Digital Agencies are professional service businesses that help their clients attract and retain new customers online.
This article covers the following:
- Business Model: Services, Operations, team structure, and economics.
- History: Where this type of business comes from and where it’s going.
And if you’re looking for something with some more tools in it, this Playbook for Digital Agencies that I created in collaboration with agency leaders if a good resource.
Digital agencies exchange their knowledge, skills, and abilities in the digital sphere with clients for money. We’ll cover what digital services that they offer, how the economics of the business works, and how digital agencies deliver on these services.
As a collection of technical and creative digital experts, Digital Agencies design and develop websites & apps, create online content, manage online marketing channels, integrate cloud platforms, and craft digital strategy.
Designing and Developing Websites & Apps
- Website Design
- CMS – WordPress
- eCommerce Development
- User Experience Design (UX)
- Web Portals
- Web Development (WebDev)
- Software Design & Development
- Application Development (apps)
Creating Online Content
- Blog and Article Writing
- Video Production
- Presentation & Webinars
Managing Online Marketing Channels
- Search: Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Paid Per Click Advertising (PPC), Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Social: Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing
- Email: Inbound Marketing: Email Drip / Nurture Campaigns
- Reviews/ Forums Management
- Blogs, News: Content Placement & PR
Integrating Cloud Integrations
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Providing Digital Strategy
- Data and Analytics
- Service Design
- Customer Experience Design (CX)
- Digital Transformation
- Business Intelligence Tool Development
- Attribution Modeling
- Fixed Fee Projects: A set price for a certain scope of deliverables.
- Recurring Retainer: Usually a monthly flat fee price for a set amount of time of work or advice.
- Time and Materials: The agency negotiates an hourly rate with the client. Invoices bi-weekly or monthly for the number of hours worked x the hourly rate.
Covering the workflows, team structure, and systems that Digital Agencies use to run their business.
Keeping track of clients and contacts, selling and quoting for new business, delivering on projects, responding to client requests and issues, and managing recurring work.
- Client Account Managers
- Project Managers
- Data Scientist
- Sales Pipeline
- Project Management
- Ticket Management
- Retainer Management
- Time tracking
- Resource Scheduling
A Digital Agency comes from a line of two more traditional professional service businesses: the advertising/marketing agency and the information technology (IT) consulting firm.
When advertising moved from print to digital (radio, TV, then the Internet), there was a growing want from brands to enter into these new, evergreen spaces. As the Internet grew into a more diverse ecosystem of marketing activities, there was an increasing need for expertise in content, graphics, analytics, and placement on search engines (SEO / PPC), banner ads (RIP) in articles, webinars, blogs, infographics – all things to entice new customers to come check out the brand’s product. The traditional call-to-actions (CTAs) were to visit a physical address or to call a telephone number.
Similar to the ad agency was the marketing agency that would create brochures, collateral, business cards, and branding for when a potential customer would come in contact with the Brand. Now, they first come in direct contact with the brand online, likely through a website.The new CTAs ask for users to visit the brand’s website to learn more and to eventually purchase the product (perhaps online). So the ability to design engaging web experiences for potential customers became increasingly important.
Which brings us to the next stage in the customer’s journey – the ongoing experience. In traditional product advertising and marketing, the brand makes a sale of a physical product (SEARS refrigerator, L’Oreal cosmetics, Coca-Cola bottle at the local soda store). Once the sale is made, great, it’s time to move on or hope for repeat purchasing. But now, many of the new products being designed and sold are digital services that provide ongoing value such as stand alone software and apps. Moreover, physical products are increasingly being augmented by digital services (such as unlimited warranties for your new appliance that come with digital customer portals, chat, forums, ticketing and issue management).
The builders of a software such as a customer / agent support system used to be reserved for another type of professional service firm, the IT Consultants: developers and engineers who built systems to support a businesses operation. Because the modern business’ internal operations are now so closely linked to ongoing customer experience – and because a subscription model entails continuously needing to resell (re-market) the value of the product & services – we are seeing the need to combine IT and Marketing to support this new type of business.
So what is a Digital Agency? First off, it’s a little big of ad/mar agency and a hint of IT consulting / web developer for the online world. More formally, it’s a collection of people tasked with helping modern businesses tackle the world of digital across their entire customer’s experience. Digital Agencies design, develop, research, and strategize from the first user touchpoints in the search engine (google), blogs, online forums, all the way through to the digital products and services such as apps and websites that the end user interacts with.
- Media Agency
- Advertising Agency
- Digital Marketing
- Online Advertising
- Web Design – Occupations – Careers in Web Design
Sources and Further Reading
- Digital Agency Network: What is a Digital Agency
- Up n up
- Bureau of Digital
- OX Systems: https://ox.systems/what-is-a-digital-agency/
- Google Scholar