Are you looking to invest in digital agency for your business? Perhaps you want more leads and sales to grow your business, and in order to do that effectively, you need an experienced digital agency in Edinburgh to take the lead and light the way forward to success.
In this blog post, I’m going to talk about:
- How to get a digital marketing strategy for your business
- 10 questions to ask a digital agency
- 7 of the best digital marketing agencies in Edinburgh, and;
- What can make your relationship with a digital marketing agency fail (and how to avoid it)
This is one of the biggest resources on digital marketing I’ve ever put together, with the goal of giving you as much information and helpful advice as possible when it comes to choosing a digital marketing agency – and strategy – to suit you.
But first, let’s talk about some of the problems digital marketing can help you solve…
6 problems digital marketing can help you solve
Everyone has problems they’re trying to solve, especially in business. When I first founded Stargazer, I was soon to learn that if I wanted to help people solve their problems, I first had to go down the rabbit hole and see things from their perspective.
I realised that if I wanted to help businesses, I first had to learn to listen, and find out exactly what they need. Sure, I could try to sell my digital marketing packages, but solutions need to be built around problems, not tactics.
As a business owner or CEO, I’m sure you have your own set of problems; not always the same ones as your sales director or marketing manager.
After listening to a lot of business owners and understanding their issues and problems, I thought I would write this post to demonstrate how digital marketing can help to solve some of your problems.
1. You need to generate quality leads
If you are having trouble generating quality leads (let’s face it most businesses do), then digital marketing (or to be more exact, inbound marketing) can help solve this problem.
As your customers have migrated online, your business needs to be there to help them to make their buying decisions. How can you do that? By making them more informed about how your solution can help them solve their problems, and answering all the questions associated with that.
By creating buyer personas (a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer) and creating helpful, quality content that attracts these people to your website, you can begin to generate a steady stream of leads.
But remember, it’s not just the volume of leads, it’s the quality, as you need to create content that attracts the right kind of people.
The content we created was all about inbound marketing; what it was, and how to do it successfully. However this just attracted marketing agencies and students to our website.
You as a business owner or CEO have perhaps never heard of inbound marketing, nor do you care much how it works. I’m guessing you want to read content that helps to solve your problems, not instructions on how to do it.
Hence the title of this post contains the words digital marketing instead of inbound marketing.
Would you have clicked through to this page if it had inbound marketing in the title? Maybe, maybe not, because you want to know the ‘why’ not the ‘how’.
2. You need more customers
Leads are one thing, but customers are what will really grow your business, and there is nothing better than happy customers.
If you understand what their problems are, what their pain points are, and the reasons they say ‘no’, you will be able to create content that helps them in their buying decisions.
Once your leads have read your great content, you need to create call-to-actions (or CTAs) so they become known leads. Think of a call-to-action like a persuasive message that resonates with your audience to entice them to make contact or download some further helpful information.
They then exchange some basic information for your expert advice and these strangers are now known to you.
I spoke to a prospect a few days ago and when I explained why you need to create ebooks, white papers and guides that help your prospects and ask them to fill in a short form to receive this content – he was against it.
He told me he wanted to be helpful to his prospects and not make them fill in a form to receive his content. I loved it that he cared so much about his prospects and wanted to be helpful. After all, inbound or digital marketing is all about being helpful to your leads and customers.
The problem was, if you do not know who these people are, then how can you help them further?
By identifying them and answering their most common sales questions via email, you can nurture them to become happy customers. This is also a good opportunity for you to address the most common reasons why people say ‘no’.
I’m not going to patronise you, as I know you know all of this. In fact, it’s the same way your business has been selling for years, it is just adapting it to serve a digital audience.
An important thing to remember is that I am not talking about automating your marketing; I want to make it more personal. Just because you send emails, doesn’t mean you can’t pick up the telephone and have a meaningful conversation with your prospects.
I would actively encourage this.
3. You want to become a thought leader
This is one of the top problems business owners and CEOs tell me they have. However, many of them have no idea how they are going to achieve this.
This is also where digital marketing can really help. By creating content that your prospects need, you are building up a great database****of super helpful content.
This does take a lot of time and hard work, but by building up some great helpful content that shares expert knowledge and insights into your industry, your business will eventually become a thought leader.
The opportunities that come your way can be limitless; speaking opportunities, interviews by major publications in your industry and the possibility of guest writing for other publications and blogs.
The advantage of you putting out great content continually is it will be very difficult for your competitors to ever catch you.
