From advertising and branding to dedicated social media management or web development, agencies of all types and sizes exist to provide services that cater to the multitude of digital needs of brands.
One of the biggest challenges that agencies face is getting new clients. Meanwhile, content creation continues to be a promising lead generation strategy.
This got us thinking: Why not put together a guide for agencies to improve their content and social media efforts and make getting new clients less of a challenge? So, that’s exactly what we did.
As you read through this guide, it will become clear exactly why you should care about your own marketing efforts. We’ll also map out tips for an effective social media strategy, answer questions on how to prove social media ROI, and more.
What brands really want to hear from agencies
Clients want to hear you say “We know your business.”
Obviously, you’ve got to dive-deep and read-up on everything about the brand you’re about to pitch to. But that’s not enough.
You need knowledge about the industry as a whole. During the review process, marketers are going to be impressed with agencies that showcase knowledge about their industry and business rather than giving that old elevator pitch on what their product does (anybody can glean information from a potential client’s website but that’s expected, and it won’t win you extra points).
Also, don’t pretend you know more than you do. The lack of experience and credibility will hinder your client-agency relationship in the long term, so don’t stretch yourself too thin.
We embrace a data-driven approach
Your ability to wield magic with creative ideas isn’t going to make you stand out from the rest. Well, it can...but make sure it’s based on actual numbers.
For agencies, this means you must be able to bring data to the table. You need to leverage numbers to inform your strategy and measure the performance of your work.
Flashy slogans and neon visuals won’t take you very far if it’s not supported by proper results. Show them the knowledge you have about the brand, the business, and the industry and back it up with your creative ideas and cold, hard numbers.
Proving the value of social media
Measuring the return on your social media activities isn’t easy or straightforward. But can it be done? Absolutely.
Social media return on investment — or, ROI — is the accumulated result of everything you do for clients on social media, all the way from community management, building their brand, protecting their reputation in a crisis, attracting new customers, and directly earning revenue. And all the other stuff too. In this section, you’ll learn how to empower your clients to track social media ROI.
But first things first. There are dozens of social media networks to choose from. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, TikTok, Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and oh so many more. They’re all different and each of them offer unique experiences and different ways of interacting with a target audience.
But having a presence on ALL of these channels would not only be (practically) impossible for most clients, it would also be a waste of time and resources. It’s highly unlikely — we’re talking snowstorm in a desert here — that your client’s audience is active on all of those channels. And even if they were, it's unlikely you’ll achieve a respectable ROI on all of them.
Choosing (or reevaluating) what the right social media channels are for the audience. Have your client really think about their target audience and the social media channels they are most likely to use on a regular basis.
When researching your target audience’s social media usage, try:
- Determining your ideal customer
- Estimating the size of your audience
- Surveying your customers
- Researching online behavior (studies and infographics)
- Connecting and talking to existing customers.
It’s time to think about objectives and which social media channels are most likely to help (your client) obtain those objectives. This is a good conversation to have with your client, jotting down social media goals and discussing how achievable those goals are within the restraints of resources and budgets.
What do clients want from social? Here are a few examples:
- Increase brand awareness
- Make sales or generate leads
- Community management
- Grow their follower base
- Increase website traffic
- Establish thought leadership.
Choosing the right KPIs
There’s quite a big difference between wanting to raise awareness and needing to generate sales. As such, we’re working with different key performance indicators depending on the goals of your clients’ campaigns. Let’s go through some typical social media goals and suggested KPIs for each.
- Drive traffic to website: clicks, website visitors, bounce rate
- Boost community engagement: likes, shares, comments
- Increase brand awareness: impressions, reach, audience growth rate
- Optimize customer support: response time, response rate, customer satisfaction score
- Generate sales and leads: clicks, conversion rate, newsletter opt-ins
- Establish thought leadership: share of voice, audience growth rate, website traffic.
Once you’ve had that conversation and established which metrics define success for your clients, you can start defining quantifiable goals together with them. However, make sure those goals are set realistically according to follower base, posting frequency, and other historic data points.
With thought-out social media goals and key performance indicators to match, you’ll be well on your way to proving the value of social media to (and with) your clients.
