Lake One’s Favorite MarTech Tools for Making Life Easier

Part of the Lake One Modern Marketing philosophy reloves around utilizing a smartly crafted tech stack to research, execute, and analyze marketing. There are many tools we collectively use, but independently, we have a few front-runners that allow us to work smarter and harder. Here are our favorite MarTech tools for making life easier.

Related Reading: Insider Tips on Building a Marketing Tech Stack You’ll Actually Use

Ryan’s Top MarTech Tools

Keywords Everywhere

Keyword research can be laborious. With the Keywords Everywhere extension, it becomes part of all your activity. Some of the best features include seeing keyword data across multiple sites from search to Amazon. Set KW to highlight keywords at a certain volume, price, or competition threshold so you discover them quickly. Then, you can to add to and export lists. Keywords Everywhere is a marketing tool that makes research become part of regular internet browsing.

Marketing Tools

Ghostery

I’m a martech nerd. I love to know what tools are being used. With the Ghostery plugin, you can dissect a competitor’s marketing stack quickly by seeing what tags are installed. For me, I usually stumble upon a new tool once or twice a week worth exploring.

Want to know what it’s like working with Lake One? Give this blog a read.

Pixel

I was a long time iPhone user, since the first generation. A couple of years ago I converted. First, for battery life. I’m on the road a lot during the day with clients and prospects, so not needing to carrying a charging cord with me every second is huge. Second, with new generations of Pixels, they’ve built in spam tracking and call screening. Unfortunately, with number spoofing, it’s too easy for spammers to take up space in my voicemail. At a glance or with a call screen I can weed them out and not interrupt my day. Third, the camera/video is awesome. The Pixel makes for a great tool to produce quick content on the go.

Rachael’s Top MarTech Tools

Jing

I’ve had Jing installed on my machine for nearly a decade.

Jing makes taking and sharing screenshots a breeze, and in my opinion, is a must for those in client-facing roles. Why? Because of its ease of use and quick sharing capabilities. My favorite feature is the option to take a screenshot, annotate it, save it as a ‘copy’, and then share it simply by using “paste” vs having to save it to your computer and upload. You can paste it wherever you need it to go (in an email, in a slack conversation, google doc, and even in a text message).

Preview (Mac)

If you have a Mac, you’ve likely used Preview for one thing or another like viewing a picture or a PDF. But file viewing isn’t why Preview makes my list… It’s the ability to easily resize images for the web.

As best practice, images should ideally be under 500KB if possible, and Preview makes it happen with a few clicks. Simply click ‘Tools’ and then ‘Adjust Size’.  Voila. 

Marketing Tools

Slack

By definition, “Slack is a collaboration hub for work, no matter what work you do” and that’s pretty spot on.  The possibilities with Slack seem endless, but at Lake One, we use it for ideation, collaboration, and oftentimes, we share client updates. Here are a couple of our favorite features.

Channels: Slack allows you to sort your conversations by channels. On our #LakeOne channel, we often discuss our internal marketing efforts, like this blog, and team wins. 🙂

Integrations: Slack can integrate with several platforms (think HubSpot, HeyTaco, and Google Docs) and provide real-time updates.

Giphys: You can easily incorporate Giphys into your slack conversation and this feature alone has provided so many laughs. I may be biased, but our slack channel is pretty entertaining.

MarTech tools

In all seriousness though, Slack allows the ability for instant communication which is a must, especially for virtual teams.

Danielle’s Top MarTech Tools

Yoast

Yoast is a blog plugin for WordPress. There are so many reasons why this makes my favorite marketing tools list. First, without Yoast, there’s no way I can edit my meta description or SEO Title. Yoast allows me to do that- they call it the Snippet. In addition, I can enter in a “focus keyword”. By doing so, Yoast scans my post and helps guide my optimization process. I can get a snapshot of how well I’ve included my keywords through the blog, meta, and alt-texts. It gives suggestions to make the post more SEO-friendly by offering improvements and pointing out potential problems.

