Managing for Success

10 Ways Marketing Agencies Can Maximize ROI for Clients
By Paul Roetzer

The marketing services industry is in a state of flux. As CMOs navigate the marketing talent gap, they are increasingly seeking performance-driven agency partners that are immersed in marketing technology and staffed with digital-savvy professionals. As a result, the future belongs to dynamic agencies with a commitment to producing measurable results for clients. Here are 10 tips to help you maximize client ROI.

  1. Become a Performance-Driven Agency. Corporate marketers are being held to higher ROI standards, and the same needs to be true of agency partners. Your job is to drive leads and sales for your clients. Top agencies build campaigns that consistently produce measurable outcomes, and care as much about performance and success as their clients do. Move away from arbitrary metrics such as impressions, advertising equivalency, and PR value, and focus instead on leads, sales, and customer loyalty. In doing so, you'll be better equipped to adjust campaigns based on actual bottom-line impact and allocate resources for maximum ROI.
  2. Seek Systems for Success. Continually increase efficiencies and productivity, encourage creativity and innovation, and push your team (and clients) to realize and embrace their potential with the right systems and processes. Put standards in place for business development, bringing clients onboard, invoicing, and project management. In turn, your agency will invest less time in daily operational tasks and have more time for revenue-generating activities for yourself and your clients.
  3. Staff Accounts With A-Players. The greatest value you can bring to your clients is top talent. Whether you staff internally or use freelancers and partner agencies, invest in recruiting and developing hybrid professionals. Look for those individuals who are able to deliver across multiple marketing disciplines, who are agile and adept at advanced marketing technologies, and are experts at inbound strategy. Then, pair your consultants' strengths with client needs to help fill talent gaps and create well-rounded teams.
  4. Embrace Technology. Modern marketers use technology to manage the data explosion, monitor and analyze behavior, build more intelligent strategies, and create connected customer experiences. If your agency isn't integrating technology into client campaigns and agency management, and ensuring staff is current on technology news and trends, then you're missing a prime opportunity to improve campaign performance.
  5. Remove Agency Silos. Agencies structured in service-area silos - social, search, mobile, web, email, and analytics - will face challenges when trying to build digital marketing strategies. This is mainly because the customer journey no longer follows a linear path defined by marketers. Instead, it bounces from smartphone to computer to tablet, with social networks, word of mouth, media outlets, and dozens of other sources influencing a person's final decision. As a result, all customer touch points must be planned and assessed in relation to one another to have maximum impact. If you want to maximize ROI, strategies cannot be built in isolation.
  6. Become a Doer. Test new inbound strategies on your own agency, and then take the lessons you have learned to clients. Whether for completely new service offerings or innovative ways of thinking about old tactics, you need to experiment and learn on yourself. The marketing services industry is full of thinkers, talkers, and self-proclaimed gurus. But, it's the agencies who choose to get their hands dirty on a daily basis that produce the most effective campaigns.
  7. Commit to Culture and Relationships. Top-performing marketing teams work well together and are built on a foundation of trust, respect, and aligned expectations and goals. These same characteristics need to transcend your agency's doors and encompass client relationships as well. When a client looks to you as an extension of their marketing team, and not just another vendor, that's when the real magic happens. For the best results, agencies need to be trusted enough that they are involved in strategic conversations, information is shared freely, and there is a steady flow of ideas and opinions. Become indispensable through hard work, insight, consultation, services, expertise, friendship, and professionalism.
  8. Don't be Afraid of Change. Creating compelling customer experiences, which are key to marketing success, requires a sophisticated, agile, integrated, and highly measurable approach to targeting consumers. Don't get stuck in stagnant business models, legacy systems, and obsolete approaches to the detriment of client campaigns. Instead, look for ways to evolve internal models, and offer the right service and delivery mix.
  9. Keep a Balanced Portfolio. Agencies that are too heavily reliant on a select few accounts will often spend a disproportionate amount of their energy, talent and resources on these largest accounts. This can limit the value delivered to smaller clients, and ultimately impair their performance. At PR 20/20, we follow the model that no client should account for more than 20 percent of revenue.
  10. Track Time and Efficiency. A lack of agency productivity costs clients time, money, and results. Often, the biggest factor is related time. Do you know where yours goes? Use time tracking software to get a clear picture, and outline inefficiencies. Use this information to better optimize services and processes for increased returns.

This article has been written by Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer). Paul is founder and CEO of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency, author of a new book called The Marketing Performance Blueprint (Wiley) and creator of Marketing Agency Insider.

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