4. You want business growth
I guess that this one goes without saying, and goes hand-in-hand with leads and customers. Just because you get more customers doesn’t necessarily mean your business will grow; you need to attract the right kind of customers and clients that will help you to grow.
Digital marketing can help you to focus on marketing to the kind of prospects that have the best retainers, buy the high-ticketed items, or whatever you deem to be a great customer.
Again, with the right kind of content and messaging, you can attract the clients and customers that will help your business to grow.
5. You want an increase in referrals
This is another very popular problem that business owners have, as sometimes it’s referrals that generate most of their business.
Referrals are a great way to get more business, but if you aren’t getting any then this could be due to a few reasons:
- Your products or services just aren’t great enough to recommend
- Your customer service is not that great
- You don’t have a lot of clients or customers yet
Inbound marketing can help you to create marketing messages that people love, and relationships with customers that will last. By delighting and helping your customers at every stage, you will help them to become brand advocates.
By using social media to keep in contact with people, you will also build up better relationships with them and continue to help them.
If you are already receiving referrals, then this is even better, as you are already doing something awesome and by using digital marketing you can turn more of your customers into ones that will refer you.
6. You need to develop your company culture
Great cultures start with you, but if you add a digital or inbound mentality to your business, and do your best to be helpful to your customers, then this will rub off on your staff.
This methodology becomes infectious and will spread through every corner of your business. If you look after your staff, they will look after your customers.
If they feel the work they do every day has meaning and they believe in your cause then you will develop a culture that you can be proud of.
How to get a digital marketing strategy for your business
Are you looking for the perfect digital marketing strategy to help boost your business?
Perhaps you’ve read that just like anything, you need solid strategy in place in order to be successful with your digital marketing efforts – but when it comes to getting your hands on one, you’re left scratching your head.
As an experienced marketer, I talk to businesses every day who are in need of a digital marketing (or inbound marketing) strategy, although not all of them know it – so congratulations, you’re already one step ahead of the game.
Below, I’m going to tell you why a digital marketing strategy is important, your available options for getting one in place, and the things to consider when going through a digital agency.
Why you need a digital marketing strategy
A vital part of digital marketing is coming up with helpful, quality content – which requires a strategy in itself. You may already know what a content marketing strategy is – and even have one of your own – but if not, this blog post will help you create one.
Now, think of an digital marketing strategy as the next step up.
An digital, or inbound marketing strategy covers a more holistic approach that makes all the pieces of the puzzle come together. It should include:
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Website optimisation
And plenty more where that came from!
In order for your digital marketing efforts to be truly successful, you need to be able to plan, execute and analyse every aspect of your marketing – which is why a strategy is so important. Especially if you’re going to invest a lot of your time and money into digital marketing.
TIP: I’d recommend using an all-in-one sales and marketing platform such as HubSpot to help you do this effectively. For more information, read my blog ‘What is HubSpot and Do I Need it for My Marketing Campaigns?’
Should you DIY or hire a professional?
One of the most important things to consider when thinking about adopting a digital marketing strategy is whether to do it yourself or hire an agency to create one for you.
In order to make this decision, you really need to take the time to get a good grasp of what’s involved in digital marketing, and deciding whether you have enough expertise and time to take on all it encompasses. Try to think as realistically as possible when making this decision.
Because I run an agency myself, I’m in charge of making sure the content is written, interviews are done, and that all the other challenges that go into a digital marketing campaign are overcome. To be honest, even this can be a challenge, as my clients are busy running their own businesses and don’t always have to time to contribute.
Ideally, I’d say that you’re the best person in the world to create content for your business, as you’re the expert and nobody knows your business better than you.
Unfortunately, in the real world, most businesses simply don’t have the time, talent or knowledge to create a complete digital marketing strategy – which is why they choose to hire an agency.
Bringing me nicely onto my next point:
Things to consider when choosing an agency
If you’re looking for a solid digital marketing strategy for your business, the best place to get it is from a digital marketing agency, and you should take the time to talk to at least two or three different agencies about your goals and what you’re hoping to achieve with digital, or inbound marketing.
Saying that, it’s equally important that you’re confident in choosing an agency that is really going to help you.
I’d recommend doing your research as much as possible, and having a list of questions in front of you when looking at an agency’s website and/or talking to an agency over the phone. We’re going to cover exactly what you should be asking, below.
Look for agencies that offer free consultations, or assessments. Something that will give you a taster of what it’s like to become one of their clients before you commit. They may even have a special offer or two that could include a digital marketing strategy for your business – at a reduced price.
However, most good digital agencies will carry out what’s known as a scoping project before putting together your strategy. This should involve looking at your website and content to find out exactly what they can do for you.
