One of the biggest benefits of digital marketing is that there’s often real-time analytics and results. In any given moment you can track how your efforts are paying off and make any necessary tweaks in that same moment to maximize value. You can turn on a Google AdWords campaign and within minutes start to see a measurable return on investment. With these types of visible returns, it’s easy to sell the C-suite on additional investments.
There are other areas of digital marketing that aren’t as fortunate. They hold the same amount of value, if not more. But, it takes a much longer view to see it. Read through the following examples of upfront investments that create long-term value and how you can clearly explain that value to your decision makers—and get the investment and buy-in you need to be successful.
UX DISCOVERY AND CONTENT MAPPING
A typical website development project contains, at a minimum, two distinct steps: the client identifying a need for a website and an agency launching that website. What happens in-between can vary greatly from agency to agency—and can add substantial cost to the overall project in the process. At NATIV3, we advise our clients to invest in upfront user experience (UX) research and deliverables before entering the design and development phases. Skipping this step seems appealing because cutting hours will also cut the cost of the project. Except that UX discovery will actually save you time and money in the long term in three ways:
- Provides a clear roadmap for all phases of the project, cutting down on the need for extra design rounds and development changes
- Discovers valuable insights about your users that can be leveraged across the business, beyond the initial project
- Documents the goals and the “why” of your project to cut down on future decision-making time
When pitching UX to your leadership team, focus on the decrease in future pain points. The upfront UX process will decrease headaches during development, which will keep the project off of their plates. Most importantly, making changes to a project after it’s already in development (or post-launch) costs much more than during the planning phase. UX means happier users for you and less dollars spent for your business. Apart from cost savings, good UX leads to higher search rankings, better user engagement and more conversions. That all adds to your bottom line.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
Search engine optimization is a process. There’s keyword and competitive research, audits, analytics, and user flows all before any implementation begins. If your SEO partner has quick “tips and tricks” to increase your rankings on Google or Bing, chances are they’re cutting corners and aren’t focused on finding you the right audience. But, because it’s a process, SEO takes time to generate real results. An implementation of optimized title tags, meta descriptions, and URL redirects have to be indexed by Google and then have enough users interact with the site to inform Google’s algorithm before any page rankings are affected. SEO doesn’t result in real-time success, but it’s well worth the wait so that you can:
- Capture a greater share of the market that is already searching for the product or service you offer—taking directly from competitors
- Use your SEO analysis to inform your content decisions; creating only the optimized content your audience finds relevant
- Have lasting results that aren’t tied to the availability of an advertising spend
Selling a SEO investment to your leadership requires setting expectations. You can’t pitch overnight success. Instead, pitch how SEO efforts today continue to impact revenue long after implementation. If you buy a billboard ad, it will help build brand awareness but as soon as you stop paying for it, the ad comes down. With SEO, once its implemented, it continues working for you. Your upfront investment can continue to pay dividends months or years down the road—especially with regular monitoring for new SEO opportunities. Since SEO legwork can help inform content strategy, it also cuts down on the time needed to create new content; time saved is money saved.
I won’t use this space to try and sell you on NATIV3’s value, though if you would like to hear why we’re a top digital marketing firm—let’s connect. Instead, before you start your search for the perfect agency partner, it’s important to understand the value an agency relationship can provide versus keeping work in-house. In general, agencies exist to provide services outside of their client’s core competencies. If you work at a company that sells ice cream, it’s unlikely that the ice cream company has a team of developers and designers. But, it is likely that your ice cream company has a need for a website, mobile app or other digital marketing service. The ice cream company could hire resources, but an agency’s value can be found in a few different areas:
- Saving leadership the time, effort, and money it takes to interview, hire, and create processes for a non-core function
- Providing consulting and deep expertise without having to spend top dollar to recruit experts
- Offering the flexibility to deliver myriad technical and creative solutions (mobile, SEO, Social, etc.) without the need of finding and hiring additional employees or partners
The selling point for a digital agency falls on the following: it’s expensive to hire, retain, and train employees. It’s especially expensive when the new hire’s job function falls outside of the company’s expertise. Unlike full-time employees, you don’t have to provide health and retirements benefits or sift through hundreds of resumes for each new project. The long-term value of an agency partner doesn’t just lie in the execution of project deliverables, but in the freedom it provides leadership to focus on core business functions.
Sometimes hiring an agency makes sense even when in-house resources already exist. For these scenarios, the selling point of an agency is manpower and the expertise to leverage those existing resources. Instead of hiring additional bodies, an agency can collaborate with existing resources to amplify their efforts—and free them up to provide strategic company direction rather than spend time on implementation (or vice versa).
While we often look at a dollar spent in one month against the results that same month, there is incredible value in taking a longer view. The more you can plan ahead of time, the less risk of costly updates and changes during a project. They say you have to spend money to make money, but you can also spend money to save money—which can be an easier sell.