As digital marketing has continued to become a powerhouse in the marketing tool belt it has required agencies to consider how they can best serve the needs of the brands they serve. We’ve seen agencies slap social media on their list of services with little true expertise. Now we are seeing agencies slap content marketing on their list of services as it has become the new cool that everyone is all the rage about. This is a natural progression of service offerings and frankly agencies have to figure out how to provide these services because their clients are starting to demand them. We’ve seen transformation in the traditional full-service agency as well as a resurgence for boutique digital marketing and social media firms. But is that enough? The report “The Digital Marketing Agency of the Future” released today by Skyword argues that it isn’t even close to enough. They took the insights of 16 innovative agency leaders and created a forward thinking view of what tomorrow’s digital agency needs to look like.
Agencies Must Move to a Converged Media Strategy
It simply isn’t good enough to have a strategy for SEO, a content marketing strategy, another strategy for paid media, a separate email strategy, another strategy for social media and yet another strategy for public relations. These silos must be obliterated. The digital marketing agency of the future will have it’s eyes on every marketing channel and create strategies that are fully integrated and leverage the strengths of all of these channels.
“Adapting to a converged media model is easier said than done for the majority of today’s digital agencies. Growth has been the historic result of their ability to offer highly specialized services, such as public relations, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), social media marketing and digital advertising. Originally thriving as ‘centers of excellence’ with separate departments and offerings, agencies need to rethink their model. In this new model, agencies must foster open collaboration, reduce costs, and jointly drive results for their clients.” – The Digital Agency of the Future
Customer Centric Delivery Model
According to the report, the digital marketing agency of the future will also have to make some drastic cultural changes. Where agencies today put the brand at the center of everything they do, the agency of tomorrow will put the brand’s end customer at the center. This will require agencies to be able to look through the lens of the brand’s customers to understand their needs and design strategies and implementation plans that will fulfill them.
“The successful agencies of tomorrow will require both a change in operational structure and a shift in cultural mindset. They need to evolve their approach from what Bob Collins, Content and Digital Strategy Director at Beehive Media, explains as ‘brand-centric to customer-centric.’ This transition to consumer centricity requires agencies to evolve centers of excellence, so that they foster expertise across all channels and functions, recognizing that customers aren’t searching for particular brands or companies, but looking to solve a problem, address a need or engage in an experience of interest or passion.” – The Digital Agency of the Future
New Talent and Skill Sets will be Required
The report highlights four new positions that companies need to start recruiting for including the data driven account owner, the conversationalist, the agile content creator, the customer insight specialist. These positions aren’t going to be easy to recruit for because in most organizations they simply don’t exist. Therefore, it will require agencies to recruit, train, and retain the personnel they put in these positions. Robert Murray, President of Skyward said, “the new team needs to have cross-functional understanding of all facets of marketing and specialize in a certain area under their framework.”
“Agency teams will need generalists, who understand the new world order of marketing, and specialists (e.g. strategists, content creators, writers, SEO specialists), to get it all done.” – Lora Kratchounova, Principal, Scratch Marketing + Media
The Future Agency Tech Stack
The digital marketing agency of the future simply can’t ignore the role of technology in digital marketing. Agencies will become technology consultants for their clients from recommending 3rd party tools to building applications to fill the gaps. Ultimately, the agency could become the glue that holds multiple technology platforms together to serve the brands customers, the brands needs, and the agency reporting and collaboration needs.
“Agency technology stacks will include software development across the front-end, back-end and native operating systems.” – Perez Armendariz, Chief Digital Officer, CP+B
Clearly, this report has a heavy focus on the role that content marketing will play in the agency of the future. It says content will have to become a core offering for agencies to serve their clients. Being as the report is created by a company that has a heavily vested interest in the role content marketing plays you could argue that there is a certain level of bias. But it’s hard to argue that content is not going to become the center of the client and prospect relationship and that brands and agencies need to figure out how to create content that is compelling and inspires action. If that is the case, shifts in traditional agency models will become imminent.
What do you think the digital marketing agency of the future should look like?
Are you a brand? Does this model represent the type of agency you want to work with?
Are you an agency? What do you think of the model the report suggests?
Is it genius or esoteric fluff? Leave a comment and join the conversation.