What is digital marketing and how do I choose the right agency?

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital Marketing is the marketing that you do online which supports, integrates with and helps to measure the marketing you do offline. B2b digital marketing is often aligned to business goals such as lead generation and nurturing, brand awareness and customer relationship management [CRM].

Digital marketing is about embracing new technologies and integrating these new techniques with the more traditional marketing approaches to effectively market your company to the right audience.

Unlike some traditional methods, there is no smoke and mirrors with digital marketing, it can be measured, monitored and refined.

From where I’m standing, there are three key factors that impact the success of any modern digital marketing plan…

  1. Thorough Research
  2. Correct Digital integration
  3. Reporting on Performance ie. Measuring what Matters

If implemented correctly all activity can be tracked and reported.


Research is about finding out the real reason for the business issue.

  • What are your business goals for this project?
  • What issues are you currently facing?
  • What are the timescales involved?
  • Why do you think you need a new website / microsite / brochure?
  • What action do you want your new (or existing) visitors to take?
  • Why are your visitors leaving your website as soon as they land on it?
  • Why is nobody completing your enquiry form?
  • Why are you having trouble ranking in the search engines?

And so on.

The value of this sort of diagnostic exercise cannot be under played.

Any marketing agency worth their salt should be challenging projects from the outset to understand what is/isn’t currently happening.

Digital Integration

Digital Integration is also key. Each marketing channel can (and should) be integrated. From phone calls to written letters, mass broadcast emails & mobile messages to landing pages, micro-sites and web pages. Each element can be assigned a measurable contact point, a clear call to action; whether that’s an 0845 number, a unique URL or a landing page.

And because your audience is not always ready to buy, your multi-media campaigns need to be pushing out consistent and relevant messages across all communication platforms and channels on a timely basis, using a daily, weekly or monthly schedule.

“It is the consistency that contributes towards brand building that will in turn build your credibility, trust and develop a positive business reputation and brand identity.”

Back in 2011, ‘What is digital Marketing and how will it benefit my business?’ was a commonly asked question, especially within the construction industry.

Our answer hasn’t really changed except for the fact that ‘digital marketing’ is becoming less about the ‘digital’ and more about the ‘marketing’. The way it should be done. The new normal.

And unsurprisingly what we said in 2011 still stands:

Do not make the mistake of thinking that digital marketing is a separate discipline to traditional marketing. It isn’t. It just makes the performance more transparent.

Click here to read the latest post on choosing the right agency for your business.

Reporting on Performance – The value of having goals

What are Goals? Goals are outcomes. They are the result of an action that the visitors to your website have carried out. They are the actions that are aligned to your business goals.

A sample request, a brochure download, filling out an Enquiry form, signing up to your blog or event, adding an item to a cart, buying that item etc.

Alway ask yourself  ‘what does good look like?’ for your business.

If the sales team say “Sample requests are good for qualified leads”, work out how you can get more sample requests from the product pages on your site.

If the new business guys say ‘CPD bookings are great for starting the relationship with Architects”, work out how your website can get more enquires for CPD presentations.

In order to get a qualitative answers, you should be measuring the most important areas of your website more keenly than others.

For example; as a number, are the general ‘hits, sessions or impressions’ to your website as important as the amount of visitors leaving your product pages without leaving their details?

In our minds, no. ‘Visits’ to the homepage are, in reality, a useless metric for the improvement of Goals – they might be an indication of ‘Brand awareness’ but that would be the only valid metric. But even so, if they all bounce from there without doing something else what are you left with?

“A digital agency that is giving you data that does not directly link back into the business goals and objectives is not doing its job in my view, the generic data means nothing.”

If you’re paying good money for a report that includes only data and no credible explanation for that data, or indeed any significant opportunities to exploit coming out of that data, then you need to be asking some tough questions. Questions that will teach you how to read your analytics document and show you where to look to find the hidden gems.

Read this: “What makes an effective website for a construction product manufacturer?

In the post above we talk about the value of a goal and how determining and assigning a monetary value to each individual goal will help you understand, not just how important your website visitors are, but how to understand which of your campaigns are delivering the most qualified prospects by using analytics.

Providing relevant content, clarifying the customer journey and the importance of website usability shouldn’t be underestimated. So the underlining question that our diagnostics process will seek out of every project we undertake: “…is your website actually adding any value to your business?”

Find the right Digital Agency: Which sort of marketing support is right for you and why we might not be your cup of tea!

With so many agencies out there, all seemingly offering the same thing, how do you choose a digital agency that’s right for you?

Question: What do you need?

  1. A freelancer or consultant on a hourly or daily rate based on specific project work
  2. A design/web agency to do what you want, when you want it based on a price for production with no strategy.
  3. A strategic agency to challenge your wants and needs and work with you to achieve your business goals.

Clearly, there are plenty of web designers, graphic designers, web agencies, IT departments and software houses that can build websites. There are cheap ones, expensive ones, open-source, off the shelf, DIY, run off the mill and in-house techs all of whom are capable of building a site. You could employ any one to help you build a website – if that is all you want…

For us though, that is not enough, we don’t typically sell or indeed buy into this sort of service. And because of that we are unlikely to win web project work especially if there is a pitch process based solely on price.

It’s not a relationship where we’re likely to be able to do our best work…

The giving and receiving of value

Because I value what we do for our clients – in the same way that I value a specialist health consultant who can tell me if I have more than a sore throat and prescribe something stronger than a throat sweet and a day off work – I am happy to sometimes say no to a potential client.

I therefore want to stress, if it isn’t abundantly clear already, that we aren’t a typical generalist agency.

