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Checklist: how to hire a mobile agency and make sure they’re a good fit

(Business Marketing) When your mobile marketing campaign is ready to grow up, it’s time to hire a mobile agency, but how do you know they’re a good fit and not snake oil sales folk?

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Graduating your mobile marketing efforts

Mobile marketing is becoming a standard part of any business’ marketing plan, be it a solopreneur or a Fortune 500 company, and there comes a point where you may outgrow the DIY approach, but how do you know what steps to take next or how to navigate the waters without losing money?

Gregory Kennedy, VP Marketing at TapSense tells us that there are ways to know when to hire a mobile agency and ensure that they’re actually the right fit.

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“For most companies, mobile marketing begins in-house,” Kennedy said. “A single person starts working with self service tools on a popular mobile platform. This approach works great in the beginning, but as the complexity increases and campaigns scale, that model breaks down. The creative team becomes overloaded. The tech team isn’t set up to move fast enough to support mobile marketing. The marketing team lacks inside knowledge and close relationships with major media buying platforms, which makes media planning less efficient. If this sounds like your situation, perhaps you’re ready to seek agency help?”

In Kennedy’s own words below are tips on hiring a mobile agency, with a complete checklist you can start working on.

Agencies Have Knowledge and Expertise Your Organization Doesn’t

The best reason to engage with an agency is to maintain your focus. A marketing team needs to focus on the business, not become experts in mobile advertising technology. A good agency will provide you with expertise, knowledge and partner access that otherwise would be difficult to get. Even the most well organized and thoughtful companies rely on an outside agency for many tasks. Why? Because agencies can attract and manage talent that wouldn’t thrive in the very culture that makes your company successful. It is access to these ‘outliers’ that enriches the agency offering, providing you with original thinking and niche technical expertise.

Creativity Comes Unleashed

If there is one single area that agencies excel in, it’s creativity. Agencies have experience and personnel who are great at generating ideas, lots of good ideas. Good ideation is at the core of every good creative approach. Marketing teams should leverage this capability of an agency as much as possible. Generating these ideas is time-consuming, but having a great creative agency frees up marketing to work on other more essential aspects of the business.

Stay On Track With a Rigorous Process

Securing approvals from different stakeholders in your organization is another key function an agency can manage. Because they’re a third party, they have nothing vested in any particular strategy, in fact they’re highly motivated to ensure that your campaign is a success from the start. This means they will push for what they truly believe will work based on experience with other companies who have faced similar challenges. A good agency will also have a rigorous process in place. This will help make approvals happen on time, as they are required for the agency to move onto the next phase.

Hiring a Mobile Agency: A Checklist

Once you’ve made the decision to hire an agency, you should meet with multiple candidates of varying size in order to determine the best fit. Here’s a checklist of core attributes you should evaluate them on:

1. Capabilities Get a detailed list of services and capabilities. Ask which services are filled in-house and which are filled by outside contractors. If they use contractors, try to understand the depth of those relationships.

2. Partners Understand the platforms or partners they have direct experience with. Some specialize in a particular platform, which is the ideal fit if that’s the platform you need.

3. Business Model Take time to understand their monetary incentives. Some charge hourly, while others a percentage of media spend. Match the model to your performance goals.

4. Culture Agency culture is surprisingly diverse and varied. It ranges from nerdy and quantitative to quirky and irreverent. Find the culture that best matches your expectations.

5. Case Studies Get detailed case studies of past client engagements. Be sure to have key people take you through them and ask questions. Try to gain an understanding of the role the agency performed.

6. Key People Meet with the principals and key partners to find out exactly who will be assigned to your project. Be sure to have this in proposals as part of an hourly breakout.

7. Success Metrics Determine with the agency what the success metrics should be. Clearly articulating this from the start is the best way to ensure a successful engagement at the end.

8. Approach Get a good sense of their overall approach. Are they process driven? Creatively driven? Technology driven? Try to understand what motivates them. This will help you determine the right fit.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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Business Marketing

Amazon attracts advertisers from Facebook after Apple privacy alterations

(MARKETING) After Apple’s privacy features unveil, Amazon adapts by taking a unique approach to targeting, disrupting revenue for the ad giant Facebook.

