Avoid Hurdles When Working With Multiple Agencies
Columnist Pauline Jakober discusses how to work through common issues that arise when clients employ multiple agencies.
Are you a digital marketing professional working with multiple agencies? From PPC to SEO to PR, some companies have a veritable alphabet soup of agencies that each manage very specialized services for businesses.
But all these agencies do not always play nicely. Competing strategies, miscommunications and bottlenecks are just a few reasons that multiple agencies need to align when there is overlap.
The trend of companies working with more than one digital agency likely is not going to slow down anytime soon, and agency growth is on the rise; that means a lot of choices for a lot of companies.
Today, let’s look at a few scenarios that might sound familiar to you when working alongside other agencies. And guess what? The solution to almost every problem in most cases is as simple as communication.
Problem #1: SEO & PPC Clashes
Usually, SEO and PPC work well together to build relevancy, clicks and conversions. But sometimes, when teams on both ends take action without communication, it can cause problems.
When an SEO agency that shares a client with our PPC agency decided to make some changes to the product titles on the client’s website by taking out keywords, it wreaked havoc on the company’s Google Shopping campaigns.
Then came the frantic phone call from the client. Shopping campaign volume had plummeted and left us scratching our heads. We did what we normally do: start investigating with a laundry list of questions.
As you may know, Google Shopping campaigns are tied to the data feed via Google Merchant Center, which pulls information from a website. Any changes to the product pages can directly impact the data feed, which in turn impacts Google Shopping ads.
It was obvious what had happened when we reached the “Have you changed anything on your website?” question. We decided to call up the SEO team. We weren’t sure how invested they were in the changes they were making, so that was an initial concern, but in the end, it was just an oversight on their part.
The crisis lasted all of 24 hours and was a simple fix; however, this is just one scenario that shows how direct and consistent communication between agencies can be key.
Problem #2: Turf Wars
Sometimes larger companies have more than one agency in the same space, which can lead to disjointed results. Case in point: Our paid search agency shares a client with another digital agency, and that digital agency is under contract to provide all the display advertising to the company.
Our client took that to mean that under no circumstances were we to run visual display ads on the Google Display Network (GDN); they would, however, allow one exception: remarketing with text ads on the GDN.
The real kicker is that the other agency isn’t touching AdWords at all, and it’s a shame because time and time again, we see how the GDN can boost overall search PPC performance. Not to mention, we always include display ads within our remarketing campaigns.
But hey, our goal is not to encroach on territory, but rather to do what’s best for the client and work in partnership with others. After a few educationally-based conversations on the benefits of the GDN, the client agreed to do a test case for a specific location only.
This small step was a win. We could then prove the worth of the GDN, and perhaps the client could renegotiate terms with the other agency when the contract was up.
Remember, nothing is clearer than the bottom line, and if you have the chance to improve that but feel others are holding you back, figure out a way to communicate through educational means so you can work together towards the goal.
Problem #3: Creative Blockages
What happens when you’re relying on multiple teams to complete one task? Take, for example, the story of a client who took a really long time to send us their display ads.
The client wanted their creative design team to work on the visuals for the ad, and that team was backed up with other priorities. Yes, we were facing creative blockage.
Time went on, and we decided to take matters into our own hands. We produced an estimate of what it would take for our designer to get the job done, presented it to the client and let them know we would eat the cost just to get the project going.
Strangely enough, that’s sometimes the only nudge a company needs. Whether from pride of ownership or something else, the creative team started working on the display ads right away.
Sometimes if you really want something to happen, and resources are short on the other end, offering a helping hand can make all the difference in getting the ball rolling.
Multiple problems can rear their ugly heads when working with multiple agencies and teams, but I’ve always found direct communication is the best solution — and even better when you can have an open line of communication with the other teams consistently. Unfortunately, that’s not always an option.
In the end, taking a partnership approach, rather than viewing the issue as “us versus them,” will help you think of solutions that can benefit both the company and the other agency.
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