Our 8 part guide on all aspects of SEO, from how search engines work to the effects of UI and UX.
As a partner in a digital marketing agency, one question I often get asked is “how many staff do you have”, or “how big is your agency”? This is generally followed by what services we offer and how much we charge and who we work with.
Having worked for some of the larger digital marketing agencies based in Bangkok, Thailand over the last 11 years, starting from SEO Sales and going on to senior management I feel I have a good grasp of how agencies work, and what parts I think are most productive (and unproductive).
Below I’ve listed my thoughts on certain aspects of agency life, this is only my opinion based on my work experience, and isn’t the same for every digital agency. We have purposely chosen to keep our agency small (10 full-time) so will share my views on how this differs against a larger agency (30+ staff).
Ad Campaign performance is down to many factors, including strategy, execution, creatives, and message, but most importantly the product or service. In a large agency, teams will generally be designated to accounts based on spending or potential spending. The high-value clients will generally get the better, more qualified staff (team) and smaller clients will get the less experienced staff. At a small agency, most team member is involved in most campaigns. The advantage of a small agency is your campaign will be more likely handled by senior staff, but the capacity will also be smaller. It’s down to that agency to manage the capacity/workload so each account is given sufficient time.
As with Performance, the service levels of a large agency are more likely to vary as there are more people involved. Naturally, some account managers will be better or more experienced than others. As a client, the account manager you are assigned is usually down to the level of spend and complexity of the campaign. Smaller, more basic campaigns are likely to be managed by the newer staff members. As with the previous point, the service levels in a smaller company are likely to be better, on the basis that they have sufficient capacity.
Services / Inhouse
As a digital marketing agency, our job is to provide holistic solutions to clients, in line with their brief. Which can sometimes include services that are outside of the core ‘digital marketing’ service. For example, Social Media Management (the handling of content posting and maintenance of a Facebook page, is a very different skillset to that of Facebook Advertising. Larger agencies are more likely to have internal staff for more departments than smaller agencies. The benefit of having services in-house is down to quality control. As a smaller agency, we are 100% transparent with our clients on which services are done in-house and what we would refer to partners.
Teams / Turnover
As with the above point, larger agencies can split their staff into individual teams, those teams will generally consist of a team leader or manager. Whereas with smaller agencies each staff member is required to do a number of tasks. In my experience, the average salary is higher in a smaller agency, as larger agencies will have a much wider range (from very high to very low). Naturally, with higher numbers of staff, larger agencies will have higher staff turnover, usually at lower positions which can include account management, causing issues with recurring monthly clients.
Flexibility in digital marketing is key, and something which is easier done in smaller agencies, as the decision-making process is handled by fewer people. With larger agencies its likely they will follow more strict processes and procedures.
Advantages of working with a large digital marketing agency:
Resources: Large agencies typically have a wide range of resources, including large teams of specialists in various areas of digital marketing, such as SEO, Google Ads, content marketing, and social media.
Experience: More staff will mean more experience in working with a variety of clients and industries.
Scalability: Large agencies are often able to handle large-scale campaigns and handle sudden spikes in demand.
Disadvantages of working with a large digital marketing agency:
Cost / Margins: Large agencies may be more expensive than smaller agencies, as they typically have a larger overhead and may charge higher fees for their services.
Lack of personalization and flexibility: Large agencies may have a more standardized approach to digital marketing and may not be able to offer as much personalization as smaller agencies.
Advantages of working with a small digital marketing agency:
Cost: Smaller agencies may be able to offer more affordable rates, as they have lower overhead costs.
Personalization: Smaller agencies may be able to offer more personalized attention and a more tailored approach to your digital marketing needs.
Flexibility: Smaller agencies may be more flexible and able to adapt to changes in your business or marketing needs.
Service: You are most likely to be handled by more experienced and senior staff from start to finish, and unlikely to be reassigned to different account managers.
Disadvantages of working with a small digital marketing agency:
Limited resources: Smaller agencies may have a smaller team and fewer resources, which could impact their ability to handle large-scale campaigns or handle sudden spikes in demand.
As with many businesses, I feel the hardest part of running an Agency is hiring new staff. The supply is certainly there as the industry is sought after, especially since covid and the new work-from-home (WFH) mentality, but the experience and qualifications is certainly lacking.
At Phoenix Media we have built our core team and services due to demand. We don’t have dedicated outbound sales, and we use contractors where necessary for overspill in workloads. Over the years we have also learned when and when to not submit proposals, this might be due to client briefs we feel are unrealistic, or terms that are high risk.
If you are looking for help with your digital marketing, and are not sure what type of company will fit you best, feel free to contact myself or one of the team for a free, no-obligation discussion.