Common digital marketing services
Marketing is one of the most diverse professional service sectors around. Along with business coaching, law and finance it is an umbrella category that has a vast depth of specialities and intricacies which mean that no two marketing agencies are ever the same. The more services an agency offers the more 'full-service' they will be and may even end up simply being called a digital marketing agency to reflect the comprehensiveness of solutions offered.
There are, however, a few common services which are often standalone and easy to categorise, and then several dozen more which fail to conform to a typical classification. In this blog, we'll aim to highlight some of the more common digital marketing services, and the types of agencies that offer those services. In order to offer some degree of structure we'll start from strategic services and then flow on to tactical executions, so if you're simply after some explanation on website agencies scroll down to the bottom!
Strategic digital services
Digital marketing was once an off-shoot of a traditional marketing strategy, a curiosity being explored because competitors had jumped on this latest trend. Now it's an integral part of a business's growth in any industry. As marketing and sales intertwine even more due to the reliability they have on each other for success, it's essential that digital marketing is in play.
Below we look at the two main service offerings around digital strategy development.
Digital marketing strategy consulting
An individual may be particularly gifted in the process of seeing an overall goal of growth and outlining the connecting dots a business needs to focus on to reach its goals. This strategic-level view is often offered to businesses as a marketing strategy day or coaching programme. Here, the individual consults the business on the changes and investments they may need to make to achieve their goals in a digital marketing framework.
Marketing strategy education
If you're looking to up-skill an internal resource in developing a marketing strategy then using blogs or training courses is a good starting point. This isn't a service offered by a specialist but some will share the knowledge needed for free in the hope that you may find it all too challenging and hire them instead! The IceHouse has a good blog series on digital strategy which any DIYer may find handy. And while HubSpot's free Content Strategy course might not talk about pricing etc, it will provide great insight into interweaving marketing activity into something that converts visitors into leads for sales.
Marketing campaign services
While a marketing strategy day will give you a roadmap on what you need to achieve the monthly activities are typically centred around a campaign or a main goal. Sometimes these campaigns stretch over a few months with monthly and weekly activities all directing to a single focus. Now we're in the territory of marketing campaign management.
Agencies and contractors focusing on long-term marketing activities are often engaged under a retainer as their work is spread out and often uneven. For example, a lot of investment may be made in the planning and development phase while the rolling out of activities may be a little lighter.
Full-service campaign management
It's more common for an agency to offer a wide array of activities under a single plan or campaign as they can hire the diverse skills required to offer high-quality outcomes. As a client you end up with a share of a specialist resource, like an SEO specialist, copywriter or designer at a more competitive rate than hiring everyone needed to create the campaign. In this field, it's challenging to find a freelancer who is genuinely good at everything needed to be full-service, so this is where agencies tend to rule the roost.
Here there will be a long-term plan created by a strategic team or person, then monthly activities co-ordinated by an account or planning manager who directs designers, writers, Google Ads specialists and social media specialists towards the outcome.
Inbound marketing management
Even within digital marketing circles, there is a sub-set of digital marketing. Even though this offers the same types of activities as any other agency (website building, email and social media management, blogging etc) they have a strategic approach which focuses on attracting people to your business, rather than spending on reaching a high number of disinterested people. This is called inbound marketing.
It's very SEO focused as inbound marketing is about finding the people searching for your services – these people are in the market to buy and are therefore very valuable to a business looking to grow. Inbound marketing services include blogging, email marketing, social media and website optimisation.
Multiple specialist management
The other option is for a business owner or marketing manager to co-ordinate the efforts of multiple specialist agencies themselves. It's not uncommon for large businesses to engage multiple agencies with their specialist fields. For example, an Above The Line agency will focus on creative projects (TV ads, radio, billboards) which attract new business. A Below the Line agency may focus on events, brochures and marketing automation. A media agency will focus on buying the space where advertising appears.
Challenges can arise as some agencies may have conflicting objectives which the manager needs to handle in amongst their day-to-day job.