Marketing Tools

Additionally, Yoast offers a “readability” analysis. This tells me if any sections are too long, how the writing scores on the Fleche Reading Ease test, and if there are too little or too many transition words. It gives me an overall audit of how well the post is written. 

Related Reading: Must-Have Digital Marketing Technology to Facilitate SEO

Google Hangouts

Because, #ViturtalTeam. We use Google Hangouts for all of our internal meetings. We love it because we already use Google Calendar, so adding Hangouts is a simple extra step. We even have one specific Hangout URL bookmarked that we pull up for impromptu meetings or check-ins with each other. This saves our team a ton of time and allows us to connect via video chat to keep projects moving.

While we love Slack for instant chat, the voice and video calls can be glitchy, not always picking up on the microphone. Hangouts saves the day in reliability there, so it’s always our default for voice and video.

RiteTag

Whenever we start doing social media posting for a client, we conduct a hashtag analysis. We look at the hashtags they tend to use already and then brainstorm what we think would be beneficial for them based on their content strategy. I run those hashtags through RiteTag. RiteTag tells me how popular (or not) a hashtag is in three categories: get seen now, get seen over time, and don’t use. It also gives me related tags I can add to our list and allows me to decide what the better choice between two may be. For example, #DigitalAgency is good for long-term exposure whereas #DigitalAgencies is no bueno. #DigitalMarketing is a great choice to be seen now. RiteTag is a marketing tool every marketer should have bookmarked for easy access.

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Benefits of Working with a Virtual Marketing Agency

I set out to build Lake One to be, in a lot of ways, the anti-agency. I thought about all the bad experiences I had as an in-house marketer working with consultants, freelancers, and agency partners and wanted to make sure to instill in the values of our team – the opposite of those bad feelings. A lot of the reasons people choose to work with us, are because of that choice. But one I get asked about is the flexibility of our team. Our team is virtual. Not in the sense of AI & robots (although we use a lot of cool tools that are built with that power enabled), but virtual in the sense that our team works from all over the place. Sometimes, we lose business because of this and that’s okay. But I think the benefits of working with a virtual marketing department outweigh any of the perceived concerns. Here are a few benefits to consider when working with a virtual marketing agency.

working with a virtual marketing agency

Highly Productive

Let’s face it. The office environment is distracting. Random meetings coming up for absolutely no reason, that person who loves to stop by and talk your ear off. Sometimes it’s hard to get work done at work. Remote work arrangements increase productivity by removing distractions. Of course, at home, a coffee shop or coworking spaces can provide their own kind of distractions, but being in control of the space our team works in lets us be flexible to adapt to the tasks we need to accomplish.

Better Team Morale & Health

Because our team works remote and has more control over their days, we can fit things in that help reduce stress. Research has shown remote teams have a 44% higher positive attitude and 53% lower stress level. All of this leads to a happier, healthier life which bleeds into the work we do.

Reduced Costs

Because our infrastructure costs are lower, overhead is low. It’s amazing how much companies spend on overhead and those costs get passed through, especially in the services business. Because our costs don’t include fancy offices, we’re able to provide services at a more approachable price.

Okay, I get the benefits – but how do y’all dig in?

So maybe I have you sold on the benefits. But you’re wondering about our ability to strategize. After all, the work we do is highly important to your business. Do we even talk to each other about the accounts we’re working on? Let’s address some of the ways our team works together.

Program Management

First and foremost, program management is the hub by which internally we see where all projects are. Externally, clients can see how things are progressing. We’re constantly fine-tuning our processes around program management to be as transparent about what’s getting done, what’s getting stuck, and what’s coming up.

Virtual Marketing Agency Program Management

 

Daily Communication

We adopt an agile marketing approach and run daily standups with our team so we all know what we’ve worked on, what we’re our priorities are for the day, and what we need from others on the team. That’s a starting point. We also have daily sidebar conversation virtually and a series of carefully planned meetings internally to tackle things like business operations, ongoing innovation, and ad hoc client troubleshooting.

virtual standup

Client Communication

Aside from transparent communication via our program management, we regularly communicate with clients. Often daily. We have a structured meeting cadence and frequently meet face to face to tackle the big hairy strategic discussion.