This should give you a good idea of exactly what to expect from them as an agency, and what your digital marketing strategy will involve – and it should ideally be completed before you’re tied into a 12-month contract.
All of the above should help you feel more confident that you’re getting the right digital marketing strategy for your business.
10 questions to ask an Edinburgh digital marketing agency
You knew this was coming! Below, I’ve put together 10 questions you need to ask your chosen digital marketing agency, preferably BEFORE committing to buy:
1. How do they define success?
Success is a difficult thing to define, but one definition for successful online marketing would be meeting your goals or objectives. You can find successful digital marketing agencies by asking them about their successful lead generation campaigns.
They should be able to provide figures for increased leads and lead conversion rates. Based on this information, you can determine which digital marketing agency has developed the most successful campaigns in the past.
2. Do they offer complete transparency?
When you’re asking about past successful campaigns, you can learn a lot about the transparency of the digital marketing agency you’re talking to. Will they share information about their process, team members, partners, and fees?
Do you have to ask for this information, or is it readily available? It’s always better to work with a company that is very upfront and honest about their business.
3. Do they practice effective time management?
This transparency should include careful accounting of the time spent on your project. Ask for a project timeline, schedule flexibility, and be sure to put it in writing.
This ensures everyone is in agreement before any work begins. Also, having the project timeline in writing can help resolve any disputes that may arise during the project.
4. Do they practice what they preach?
Once you have some idea of what a digital marketing agency will do for your business, take a look at their online marketing efforts. Visit their own website, blog, and social media presence.
Determine if they are taking advantage of the current trends and ask them to share their own experiences with the marketing services they offer. If something has worked for them in the past, they should be able to share their insight.
Even if something has not worked, they should have some suggestions about how your needs are different and why this strategy should work for you.
5. Are they willing to help you learn?
You’ve got your own business to run and you don’t need to spend time learning everything there is to know about online marketing, that’s why you’re hiring a digital marketing agency. However, the agency should be willing and able to explain technical terms, elaborate on marketing decisions, and walk through data or reports.
They may offer email or phone support to help with this process, but the company needs to be willing to teach you about the products and services they offer.
6. Do they understand your needs?
Be sure that any digital marketing agency in Edinburgh you hire will ask for your input, talk about your needs, and focus on your goals or objectives.
Their recommendations need to be tailored to your specific problems. If their proposal reads like a form letter, you may want to consider other options.
7. Are they offering ‘guaranteed’ results?
Be very cautious of any online marketing agency that guarantees their results. Results cannot be guaranteed, but agencies can provide examples of past successes. From these examples, it’s possible to develop projections and tailor a strategy that is likely to succeed.
However, every company, product, and campaign will respond to different market variables which make it impossible to guarantee success. Instead, look for a digital marketing agency that can offer a list of key performance indicators and contingency plans.
8. How will they track ROI?
It’s difficult to compute a monetary value for marketing ROI, but some key performance indicators should be tracked. These can be used to determine which aspects of a marketing plan are the most successful and which should be re-evaluated. Any online marketing agency that does not track ROI should be marked off your list.
9. How big is the company?
Smaller companies typically offer a more personal service, but larger companies have more resources in-house. This can be a personal preference, but you should be aware of some of the benefits and drawbacks with each option.
Hiring an individual to manage your marketing program can be cost-effective and bring a high level of personal attention, but it can be difficult to find a replacement if this person goes out of business.
On the other hand, a large digital marketing agency can be a one-stop shop for all your marketing needs, but you may feel like your business is just a number on a file.
10. Can you see any references?
Since anyone can setup a business and market their services online, you need to do your homework before hiring a digital marketing agency.
The best case scenario is that your chosen digital marketing agency has a list of references on their website or testimonials on their social media accounts. Any company worth considering should have a list of references you can contact. If you can’t find it on their site, simply ask and they should direct you to their references.
Any digital marketing agency that cannot supply a list of references should be removed from consideration.
The internet can be deceptive; what seems like a well-established business may turn out to be a lone college student****working from home while waiting to land a job. You don’t want to put your company into a situation where you’re forced to find someone to complete a half-finished project.
With more businesses closing than new businesses opening their doors, it’s very important to ensure you find the right digital marketing agency that will last the distance and provide the results you need.
This includes developing quantitative measures for success, transparency, time management, willingness to teach, and an understanding of your business needs.
Always take the time to shop around, compare companies, and call a few references to be sure you find the right digital marketing agency for your business.
