Businesses, in many cases, work closely with a range of different digital marketing agencies.

In most of these cases, agencies are hired to fill a specific knowledge gap that exists within the businesses hiring them.

As a result, businesses often find themselves applying a multi-agency approach to their marketing strategy.

But is this the best way?

In this article I’ll look at some of the pros and cons of both a multi-agency and single-agency approach and give 3 reasons for why I believe a single-agency relationship can present a better opportunity to achieve a strong ROI.

The ROI challenge facing marketers

One of the main things keeping CMOs, marketing directors and marketing managers awake at night, is achieving and proving a strong ROI.

Pressure is growing on marketing departments to prove that the large investments that have been made over the last 3-4 years in content, social media, and other digital marketing initiatives, are having a positive impact on the bottom line.

The trouble is, measuring ROI when it comes to many different aspects of content marketing is extremely difficult as an effective content marketing strategy is likely to involve a great deal of complexity.

When you look at the different stages of the customer journey and the sales process within a business, you can see that at every stage, marketing is likely to have a different objective and play a different role.

This is when attribution, cost per acquisition (CPA), customer lifetime value, and a whole host of other ROI measuring techniques come into play.

For example, the strategy used in an awareness campaign is likely to be very different to that of a retention campaign. The tools and techniques we deploy are likely to be very different.

This is also partly why a multi-agency approach is taken by most organisations.

The multi-agency approach

By looking at the image below, this is often how a typical multi-agency relationship works.

Multiple Agency Approach

Whilst this model is fine, and many organisations find that it works well for them, we feel there are a number of missed opportunities that would vastly improve the ROI for the client.

One of the problems with a multi-agency approach is that, in most cases, agencies don’t communicate particularly well with each other. In my experience, when working client side, I’ve even had agencies refusing to cooperate, period.

This can be problematic for a number of reasons.

As an example, if you have separate agencies managing your content production and social media, the content agency will need to utilise the brand’s social channels to amplify their content and improve SEO. If those two agencies aren’t communicating and collaborating effectively this can lead to missed opportunities, delays and sometimes cause major headaches for you.

The other problems that arise are that all of the activities are related. They all form part of the customer journey and therefore have a direct impact on each other.

Because there are agencies working on different stages of the customer journey, there will be data being reported on individually from the agencies without a true idea of the bigger picture being presented.

The single-agency approach

The obvious difference between a single-agency and multi-agency approach is that with a single-agency relationship you have one agency managing most, if not all, of the various different elements of your digital marketing strategy.

A single-agency approach may look something like the diagram below.

Single Agency Approach

Before I go into the 3 reasons why I believe this is a strong approach when it comes to driving ROI, I want to highlight some of the potential drawbacks.

Firstly, there is often a fear of “putting all your eggs in one basket”. This can certainly be an issue if you engage the wrong agency to manage all of these marketing elements for you.

Secondly, by moving away from a multi-agency approach, there can also be a loss of quality as you’re engaging with a general marketing agency instead of a group of specialist agencies. However, with the growing interconnectedness of digital channels, most agencies are developing specialist departments within their businesses. This means that any loss of quality on campaigns should be minimal, if not, non-existent.

So with all this in mind, lets look at the 3 main reasons we believe a single agency relationship can help supercharge your ROI.

1. Measure campaigns from eyeball to wallet

One big advantage of a single agency relationship is that you can track performance of marketing campaigns from the first ad impression right through to purchase or qualification.

Through pixel and link tracking, an agency managing your media buying, content, social media, SEO and anything else you may be throwing into the mix, are able to build a clear picture of where your marketing spend is best utilised.

As an example, we’re currently working with a number of large clients on their media planning, content production and content syndication as well as social media, SEO and many other aspects of their digital marketing mix.

Because we’re managing such a large portion of the customer journey, we’re able to see how everything fits together and, over a relatively short period of time, have been able to build a marketing model that we know provides an extremely good ROI.

This would be far more difficult for us to achieve if we only had one piece of the data and one piece of the budget.

This also opens up additional opportunities when it comes to advertising and media buying.

Because we work on most stages of the customer journey for our clients, we’re able to retarget people based on a huge number of variables.

For example, we’ve achieved some insane conversion rates from retargeting people who have engaged with off-site content and later engaged with on-site content afterwards.

By having the ability to take ownership of the customer journey we’re able to truly understand how the relationship between your brand and your target market evolves through the various different stages, and then apply our decades of combined experience and knowledge to get the results you want.

2. Economies of scale

One of the biggest benefits our clients get as a result of a single-agency relationship is the savings they see.

For many of our clients we provide content production services, network publishing services and also provide solutions around media buying and media planning. As a result, we can negotiate extremely good deals with our media partners that combine publishing content through their channels, and also more traditional digital media buys such as banner and video ads.

Because the budget isn’t split across multiple agencies we’re able to buy in much greater volumes, meaning we enjoy significantly lower rates for placing content and media with large 3rd party media properties.

This allows us to put our clients’ content in front of millions more people with the same budget than if we were only working on one area of their marketing strategy.

You’ll also enjoy having more of your budget being spent directly on marketing activity.

With multiple agencies comes multiple management fees.

3. Efficiency

Dealing with marketing agencies can take time. There is a lot of relationship building, processes to be implemented, planning, and negotiation around KPIs and objectives.

On top of that you’ll receive several different reports, often in different formats, that need to be collated and presented to the relevant departments within your company.

By working with one agency you’re able to avoid most of this as you’ll only have the need to communicate with one entity.

This means only one set of reports, one relationship to establish, providing relevant account access to just one partner, and many other time saving benefits.

Not only is it more efficient, it’s also more secure.

Digital marketing has become so integrated into the day to day running of a business that there is a lot of information and access to areas of the business that needs to be given to agencies in order for them to be effective in what they do.

In recent years we’ve seen some very public incidents of hacking and security breaches, many of which occur as a result of a lack of security procedures in place when external access to key systems is provided.

In summary

I’ve covered only 3 key points in this article. I could’ve added many more but I think this is a good place to bring the article to an end.

As I’ve highlighted, there are pros and cons for all approaches when it comes to working with agencies. Whilst we obviously prefer to work on a single-agency basis, sometimes a client has longstanding agency relationships in place that they don’t want to bring to an end.

Also, sometimes a multi-agency approach is necessary for capacity reasons or to utilise specific specialisms that a general agency may simply not be able to offer.

Whilst we see a single-agency relationship as being more effective, we also don’t discount some of the benefits a multi-agency approach can bring in terms of specialisation and additional expertise.

I hope this article has highlighted some of the valuable benefits for you and you’ve found it useful.

If you’re interested in finding out how we could work with your organisation and help supercharge ROI, please get in touch. We’d love to have a chat.

About Josh Hunt

I'm the Director of Marketing and Media Strategy at Dialect and have over 10 years experience in digital marketing. I love tech, I love video games and I love Bristol, my home town

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