What should you expect to see from your digital marketing investment?
We’ve written in the past about the kind of core deliverables you should expect when you begin a web development project (don’t miss our 2016 update). However, since writing these posts we’ve delved deeper into the realm of digital marketing. This has lead us to develop a similar list of core deliverables for digital marketing campaigns.
Our goal with this post is to give you an idea of what to expect when working with any digital marketing agency—not just us. These are talking points that any competent industry professional should be able to speak intelligently—and intelligibly—about. If you ask someone about their marketing strategy or their reporting process and feel like you’re being given the run-around, then… well, you might be.
We hope this breakdown will help you understand both the industry terminology used to discuss digital marketing projects and the deliverables you should expect to receive from your marketing agency as your campaign progresses. We’ve outlined the deliverables below in broad terms, because they can take different forms depending on the project. However, this should give you a good sense of what to look for as you assess marketing proposals.
Discovery & Audits
First of all, your marketing agency should work closely with your company to understand the needs and goals of your organization before the marketing work begins. This process can be hashed out in a meeting or as part of the background to a proposal, or it may take the form of an intensive branding project lasting several months.
A few specific deliverables in this category that we typically offer include:
- Competitive Landscape Analysis: An in-depth review of select competitors plus an aspirational group. This helps us get a bearing in the marketplace and align with our clients on next-steps.
- Client Interview Report: A series of internal interviews with team members and employees to better understand the company and its culture.
- Persona Development: A document outlining target audiences for the marketing campaign, developed from interviews with the client, market research, and/or interviews with end customers.
- SEO Audit: A review of the current website to discover weaknesses in SEO implementation and develop a holistic SEO strategy.
Like the discovery work, marketing plans can be simple or complex. In some cases, the marketing plan is delivered as part of the marketing contract. In others, it must be developed after the discovery and auditing process is complete. A more complex marketing plan might include the following documents:
- Editorial Calendar: A working document outlining blog posts, publishing schedule, target keywords, and other key delivery information.
- Strategy Document: A formalized document based on previous research detailing target personas, engagement strategies, and success metrics.
Marketing Software Implementation & Training
Not every digital marketing campaign calls for automated marketing software, but those that do usually require several hours of work on the agency end of things to make sure the software is properly set up and that employees are trained to know how to use it.
In our case, as a SharpSpring agency, we offer training sessions with our clients so that they can manage elements of their digital marketing campaign as they see fit. However, many of our clients also have us handle the creating and implementation of marketing workflows for them. And of course, some clients choose a bit of both. Either way, training and workflow implementation are both deliverables which should be discussed with any agency that offers automated marketing services.
Many businesses prefer to handle content on their own, but unless that business has a team member dedicated to creating content, the campaign runs more smoothly when partnered with our content department. After the discovery work we do, we’re usually closely aligned with the interests and needs of our client’s organization. That allows us to create whatever on-brand content as the marketing campaign needs:
- Blogs: Long-form content is the fuel for many digital marketing campaigns. That means a lot of writing that most businesses can’t manage on their own. We step in to assist.
- Downloadables: From buyers guides to whitepapers, we offer designed and polished downloadable PDFs to aid in lead development.
- Emails: For outbound marketing campaigns that rely on email, we can both write the content and design the emails to represent the brand.
- Landing pages: A key facet of any targeted campaign, particularly those that involve PPC advertising or outbound email.
- Social media: For any digital marketing campaign that requires designed social media postings or PPC advertising.
A lot of work goes on behind the scenes with SEO, from writing meta descriptions on web pages to link building to optimizing local directories and cleaning up broken links. Typically, the more content a website has, the more work can be done with SEO to build the domain profile.
For a specific marketing campaign, we often create a keyword list of phrases to target and track rankings on that list. However, no one can predict how rankings will change, so it’s important not to expect to achieve a specific ranking result. If anyone’s telling you they can make you rank #1 on Google for X term, they’re either lying, or about to do something unethical that might work in the short term, but will get your website blacklisted as soon as Google finds out.
Because of this, the SEO-based deliverables you should expect to see will mostly come in the form of reporting, which is a topic of its own.
Given that your marketing project was designed to accomplish a specific goal, your marketing should be able to deliver regular reports showing the results and progress of your campaign. These reports should include a description of the tasks and actions performed, as well as the metrics that you agreed upon in your marketing strategy document.
For instance, a marketing report will usually cover:
- Website analytics: How much traffic did you see in a given time period or over the course of the campaign? How does that number compare to year-over analytics? What are the numbers for time on page, pages visited, and bounce rate?
- Lead generation & sales results: Can your campaign be tied to a growth in leads or a rise in sales?
- SEO report: Are you seeing growth in organic search traffic or a rise in your rankings for various tracked keywords?
- Actions taken and next steps: Finally, your report should cover how your marketing team spent its time and what their next steps will be. This is particularly relevant if you’re working with a team on a marketing retainer.
Digital investments should be tied to definable results.
Digital marketing may not be tangible in the sense of something you can hold in your hands and admire. But it does lead to real world outcomes that can be tracked and measured. Just as we don’t advise our clients to follow web practices that don’t result in ROI, so we like to tie our marketing initiatives to traceable results.
We want to show you exactly how our work benefited your company. We believe you should expect that from us, or from any other digital marketing agency you chose to work with. Because we don’t want you to take our word for it—we prefer to show you the receipts.