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Two African American women work at their desks, one viewing Amazon's advertising landing page.

As a de facto search engine of its own persuasion, Amazon has been poaching ad revenue from Google for some time. However, disrupting the revenue stream from their most recent victim – Facebook – is going to turn some heads.

According to Bloomberg, Apple’s recent privacy additions to products such as iPhones are largely responsible for the shift in ad spending. While platforms like Facebook and Instagram were originally goldmines for advertisers, these privacy features prevent tracking for targeting – a crucial aspect in any marketing campaign.

Internet privacy has been featured heavily in tech conversations for the last several years, and with Chrome phasing out third-party cookies, along with Safari and Firefox introducing roughly analogous policies, social media advertising is bound to become less useful as tracking strategies struggle to keep up with the aforementioned changes.

However, Amazon’s wide user base and separate categorization from social media companies makes it a clear alternative to the Facebook family, which is perhaps why Facebook advertisers are starting to jump ship in an effort to preserve their profits.

This is the premise behind the decision to reduce the Facebook ad spending of Vanity Planet by 22%, a home spa vendor, while facilitating a transition to Amazon. “We have inventory…and the biggest place we are growing is Amazon,” says Alex Dastmalchi, the entrepreneur who runs Vanity Planet.

That gap will only widen with Apple’s new privacy features. Bloomberg reports that when asked in June if they would consent to having their internet activity tracked, only one in four iPhone users did so; this makes it substantially harder for the ad campaigns unique to Facebook to target prospective buyers.

It also means that Amazon, having demonstrated a profound effectiveness in targeting individuals both pre- and post-purchase, stands to gain more than its fair share of sellers flocking to promote their products.

Jens Nicolaysen, co-founder of Shinesty (an eccentric underwear company), affirms the value that Amazon holds for sellers while acknowledging that it isn’t a perfect substitute for social media. While Nicolaysen laments the loss of the somewhat random introduction charm inherent on Instagram, he also believes in the power of brand loyalty, especially on a platform as high-profile as Amazon. “The bigger you are, the more you lose by not having any presence on Amazon,” he explains.

As privacy restrictions continue to ramp up in the coming months, it will be interesting to see how social media advertising evolves to keep up with this trend; it seems naive to assume that Amazon will replace Facebook’s ads entirely, tracking or no tracking.

Apple's privacy landing page showing iPhone users ability to shut off location services and a desktop image of a user's ability to control how their data is managed.

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Business Marketing

How many hours of the work week are actually efficient?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Working more for that paycheck, more hours each week, on the weekends, on holidays can actually hurt productivity. So don’t do that, stay efficient.

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Clock pointed to 5:50 on a plain white wall, well tracked during the week.

Social media is always flooded with promises to get in shape, eat healthier and… hustle?

In hustle culture, it seems as though there’s no such thing as too much work. Nights, weekends and holidays are really just more time to be pushing towards your dreams and hobbies are just side hustles waiting to be monetized. Plus, with freelancing on the rise, there really is nothing stopping someone from making the most out of their 24 hours.

Hustle culture will have you believe that a full-time job isn’t enough. Is that true?

Although it’s a bit outdated, Gallup’s 2014 report on full-time US workers gives us an alarming glimpse into the effects of the hustle. For starters, 50% of full-time workers reported working over 40 hours a week – in fact, the average weekly hours for salaried employees was up to 49 hours.

So, what’s the deal with 40 hours anyway? The 40 hour work-week actually started with labor rights activists in the 1800s pushing for an 8 hour workday. In 1817, Robert Owen, a Welsh activist, reasoned this workday provided: “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

If you do the math, that’s a whopping 66% of the day devoted to personal needs, rather than labor!

Of course, it’s only natural to be skeptical of logic from two centuries ago coloring the way we do business in the 21st century. For starters, there’s plenty of labor to be done outside of the labor you’re paid to do. Meal prep, house cleaning, child care… that’s all work that needs to be done. It’s also all work that some of your favorite influencers are paying to get done while they pursue the “hustle.” For the average human, that would all be additional work to fall in the ‘recreation’ category.

