Account Service & Management for Marketing & Advertising

Recently I wrote about digital marketing agency strategy & planning – 5 pillars or behaviors top performers should exhibit.

Today, I want to look at account service & management for marketing / advertising agencies.

From an agency perspective, client management is at best a continually perplexing challenge. For agency owners and executives – the joy of growing relationships is often clouded by financial pressure.

In fact, I would readily wager that most pain & suffering in any given agency comes mismatched expectations with clients. More specifically, a selective application of the Pareto Principle (or 80/20) rule tells us 80% of our headaches at a digital marketing agency come from 20% of the clients.

There’s doubtless plenty of discussion to be had managing expectations, or about revenue diversification. But let’s look at a couple of frameworks A) financial and B) operational that can help simplify client service.

First- are you managing your client portfolio by profitability and touch?

There are two easy squares in the field above: top left and bottom right.

First, if you have a high touch, low profitability client – you can either A) raise retainer rates/prices, or B) fire them. You can try to reset expectations, but many high touch clients that cause pain do not respond well to this. One way you can automatically bake this logic in is by testing a recurring percentage increase to your retainer with these and/or other client types.

Second, if you have a low touch, high profitability client – keep and protect them! They’re rare birds.

Generally, it’s desirable to have high profitability clients over low- yet strangely for both of the quadrants above (L/L, H/H) a potential solve is automation. (With different purposes.)

Low touch, low profitability clients aren’t inherently bad – there are a lot of niche, perhaps even respectable agencies built on these kinds of clients. High touch, high profitability clients are only going to be sustainable if you become the likes of a big box agency.

Either way, you need to A) scale your capabilities to get more similar low touch clients (L/L), or find ways to get your time back against high touch clients (H/H). Especially so you can excel at the 5 pillars of agency strategy!

One small step forward you can take in automation is prioritizing work to become proactive, vs. blindly following retainers & SOWs until your teeth fall out from stress-clenching.

If you can automate portfolio dashboards of your clients – you can always have a real-time picture of what needs to happen in your client’s businesses. (Ex: a digital / performance marketing engagement that could include organic or paid media is shown below.)

Via Data Studio, Power BI, Tableau, etc., you can avoid overplaying winning accounts and quickly servicing trouble accounts before damage becomes significant.

This kind of system can start with high-level traffic and engagement figures. However, this method also holds promise for you to automate wins and insights for clients, drilling down to page and keyword insights that could be automated or outsourced so you can proactively send victories to clients, to maintain healthy temperature and momentum in your engagement.

One other way you try to reduce service burdens is to move to a JIRA-style ticketing system with your clients for requests – and personal interaction comes from you, on your terms.

I’m sure this won’t make any Pulitzer nomination roundups (rightly so), but this has been enjoyable to right, as I explore more ideas about excellence in marketing and account service.

Marketing Data Lakes & Warehouses

My most recent post covered strategy & planning for digital marketing agencies, specifically from an SEO perspective.

In my mind, one of the most compelling questions was this: why aren’t there more success stories with SEO agencies? From my young perspective, I call out 5 things successful entrants can do for the best shot at success.

We may also find that these pillars of success (ex: depth of product vision, operational efficiency) rarely exist in isolation.

That brings us to marketing data lakes and warehouses! Perhaps popularized by Informatica, data lakes are essentially all your data tossed into one space- hooray!

In their ebook, Informatica notes that data lakes are well-suited for large enterprises at $100MM+ and above. I would largely agree (for many reasons) and would also assert this leaves ample learning opportunity for brands below that threshold.

For the large enterprise above, there are often prerequisites to reaching that level. Specifically, you’ll often need to achieve certain sophistication before advancing to a level of ad hoc ML analyses of unstructured data in the cloud.

If we’re being honest, I’m probably bending and abusing some terminology here, but bear with me! For the vast majority of businesses (which also site below that revenue or capitalization threshold) – there’s a lot of power in data lakes, for the purpose of building small data – focused data warehouses.

To the points of my earlier posts, you need cohesive data that can paint a clear, end-to-end picture of your digital business. To that end, consider the following:

With the proper platforms, API scripts/pulls and storage, you can amass all of your key marketing data into one, or a few areas. Depending on your tactical execution, SQL joins or other BI/dashboarding software can be used to unite your data by URL.

From this picture, you can easily pivot, filter, splice, etc. to see what has been performing, how, and where the impact is going to your business.

Ex: in one picture, you can immediately juxtapose log file activity on your site with Search Console data to see where Google got hung in your site, as well as quickly identifying how much it’s impacting your visibility, and also quickly seeing which keywords are most affecting your business.

To take it a step further, this can be scaled across multiple clients, where you may write the client name or vertical into separate columns into all of your respective data pulls. This also facilitates large-scale rollups of your data. It’s my estimation that a compelling example of this may be Merkle’s quarterly digital marketing reports.

As with previous posts, I hope to continue peeling back this onion of excellence in marketing. However, my next planned immediate posts may pivot slightly to operational efficiency in the context of providing excellent client service.