Digital marketing is perceived to be an easy business, considering that real work is done online. However, many agency owners overlook the importance of the team structure that will make the work happen.
In an ideal scenario, you will invest an equal amount of time and energy in formulating a team that carries out online marketing tasks in the right way.
While formulating the digital marketing agency team structure, you need to list down ideal team positions. In a small agency, one person might be taking care of multiple roles like a department in themselves, but it is better to divide work equally and separately, so the future mishaps can be avoided.
This year, most agencies are opting for gender equality and looking to provide equal opportunities to everyone.
Emily Chang’s Brotopia: breaking up the boy’s club of Silicon Valley is one powerful publication that seeks to demand an end to male dominance in organizations.
Your goal should be to become a digital marketing agency with a flexible, agile working environment.
Keeping in mind the initiatives of inclusivity and gender awareness, here are some departments you can start in your agency this year:
This is where you are going to make the core of your agency. This department is going to determine the success of your
organization, as the creatives fuel a digital marketing agency’s narrative.
There are many different roles within an agency, but the most common ones are as follows:
• Production managers
• Art directors
• Web designers
• Creative directors
• Content writers
These roles are grown out of the need of the hour, and many of these people are paired up to work as a team on a project. For example, the copywriter can be paired with a creative executive to produce slogans for an upcoming logo campaign. Everyone in the creative services department reports to the creative director.
As the agency structure polarizes in 2019, we see many independent agencies joining heads to put better work forward. For example, ten independent agencies have partnered to form Together Group, a hub of the best creative and agile services. They also term themselves the Champions League of owner-led agencies.
It may include finance managers and account directors. When you get multiple clients from varying backgrounds, the creative people at an agency might find themselves often at a loss to manage accounts and other work together. An accounts department or even one executive, in the beginning, is good enough to kick off operations.
In the past, these people were also known as the ‘suits,’ and caused major friction between creative departments at an agency. Account services department works as the liaison between the agency and the client, so you must hire people who are good at the talking and are excellent problem solvers. They may also be called the face of your agency to a client.
Blake Cahill, SVP Global Head of Digital Marketing and Media at Royal Phillips believe that a hybrid model of working with the partners, based on a brand’s maturity is a futuristic approach to this.
One of the most important parts of an agency is the finance department. People at the account services will also be in charge of making sure that the client is billed and reminded to transfer payments.
They take care of everything related to money because money is what you want to make in your agency! That’s why it is crucial to hire a good accounting team who can tell you that a payment is delayed without making it sound like it is your fault.
The department is responsible for paying salaries, benefits, vendor bills, daily business costs, travel costs and any other costs that arise. Once again, it can be a single person or a team of multiple managers working on different sections as a team.
Technical service is an area that has grown drastically, given the client’s need for UX perfection. 14 percent of the fee from digital agencies goes to tech services. This team is the backbone of your many technological endeavors online.
The techies are going to be just like they are shown in the movies- they want their privacy, they don’t want to talk too much, and they are pretty much always solving something or testing something. However, a digital marketing agency should hire people on the strength of their skill set and flexibility to work.
Some major roles you should fulfill are front end developers who will execute and write code to be displayed on browsers, etc. Back end developer will work along, managing the core of an enterprise system.
Back end team will provide what is needed at the front end, and they are also found fixing the CRM or other software issues within the agency. Then there is the data team, who logs in all key info and analytics.
There has to be a quality assurance team that produces ideal testing scenarios and checks on every process during and at the end of the cycle.
Marketing: the marketing department will perform some key digital operations like developing campaigns and tracking ROI.
A good marketing ratio is 5:1 and the ideal scenario is 10:1. You have to onboard people who can get you a good ROI. The team structure varies, but Marketing people are responsible for creating and running the marketing process on various digital mediums, so a sound knowledge of these mediums is required.
SEO specialist: The struggle to rank on the first page is real, and this year will be all about SEO services. Because Google and other search engines keep changing their algorithms, you need a solid team structure with skilled SEO specialists. Search engine optimization is also one of the top skills a digital agency should acquire.
PPC: another skill that will be useful is to pay per click marketing or PPC. Clients don’t know how to allocate money to a PPC campaign, and your team should be their savior!
Customer support: the account managers might be liaising with the client, but many queries land in for the agency, which has to be handled by an experienced customer services team. The customer service team will also track down customer queries to improve workflow and convey current or future issues to the management.
When issues arise:
As we mentioned before, many agencies have some repeated issues arising between one or two departments. To quote a senior business leader in the US on his ‘digital strategy execution crisis,’
It started so well. We all agreed on our tasks, a timescale and at the very next meeting, the head of sales said they couldn’t do their tasks because they were busy with sales! I could have screamed!
You can successfully avoid these mistakes if you hire the right people. You should also avoid taking on too much and not delivering results as promised.
For this, break down big tasks into smaller chunks, so they don’t seem too overwhelming to your team. Identify quick wins and short, doable tasks that raise the productivity levels of your team. Always appreciate your employees for all the work they do and keep those work meetings short and crisp!
Another set of issues arises when the team does not know each other well. Hold networking sessions where the team can hang out and get to know each other well, as it would help them get along well during work hours.
If you’re working on a small team with limited resources, you know you need to work smarter, not harder. But there are a lot of moving parts across the marketing funnel, from lead generation to sales enablement and brand building.
Susannah Morris, Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships of HubSpot shares tips, tricks, and best practices on how to run marketing as a team of one and still crush your goals.
Finally, the question of outsourcing arises. Many agencies outsource what they can’t manage in-house, depending on monetary or resource reasons. In-housing is the dream of every agency owner, but the high demand for solutions should make you think otherwise.
Cahill from Royal Phillips also promotes working with partners on strategy first, and then creative execution. You can outsource work like design, skill training, and event management to someone who is good at their job!
Creating, managing and structuring a digital marketing agency is not a one-size-fits-all method. The most logical answer is that it depends.
It depends on the size of your business, the business location, the nature of your business, key business solutions and also on the kind of people who are responsible for running the departments for your business.
So you, the business owner, have to wear a searcher’s hat and find out the people who will make your work shine.