Reporting

Internally, we have dashboards monitoring all accounts and reporting on progress on goals. At a glance, we know daily how our clients are progressing which allows us the insight to isolate problems or opportunities.

Put a Virtual Marketing Department to Work for You

At the end of the day, we’re not that much different than an agency with an office. We have some flexibility that gets our creative juices flowing – but we’re always driven by one thing. Success for our clients.

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Action19: Lessons in Business Resiliency

We were fortunate enough to be able to attend and sponsor the first ever Action19 event hosted by our partner Authentic Brand.

The theme of the event was Resiliency. While the speakers aligned their messages to the overall theme, each focused their address on a specific form of resiliency: personal, business/sales, and financial.

Action19 Recap

Personal Resiliency: Cory Hepola

Cory Hepola is currently a radio host for WCCO. Having switched his career from news anchor to radio host recently, Cory focused his keynote address on the perseverance it took to attain his success. Cory broached the subject of failure by discussing his hundreds- maybe even thousands?- of job rejections. He reminded us that we all go through struggles. So why then do we put up walls? Why do we avoid transparency, never talk about getting fired or rejected or criticized, and why is it that we only put the best versions of ourselves out there? We all do it. The point of Cory’s keynote wasn’t an appeal for us to all openly air our dirty laundry, but more so to call to attention that everybody has dirty laundry. Resiliency is found in not letting the struggle stop you from chasing your dreams.

Action19 Recap

One of my favorite parts from Cory’s keynote was his insight into dreams only coming true when you’re ready for them. It’s easy to get frustrated and give up when things aren’t going your way or happening fast enough, but more often than not, things won’t happen until you’re actually ready. The beauty of resiliency is that the more you persevere, the more prepared you’ll be when the universe is ready for you. Know your strengths, weaknesses, values, and purpose, and work toward goals that help facilitate your true character. True character is, after all, what shows itself when times are tough.

Cory was also keen to point out that whatever we do, it’s important to surround ourselves with good people. Allow those people to push you and support you.

Key Resiliency Takeaway:

The message of resiliency we all walked away with from Cory was that Everybody (capital E) fails. When you’re ready for it- actually ready, not just impatient- it will come to you if you’ve persevered through the struggle.

Hiring Resiliency: Mike Frommelt and Mary Nutting

In a dialogue between Mike Frommelt, Visionary & Co-Founder, KeyStone Executive Search and Mary Nutting, Owner, CorTalent & President, NAWBO, we learn about resiliency in recruiting and retaining employees. Mike built on to the adage, “right people, right seats,” by appending “right time.” He implored us to find employees as eager and passionate about your company as you are; the people truly invested in their careers. He continued to say that those people who really understand are the ones who will be all in.

Action19 Recap

Mary built on that idea. She pointed out the importance of hiring people based on the person and their values- people with “stretch skills” (potential). Find out and understand how a candidate’s personal values fit into company values before hiring. This will help ensure a quality fit, somebody more likely to succeed and grow within your company.

Mary also addressed the importance of knowing your business’s needs today. She discussed how occasionally businesses got lost in the goals and forecasts that predict future need. Rather than hiring for that, hire for what you need today. Don’t let your business get ahead of the talent- make sure you have talent for right now.

And then there’s that little matter of compensation. How do you deal with that? Let the market set it. Simple.

Key Resiliency Takeaway:

Resiliency is found through your people. As leaders, it’s critical to empower, inspire, and spend time with them everyday. And as Mike said, you want people’s hands and their hearts to bring your company to the next level. Invest in your people and your reward will be employees who work for you because they want to, not just for the paycheck.

Sales Resiliency: Josh Fedie

Josh Fedie, founder of SalesReach, lit the room with humor as he told us about resiliency in sales. First, smarketing (holla!). Align your sales and marketing teams. Make sure they are working toward the same goals and that you practice sales enablement, and are ensuring your sales team has all of the marketing material they need. Then, make sure you have the right tools – sales acceleration- to speed up your deals.

