How to make your agency indispensable with data-driven marketing

It’s 2019, and digital marketing isn’t all that groundbreaking anymore — especially for agencies. The industry has advanced to a point where if you aren’t doing some kind of digital marketing, you’re falling behind the times (and your competitors).

But simply offering digital marketing services doesn’t cut it either. There are hundreds upon hundreds of marketing agencies in the United States alone, so differentiation is key. But what’s an agency to do when it’s hard to stand out through just your service offerings? Sure, great brand messaging and a unique approach can help. But at the end of the day, most agencies offer essentially the same range of services.

Your potential clients are no longer going to be impressed by SEO or paid media savvy alone. They also need to see real results, and you need to be able to establish trust and prove the value of your work. That’s where data-driven marketing comes in: When done right, it can make your agency an indispensable partner to your clients.

Here at CallRail, we’re developing innovative new tools to make life easier for our agency users. Check out our brand new Account Center, which makes it even easier for agencies to manage multiple clients at once.

Agency Marketer's Guide to Client Retention

What is data-driven marketing?

First, it’s important to make sure your clients actually understand what you’re talking about. Agency-client communication crumbles when there’s too much jargon, so explain things simply and in terms that are relevant to their businesses.

You can start with a simple definition: “Data-driven marketing is an approach that allows you to use hard numbers to prove your marketing efforts are working, better allocate resources, and find opportunities for growth.” From there, you can narrow your definition to better fit the specific industry or work that’s most relevant to your client.

In an agency setting, data-driven marketing relies heavily on reporting. While the metrics included in each report will largely depend on the client or the project, here are some rules of thumb worth following:

1) Avoid vanity metrics

As your clients become more in-tune with digital marketing and analytics themselves, they’ll become more critical of the data you choose to present to them — and rightfully so! To stay transparent from the get-go, steer clear of vanity metrics. These are metrics that only offer a surface-level analysis of marketing campaigns, and can leave your clients demanding better proof of attribution.

Instead, make sure your reports turn your vanity metrics into actionable metrics that best prove the value of your work.

2) Beef up your presentations

It may be tempting to just put some charts and text boxes in a Powerpoint and call it a day, but well-planned presentations really do make a difference when it comes to convincing key stakeholders. Even the most amazing data findings can easily get buried in a presentation lacking narrative, context, or human-friendly design.

Check out these 10 data presentation tips to make sure your findings are presented as effectively as possible.

3) Consider all parts of a marketing touchpoint

Calculating ROI is important, but if you want to stand out, consider other important parts of a marketing touchpoint. For example, you can pretty easily figure out CPC (cost per click) for a search engine marketing campaign. But what about measuring the effectiveness of landing page content? (For metrics, think time on page or bounce rate).

Including this ‘softer’ information can help you look past more obvious metrics like CPC, and provide your clients with helpful feedback about what kind of content resonates best with their audience.

4) Explain the problems data-driven marketing helps clients solve

Once your clients have the gist of it, you can start exploring the specific questions that data-driven marketing will help your clients answer. Depending on how well-versed in digital marketing your client is, these questions could be related to general business goals:

  • Was our most recent campaign worth the money?
  • Where do our most profitable customers find us?
  • Do customers prefer to call our business or fill out online lead forms?

Or, they can be specific to certain marketing channels your clients already use:

  • Do Facebook or LinkedIn ads generate more long-term revenue?
  • Which blog posts are most engaging?
  • Do our trade show leads actually turn into revenue?

It can be tempting to use the same presentation with the same examples for all your clients, but tailoring it to each one’s individual needs is worth the extra effort — you want your client to see how data-driven marketing fits into their business. For example, if your client is generating plenty of traffic but struggling with conversion, your agency could explain how the client can use analytics and heat map tools to determine where (and why) users drop off.

5) Build an agency marketing stack tailored around client needs

Tools appear towards the end of this post because they’re not a solution in and of themselves — strategy comes first, and tool selection comes later, based on what you need to execute your strategy.

It’s all too easy for agencies (and clients) to get caught up in the latest and greatest marketing tech trends, but it’s important to remember that an ideal tech stack will be tailored to your client’s individual needs. Not only is this approach far more efficient, it will demonstrate your agency’s credibility and strengthen your client’s trust in you.

Read more about how to build a marketing stack for your agency.

6) Use both quantitative AND qualitative marketing data

In data-driven marketing we tend to get hung up on quantitative (‘how many?’) data, but qualitative (‘why?’) data can be equally insightful. In fact, qualitative data can be far more useful than qualitative data when it comes to explaining the numbers you see every day on your marketing analytics dashboard.

For example, consider this case study with Australian digital agency Webfirm. Initially, they used CallRail to track phone call conversions on the campaigns they ran for their clients, allowing them to increase phone call conversions by 50 percent. But what about the callers who dropped out of the sales funnel entirely?

Webfirm realized that CallRail’s call recording feature allowed them to find the gaps in their team’s expertise that were causing leads to be least. This qualitative data — used alongside their quantitative analysis — helped Webfirm go above and beyond your average digital agency, proving their value and trustworthiness in the process.

All of these examples show how, when done right, data-driven marketing can elevate your agency to become a trusted partner to your clients. And in today’s agency climate, there’s nothing more important.