7 of the best digital marketing agencies in Edinburgh
Are you thinking of hiring a digital marketing agency in Edinburgh, but aren’t sure where to start?
Edinburgh is not short on digital talent – you just need to do a Google search for “digital agency Edinburgh” and up will pop over 577,000 results.
But which should you trust**?**
That’s a great question, and it’s also the main reason I’ve put together this shortlist of the best digital marketing agencies in Edinburgh.
Before you choose an agency, take a look at my handy little Ultimate Guide to Hiring an Edinburgh Digital Agency.
TIP: One caveat about this list is that if your annual revenue is below****£50,000- £100,000 a year then the agencies below might not be the best fit for you.
1. The Gate
Full service agency The Gate can help you not only with your digital marketing strategy but also your offline one, too. This company specialises in a few sectors, so if you are in banking, professional or public services – or the financial sector – then The Gate really is the agency you need to be speaking to.
One of the most famous agencies in Scotland, if not the UK, Leith have been involved in some of Scotland’s most iconic brands, and I’m sure you will have seen their work.
Leith are the creators of the ingenious Irn Bru adverts you see on TV and online. If you are a big brand looking for digital marketing exposure then Leith may be a great choice.
Another really well known Edinburgh agency is Whitespace, and I for one have been a personal a fan of their work for years. They have grown to over 60 staff since their beginnings in 1997, and can boast some of Scotland most iconic brands as clients.
Such brands as Tennent’s Lager, Highland Spring and the Scottish Government.
4. The Union
Describing themselves as a multi-disciplinary creative agency, The Union specialises in the private and public sectors, and have just been working on a spectacular campaign for Visit Scotland. They have two offices, one in Edinburgh and the other in Leeds.
They’ve been going for over 20 years, and have won over 80 marketing effectiveness awards in that time – pretty impressive, eh?
5. Passion Digital
Another full-service digital marketing agency is Passion Digital, which offers an honest and transparent digital service for businesses both big and small.
With an overall very holistic approach to marketing, this company has offices in both Edinburgh and London and are proud to display a wide array of clients on their website.
6. 8 Million Stories
I’ve given these guys a shout-out before, but award-winning agency 8 Million Stories deserves a second mention. They’ll help you with everything from content marketing and SEO, to digital strategy, data and analytics and everything in-between (including PPC).
8MS have also worked with some very well-known brands, with a clearly defined process on their (rather impressive) website, so they are definitely worth a look.
I like the friendly opening line from Attacat’s website, and this full digital marketing agency also have some impressive clients, including O2 and Scottish Life. Their tagline is ‘optimising your online business’ although it’s easy to see that the company is much more geared towards overall digital strategy rather than just SEO.
In fact, their services include strategy, SEO, PPC, content marketing, analytics and so much more beside.
Neither myself nor Stargazer have been paid to include any of these agencies in this list, and we cannot vouch for the kind of service you will receive from any of them.
Although I have personally worked with****one of these agencies in the past, neither myself nor Stargazer Digital were approached by any of these agencies to write this post.
5 Ways Your Relationship with a digital marketing agency can fail (and how to avoid it)
A relationship takes time to form, and the client must know that this is not all one-sided. As a business owner or marketing manager, you want to find and work with the best agency because one fifth of all companies are optimising paid digital media.
You want to get the best results for your business, and although a lot of that is down to the performance of the digital marketing agency, some of the success is still down to you.
So, let’s talk about the main ways you can help an agency to do the best possible work for you.
Communication is imperative in any relationship, whether it is business or personal, and communication in the beginning is particularly important.
You need to be forthcoming with the information your agency needs to create a great strategy for your business. This will involve answering some of the following questions:
- What are your business goals?
- What is your timeline for success?
- What are you currently doing to achieve your goals?
- What are the consequences if you fail to communicate appropriately?
All great digital agencies should ask you these questions, and if the agency is an inbound marketing agency in particularly, they will definitely ask you these questions.
You need to be as forthcoming as possible when answering these questions, as the agency does not want to find out further down the line that they a) are not a good fit for you and/or b) they cannot help you.
A digital marketing agency, as part of the sales process, will work with you to come up with achievable business goals that they will work towards. If the information you provide is inaccurate, or you don’t answer the questions at all, they will find it difficult to come up with an achievable plan.
2. Give your digital marketing agency your time
You are busy, I get that, but if you think you can write a cheque each month to your agency and that is where your involvement ends, then your marketing has failed before it has begun.
For your agency to be successful and reach your goals, they will need you to help them. So please, when they ask for information about your company or need you to sign off on something, do so in a timely manner.