The modern buyer will be searching for you. It’s important to know, as Josh taught us, that every touchpoint in the sales process matters. Therefore, ABB + ABS. Always Be Branded & Always Be Selling! Always make sure you align your actions with your mission and vision. When your brand shines through, people will always work with people they like. Forever and ever.

Another knowledge bomb Josh dropped was to do video. Now. Like, right now. 90% of consumers said video helped them make a purchasing decision. Use video in your marketing and in your sales process as video enables your salespeople to be very personal. At every turn, you should be enabling your people.

Action19 Recap

Empower your employees. Let them know they bring value to the organization. Those employee brand ambassadors will create custom brand ambassadors, and that’s where revenue resilience truly lies.

Key Resiliency Takeaway:

Resilient sales teams are the product of resilient smarketing teams. An aligned smarketing team can help you empower every person in the company. Always be branded, and always be selling.

Financial Resiliency: Panel

The last session of the Action19 mini-conference was an expert panel discussing the topic of financial resiliency. Andy Schornack, President & CEO of  Flagship Bank Minnesota, Heide Olson CEO of All In One Accounting, Inc, Amy Langer Co-Founder of Salo LLC, and Aric Bandy President of Agosto.

The question ‘what should you do to prepare for a recession?’ was the first to be posed to the panel. Make sure your balance sheet is structured properly and that you have liquidity in assets. Develop good cash management in good times. And protect your people. While this wasn’t a continuation of the retention discussion from earlier in the day, treating your people as your greatest asset was a constant theme through the financial resiliency advice.

Action19 Recap

Additionally, we heard from Heide not to let your guard down when things are good. Always know where you are financially and don’t just have a plan B. Also know what triggers to be aware of that might indicate the need to switch to B. Furthermore, focus on process, people, and diversifying appropriately to make it through the next downturn. Invest in technology while you can, too.

Another question the group tackled was “As you head into a downturn, what happens when you ratchet back sales & marketing?” We’re going to take just *a little* liberty and say that the resounding answer was “bad things.” But really, panel members told about how when they cut back on marketing was when competitors were able to come out ahead. Additionally, they mentioned that it took a long time to catch back up to where they had been. Even in downturns, there is opportunity if you have the right team and are well positioned to take advantage. Find out why your employees and clients are working with you and do more of that.

Key Resiliency Takeaway:

As mentioned, supporting people was a large part of this financial discussion. Be resilient by creating an empowering environment where employees know they are valued.

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*Photo credits to Authentic Brand

What to Avoid When Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency

Working with a successful, experienced digital marketing agency can be critical to helping you build marketing infrastructure and scale for your company down the road. However, if you’re considering hiring a digital marketing agency that isn’t a good fit or can’t get the job done, it could be a very costly mistake. To help you avoid any chance at finding out the hard way, we’ve compiled a few tips about what to avoid when you are searching for and hiring a digital marketing agency.

WHAT TO AVOID WHEN WORKING WITH A DIGITAL MARKETING AGENCY

Research Phase

Don’t believe all agencies are one-size-fits-all

Your business is unique; therefore, the results you are looking to obtain will be unique. You’ll need to have an idea of what you’re looking to accomplish from working with an agency prior to going into the search. You don’t have to know specifics as you will eventually create a definitive strategy with the agency you choose, and they can help guide you in understanding what kind of results you should be able to achieve. However, to start, you’ll want to know some basics on your side

Download the How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company essential guide here.

Do you need serious help with your SEO or paid advertising? Does your website need an overhaul? Do you need a major boost around content? Are you looking for a quick fix or would you like to work with someone more long-term? Do you want to work with a local agency that you can meet face-to-face?

Decide what is most important to you prior to starting any kind of search activity for an agency so you at least know where to start looking.

