Editor's Note: This post was originally published on January 19, 2015, and was updated on August 5, 2020.
A while back, we created an infographic outlining how the WSI Lifecycle™ helps your business. The 'WSI Lifecycle™' is the process we use to deliver the best possible results to our clients. The benefits of a system-driven process are that it's proven and repeatable, which means we'll deliver digital marketing solutions that work (because we've done it before and we'll do it again!). The WSI Lifecycle™ also allows us to educate the companies and brands that we work with so everybody involved knows what's expected and required throughout the duration of a project.
With all the upheaval of the last few months, we wanted to revisit the principles of the WSI Lifecycle™ as they relate to defining a digital agency's role in boosting your marketing efforts. In fact, we wrote all about it in our post about the 8 key factors you need to look at when deciding between using in-house or agency marketing. But with so many marketing tactics available, and even more digital agencies to deliver them, it's no wonder companies - both large and small - are overwhelmed and don't know where to start. The funny thing about choice is the more variety you have, the harder it is to make a decision. Let's try to clear some of the fog, shall we?
Collaboration Is Vital For Achieving Success With A Digital Marketing Partner
Before we jump into anything else, it's necessary to discuss the importance of collaboration in any relationship between a company and its digital marketing agency. Collaboration is defined by Google as, "the action of working with someone to produce or create something." Unfortunately, the expectation and even the meaning of collaboration are often left unaddressed or assumed at the beginning of a digital marketing project, and this results in a breakdown somewhere along the way.
We like to point to our infographic called Expert's Guide to Flushing Your Website Budget Down The Toilet for some humorous examples of what these 'breakdowns' entail. Or our post on Website Redesign Gone Wrong, if you're looking for some laughs. Suffice to say that no matter which side is at fault for a lack of collaboration, it results in a bad experience for both client and agency.
But seriously, who doesn't love (and expect) to collaborate on digital marketing projects? The client has the industry expertise and the information to define their target market, and the agency has the digital marketing know-how, the strategical vision and the resources to deliver. It's a perfect match and a relationship that should never go awry if both parties understand and are willing to collaborate.
Despite the positives of embracing collaboration, the reality is that it's understandable when collaborative relationships buckle. We are talking about two businesses after all, and these days, workloads and stress levels are sky-high in most workplaces. This is why at the end of the day, it's absolutely key for an agency to get buy-in on collaboration before any project gets off the ground. We strongly believe in collaboration, which is why when you come full-circle back to our WSI Lifecycle™, you'll see that the first three phases of our approach require heavy participation from the client. Fully transparent, just like we promise!
A Good Agency Leads By Example
Think about the quickest purchase decisions you've ever made; wait, scratch that, we don't mean impulse decisions (because we know how those often turn out)! Instead, think about the purchases you're most satisfied with, and then consider the reasons you made those purchases. Some of us here at WSI found that we were most satisfied by purchases that were a) recommended or b) that we had used, tested, or watched a demonstration for. It makes sense that the best buys are those where you get exactly what you expect, which is a concept that applies to our point about collaboration (set expectations first!) and the notion of an agency leading by example.
When it comes to digital marketing, the question is how can you use or test an agency? You can't really, but what you can do is check out their site, blog and other digital properties to verify that they're actually doing the things that they suggest you do! Are they using data to come to their decisions? Are they using the tools and digital marketing strategies that they're preaching? If a company treats themselves as a client, then you know they believe in their products and services - and that's the most honest form of testing and demonstration that you'll get (short of receiving "free" work, which is something you should be wary of).
Using WSI's own recent history as an example, we published 39 posts on our blog in 2019 (and are on track to do even more in 2020!), we created a client webinar series called Ahead of the Curve during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to educate clients and prospects on digital marketing and continued to stay active on LinkedIn and Twitter. There's no doubt about it, at WSI we practice what we preach! Oh and not to toot our own horn, but we also released our 3rd book, Digital Minds: A Strategic Approach to Connecting and Engaging with Your Customer Online. Not too shabby.
After An Appropriate Time Period, Results Matter
When all is said and done, even the most amicable collaborations and satisfying purchases are defined by one thing: results. If a digital marketing agency isn't delivering results, then the client has every reason to be disappointed (check out our Ahead of the Curve webinar summary on how you can set SMART goals for your business with Google Analytics).
Once again, agencies that hold themselves to the highest standard are the ones you should lean towards working with. We believe that in this industry, there's always room to track, measure, tweak and improve what you're doing. At the same time, we're proud of the results we've gotten over the past few years, and we hope that means something to our readers and prospective collaborators.
When evaluating digital marketing results, it's important to remember the various ways time is a factor. For tactics like PPC and social ads, you get real-time data and results over the course of days and weeks. On the other hand, content marketing and SEO are long-term, evergreen strategies that should be measured and tweaked over lengthier periods. It took months for our SEO and content strategy to gain steam, but that was expected. The important thing to remember is that all that work you're doing to tweak content types, lengths and promotion methods will help you navigate out of valleys sooner, and make the peaks last even longer.
There's no doubt we're getting fantastic results, and we can for you, too!