While digital marketing agencies such as ourselves work closely with clients and are always looking to implement the latest strategies that will help to grow the presence of a business online, often we don’t take the time to take a step back and ask what the biggest challenges are that we face.
Many in our industry would cite Google as the biggest challenge. After all, it just takes one small tweak to an algorithm here and a change in policy there and the last six months’ work can immediately unravel.
We’re going to come at it from a different angle. Clients, for various reasons, pose a vast range of challenges. Many are due to a lack of understanding of what digital marketing entails (even after being told in some cases) while others are down to having unrealistic expectations.
Do these two examples interconnect? Often, yes.
At other times, the biggest challenges arise because what works for two clients might be at completely different ends of the spectrum, to the point where you’re struggling to identify reasons and trends.
What are the biggest challenges digital marketing agencies face?
How Much Effort?
Unfortunately, a digital marketing, or specifically an SEO campaign isn’t as simple as “doing SEO” for a day or two and then everything is bright and rosy.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
Many clients of digital marketing agencies have sought their services because they lack the expertise and the time to do the job in house. Ironically, the expertise and the time needed are often the first points of consternation in a client/agency relationship. This is often because a client is paying for five days work and might not realise what that entails. Thankfully, with excellent agency to client education, this can be remedied.
The aspect of the relationship that often needs work is the expectation on the client. Unless a client has the budget to pay an agency to take on full webmaster responsibility including development and making technical adjustments, there will still be a significant amount of commitment needed from clients. Often, clients can fail to realise just how much they still need to do on top of paying a consultancy or retainer fee.
When Will I See Results?
We’ve included this second because the effort leads to results, but many agencies would no doubt say this is the biggest challenge they face.
The reality of any digital marketing campaign is that results take time. This is true whether a client is embarking on a fully integrated campaign or is looking specifically at SEO, social media, or content marketing. Conservative estimates of 6 – 12 months are often given to clients that ask when they should expect to see results, but there may be an immediate ‘bounce’ owing to some changes that have been made in the early stages, or some reasons why organic traffic performance doesn’t improve until later on.
A ‘bounce’ owing to technical changes can actually work against an agency, as the client might then expect to see continuing growth at the same pace.
While it is understandably difficult for clients to spend money over a period when they might not be seeing any immediate tangible benefits, patience pays off when it comes to digital marketing.
Who are My Competitors?
Our final challenge is perhaps one that flies under the radar somewhat, but ironically offers probably the best opportunity for accurately gauging digital marketing success.
Many clients will look at the big names in their industry and say “they’re my competitors.” However, it is difficult to gauge how successful a campaign is if the “competitor” is a huge multinational that probably spends £25,000 and more a month while the client spends less than a tenth of that figure.
Agencies should ensure their clients are clear on which competitors it is worthwhile to compare to, although there is an argument that a focus on organic traffic and revenue growth only is a more productive path than overly worrying about competitor comparisons.
Digital marketers, what additional challenges do you face that we haven’t covered here? Comment below or contact us to tell us about what’s different for you.