Avoid choosing an agency based solely on location, pricing, or shiny promises

If you are pinching pennies, you may be enticed by the cheapest option you find, or you might be tempted to just find the firm that is closest to you. To be successful in the long run though, you’ll want to look into the capabilities of any digital marketing agency before you dive in and hand them your money. Marketing is a saturated market, there is a massively varying scale of capabilities and ability to produce results. Keeping this in mind, you’ll also want to be careful of being lured in by shiny messaging or promises that are right on the surface. The main point is to do your homework before spending a dime and hiring a digital marketing agency.

Did you know that they are different types of digital marketing agencies? Click here to learn more and find the best fit.

Evaluate more than just the surface

Check out the websites of your prospective agencies. For each one, consider if it clearly describes what they offer. Is the blog (assuming they have one) well-written and informative? Are there any customer case studies or online reviews? Narrow your list of potentials down to between 3-5 and get ready to have some conversations.

Prior to getting on the phone with an agency, have a rough idea of the budget you’d like to stay within. It may be difficult to find upfront pricing online because most agencies do custom pricing based on your objectives and the deliverables required to hit goals. That being said, though, if you have a budget range, a good agency should be able to demonstrate what can be done at that level.

In addition to a budget range, go into your conversations with a few set questions that you will ask every single agency you speak with. It can be easy to get sidetracked or a little lost in initial conversations because there is typically a lot of ground to cover. So, write down your questions in advance and make sure you get to all of them. You may want to save the pricing conversation until near the end of the initial call so the agency representative has an understanding of what you might need from them and can give you an accurate estimation. Here are some questions we recommend asking your prospective agencies.

Overall, hire a digital marketing agency who is transparent, quick to share examples and results, easy to talk to, knowledgeable, and experienced. You should never feel talked-down-to. Especially if you are going to work long-term with them, you’ll want to make sure your communication styles are a good match.How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company

Implementation Phase

Don’t allow work to start without a clear plan from the very beginning

Any agency should have a proven, repeatable process framework they can walk through with you. They should also have the ability to customize their typical processes to your specific needs and situation. They should make recommendations and tweaks to their processes based on what you are looking to accomplish and where you are with your marketing today.

Before starting the real work, a Service Level Agreement or some kind of full layout of the plan to get the project up and running should be presented for your approval. (Read about our Sales and Marketing Alignment SLA here!) Once you’ve signed off on it, persona work will likely begin with your agency. All of the work the agency does moving forward will be based on these personas, so you want to make sure they are accurate in order to target the correct audience with all marketing efforts.

At the start of the project, the agency should do a full walk-through (or Kick Off) of their plan with you. They should lay out their strategy and tactics and communicate the expected results. This should typically happen in a conversation that includes some kind of documentation for you to follow along, maybe it’s a slideshow presentation or a handout, but they should walk through it with you before jumping into the actual marketing communications.

hiring a digital marketing agency

It’s also important to note that inbound marketing can take 6-12 months to gain traction and upwards of 18 months before making a major impact. An agency that promises immediate results might be blowing smoke. Similarly, be wary of any agency that seems staunch in their plan. Inbound typically requires fluidity as data are gathered and knowledge gained. The ability to pivot as needed is key.

Project Phase

Avoid confusion later on in the project

Before getting off of your Kick Off call with your chosen digital marketing agency, you should have, at the very least, your next call scheduled. Ideally, you should set up a weekly or bi-weekly recurring time to meet and review progress. Even if you don’t end up needing or using the time every week, it’s great to have it on the calendar just in case.

Another thing you’ll want to establish right away is clear and set definitions of everyone’s role in the process, both from your own company and the agency. Who will be in charge of what, who will provide and receive updates, who has action items prior to the next check-in, etc.. Knowing these answers will help manage your relationship through its entirety. 

Finally, you should have a good understanding from the beginning of what kinds of metrics are important, how they will be tracked, and how they will be reported on, as well as how you can view and understand those reports.

Ready to have a conversation with Lake One? Request a free consultation.

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4 Essential Benefits of Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency

Bolstering an existing marketing program or starting from scratch can be a heavy lift, but you don’t have to go it alone. Joining forces with a digital marketing agency might be the best option for achieving your goals. Here are four benefits of partnering up.

