As a follow up to my previous blog post, Marketing in the Moment, here is my second takeaway from the Marketing Week Live 2013:
An overriding need to integrate the different specialisms within a Digital Agency in order to provide the best solution to a client’s need.
The term ‘silos’ is often used in digital marketing and looking at the structure of agencies, industry websites and job postings this is a pretty apt term.
‘Paid Search’, ‘SEO’ and ‘Social’ are all put in very separate categories, but given the way the digital experience is headed, surely the integration of these disciplines will soon become mandatory, not just good practice.
Obviously pooling knowledge and expertise is also a great idea, after all, the different disciplines are all doing much the same function: delivering traditional marketing messages in a shortened format; 140 characters, 3 lines of 25-35 characters, a 500 word blog post or small snippets on a web page.
Breaking down these specialisms is hardly new thinking or a future practice, as 71% of marketers believe integration across owned, earned and paid media is important – even my recruitment process involved creating a presentation on how PPC can be integrated with SEO and Social Media to improve a client’s success!
But what are the main stumbling blocks we as digital marketers must overcome to make this integration happen? Here are my thoughts and potential problems that we may encounter along the way:
1- Clients often prefer the less scenic route
It boils down to the fact that no matter how optimized the on-page SEO is, how much hard work went into the off-page promotion, how much planning is contained in the Paid Search Campaign or how hip/funky/groovy (delete depending on age) the Social Media Marketing may be, clients only care about the results. They have a problem and they want the agency to solve it for them quickly – often without a look in from other disciplines.
2 – Clients opt for a service you didn’t initially sell them
A similar situation occurred in a recent client meeting. The client had encountered some issues with a competitor using some rather unscrupulous practices and needed to fire fight. After the meeting had ended, the Head of SEO, the Head of Paid Search and I put our heads together to work out a solution.
We created three solutions using our knowledge of digital marketing disciplines. Amusingly, the client chose to combat the issue through a small Link Building project – not a specialism of anyone who had attended the meeting. However after a short brief to the Link Building team the proposal was sent to the client who was delighted in how easily their problem was solved.
3 – Integration and knowledge
Although we’re happy to accommodate clients who have a fixed idea about what they want, this above example of a recent client encounter promotes how knowledge of every discipline – not simply integration – at an agency can still provide a great service to our clients. Not only does integrating the disciplines into our problem solving help develop great marketers but our readiness to talk about other specialisms retains our client’s faith in our expertise.
4 – Everyone wins… but they don’t know it yet
As previously stated, integrating the disciplines is becoming more and more necessary. Each specialism can benefit from another. Keywords for SEO work can be drawn from the Paid Search campaign; both PPC and SEO can be used together in order to both control and influence desired keywords and Social Media is becoming increasingly important in supporting SEO, improving authority, brand advocacy, traffic, CTR and conversions. In fact a client recently came in to Receptional to undertake a crash course in Social Media – suggested to them by a member of the SEO team.
Of course everything is underpinned by content marketing and this area provides integral support to almost every discipline.
Pooling the knowledge, talents and specialisms of everyone at an agency provides not only better solutions to a client’s digital marketing needs but also enables the marketers to gain a broader understanding of the industry. That’s a win-win in my book.
5- It’s happening weather you like it or not!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock……….or glued to The Ashes with no further media intake, you will know that Google is constantly changing. One aspect which Google is constantly improving is semantic search. Yep, in a somewhat, neo- HAL 9000 style, Google will soon be able to present you with results as if a human is answering your search query (scary…..)
Take a look at this vague search I typed in to find “Ben Affleck’s worst films”. If the results retrieved doesn’t indicate that robots imitating humans is nigh, then I don’t know what else does…
This means PPC will have to take a more ‘organic’ approach to their keyword research in order to stay relevant to search queries, further showing the need for each specialism to be trained in wider digital marketing skills. We are already seeing ‘session-based’ broad match terms in Search Term reports in PPC. Ads are being served in the SERPs by combining the user’s current query with previous queries from the session which appear to follow a theme.
With the walls of individual digital marketing specialisms creaking and swaying, it’s time for everyone to pitch in and deliver a top quality, well-informed service to clients regardless of their niche.
Those that buy into this philosophy may even be invited to our internal training sessions we hold at Friday lunchtimes – Powerpoint hand-outs and muffins all round!
If you’re looking to bolster your marketing efforts with an all-round approach, get in contact with us today for an informal chat about what we can offer your business