and rewarded. Some agencies are even deriving partial compensation from the profits they generate - transforming the agency client relationship into a true virtual partnership.

Oct 17, 2014

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