It can be difficult for the agency to move forward with your campaigns if they have been waiting for three weeks for you to sign off an important piece of content. A good tip here is to plan the time in advance.
I always say that our clients have to invest at least 10 hours per month working with our account managers, design and content teams. If you don’t, your marketing can quickly fall way behind schedule and your goals targets will not be met on time.
Social media is also a big part of a successful digital marketing campaign, so put time aside to work on your social media engagement.
I am personally not a big fan of allowing your agency to control and post information to your social media profiles. Sharing your great blog content is fine, but when it comes to responding, listening and engaging with your prospects and customers via social – that should be down to you.
A couple of good tips for this are to allow about 20 -30 minutes each day for monitoring and managing your social media profiles. With software like HubSpot’s social inbox this is a lot easier than it sounds.
You should also appoint a community manager who will deal with updating and monitoring your social media profiles. Another good idea would be to create a style guide for your work colleagues to follow when posting and engaging on your behalf.
This style guide will be full of information on which tone to use, hashtags and how to deal with negative comments.
3. Be willing to learn
Great agencies will make themselves available to give you training on such things like social media. This can be easily done remotely or on-site. Take advantage of this training as this will really help you and your team learn new skills. This will also help build a stronger relationship between you and your agency.
These training sessions or workshops usually last about****an hour or so and will be tailored to your business and your knowledge of the subject. These sessions can be a real benefit to you as in the long term this can save you money and make you more self-sufficient when it comes to your marketing.
4. Always pay on time
This is a sensitive one, and I was unsure whether to mention it in this post. I decided it should be included because I feel it is important – and if not handled correctly can turn a good relationship bad, quickly. There is nothing worse than money to cause a rift in a relationship.
A good agency will go above and beyond to do whatever it takes to make your marketing campaigns successful, as they should be passionate about getting you success. This may involve doing extra work that is outside your budget to get the job done. So what I would say to you is make sure you always pay on time.
I understand that cash flow can be a problem, especially for smaller businesses, but if this is the case talk to your agency if you are having issues. I’m sure you can come to some kind of agreement about payment.
The problem is, like I am sure you know yourself, chasing clients for payment does take time and money, and it can be hard for your agency to get you timely results because your project is on-hold due to you not paying your latest invoice.
Like I have said, you are trying to build a trusting relationship between you and your agency, and if you are always a late payer then this will give your agency the impression that perhaps you do not value their service.
An important thing to do is sit down with your agency and come up with a contract and a payment plan that works for everyone. So all parties knows before you start what the payment terms are and what happens when either party is in breach of the contract.
5) Work together to create S.M.A.R.T goals
Another major reason that a relationship may go south is misalignment of expectations, and unrealistic goals. Far too often what you the client thinks is achievable is different from the agency.
This is where S.M.A.R.T goals come in. This stands for:
Specific: For example, a goal to increase traffic or sales is not very specific, and if you say this to a good inbound or digital marketing agency they will probe deeper. They will want to know how much traffic and how many more sales.
Measurable: There is no point in creating a goal if there is no way to measure it. Tools like HubSpot can really help you measure your marketing goals.
Attainable: If your agency feels like the goals you are asking are just not possible then ask then to explain why. They should be able to give you further information on why they think it is not possible. It is often the timeframes that can be a sticking point.
Relevant: The goal must be relevant and matter to your business. A goal of creating 10 infographics and getting to number one for a token keyphrase on Google would be examples of a goal that is not relevant. You and your agency wan’t to create goals that will drive success for your business.
Time-bound: I think most marketing goals can be achieved, but just not always in the time frame you think. We all want results fast and yes, there are usually some quick wins that can be implemented. However, real marketing success takes time, so avoid companies that tell you it can be done quickly.
Building marketing messages people love and a brand people respect takes time and effort, so again, speak to your agency and work out goals that follow the S.M.A.R.T way. This will ensure everyone is working towards the same goals.
Remember, all relationships need to be worked at, and it is never plain sailing. You, the business owner or marketing manager, want this to succeed, so working together with your digital marketing agency towards the same goals will make sure your digital marketing campaigns are successful.
I hope you’ve found this comprehensive blog on digital marketing in Edinburgh helpful, and by now you should have a better understanding of what to look for in a digital marketing agency, as well as how to get a digital marketing strategy for your business and the problems digital marketing can solve in the first place.
Looking for a digital marketing agency in Edinburgh? If you have any specific questions about digital, or inbound marketing in particular, please feel free to either leave a comment below, or get in touch with me directly – I’d love to hear from you.