As a little bonus, we’ll go through just a few simple rules you should tell your clients to follow religiously no matter who they’re targeting, no matter what channels they’re on, no matter what they’re selling... Seriously, no matter what.
Rules to follow forever
It must be genuinely valuable content
To do well on social media, clients need to offer their audiences relevant, interesting, valuable content whether it’s original or curated. We cannot stress the importance of this enough. People only spend time on social media to find things they’re interested in.
One in six, okay?
Everything is relative and all, but a good unwritten rule (that we’re now writing down) is that only one in six social media updates should be self promotional. Spam your audience and they’ll click ‘unfollow’ faster than you can say ‘Facebook’.
Put the ‘social’ in social media
Social doesn’t work if it’s just you sharing links to your blog in radio silence. So, try and explain to clients how they should engage their audience like they would family and friends. That means asking a lot of questions. Answering a lot of questions. Commenting on stuff. You know, actually being social.
6 reasons why agencies should care about their own content marketing too
For agencies who think that content marketing is just a ‘nice to have’ rather than an absolute and unequivocal need-to-have, here are 6 reasons why we think it’s the other way around.
1. It helps retain your clients
Much of your social content and blog posts will be aimed at people who know about your business. We’re talking about your friends, your family, your employees, and more importantly, your clients.
While content marketing might support the goal of increasing brand awareness and generating more leads, it also plays a huge role in retaining your existing clients.
Think about it. Apart from giving them top-notch services, you’re going to have to give them more reasons to retain their relationship with you. Writing content pieces that directly speak to your audience is a great way to assure clients that they made the right choice in partnering with you.
At the end of the day, who doesn’t love a well-informed partner who’s aware of current trends and industry research and also understands translating it into good content pieces?
2. It builds your brand awareness
Your brand’s reputation is built on a foundation of trust. You feed into that trust by offering real value through services and good content.
The content that you post helps your audience build an opinion of who you are and what your agency stands for. Do that well, and that automatically translates into trust.
Voicing your opinions (on social for instance) also helps people connect with your brand on a deeper level. It can even help position your agency as a thought leader in your industry.
3. It improves your site’s ranking
There’s no better way to increase your qualified search traffic than by combining your SEO efforts with content marketing. Writing content that is relevant, up to date, and that directly speaks to your audience is the key to getting large volumes of traffic to your site.
As you write more and more content pieces on search terms your target audience is looking for, search engines will pull out your content and increase your rankings.
If done right, content marketing will not just drive more traffic to your business, but also boost your sales as buyers are directed to your website to a higher degree.
4. It improves your conversion rate
Delivering sharp and informative content is crucial to close business deals in a highly competitive agency environment. Why? Because brands are spoiled for choice.
You have to be ahead of the curve and offer valuable content that will be of interest to your prospects.
If you do well with your content marketing efforts, you’ll be able to start a conversation and keep your brand top-of-mind. It might very well be the advantage you need to close the deal.
5. It generates more leads
If you didn’t know already, content marketing is one of the best ways to generate leads in the digital age.
But there’s a catch.
You must be careful with the kind of content that you churn out. If done incorrectly, you’re going to end up with bad leads, which is 10 times worse than having no leads at all.
To implement a successful content marketing strategy, your agency needs to focus on whom you want for a client and how you wish to serve them.
Once you get a handle on those things, your focus should lie on continuously creating strong content pieces for that audience. It also helps if your agency is active on social media. Regular posting will get more eyeballs redirected to your website.
6. It helps with upselling
Agencies should make a mental note to not get carried away by creating content for the sole purpose of getting likes and shares.
If you plan to publish four to five blog posts in a month, make sure at least one of them highlights the service you provide to your clients. Just don’t make it (too) salesy.
Marketing efforts can be improved in many ways, and if you think your new and revised social consulting services can improve a brand’s marketing efforts, be sure to subtly mention that in your blog post.
It also helps to have your team email the latest eBooks, blog posts, and webinar links to their clients even before it’s publicly released. This sort of helpful and dedicated gesture can be a way of letting them know about additional services you offer.
5 Tips for an effective social media strategy
Whether agencies like to admit it or not, there’s always a palpable excitement in the room when the team comes together to plan a client’s social media strategy, devise a new campaign, build a brand from scratch, or just about any activity to do with marketing for a client.
