With the right technology and processes, it's possible to make marketing and sales agency collaboration feel like an extension of your in-house team. In this post we look at how to achieve this level of personalised, seamless working.
Communication is key when working with any marketing team, in-house or external, and is especially crucial when collaborating with an agency.
To see success, seamless communication, trust and clarity - over everything from top-level goals to granular actions - must be maintained at all times. Achieving this can, on occasion, be a challenge. But this doesn't have to be the case.
In this post we explore how, with the right tech stack and frameworks, it’s possible to circumvent common collaboration challenges; creating clarity, increased trust, and enabling outsourced marketing to feel like an extension of your in-house team.
Can a Marketing and Sales Agency Feel Like Part of Your In-House Team?
Collaborating with an outsourced agency for additional marketing and sales support is not uncommon and can be very beneficial.
After all, agencies can help your in-house team in a number of ways, such as;
Ensuring better time and budget management (as you only invest in the services you need, when you need them) and improved efficiency, as your internal team can focus on other strategic tasks.
Providing enhanced skill sets such as paid ad expertise, web development, content skills etc.
Providing up to date industry knowledge in the latest techniques and regulation (such as ABM, Inbound Marketing or GDPR).
Offering constant support/reporting towards your marketing and sales goals/KPIs
These points can help you make the most of your marketing investment, and give your campaigns a speedy start due to the benefit of agency experience.
However, regardless of these advantages, it’s not uncommon to face a few challenges when collaborating with an agency, such as:
Feeling overwhelmed by long-winded campaign reports and information that you don’t have time to digest. This can leave you feeling disconnected from campaigns and you can waste valuable time trying to understand what to do with the information. Forbes describes this as ‘smoke and mirrors’ emphasising that ‘you want a marketing firm that will interpret [these] reports, build a strategic plan based on the data and follow through with targeted action.’
Contact availability: With busy schedules and without the right processes, it’s not always easy to get answers to internal campaign performance questions on demand.
Difficulty keeping all stakeholders informed of progress at all times. This can make it difficult to secure buy-in and understanding if stakeholders feel out of the loop.
Yet, many of these challenges can be avoided today. As technology has advanced, it’s now possible to make an outsourced agency team responsive and accessible, as if they were part of your in-house department.
Using the right technology for more open communication and access to real-time results can provide peace of mind and trust that campaigns are in good hands. Indeed, trust and personalised relationships are crucial for the success of agency collaboration; according to a Marketing Week survey, “Trust is the top attribute that 67% of marketers look for in agency partners.”
1. Use Technology to Save Time and Effort When Reporting
When you only have a limited amount of time and resource, it’s hard to keep track of communications, such as reports, actions results, and approvals.
However today, technologies have advanced to the point where instant, granular and personalised communication and reporting are possible. For example, video meetings and webexes make it easy for an agency to create video reports (rather than a lengthy email) which saves time for everyone in both report creation and digestion.
Instant messaging channels such as Slack channels also enable constant communication to keep everyone (including stakeholders) on top of the latest news and progress at all times.
Today it’s also possible to keep a clear, real-time view on campaign metrics and KPIs; a KPI Datawall screen, displaying live campaign data can be set up anywhere (typically both in your agency’s office and your own), ensuring that campaign progress stays front-of-mind with no details missed.
2. Use Video and Chat Platforms for Quick, Clear Communication
It’s not always easy to get answers to internal campaign performance questions on demand. But today, again thanks to technology, there’s no reason for a lack of personalised communication with your agency.
For example, in your personal life, you might FaceTime a family member, use Snapchat to keep in touch with friends, or chat with multiple people via WhatsApp. So why not reflect this ease of communication in agency relationships to ensure nothing is missed? Slack channels are great for quick questions that don’t warrant a call, and face-to-face video meetings are increasingly common ways to stay on top of questions, actions and more - creating more responsive, personalised working, whilst minimising emails!
3. Ensure Key Stakeholders Are Involved At All Times, For Easier Support and Buy-In
Keeping key stakeholders engaged and informed of progress is crucial to ensuring the success of marketing campaigns. But if a collaboration process is reliant on lengthy reports, or emails - and only engages with all stakeholders in quarterly reviews - retaining that clarity will be tough.
Today however, always-there insight and support can be provided via agency Datawalls, Slack channels, and regular video meetings (for example, Strategic uses Zoom conferencing with HD cameras to keep calls personal).
Technology can certainly go a long way to providing campaign updates, but sometimes there’s no substitute for face-to-face working. At Strategic we like to dedicate one day per month for an on-site meeting - these are especially useful for finalising campaigns and for detailed reviews.
4. Get Access to Real-Time Reporting To Avoid Missed Details
Real-time reporting is crucial to ensuring that campaign insights aren’t missed and any necessary actions can be taken quickly. Yet most CMOs have multiple responsibilities, and limited time, which can make it hard to keep track of everything.
However, with the right techstack and processes in place, an agency can help to deliver the granular detail and agility necessary to make timely decisions and to forecast ROI. For example, agencies can provide access to real-time data reports, which could be communicated via a chat platform such as Slack. Additionally, concise video reports can give CMOs access to the insights and support they need, and keep campaigns on-track and aligned with business goals.
5. Opt For A Flexible Working Model that Aligns With Changing Remits
Every organisation has different needs, meaning that what Forbes describes as “Cookie-Cutter Strategies” - a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing - won’t complement your business model. Thus, there is a need for flexible working and communication that aligns with changing internal goals and budgets.
In recognition of this, agencies are increasingly switching to more flexible models of working. For example, at Strategic our contracts and pricing structures are designed to provide clients with the right plan for their goals, with the agility to adapt to changing business remits and delivery timescales.
A Better Approach to Agency / Client Relationships
Ultimately, technology can help simplify agency collaboration by fostering personalised, trusting relationships, where agility and strong communication are emphasised. This creates the chemistry necessary for a lasting relationship; according to CMO Magazine, “without chemistry, the relationship won’t last.”