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Defending Your Life for Another Quarter: Joy and Pain in the Agency World

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by: Per Caroe (@percaroe)
16 May 2013

In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, but in agency land, we turn to thoughts of defending our lives; it ain’t Tennyson, but it’s true. That’s right, it’s the time of year when quarterly reviews come and go and agencies must defend their work to clients, prove they’ve added value and evaluate how they can improve in the future.  

One of the key parts of this process is coming up with a set of metrics that both parties can agree to prior. Yet I’m regularly surprised when I speak with some agency clients and hear about the metrics involved in their process. In my mind, it’s important to know how much can be directly associated with sales on a B2C site, or data downloads, sign-ins or leads in the B2B world — as well as tracking the long tail on these actions to eventual sales.

So, how can you make this process as seamless as possible? Here are a few ideas:

Does Your Data Tell a Story?
Summon your inner Don Draper. Have you team dig into the data and find the story. In 2013 one of the big digital themes is “big data.” If you’re struggling with developing an attribution model, then getting your team, and likely your client, around the importance of this can solve a lot of headaches later on. The last thing you want is to be defending 12 months of work, with incomplete metrics of how you impacted performance. Make sure you’re getting credit for the work you’ve done through the client’s analytics tagging and CRM system.

Time for New Ideas
In these reviews, clients expect new ideas. This is your agency’s chance to shine. As a channel, email is performing extremely well within digital. For those taking advantage of marketing automation, consider proposing a new type of program to be run. As you look into work that you could be doing for the next quarter, consider how the following could both be keeping your agency busy and your client’s campaigns fresh:

Quarterly Metrics that Should Matter
To get here, perhaps we should take a step back and decide a couple things we should all know about:

  • Inbound lead flow (goes for B2B and B2C)
  • Lead cost
  • Lifetime revenue
  • Lifecycle and average purchase by variable

If you don’t agree on these points upfront, you’ll be looking at non-monetary variables — how many clicks and unique visitors, for example — and those are inherently soft targets.

But if you agree that every person you get to sign up contributes $600 during his or her 24-month lifecycle, and that this is comprised of an average sale of $75 every quarter, and then show an uptick of 10 percent in average purchases, you’re looking at $60. Now, if that covers 2 million people, you can sure as shaving cream justify your $1 million fee. It’ll be dead easy to walk into the CFO’s office for your client and say, “We spent X and made Y, this year we want to spend X times 2 and suspect that there will be a slight drop of return to 9.7 percent, but even if we’re off by 30 percent we’ll still make money, because we did it already.”

Don’t fear the quarterly review, just make sure you can track, segment and speak to clients on an individual basis. Give the personal love and people will respond in kind. Tell the story that needs to be told in email and don’t be afraid to bring new ideas to the table.

Related Resources:
1) Video: “Big Data in 2013
2) Blog: “Email Marketing ‘Best’ Practices: A Modern Framework
3) White Paper: “2013 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study


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