Grow Your Agency Effectively With Analytics Engineering

So you want to grow your agency? in this article I want to talk about the way in which Analytics Engineering can help..

You’re looking for..

  • New Clients ?
  • More spend from existing clients?
  • Working with bigger clients?

Well thinking about these in turn..

Getting new clients.

Obviously you’ll want people to talk to. But once you’ve got them…

You’re going to want convincing stories to share..

Stories about your past successes? What you did, and crucially what the client got from it?

If you’re selling to any significant company – you’ve several stakeholders to convince. Some of them may believe marketers are like used car salesman. That it’s going to be hard to tell fact from fiction.

So apart from the brochures and whitepapers what can you show the hard bitten cynic? The CFO ?

Well how about the kind of clear reporting that can’t be argued with? Numbers that relate the marketing activity to business outcomes are good. Like qualified leads, or transactions. Exactly the kind of numbers that I’d expect a good analytics account to produce.

Imagine the difference? You’ve got trusted third party reports. Google will help sell them on how effective your agency is! It won’t outweigh all the other things you’re already using to help you sell.. But it won’t half help?

How about more spend from the existing client, then?

Extending the scope of your involvement involves buy in. Your immediate contacts will have to convince higher management. Lots of people will want to know that your marketing is working for them. And there are going to be cynics there too. Those who want to know the numbers? So again if you’re wandering in without the tools – you’re going to find it much harder than it need be!

To grow your agency you’lllYou need Case Studies – war stories? AND numbers.

Clear reports make it much easier to have a high value conversations with directors. Achieving the same buyin with poor reports is hard.

And the other area you’ll be looking to work on – is client relationships. That’s an area where – as the second part explained – the analytics engineer can help.

Working with bigger clients

Technical employees often don’t appreciate commercial nuances and imperatives. These are more pressing in bigger clients.

So imagine a situation like one I recently had.

Imagine if your agency could introduce your “GA expert”. It the expert could lead a multi way phone conference. That’s you, GA expert, your client, web development partner team to client.

It’s not easy doing web conferences. Particularly if side conversations can happen between participants in the same room

In this case the client wanted to proceed. But the web development “partner” had expressed doubt that it could done.

My game plan was to talk through the data gathering needed. I had analysed the website. I had an informed view about how implementation might work.

I created a situation where I could quiz the partner on the details of their current solution. I could listen for the situation where the client hasn’t grasped the detail of what the partner has done. Despite the client believing they understood.

We wanted to leave the partner “having” to play ball to secure their relationship with the client.

Now you could get an employee to do this – but it wouldn’t be a trainee – it would be a senior (expensive) employee.

That kind of meeting enhances your relationship with the client. You’re helping them deal with difficult but important partners. You’re ensuring that the stakeholders see improvements from your involvement. That intransigent third parties can’t delay things.

As you grow your agency it will be increasingly involved in multi party projects. There will be peers – and even potential competitors round the virtual table.

A tame expert can exert rare skills that enhance all the other relationships. The client will value this. It makes an important contribution to building your business.

Wrap Up

I hope these articles have given you a new perspective on Analytics Engineering.

In the first article I looked at the contribution Analytics Engineering could make.

In the second article I looked as how the freelance model would help many agencies work with bigger clients.

And finally that this could help you grow your agency deal with complex customers. To follow this up with a chat – just fill in your details in the box below.

How Freelance Help enables Better Analytics Engineering

Analytics Engineering opens new kind of conversation. In these 3 articles I’ll explain how. In this article we’ll explore how freelance help can be a good model for many.

Some will immediately object that external help is expensive. It costs more than internal resource. I want to explore how the wider benefits of expert help should be part of a proper cost benefit analysis.

Let’s tackle costs of external help up front.

Freelancers vs longer term commitment

Freelance help is a very effective way of getting someone who is expert in the area you want. Your agency doesn’t have to find work to fill the expert’s week. Nor pay the expert rate for that “lesser” work. You pay as you go.

So the investment depends on the size and scope of the project.

Ongoing Relationship

Some will be concerned about commercial confidentiality.

However commercial confidentiality and reputational risk make external experts risk averse. The junior employee may be much more cavalier.

Independent small businesses and agencies both understand that business development requires investment. So both may invest time to win an opportunity.

Greater Skill Levels

The other issue is the skill level. Freelance help gives you access to the bits of expert help you want.