Essential Benefits of Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency

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Four 2019 Marketing Trends You Can Count On

If you’ve been paying attention, the most likely 2019 marketing trends will come as no surprise. With an over-arching theme to connect to consumers personally, we expect 2019 to be filled with content intended to engage and meet consumers where they are rather than getting in their face. Here are the four trends we’d like to call attention to for the upcoming year.

Continue reading “Four 2019 Marketing Trends You Can Count On”

Digital Marketing Agency Options: Boutique, Full-Service, & Speciality

Whether your business is just getting started, or you are well-established, marketing is vital and can have a huge effect on your ability to grow. There are many options when it comes to how to launch and support your marketing efforts, including having an internal marketing team. In addition to internal sourcing, you also have the option to hire a marketing agency. When it comes to agencies, you will quickly find there are many choices to finding the right agency for your company. To help, we’ve broken down three digital marketing agency options and how they typically operate.

Continue reading “Digital Marketing Agency Options: Boutique, Full-Service, & Speciality”

Six Questions to Ask Your Prospective Digital Marketing Agency

Hiring a digital marketing agency is a big decision. It’s the decision to bolster your existing marketing efforts with outside agency resources coupled with which agency will be the best fit for your organization. Picking a marketing partner to work with can be risky because of the time and effort that go into kindling that relationship. You can, however, reduce the risk by asking the right questions up front when selecting a digital marketing agency. Learn how your prospective agency will work, how that will align with your needs, and if it makes financial sense before you engage in a partnership.

Here are six questions to ask your prospective digital marketing agency during the interview process to help ensure a good fit.

Questions to Ask Your prospective Digital Marketing Agency

1) What is your typical scope of work?

The most important part of asking this question is that it allows you the opportunity to align your needs. Digital marketing is a very broad term that encompasses many elements- blogging, social media, paid media, etc. How each agency scopes digital marketing and the areas they focus on will vary. Find an agency who does what you need. If you only want somebody you post on social media for you, make sure you find somebody who specializes in social and not Google Ads. If you aren’t sure what you need, a full-service agency might be the ticket.

2) What does a partnership look like to you?

Asking your prospective marketing agencies what a partnership looks like will help align your needs with how the agency normally operates. Are you looking for a strategic partner to help guide and implement your marketing? Or perhaps your marketing is on lock, and you need somebody to simply put your own marketing plans in motions? Find an agency that operates that way you need them to operate.Questions to ask your digital marketing agency
This is critical because if you don’t have alignment here, your relationship will ultimately implode. If you desire a marketing partner to create a full strategic campaign with persona insights and specific tech recommendations (*ahem, Lake One*), you’ll be disappointed if the agency you contract with only does exactly what you say. The inverse of that is absolutely true as well; you don’t want to be fighting over control of strategy if it isn’t something you’re willing to partner on.

If you’re running into issues with your exisiting marketing partner, here are some tips on how to mange your relationship.

3) What is your billing structure and fees?

This one is self-explanatory, but you will, of course, need to talk to your prospective agencies about money. How much will it cost you to work with them? What’s the duration of a retainer? And really, do they even work on retainers or do they go by another structure like an allocation of hours, by campaign cycles, or something else? Next, ask about their invoicing structure. Some agencies will bill monthly while others will expect payment to be made at the start and completion of a sprint. Consider what will work best for your company and be transparent about the budget you had in mind.

Typically, when it comes to retainer amounts, the scope of work can be scaled to meet your budget. Work can be slimmed down if your budget is small or vice-versa. Keep in mind that a large budget usually generates more results. This is simply because more work- meaning things like blogs, additional paid ads, workflows of greater complexity- can be completed in a given timeframe when the budget is greater.

4) Can I see examples of results?

It’s perfectly reasonable and expected to ask your prospective agencies for examples of success stories and wins they’ve accomplished. The hard numbers tend to speak for themselves. Don’t forget to consider the softer wins like website redesign, sales team enablement success, and increases in website traffic, as well. These things are sometimes hard to quantify and measure specifically but can be incredibly impactful to a business.

