What is a Digital Agency?

In a world where marketing and advertising is now primarily digital, the term ‘digital agency’ almost seems redundant, doesn’t it? However, with print, radio, television, and other traditional marketing techniques maintaining some relevance among modern strategic marketing campaigns, explaining what makes a ‘digital agency’ different than some others out there is something we think our readers should understand.

IT'S COMPLICATED

The term ‘digital agency’ is no longer a new or mysterious phrase. Instead, it has become more of a buzzword that is overused and often misused.  Though the phrase may seem quite uncomplicated, it’s the ambiguity of it that can sometimes be confusing. CommonPlaces has always considered itself a digital agency, but in a time where everyone and anyone can say they are a “digital agency”, we understand the importance of clarifying exactly what that means for our audience.

DIGITAL VS. TRADITIONAL/CREATIVE AGENCIES

While we’re well aware that you could look up the official definition in any number of print or digital reference publications, we thought you might like to hear what it means to us. To best explain what we feel distinguishes (and elevates) a digital agency from other types of marketing and advertising firms, we’ll highlight some of the key differences:

Traditional/Creative Agency

The term ‘creative agency’ may sound all-encompassing, but it typically refers to an agency offering more traditional marketing and advertising methods. For a creative agency, the focus is on presenting the business in the most aesthetically pleasing way, using a combination of creative advertising techniques such as print, public relations, television and radio advertising, and direct mail campaigns to do so. Traditional Digital Agencies

One of the most definitive aspects of creative agencies is that they tend to value the visual design of all marketing and advertising collateral over the technical and functional aspects of a campaign. Their expertise and passion often lies in creative design and public relations vs. newer and more technical agency practices like SEO, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, Social Media, Responsive Website Design, etc.

Traditional/creative agencies also tend to cover a broad range of industries, with less of a tendency to specialize in a specific niche or industry. For businesses looking to improve efficiencies and increase sales within their target market, an agency that doesn’t have a specific focus may lack the experience and passion to produce optimal results.

Technical/Digital Agency

To be clear, a ‘digital agency’ still cares very much about the quality of design and overall aesthetics of every asset associated with a brand – whether it be print or digital. However, they also take special care to ensure that each brand asset and/or application functions in a way that helps companies to reach their goals. They have the tools and skills necessary to create ideas and assets and put them to work in the most efficient ways.

A digital agency’s focus goes beyond just the aesthetics of design, but also considers the overall user experience on every digital platform, and regardless of what type of device is being used. From web development and UX/UI web design to SEO, social media and content marketing – and everything in between – a digital agency works to deliver a functional design that not only looks great, but also drives business growth.

Technical Digital AgencyDigital agencies also tend to specialize in a specific area of digital marketing/advertising, in a particular niche market, a general business size or type, or an otherwise specified client base. By doing this, they hire for a specific skillset, and obtain more experience in a focused area vs. trying to be everything to everyone.

It’s nearly impossible for a modern marketing and/or advertising agency to completely ignore the digital side of the industry, which means most successful agencies consider themselves to be both creative and digital. However, it’s where the agency’s passion, focus, and experience lies that ultimately makes the difference.

THE DIGITAL ADVANTAGE(S)

A digital agency understands the value of investing in advanced technology, as well as in highly skilled web developers, programmers, digital marketing professionals and SEO experts. With advanced skills and technology at their fingertips, a digital agency can offer multiple digital solutions to their clients, along with traditional creative design and branding services.

In 2014, we discussed the value of customization – which is commonly practiced among digital agencies, stating that, “By establishing and maintaining a partnership with their clients, digital agencies find it easier to customize a strategy built around trust and respect. Whether it is a web development project or a marketing campaign, everything is specialized to fit specific demands. This is a far different business approach from the traditional client/agency paradigm.”

DIGITAL STATISTICS WORTH SHARING (COURTESY OF Campaign Monitor):  

  • According to McKinsey & Company, “61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site if they had a problem accessing it.”

Lesson: Go Mobile.

  • Hootsuite says that “28% of Americans with a social media account would rather engage with a brand on social media than go to a physical location.”

Lesson: Get Social.

  • Experian found that “Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened.”

Lesson: Get Personal.

  • A recent Kampyle article indicated that “87% of customers say brands need to put more effort into providing a consistent customer experience.”

Lesson: Customer Experience Matters.

WHY CHOOSE A DIGITAL AGENCY?

Today’s buyers are tech savvy, and want to find the best products and services at the best prices. You better believe they are going to shop around until they find what they feel is the best deal. If your business isn’t utilizing the latest technology and as many channels as possible to reach your target audience, you risk not being found in today’s online market.Why Choose A Digital Agency

If you’re looking for a digital agency to help your business grow, contact CommonPlaces today to get started.

Ben Bassi
By Ben Bassi

Ben Bassi is the Founder and CEO of CommonPlaces, a custom web development and digital marketing agency in Manchester, NH. With over 30 years of technology industry leadership and strategic planning experience, Ben has led two companies to Inc. 500 status.

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