Developing clear reports is the aim. But manipulating the more arcane areas of Analytics is often required to clean up the mess. Regular expressions, Google Analytics filters and views aren’t designed for enthusiastic novices.

Particularly when there are subtle consequences of these.

Expert Analytics Engineering isn’t about the buttons. It’s about how the website interacts with other web systems to achieve a result.

Using Google TagManager is very similar. It’s a bit like keyhole surgery. You’ve got a small keyhole through which you want access to everything going on the website. The task is to implement reporting. Using Google TagManager itself isn’t hard. The challenge is understanding what systems you’re accessing. And deducing which triggers will be effective.

Expert Freelance Help shouldn’t be cheap. Experts Aren’t.

Recruiting an expert Analytics Engineer as an employee would require a considerable salary.

Chances are you’re comparing apples with pears. A qualified Google Analytics Individual isn’t similar to the freelance Analytics Engineer. For some tasks – the GA skills alone will be fine. But as the complexity increases it stops being about pure Google Analytics.

For instance I’ve seen comprehensive reporting that failed. Because the developer’s point of view was treated as paramount. And understanding the Google Analytics Reports relied on coding concepts!

At that point one needs the experience to stand back. One must consider what clear reporting to fit with marketing goals should look like. But the analytics engineer needs to understand the internals. Together these can enable a workable compromise.

Wider value

Expert analytics engineering is much wider than pure Analytics. Three of the other ‘non marketing’ skills that many agencies need are:

  • Technical facilitation in multi faceted projects
  • Liaising with a range of experts from multiple companies involved.
  • Reading code and instructing programmers.

For instance a marketing agency trying to sort out the shopping cart for the client may have to liaise with:

  • Website Developers
  • Shopping cart providers
  • Client Marketeers

Freelance Help with Technical Facilitation

The agency has the marketing skills. But the need to deal with CTOs, and other agencies is often a real challenge. The latter may feel they own the site. They may feel confident enough to ‘worry out loud’ that something won’t work. And lapse into jargon to confuse both client and other stakeholders.

Analytics Engineering can find a way round problems that vex many marketing agencies. Part consultant, part technical project manager, part geek. The marketing agency and client often want to know if the advice given is reliable.

Technical facilitation helps the client resolve the logjam when multiple interests conflict. Or when the common language that would resolve matters is lacking.

There’s a long list of skills and plenty of jargon – including:

  • HTML
  • AJAX
  • Network Protocols
  • TagManager
  • Analytics
  • Web Server configuration
  • Domains, subdomains
  • cookies

Analytics Engineering can bring along a range of skills. Skills which are extremely useful in unblocking projects.

Ask yourself – what if you had not only analytics skills but a wider range of technical skills. Wouldn’t your agency find easier to unblock important projects. Wouldn’t it be more confident about expanding into new areas?

Solving Integration Challenges

Modern developments often rely on complex system interconnections. The analytics engineer will understand how clearly the business requirements have been defined.

Some challenges will exist for good reasons. Some will exist for poor reasons. Clarifying the reporting is often challenging. It can be one of the more intricate parts of the solution. Particularly if one wants to avoid dramatic change to the website or infrastructure.

Diagnosing deep seated problems

As an example.

  • I had to step through the customer journey.
  • I inspected the raw HTML, and javascript to work out what was happening.
  • I used network monitoring software to confirm what data was being sent. And to which server.
  • I then had detailed conversation with the software system provider technical support.

We were clarifying and resolving problems such as:

  • Complex Page Naming
  • Many subdomains
  • Caching
  • Multiple devices
  • Timing & Performance

Conclusion – Freelance help

So using freelancers enables you to get the help you need. You can dip your toe in the water and find out how the relationship works. All the agencies I’ve worked with come back for more.

Now smart viewers will use this article as a checklist. Many may claim to be expert in Analytics. But many of these spend much more time working with some other aspect of web marketing (e.g. SEO) than with Analytics. And they haven’t the wider technical background to back up the analytics. In short they aren’t analytics engineers.

In the next article I’ll explain how you Analytics Engineering can help you grow your agency.

How Analytics Engineering Can Transform Agency Client Relationships

In this series of 3 articles I want to explain how Analytics Engineering opens up a new kind of conversation. A conversation between agencies and the wider corporate. Not just the immediate marketing contacts that you sell to.