Six Questions to Ask Your Prospective Digital Marketing Agency

5) What technology do you use?

Will working with an agency require you to change your current tech stack or CRM? If so, is that okay? Perhaps it’s better to find a tech-agnostic agency that will make recommendations but can work with any platform. Consider what you currently have, if it’s working, and where you’d like to go. Then ask your prospects how their tech will fit into that equation.

6) Can you provide references?

Lastly, when you’re about ready to make your final decision, you can ask your prospective agencies for references from current or past clients. Ask for references from businesses that operate similar to yours and have the type of relationship with the agency that you’re seeking. Here are a few questions you can ask the references provided:

  • How long have you been working together?
  • What has been the most impressive and disappointing?
  • Is the agency’s team easy to work with?
  • Are you happy with your results so far?

By asking these questions to determine marketing agency fit, you’ll be able to align your company’s needs with an agency who can create results. Think Lake One might be the agency for you? Request a consult!

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5 Pro Tips for Managing Your Digital Marketing Agency Relationship

Like any business endeavor, managing your digital marketing agency relationship should be done with respect, trust, and open communication. The ultimate goal of working with an agency is to create a lasting, successful partnership, but just because you signed a contract, doesn’t mean that’s going to happen.

Here are five of our best tips for managing your agency relationship like a pro.

Managing Your Digital Marketing Agency Relationship

1) Always Communicate

Communication is key. We can’t say it enough and definitely shouldn’t come as a surprise. Communication is exceedingly important when managing your digital marketing agency relationship. All partnership activity stems from communication and so much so that, communication (or the lack thereof) can make or break the relationship.

Okay, so that brings us to, what should you be communicating about exactly? In a nutshell, everything, but here are a few specifics.

  • Goals: Clearly communicate your result expectations from the start. Communicating this early on will help prevent pitfalls later on. From there, you should ideally, work with your agency to set appropriate and achievable goals that both teams agree on. 

All your marketing goals should be SMART goals. Use this template to get started.

  • Needs: Manage your marketing agency by communicating your needs. What’s your preferred communication frequency? Do you prefer email or would you rather use a different form of communication? Consider anything else that your agency should know about working with you and your team, and make sure you loop all appropriate parties in on relevant information.

2) Schedule Check-ins

Workloads are full and people are busy. We are firm believers in calendar blocking and scheduling time to tackle specific objectives. Check-ins are a necessity for managing your agency. The frequency of your dedicated check-in time will depend on a few factors like the amount of work moving through your pipeline, how much you communicate outside of this time through things like email or Slack, and your overall preference. Scheduled check-ins are an easy way to make sure things stay on track and typically serve as a gentle reminder to meet weekly deadlines. Frequently, weekly check-ins end with things like, “let’s discuss this next week” and carry a general sense of urgency to have tasks completed by the next calendar meeting. Additionally, check-in times are an open invitation to talk about any barriers or roadblocks, discuss new projects, and pivot on the direction of work if needed.  

3) Be Accessible

There is often a misconception that you can work with your digital marketing agency in a ‘set it and forget it’ manner; that you can send your agency off with a working direction plus an SLA and get perfect work in return. In reality, you should expect to put in the work to make your relationship with your marketing agency flourish. The best relationships with agencies are ones with continual feedback and support: emphasis on the support part. Your marketing agency will require documents, input, and ongoing knowledge of your inner business workings. If you expect that the output of the work you receive meets your brand standards and captures the direction of your company (which of course you do), you’ll have to be the one to provide the input.

Managing your Digital Marketing Agency Requires Communication

Additionally, to properly manage your marketing agency, you’ll need to be available to approve and/or provide feedback on the deliverables you receive. This is especially important at the beginning of your relationship. Tying into point number one above, constructive feedback on work will improve quality as your relationship deepens while silence won’t garner any change. Of course, there is a fine line between attention to detail and hindering progress because of striving for perfection.

