Rightsizing Your Use of Digital Marketing Agencies

August 21, 2023 | 6 minute read
Lauren Gannon
Vice President of Agency Services, Oracle Digital Experience Agency
Clint Kaiser
Head of Analytic & Strategic Services, Oracle Digital Experience Agency
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Digital marketing programs are dynamic, with needs, goals, and circumstances that change from year to year—even quarter to quarter. Regardless of what is changing, working with a digital marketing agency can be the solution. That’s because most agencies offer a variety of kinds of engagements that range from short-term to long-term, as well as limited to extensive.

Here at Oracle Digital Experience Agency, we have clients across all of those spectrums. We see them as falling into four kinds of engagements:

  1. Project-based engagements that are short-term and limited in scope
  2. Seasonal engagements that are short-term and extensive in scope
  3. Role-based engagements that are long-term and limited in scope
  4. Full service engagements that are long-term and extensive in scope

Let’s talk about each of those in more detail…

4 Ways to Work with a Digital Marketing Agency

Project-Based Engagements

These are one-off projects. Most often, they are small projects the agency handles entirely. For example, some of our routine project-based engagements include: 

  • Conducting an email deliverability audit to identify potential problems going into a peak season or, as is more often the case, diagnose the reasons behind current inbox placement issues
  • Replacing traditional templated design systems with modular email architectures that reduce campaign creation times, make design maintenance simpler, and make personalization and A/B testing easier 
  • Creating a monthly reporting dashboard to improve data visibility and proactively monitor the health of a program
  • Completing a competitive analysis to understand how a brand’s campaign results, email frequency, deliverability, and other program attributes compare to their competitors’
  • Auditing a brand’s triggered campaigns to understand which automated programs are running, how they’re performing over time (including whether they’re broken), if they’re outdated, and what the expansion and optimization opportunities are 
  • Redesigning transactional, onboarding, and other triggered campaigns to bring them up-to-date with best practices, better align them with brand goals, and boost performance
  • Auditing email accessibility to identify and make coding updates to create better experiences for more subscribers across more devices in more situations
  • Creating standout campaigns for new product launches so these messages are differentiated from a brand’s usual messaging and make the desired impact

In other cases, an agency is brought in to accelerate a major project so the benefits can be achieved sooner or the project can be done before a peak season begins. Typically, the agency handles those aspects of the project that the brand isn’t equipped to handle easily.

For example, Oracle Digital Experience Agency has assisted with a brand refresh and design at a major airline, as well as an audit of data opportunities at a national telecommunications company and a national retailer.

Seasonal Engagements

Digital marketing during peak seasons is challenging. The number of promotional campaigns increases significantly, while the stakes for each campaign increases, too. At the same time, automated campaigns perform better when seasonally optimized, and email signup forms and other pages also benefit from seasonal updates. It’s a lot to manage and do well.

While planning ahead and cross-training employees can help, oftentimes external help is both the least painful and most effective way to staff up. By far, most of our seasonal engagements involve retailers and other B2C brands in the runup to the holiday season.

For example, our Email Deliverability Services team routinely does deep audience re-engagement campaigns ahead of the holidays. This increases the mailable audience size, which has successfully led to materially higher revenues for clients we’ve done this for.

Our Analytic & Strategic Services team regularly works with clients to create pre-holiday A/B testing plans with the goal of gaining valuable insights that can be used to craft more compelling holiday campaigns.

Our Creative Services team regularly works with clients to create and implement seasonal updates to campaign templates, including applying holiday style-guides, updating navigation in headers and footers, and supporting gift center and wish list programs.

However, we’d also helped other kinds of brands through their peak seasons. For example, we’ve worked with:

  • A major tax preparation service during their peak January-through-April time period
  • A shoe retailer ahead of the back-to-school season
  • A flower and gift retailer in the runup to Valentine’s Day

Those engagements involved everything from creative and coding to analytics and competitive analysis. And increasingly, these engagements are cross-channel efforts, with brands looking to coordinate changes and drive improvements across their web, email, social, and mobile channels.

Role-Based Engagements 

Some brands recognize they have an expertise gap that an agency can fill much more efficiently than they can. Sometimes it simply doesn’t make economic sense to have a person on-staff for really specialized roles. Other times, brands make a conscious choice to keep certain roles in-house, while outsourcing the rest.

For example, our most popular role-based engagements are around campaign deployment. Our clients provide the email creative and assets, call-to-action links, the campaign’s audience, send date, and other details. Then we upload the campaign, do quality assurance to ensure it’s rendering and functioning as intended, double-check the audience and suppression list, and deploy it. Campaign design and coding is another common role where agencies can shine.

Offloading campaign creative and deployment allows brands to focus on big picture strategy. However, even there we often see roles for agencies. For example, while brands often have in-house data analysts, they’re typically working their way through a deep backlog of requests and sometimes don’t have the channel expertise to turn marketing data into actionable insights. We have ongoing client relationships focused on just that.

One of our other popular services is email deliverability monitoring. For those clients, we proactively provide deliverability and list management advice, and actively monitor for potential problems or weakening in their inbox placement. When problems emerge, we work with the client to address the issue, reducing the time to resolution significantly, which translates into saved revenue.

Not only does it usually not make sense for a brand to have their own in-house deliverability expert, but outsourcing this function to an agency allows a client to benefit from the experience of other brands. For example, when Spamhaus became more much more active going into the 2022 holiday season, our Email Deliverability Services team was able to learn from the experiences of our clients who got into trouble to help our other clients avoid getting on Spamhaus’s radar.

Full Service Engagements

In these cases, the brand has outsourced one or more marketing channels. Essentially, the agency acts as the brand’s email marketing team or SMS marketing team, for example. In some cases, the agency team members actually work on-site at the client’s headquarters or at one of their branch locations—although that has become much more rare post-pandemic. 

Regardless of how it’s physically structured, full service clients benefit from: 

  • Easier staff management and flexible scaling
  • Vast experience across industries and clients
  • Greater diversity of ideas and creative thinking
  • Specialized expertise and deep channel knowledge
  • Rigorous processes and economies of scale for campaign production

All of that typically translates into better performance than the brand could achieve on their own. For example, our full-service email marketing clients generate 24% higher open rates, 30% higher click rates, and 9% lower unsubscribe rates than Oracle Responsys customers who aren’t.

Whatever the mix of in-house and agency, digital marketing is absolutely a team sport where you always want to put your best player on the field in every position. In today’s competitive marketing landscape, that’s how you stay nimble and gain a competitive advantage.

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Need help with your digital marketing? Oracle Digital Experience Agency has hundreds of marketing and communication experts ready to help Oracle customers create stronger connections with their customers and employees, even if they’re not using an Oracle platform as the foundation of that experience. Our award-winning specialists can handle everything from creative and strategy to content planning and project management.

For help overcoming your challenges or seizing your opportunities, talk to your Oracle account manager, visit us online, or email us at OracleAgency_US@Oracle.com.

Lauren Gannon

Vice President of Agency Services, Oracle Digital Experience Agency

Lauren Gannon is Vice President of Agency Services, Oracle Digital Experience Agency.

Clint Kaiser

Head of Analytic & Strategic Services, Oracle Digital Experience Agency

Clint Kaiser is the Head of the Analytic & Strategic Services team at Oracle Digital Experience Agency. His background in the email marketing space includes 20 years of experience with ESPs and digital agencies. His analytical approach to driving change in digital marketing is reflected in his quantitative approach to improving clients' business outcomes.


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