Distrust of agencies is real

There’s often a fundamental distrust of marketing in the corporate. And people aren’t magically more comfortable with spend on marketing agencies. Buyers will pick up on this culture.

It doesn’t make it easy to argue that your agency should become more important to the client.

Clients use marketing agencies. And I’d emphasise the word use. Certainly clients will want to use agency skills to help market their business. But sometimes use agencies as if they are just a commodity.

Larger corporates use a number of marketing agencies at the same time. Becoming the sole marketing agency for a larger corporate may be impossible. Your agency can’t necessarily gain all the client’s business.

But you can be first in line when new opportunities come along. Particularly if you deliver great value. And this makes other procurement criteria less important.

It’s hard to measure the value of a marketing agency. So it’s logical for buyers to want to:

  • run a continuous competition among multiple agencies.
  • use the insights of the best agencies to drive up the general standard.
  • keep them lean and hungry.

So how can you respond?

Distrust & Poor Relationships

Using Measurement to move beyond Distrust

Analytics is now the currency in process management. Six Sigma has spread across most sectors. The core tool for Six Sigma projects for business processes is DMAIC. This stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control.

This doesn’t leave any room for doubt. Improvement & Control come after define, measure and analyze.

It makes perfect sense. Everyone’s lost if you don’t know what’s working, what’s failing. There’s little opportunity to improve. No ability to control.

So other disciplines have the same focus on analytics as marketing.

So Chief Financial Officers and Operations Officers will recognise the approach. But only if you state it. It’ll help build trust.

Building Trust With Analytics Engineering

With Analytics Engineering your agency can show it is better than the others. You don’t have to rely on simple assertions that you’re more innovative or more creative. Marketing can show other disciplines a commitment to improvement and control.

You can sidestep the corporate procurement impulses. Move beyond distrust.

Analytics Engineering helps your agency provide the best advice. You have the information to recommend an increased spend. Or suggest the waste be used better elsewhere. You can delight your client either way. You become a trusted advisor.

High quality measurement and analysis mean clients ask better questions. People can see how complex the market is. They can discuss how to conduct better marketing trials and campaigns.

This will change the relationship. Clients won’t be able to adopt a binary approach. They won’t be able to simply ask “did they bring us results”. You can ask for better quality direction. More involvement.

So the client and your agency have to work together. High quality measurement makes partnership a natural model. Optimising the shopping cart becomes a series of experiments. These build the partnership.

Everyone has a greater emotional investment in the process and the results.

Reporting Clarity inspite of Customer Journey Fragmentation

This is a real challenge for marketers. It’s one reason that one size fits all advertising is less popular. The proportion spent on Direct and Digital Advertising has been rising steadily. It’s expected that it will account for over 50% of global spend in 2019.

All sorts of factors contribute:

  • Growing Buyer Sophistication.
  • Enhanced information that enables more precise targeting.
  • More use of Multi channel campaigns to establish one to one relationships.
  • More frequent buyer/marketing interactions.

But none of this makes impenetrable reports acceptable. The reports should be even clearer. And avoid burying management in unnecessary detail. Clear reports will mean wider questions get asked. Detailed investigations will be spawned.

And the evidence I have is end customers react well to clear reporting. Clients invite the agency to contribute in other areas.

Much of my work relies on understanding the customer journey. And ensuring that Google Analytics provides clear numbers that suit that business.

Using Analytics Engineering to Outpace Competitors

Your competitors measure and collect data to track all their campaigns.

To compete you’ve got to measure outcomes and offer differentiated marketing.

But your competitors are often using bog standard measures. Measures that don’t reflect the core concerns of a sophisticated corporate client. Producing higher quality reports is an opportunity to stand out.

And if you don’t…your client is either going to look for that from someone else OR

Remain severely handicapped at the very least.

Clients remain less financially efficient. Earning lower profits than they could be.

Without analytics engineering you and the client are accepting this chronic handicap. Accounts are at risk from any other agency that walks in offering them smart analytics that pays for itself.

So to conclude. Developments in marketing have pushed analytics engineering to the forefront. Analytics and data are key. Engineering can achieve the right blend for your clients. Analytics Engineering is a smart way to set your offering apart.

Wrap Up

In the next article I’ll explain how you don’t have to invest in expensive recruits & skills training. How you can achieve similar results with cost effective external help.