The marketing agency partnership is tricky to juggle. You’ve got a lot of projects in the air and only two hands with which to keep them aloft: one hand being the agency, and the other being yourself.
For any agency relationship to work, there needs to be close coordination and communication between both parties. Free exchange of information, clear policies on specific scenarios, and the sharing of resources whenever possible.
Unfortunately, this level of agency partnership is difficult to come by. The Internet is riddled with agency horror stories, and you could probably add a few of your own.
Part of the problem is that agencies usually control the flow of information for any projects they manage. It’s up to them to measure and track the success of their campaigns, and then pass those numbers on to you.
That would be fine, except for one thing.The agency doesn’t know your company like you do.
The agency doesn’t know how you define vanity metrics versus valuable metrics. They won’t know what each of your conversions is worth, and how much credit each channel should take for a sale. They don’t know your previous track record with content marketing and social media and how much better or worse your current performance is compared to your competitors.
This isn’t necessarily their fault. Agencies work with many different companies and industries, and have to use reporting tools that can easily transition between those groups with a minimum of fuss. Unfortunately, what that means for you is that your agency partnership may suffer as a result. But it’s not the end of the world.
If you’re on the ball, then you’ve already chosen marketing analytics softwarethat can provide the information you need. You just need to grant the agency access to it. By not giving the agency access to the same tools you use, you hamstring their efforts and make it more difficult for them to give you the best service possible.
Here are a few ways of using marketing analytics software can improve your agency partnership by leaps and bounds (and not just on the reporting side).
Use software to set clear KPIs
Remember what I said earlier about the agency not homing in on the right metrics? Well, you can avoid that issue entirely by giving them access to a marketing or social media analytics tool you’ve set up for your own internal purposes. This assumes, of course, that you’ve already done your due diligence and chosen the right analytics tool for your organization.
Since you already own this tool, it should already be configured to display information you find most important. The data it generates could also be plugged into any formulas and macros you use to generate other reports. You have the advantage of working with a tool that you’re already familiar with, while the agency gets the advantage of using a tool that generates information they’re sure the client values.
Once you’ve granted them the appropriate level of access, you can now define an achievable goal for the agency to target based on clear and quantifiable KPIs that you’ve chosen. This gets you both on the same page in terms of performance expectations and removes any confusion as to what you define as a success.
Simplifying agency partnership communication
Part of the reason agency partnership problems arise is because of confusing processes. I’ve been through a couple of agency relationships where there were simply too many meetings.
This left too much time for talking and no time for getting things done. Using your existing marketing analytics software, however, completely removes the need for some meetings, and points of discussion in several others, because the data is available to anyone at any time. It should be much simpler for people on both sides to keep tabs on a campaign’s progress. Just log into the tool and check the numbers.
Accurate, unfiltered information
While most agencies are very honest and upfront when reporting on performance, there are the rare, unscrupulous few that deliberately give you misleading or outright false information. These are the agencies that are more concerned with looking good than helping you succeed. They’ll report false campaign performance numbers with the intention of either getting you to extend their contract or paying more for certain services. Or they might even just be trying to avoid getting in trouble when their expensive campaign falls flat on its face.
Whatever the reason, in this kind of agency partnership it’s easy for the agency to deceive you if you rely on their tools and reporting capabilities. It’s easy for them to filter or even change data to fit the picture they want you to see. But if you have them use your tool, then tricking you becomes more difficult. After all, you both have access to the same data and will be more familiar with the tool than they, so it will be more effort for them to mislead you.
Instant response to new data
Picture this scenario: you’ve just released a social media campaign. Your initial reception is lukewarm, and to all appearances it looks like a failure. But then interest spikes from one particular segment: a customer group you’ve never really paid attention to before. Excited by this discovery, you pivot this campaign to target the interested group, and metrics soar.
This kind of scenario can only happen if both parties have easy and timely access to the data. Without it, the client company would have to wait until the next agency update meeting (whenever that is) to learn about the hidden segment—if the agency were even able to detect the segment at all.
Sharing the same tool gives you the ability to instantly detect new developments, whether positive or negative, and give you enough lead time to formulate a proper response. And since both agency and client are working off the same data, there are more chances for anomalies to be detected and less time wasted on getting people up to speed.
You don’t actually need to share your marketing analytics tool with your agency. Agency partnerships have existed for decades without this kind of capability, and they ran just fine.
But in today’s fast-paced, data-centric market, there are clear advantages to plugging your agency into your marketing analytics process. Your agency can prioritize the right KPIs, work off the same data you receive, and respond faster to campaign results.
You, in turn, benefit by having deeper insight into your agency’s efforts, simpler lines of communication, and have a more integrated and intimate relationship with your agency partner. In this situation, you’re no longer two separate hands that happen to be working at the same time, but rather two coordinated parts of the same body.