On the opposite side, there’s a stark difference in energy and resources when it comes to strategizing their own social media efforts.
As marketing agencies, you’ll know better than anyone the importance of an effective social media presence. With a client-first mindset, a lot of agencies let their own marketing efforts take the backseat.
Even if social media services are not something you offer to your clients, having a strong social media presence of your own could do wonders for your business in terms of generating leads and increasing brand awareness.
If you’re wondering how to get started on your social media strategy or just simply looking to revive your dormant social media accounts, we’ve covered a few tips that can be of some use to you.
1. Stay informed
Staying informed of what’s happening around your industry is vital to your business and the clients that you serve.
Let’s say you have clients from the e-commerce sector. You have to stay informed about what is trending in the industry to let your clients know that you’re aware of the wider context surrounding their brand. This way, your clients will feel assured that you’re on top of things.
3 ways to stay on top of industry trends:
- Create a forum (like a Slack channel) where you can ask your team members to share interesting news stories or articles.
- Customize your news feed on social so you’re notified of the latest news about a particular topic or industry. A tool like BuzzSumo can also help you surface trending stories in particular sectors.
- Join Facebook groups that are relevant to the industries you deal with to gain insights and perspective from industry experts.
2. Show your work
Let’s face it. Companies aren’t going to hire a private investigator to find out what your agency is capable of.
What they might do instead, is visit your website, social media accounts, online review forums, and so on. Basically, they’re going to be all over your online presence before approaching you or sending you an RFP (Request for Proposal).
While a strong website and a ton of 5-star Glassdoor reviews are sure to impress, a dormant social media profile (where the latest post is from 2017 and there’s little to no engagement) will surely break the illusion and leave people confused.
How do you avoid that? Simple, just show people what you do. Share some of your best works on social to let your clients know what sets you apart from the rest. Post videos, infographics, charts, and images that show your agency work. A little behind-the-scenes content can also work wonders.
But remember to get your client’s consent before posting their content on your social channels. It also helps to have your client relations team to outline some guidelines when it comes to sharing client work on social.
3. Be consistent
You have got to be consistent on social, especially when it comes to branding. It’s not just the work that you do that sets you apart from your competitors. Your branding, in equal parts, also helps create your own identity.
Pay attention to your brand style. Ask yourself this question: Are the colors, fonts, and visuals you use on your website the same as the ones you use on your Facebook page?
Your website and your social media channels are different, yes, but they should both be immediately recognizable as belonging to your brand. Ensure consistent use of color, design, and logos for instant brand recall.
As an agency, your clients will often belong to different industries, so when you share information catering to each of these different industries, it can easily make your social feed look chaotic — that is, if you don’t have a strategy in place.
Focus on consistency and make sure your content is on-brand. The content that you post will act as the voice of your brand. Having a consistent posting schedule will give your audience a chance to start recognizing your style and tone of voice.
4. Establish thought leadership
Regardless of the size of your agency, you need to share content that positions you as a leader in the field of your expertise.
Sharing content that translates your work, your opinions on industry insights, and resharing the work of other industry experts will give your agency credibility on social. Plus, it’ll also make you look like you know what you’re talking about.
Did you know? According to the Edelman-LinkedIn research, 55% of B2B marketers said they would use thought leadership to vet organizations they may hire.
5. Don’t lose the human touch
At the end of the day, you’re dealing with real people.
You want to stay connected and engaged with your followers (also people) and for that to happen, you must be careful not to lose the “human touch”.
If people categorize your agency’s brand personality as that of an ice queen, it’s time to intervene.
Things you could do to stay human on social:
- Have your employees host a takeover on social media and share what a day in the office looks like to them.
- Your clients are real people too, so make your clients a key part of your social strategy.
- Own up to your mistakes when something goes wrong. That’s a big part of staying human on social!
Staying human on social is not as hard as you might think. Start by showing the faces of your team. Remember that palpable excitement we spoke about earlier? Try to capture that moment and share it on social. That’s a start. Share moments of celebration, company events, behind-the-scenes pictures, and real-life learnings to give your audience a glimpse of who you are. It’s these little things you do that will make clients want to connect and associate themselves with your agency.