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How Can Digital Agencies Stay Competitive?

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Digital has been a huge growth area in the marketing industry as a whole. The revenue of British advertising and marketing companies has more than tripled in the last six years.

The growth of these companies can be mainly isolated to their digital efforts. According to Econsultancy this growth is set to continue, predicting “year-on-year revenue growth of 30% for 2014”.

With so much on offer the market is becoming saturated; the number of digital agencies has increased, the focus of many traditional agencies has shifted to expand their digital offering and big management consultancies such as Deloitte and Accenture are now pitching to manage digital communications accounts.

In such a high growth market how can digital agencies set themselves apart and compete with each other?

two hurling players

What Makes Up an Agency?

To understand how digital agencies can compete let’s break down their composition. They’re made up of staff, clients, the service model and the systems of working. All of these components make an agency what it is but in which areas is it possible to compete?

People i.e. staff and clients, are variable. Although every agency looks for the best people to deliver its service and the best clients to showcase their work, it’s always possible for people and clients to move on.

So, without the people, the agency is the service it offers and the way it delivers it. We think strengthening these areas with smart technology is the answer to meeting the demands of clients and competing against other agencies.

Building Your Niche

The tools you choose to support your service can be a point of differentiation too. Being able to say “No one else is doing this” or “No one else is doing it in this way” will set you apart from other agencies.

Where price can be lowered, customer service relies on people and quality is hard to prove (three areas that businesses frequently try to compete on), marking yourself out as different may give you the competitive edge. The value of the agency lies in your expertise in handling these tools to grow your client’s business.

Quote from Andy Kinsey

Stuart McMullen of Studio North explains their approach: “We’ve standardised on the number of platforms we use [ ] which has helped us become specialists in them. [Choosing only] the ones we genuinely feel add the most value to our clients’ projects, and are the most future-proofed”.

So What Tools Can You Use?

Hamster cartoon dressed as a superhero

There’s so many resources to choose from; to figure out what will improve your service create a list of criteria that are important to you. This could include qualities such as:

  • innovative

  • reliable

  • secure

  • high performing

Look for tools that are appropriate for your clients and will add value to your offering.

We’ve picked out some favourites that we think can strengthen delivery of different agency services:


Moz provides analytics to track and improve your inbound marketing.

Moz logo

You can see how your inbound marketing strategy is performing. Moz Pro shows you where you inbound links are coming from (i.e. SEO, content, social) and where you’re missing opportunities.

Buffer and Hubspot are partnered with Moz, taking advantage of their powerful metrics and data source that, as Moz say, “don’t exist anywhere else”.

Content Marketing

Hubspot is a marketing platform that integrates with Salesforce. It competes with Moz and other SEO tools to provide link-building and on-page analysis.

Hubspot logo

You can create content in Hubspot, get recommendations for keywords to target as well as competition rating for keywords and . They’ve been helping agencies improve their own inbound marketing efforts as well as those of their clients.

UK-based inbound marketing leaders Tracepoint are using Hubspot to help their customers convert more leads.

Social Media Marketing

Hootsuite is a social media management tool.

Hootsuite logo

It’s great for agencies because they can manage the social accounts of all their clients in one place. It allows you to schedule posts and shows clicks and engagement. It also let’s you respond to conversations via the dashboard.

Buffer is another social media management tool.

Buffer logo

Like Hootsuite, you can write posts in Buffer and schedule publishing times for multiple social channels. You can then track their reach i.e. how many times a post has been interacted with, how many clicks it’s received and the size of it’s potential audience. Buffer has a range of accounts to suit agencies of different sizes.

Quote by Guy Kawasaki

Metrics, Measurement & Optimisation

Google Analytics is one of the most widely used digital tools. It’s the go-to analytics platform for gathering data on websites and web apps.

Google Analytics logo

In 2013 Econsultancy revealed that 89% of businesses surveyed used Google Analytics. Obama’s re-election campaign team used GA too.

Quote from Nate Lubin

Visual Website Optimiser (VWO) is an A/B Testing package that let’s you set up a split test, analyse the data and personalise your website.

Visual Website Optimiser logo

SEO service company TheHOTH used VWO to transform their own homepage. They test a minimal homepage design against a long and busy original and found that less was definitely more. The minimal homepage increased conversions from 1.39% to 13.13%. With concrete data they could switch to the new design, knowing it would perform better.

General Project Management

Basecamp is a project management tool that assists collaborative working, such as occur in agency environments.

Basecamp logo

It facilitates task management and project planning, helping every project run smoothly across departments. Check out some of cools ways Basecamp has been used.

Latest Innovations

There’s also several new tools around that we think are worth checking out:

InVision is a design tool for creating prototypes.

InVision logo

In the tool you can create fully interactive prototypes which makes understanding design proposals easier.

The collaboration feature means designers, clients and project managers can make comments in the design, reducing confusion during the design and review processes. A dashboard for project management and the benefit of version control make controlling each step easier.

Trello is a project management tool.

Trello logo

It’s cloud-based so your team aren’t limited to where they can access it from. It’s also easy to learn; new task boards can be added with one click and organised by drag and drop technology. It also let’s users add comments and multimedia directly to tasks.

Popcorn Metrics adds analytics tools to websites without you needing to add code.

Popcorn Metrics logo

The tool is based on a visual editor that allows you to select areas of your website to track by clicking images, buttons, links etc. This makes it easy for campaign manager to set up experiments themselves without the need for technical knowledge.

It’s integrated with Google Analytics, mixpanel, KISSmetrics, Trak.io, Customer.io and Segment.io, bringing together several areas of analytics in one place.

Colibri is a customer acquisition tool or growth hacking tool. Growth hacking is a method of marketing focussed at growing start-up businesses quickly. For more background information check Quicksprout’s Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking.

Colibri logo

The tool identifies the best opportunities for content marketing in order to reach potential customers. There’s lots of features for SEO agencies such as the ability to set up campaign goals, analyse traffic and monitor clients’ competitors.

Formisimo is among this new breed of tools that offer digital agencies the chance to wow their clients with new capabilities. By tracking interactions with form fields our clients can identify problems in forms and make adjustments to optimise them. Cloud telecoms provider Knowlarity leveraged the insight they got from Formisimo into 11% more conversions on one form.

Incorporating the best tools and platforms into your service delivery while maintaining your expertise as creative consultants is the killer combination to best serve your clients.

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