Video: All our clients have one thing in common…

They allow us to work in a way that means we can learn about their issues first. We learn much more going forward but before asking us to provide any recommendations, costs, artwork etc; they allow us to ask questions. Lots of very good questions and they understand the value that that process will bring in the long term.

What do we do if there is a fit? How do we work?

We clearly aren’t going to be right for some companies. However, if there is a connection there, a meeting of minds and a shared respect then we work to understand your business as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

“We work ‘til the cows come home’ to understand your objectives, to fathom your current position, to learn about your current and potential audience and understand the marketplace in which you work.”

Here’s an overview of our working process to nail an intelligent, fact-based digital marketing strategy:

1. Diagnose the problem.

Each and every one of our projects starts with a diagnostics exercise:

As someone very cleverly pointed out “We don’t know what we don’t know”. Therefore, like all good detectives, all our projects kick off with a little bit of research.

We never prescribe any marketing remedy without first understanding the issues facing your business – watch this case study video.

Competitor analysis, sector and market analysis, audience demographics, geographic boundaries, technical and industry language barriers, calls to action, the customer journey and so on are all part of the research process.

Our penetrating ‘needs assessments’ process encourages you to think beyond your immediate needs. You may say you want a new website but what you really need is to raise your profile, to increase your visibility on the web and there are other ways of doing that…

We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water, we want to improve the initiatives that work and rework the initiatives that don’t. The old adage ‘build it and they will come’ is, I’m afraid, hopelessly off the mark on the web.

2. Is everyone in the room?

We want to know who makes the financial, commercial and sales & marketing decisions in your organisation and we want to get them involved from the outset – as a Sales and Marketing professional your task is much easier if the whole board buys into your strategy and agrees with the objectives.

Failing to get all the key stakeholders around the table and all the opinions out in the open from the outset, will no doubt result in lost time, lost money and lost momentum.

3. Presenting the strategy – our recommendations.

Our initial research, with the help of our clients, will eventually uncover the real issues, the true business objectives and problems. Sometimes those issues may be hard to swallow and sometimes the problem could be as obvious as the nose on your face.

So, the next step for moving our projects forward is the ‘why’ bit.

  • Why do we need a form on that page?
  • Why can’t we have a flash based site?
  • Why is that button orange?
  • Why should we replace all our case study pdf’s with web pages?
  • Why do I need a blog?
  • Why is Social Media important?
  • Why should I have a phone number on every page?
  • Why, why, why?

It is our job to answer these ‘why’ questions by clarifying the reasoning behind every single element of the prescribed customer journey process.

Our recommended strategy (and the tactics within it) takes into consideration the current business challenges, and future objectives and requirements, as well as allocation of budget and resources.

The final communications plan and schedule of works, fits a solution and budget that is straightforward (ie. is actionable), measurable and works best for you and your company.

4. Creative concept and technical specification.

A mouthful maybe, but by the time we get to this stage we will have discovered the issues, highlighted the areas of importance, debated the desired outcomes and plotted the journey to launching your digital projects.

The questions about branding, target audience, marketplace characteristics, communication/marketing channels, budget, deadlines and stakeholders would have been answered. The brief would have been written, rewritten, signed off and approved.

And we’ve also benchmarked from where we can measure success. We now understand how prospects get to your site, how deep they delve into your site and from which pages they flee en mass. We understand the areas that might keep visitors on the site and we also know which elements they are likely to want to download and takeaway with them in return for their data, which we may want to capture.

Better than that, we have an understanding of who they are and who they are likely to be. We can segregate audiences and services, profile needs and priorities and give each profile a journey to take that best serves their likely needs and wants.

Best of all we can now track and measure each website visitor to prove ROI or ROE on an ongoing basis. The information we capture can be used to turn prospects into profitable leads.

5. Implementation – launching your digital strategy and continuous evaluation

Testing is the most important part of any web project large or small. If you don’t schedule in time for testing, for an already time pressured web development or application project, be sure to expect plenty of issues when it goes live.

“Only when the whole customer journey and, more crucially, online functionality has been tested to the brink of collapse do we feel safe in going live with the first part of marketing plan.”

Our requirement process will uncover the functionality required for the level of interaction necessary to meet your business objectives. We then allow time for crucial testing and amendments to the process and user journey flow.

Remember: You can download our FREE eBooks for construction marketers covering Social Media,Content Marketing and White Paper Campaigns

In Summary:

What we’ve outlined here may well be similar to the experience you’re currently having with your agency right now. If it’s not, maybe there’s a very good reason for that. We understand everyone has their own way of working. This is ours. And it allows us to produce some exemplary work for our clients.

“It’s because we take everything into account right from the very beginning, because we specialise in an industry that we know, and can prove experience within, because we like to lead the relationship and because we can say ‘No’, that’s what makes us different.”

We realise we are not for everyone, but at least we’re honest about that!

However, if this approach seems like a good fit for you and your company, and digital marketing is something that you would like to embark or improve upon, then take a look at some of our case study videos and if it feels right to do so please give us a call on +44 (0) 1908 671 707 or maybe just follow us on Twitter for a while @PauleyCreative.

This post was updated in April 2016 by Nick Pauley

About Stuart Dinnie

Stuart has worked in the world of digital marketing for over 15 years. With his measured and planned approach, he has delivered robust digital strategies for construction companies to achieve real business growth. He now heads up the team at Pauley Creative as Managing Director and is leading his team & clients towards digital marketing excellence. He’s worked with over 100 construction clients; helping them on their digital transformation journey, providing sustainable strategies that return year on year incremental growth, delivering award-winning websites and adding value from board level to marketing assistant.

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