Tactical digital marketing services
At this level, both businesses and agencies may engage with talented individuals or smaller specialist firms to complete one-off projects or focused ongoing tasks. This is a common route to take if an internal marketing manager is wanting to be very hands-on in the creation of marketing assets or if cost is a massive factor for the marketing team.
A common example is engaging a website builder (freelancer or agency) to build a new website, or to hire a social media freelancer or email marketing freelancer to manage a small, time-intensive or specialist segment of the marketing plan. Below are the most common digital marketing services and activities we see businesses undertake.
Here the lines blur between digital services and traditional marketing but as the identity for a business crosses all mediums it's worth including here. Many branding agencies will create not just a logo but also a digital identity. This may include email templates, website designs and email signatures.
Again, it's possible to find an individual that can create a good brand identity but it's more common for an agency to be used so that creative vision isn't marred by tactical creation of assets.
Website building services
One of the most common digital marketing services every business undertakes is having a website built. There is a huge breadth of solutions under this category from having a tech-savvy family member build a Wix site to having a custom e-commerce and fully-integrated solution built by a specialist agency. People often try and cut corners here, especially as a start-up but it's important to remember that this is often the first contact a potential customer will have with your business. It's also very easy to get sucked into paying more than you need for a website. Spend time researching website builders and speak to previous customers if you can. Be clear on what you need and don't need.
Google Ads Management Services
This is where a freelancer or agency will simply manage your Google Advertising on your behalf. A skilled individual will be able to lower your Cost Per Click and increase your Click Through Rate to achieve your goal. This is definitely one of the areas of marketing where a false economy of savings can be seen when trying to save money by doing this yourself versus paying an expert. Individuals and businesses charge either a fixed management fee or a percentage of the spend per month.
If you pay an ongoing management fee you should expect that this will include ongoing management of your account – not just a report each month and 'set and forget' approach. Try and speak to an existing customer where possible to see if they're happy with the google ads management service offered.
If you want the website you've invested in to rank well when someone searches for your type of product or service then you need good SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is typically handled by an agency as it requires a number of elements to be done well.
From planning the keywords you need to target to identifying the improvements you need to make on your website and recommending additional content to improve your score, your SEO partner will be more hands-on than some other agencies. You may discover that the SEO agency is making recommendations which your website agency needs to implement so make sure they are able to do so!
Social media management services
Many businesses understand that social media is a valuable part of digital marketing but do not have the knowledge or time to do this themselves. It can be very time-intensive to plan, create, publish and manage responses to posts.
This all makes it a very attractive activity to outsource but it's rare to find a cost-effective solution for something you can do for free. Social media agencies will often include social media management as part of a wider service offering. After all, what are you going to post if it's not things marketing has also created like videos, blog articles and new website pages?
Email marketing services
Similar to social media, email marketing is a low-cost way to communicate to your audience about promotions, new releases and updates. Due to the rise of laws around spamming people and protecting user data, it's becoming harder for a business owner to manage this without specialist help.
Freelancers and agencies have emerged that focus purely on email marketing. By understanding how to grow an email marketing list and optimising emails for open and click rates a business can see their email marketing investment go further.
Graphic design services
As digital marketing is incredibly content heavy you need to have a good designer who can keep up! From email banners to advertising graphics, not to mention call-to-action buttons, Facebook post graphics and blog headers, your digital marketing needs a lot of design work!
Finding a graphic designer with an understanding of digital formats is important when ensuring your new digital marketing efforts look good to their new audience.
With all of this to consider it's no wonder that more businesses are turning to specialist partners to plan, manage and execute their digital marketing. We can help in this area as we create marketing plans, report on their success and optimise your marketing to achieve your sales goals.
We're also experienced in identifying the marketing platforms your business needs to grow and, in almost every case, we help with moving the business onto the platform that serves them best. From upgrading your CRM and adopting marketing automation, or jumping on a CMS platform you can manage in-house, we look at your business needs and help you find the right marketing technology solution.
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