The bottom line here is that to effectively manage your agency, you need to make yourself accessible and dedicate time to the partnership.

4) Know the Plan

A good marketing agency will usually have a plan of attack in place. At Lake One, we refer to our plans as FieldGuides. Successful relationship management with your agency looks like knowing what that plan is and following along as it’s unwrapped. It’d be difficult to manage your agency if you didn’t know what was coming or the reasons why particular pieces of work were slated to be completed. This can lead to frustration and confusion as well as a general sense of skepticism in the whole process. Being familiar with the plan opens you up to be able to trust your agency. In addition, it facilitates an environment for productive conversation and feedback.

5) Have Trust and Be Patient

Once you know the plan, it’s easy to trust it. You have to trust in your marketing agency and the inbound process. Remember why you hired your marketing agency in the first place. You know that they are marketing experts, and you should manage to that.

Managing your Digital Marketing Agency Relationship Requires Patience

Similarly, when it comes to inbound marketing, patience is key. It takes time for SEO roots to take hold, and it takes time for leads to trickle through the funnel. Unlike traditional marketing that may show a spike in activity at launch and then crash, inbound aims to grow on a steady upward trajectory. When managing your digital marketing agency, keep this in mind. Then, set your expectations appropriately.

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Startup Website Design With Purpose: Launching Lucent

At Lake One, we love partnering with startups. We thrive off the excitement and momentum that comes with the launch of a new company.

Recently, we partnered with Lucent Tax Relief, a startup based out of Central Minnesota that specializes in helping people address their IRS and State tax problems. A critical part of the launch and really the foundation of our inbound digital marketing strategy, was designing Lucent’s website. In this post, you’ll learn how we used thoughtful design elements to convey Lucent’s core values and differentiate them from the competition.

Startup Website Design With Purpose

Hold the Legalease Please

Before we jump into the design, it’s important to talk a little bit more about Lucent Tax Relief. Claudia Revermann, Attorney at Law and C.P.A., and Andy Hawkins CFP®, started Lucent Tax Relief as two people who wanted to help good people put their tax problems to rest. They had seen too many tax “relief” agencies be less than honest with people who are just trying to do the right thing.

Their mission is to treat clients like they are neighbors and friends. They do this with their straightforward process and timely communication with clients in plain English. They really we want clients to feel respected, understood and protected.

So how do you make brand ideals come alive on a website? Through thoughtful, purposeful design.

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The Intent

Lucent’s website design is intended to convey the warm, welcoming, and approachable Lucent brand, while retaining a level of professionalism and driving users to conversion. The design aims to ease visitor fear, confusion, and anger by using the soft shapes and colors from the brand. At times, it can even feel therapeutic.

The Startup Website Design

Immediately you’ll notice how clean and friendly the website feels. The hero image of the succulent was selected specifically to avoid the cliche stock photos that we see way too often associated with tax relief. It also aligns with the goal of making the user feel at ease, like they are entering a safe and comfortable place.

Lucent Tax Relief Web Design

The Colors

You will find a few prominent colors on the site. The primary green color from the logo was used for the call-t0-action buttons to indicate action. The rounded corners on the CTA buttons add a more friendly aesthetic. We introduced a tertiary brand color (plum) to further differentiate Lucent Tax Relief from its competitors. It also adds a subtle touch of femininity against the blue-green primary colors which by nature are more masculine. There is also color throughout the site design specifically to visually break up sections of content.

website design colors

In each section, you’ll also notice overlays. These overlays add visual interest through color for a more “own-able” look and feel. You’ll also notice, they use the shapes from the “L” icon in the logo (2 quarter circles, a square, and a rectangle).

Website Design, Inbound Marketing

Final Thought

Every decision you make should be made purposefully. Design matters! No matter where you are in your growth journey, we’d love to hear from you. If you have questions about digital or know exactly what you need when it comes to marketing, contact us! We can’t wait to learn about what you’re working on and how modern, measurable marketing can help achieve your goals.

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