Fixed scope and set hours, a dream come true for agencies. But out of date and totally nonsensical for performance marketing.
Agencies love retainers. Why? Because it gives them a degree of certainty and that in-turn gives the possibility to plan revenue and resources. To some extent this makes sense for creative work where the effort can be similar each month and the deliverables can be fairly consistent.
For performance marketing (organic search, paid media, web analytics and conversion rate optimisation) the retainer or consistent work scope makes no logical sense. Why? Because fine tuning performance means changing things every day, week or month. Keeping the same scope each month is a formula for average performance not top performance.
The ideal scope (although variable) probably looks like this:
Paid media is quick and easy to set up, but nine times out of ten becomes more expensive over time, as competition rises and therefore in general, you eventually need to squeeze more performance from other complimentary tactics.
Search Engine Optimisation
SEO (organic search) is a longer term strategy, but again, in most circumstances the effort in the first several months is higher, as you get all the right foundations in place. Over the longer term you could expect the scope to change more towards content writing / syndication and actually the monthly effort should eventually diminish.
Conversion Rate Optimisation
CRO (conversion rate optimisation) is the most neglected service line in South Africa and actually the most important to your long term success. Imagine a situation where you drive 900,000 visitors to a website and just 1% convert? If you could improve that conversion rate to 3%, then the game changes in terms of performance. But the tragedy is that clients and agencies don’t concentrate on make the landing page or customer experience optimal. This is crazy, as you could actually drive more revenue / leads or sales and spend the same or even less – if you take CRO seriously. We recently wrote about the sleeping beast that is CRO.
And then you have data and analytics, which actually should be equally important at all times. The reason is that it guides what the variable scope should be over time.
It should guide what is working and not working and therefore what you should be doing more or less of.
Data : The Lens
So in conclusion, performance by it’s very nature requires a lens which must be data, to guide you as to what the scope should be.
Don’t let the agency or budgets tell you. The data must guide everything.
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