But I digress. Is 40 hours a week really enough in the modern age? After all, average hours in the United States have increased.

Well… probably not. In fact, when hours are reduced (France, for instance, limited maximum hours to 35 hours a week, instead of 40), workers are not only more likely to be healthier and happier, but more efficient and less likely to miss work!

So, instead of following through with the goal to work more this year, maybe consider slowing the hustle. It might actually be more effective in the long run!

This story was first published in January 2020.

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Business Marketing

Jack of all trades vs. specialized expert – which are you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It may feel tough to decide if you want to be a jack of all trades or have an area of expertise at work. There are reasons to decide either route.

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When mulling over your career trajectory, you might ask yourself if you should be a jack of all trades or a specific expert. Well, it’s important to think about where you started. When you were eight years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? Teacher? Doctor? Lawyer? Video Game Developer? Those are common answers when you are eight years old as they are based on professionals that you probably interact with regularly (ok, maybe not lawyers but you may have watched LA Law, Law & Order or Suits and maybe played some video games – nod to Atari, Nintendo and Sega).

We eventually chose what areas of work to gain skills in and/or what major to pursue in college. To shed some light on what has changed in the last couple of decades:

Business, Engineering, Healthcare and Technology job titles have grown immensely in the last 20 years. For example, here are 9 job titles that didn’t exist 20 years ago in Business:

  1. Online Community Manager
  2. Virtual Assistant
  3. Digital Marketing Expert
  4. SEO Specialist
  5. App Developer
  6. Web Analyst
  7. Blogger
  8. Social Media Manager
  9. UX Designer

We know that job opportunities have grown to include new technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, consumer-generated content, instant gratification, gig economy and freelance, as well as many super-secret products and services that may be focused on the B2B market, government and/or military that we average consumers may not know about.

According to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics after doing a survey of baby boomers, the average number of jobs in a lifetime is 12. That number is likely on the rise with generations after the Baby Boomers. Many people are moving away from hometowns and cousins they have grown up with.

The Balance Careers suggests that our careers and number of jobs we hold also vary throughout our lifetimes and our race is even a factor. “A worker’s age impacted the number of jobs that they held in any period. Workers held an average of 5.7 jobs during the six-year period when they were 18 to 24 years old. However, the number of jobs held declined with age. Workers had an average of 4.5 jobs when they were 25 to 34 years old, and 2.9 jobs when they were 35 to 44 years old. During the most established phase of many workers’ careers, ages 45 to 52, they held only an average of 1.9 jobs.”

In order to decide what you want to be, may we suggest asking yourself these questions:

  • Should you work to be an expert or a jack of all trades?
  • Where are you are at in your career and how have your skills progressed?
  • Are you happy focusing in on one area or do you find yourself bored easily?
  • What are your largest priorities today (Work? Family? Health? Caring for an aging parent or young children?)

If you take the Gallup CliftonStrengths test and are able to read the details about your top five strengths, Gallup suggests that it’s better to double down and grown your strengths versus trying to overcompensate on your weaknesses.

The thing is, usually if you work at a startup, small business or new division, you are often wearing many hats and it can force you to be a jack of all trades. If you are at a larger organization which equals more resources, there may be clearer lines of your job roles and responsibilities versus “the other departments”. This is where it seems there are skills that none of us can avoid. According to LinkedIn Learning, the top five soft skills in demand from 2020 are:

  1. Creativity
  2. Persuasion
  3. Collaboration
  4. Adaptability
  5. Emotional Intelligence

The top 10 hard skills are:

  1. Blockchain
  2. Cloud Computing
  3. Analytical Reasoning
  4. Artificial Intelligence
  5. UX Design
  6. Business Analysis
  7. Affiliate Marketing
  8. Sales
  9. Scientific Computing
  10. Video Production

There will be some folks that dive deep into certain areas that are super fascinating to them and they want to know everything about – as well as the excitement of becoming an “expert”. There are some folks that like to constantly evolve and try new things but not dig too deep and have a brief awareness of more areas. It looks safe to say that we all need to be flexible and adaptable.

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