By Amelia Coleby | Senior Consultant

As a consumer brand, digital marketing agency management can be a minefield when combined with wider internal KPIs and business objectives. While partnering with a specialist marketing agency can ensure you have the right team in place, the agency team will still need active management to make sure they’re really helping you to move the needle. It’s vital to get the most out of your agency relationships as you drive ecommerce performance by making the agency team an extension of your own team. But often, brands need support to understand what ‘good’ looks like when it comes to agency management.

Practicology’s D2C ecommerce team has put together some key points that consumer brands need to consider for effective digital marketing agency management and how to measure the value of the relationship.

Make sure the agency supports your model

From the get-go, ensure the agency you choose is nimble enough to keep up with your demands. As they are external to your business, agencies often don’t have visibility into the bigger picture of ecommerce beyond the brand’s marketing channels. Before selecting an agency, you should ask:

  • What is the agency’s service level agreement (SLA) for ad campaigns?
  • How quickly can you get the answers you need?
  • Does the agency have case studies that can prove its ability?
  • Is the agency transparent around costs? Make sure you know what (and who) you’re buying from, the skill level mix and the amount of time spent on the account. Who are your escalation points?
  • How does the agency manage multiple markets? Are there staff on the ground with local knowledge, especially if the agency operates on a pan-European or global basis?

One of the areas where we have helped our clients is in defining what the management model between the consumer brand and the agency looks like, and improving it where possible. By helping the agency to understand its client’s needs more clearly, we can ensure the agency is able to keep up with the unique rhythm of the brand.

Align KPIs with your business objectives and set bonuses accordingly

Measure the agency’s performance against KPIs and goals which will drive the growth you want. For example, if your brand is going through a growth phase with an objective to grow the number of customers you have, your agency’s objective should be on new customer sales and acquisition, not just total sales. Similarly, if growing average order value (AOV) is your goal, incentivise the agency towards selling higher cost products.

By helping our clients to understand what they can get out of channels such as social media and paid search, we have helped them align their agency KPIs with their business goals, to ensure that media is driving the right type of results.  

Give a big picture view of ecommerce performance 

Let your agency team understand what they are helping to build. Share your short, medium and long-term team goals and how the agency team fits in. Is this a long-term relationship the agency should invest in? Are you launching new markets that the agency can support on later? A deeper understanding of not only what your plans are, but also how involved you want the agency to be in your success, can be helpful and motivate the agency team in their support.

When working with a single agency across multiple channels, make sure the agency has someone to act as a single point of contact to ensure cross-channel collaboration. When managing multiple agencies, you need to act as this single point of contact to encourage collaboration. Consider tactics to keep multiple agencies aligned like agency days, joint responses and proposals, and even shared KPIs. We often act as this single point of contact for clients where there is not sufficient resource within the internal team to act in this capacity.

Ask the right questions

As the client, you have the right to challenge and dig deeper for answers beyond conversion rate and return on ad spend (ROAS). You should ask your agency:

  • Who are we targeting and why? How are we testing this? Do the audiences overlap?
  • What is our impression frequency?
  • How do channels and ads perform and interact? 
  • Do we need more/less budget? Are we spending extra for the sake of it? Is the agency comfortable asking you to move the budget around?
  • Will the agency localise content for pan-European or global markets, and also compare/contrast activities for the different markets?

The support you will get from your agency relationship is only as strong as the questions you ask and the insight you provide. We frequently find that our clients have extensive insight into their customers. This information should be shared with the agency so that it can be built into the media targeting strategy, making the strategy more efficient and effective in the long run.

Create an environment of openness and communication

Build a strong relationship with the team at your agency. Share your challenges and successes, even your individual professional goals so that the team understands how to best support you. In our experience, the ultimate key to success when it comes to digital marketing agency management is opening the lines of communication, actively using your agency to provide the data you need for your trade meetings, and making the most of face-to-face time when you have it.

If the agency looks good, you look good, so be an ambassador internally to highlight the value the agency brings. Ensure your support model allows for a structured approach with plenty of face time between the right stakeholders. And make sure it is face time – we find that getting everyone in a room can be the most effective thing for all involved.

At Practicology, we frequently support brands in digital marketing agency management as part of our outsourced ecommerce service. Find out how we can facilitate, manage and increase the value of your relationship with your current or future agencies. Contact us on hello@practicology.com or contact us here.