Digital agencies: how and what to choose?

With the boost in digital disciplines and specialization, the concept of "communication agency" has been defined in favor of an increasingly vertical number of skills and as many realities that can keep up with you for specific objectives.

If your business needs to communicate online today, you may be at a crossroads: who do I need to contact? How do I make sure they can help me? If I have to use multiple agencies or freelancers, how can they collaborate with each other?

Whether you're the media and marketing manager or large business or the owner of a business, here's a quick guide to moving into the new geography of digital skills.

Agencies changing: the years 2000-2010

With the development of digital, traditional communication agencies – those that dealt with strategy, advertising, production of offline materials such as TV, radio, press – began a path of evolution to translate their expertise on the new medium.

This phase, which began at the beginning of the 2000s, has certainly been complex. In the early days of the network, even before the power of search engines and social media was consolidated, it was simply an expansion of the same expertise.

Planners, copywriters, graphic designers have adapted to work with developers and IT technicians, transporting their work without major changes to a new medium, with all the difficulties of interaction with a different background. The logics that worked in creating visuals and texts or planning a creative event simply "shifted", without major changes, while the digital world was often used as a compendium of traditional communication activities.

This process lasted for about 10 years and became progressively less successful with the explosion of increasingly different and vertical digital means, as well as more proactive and demanding audience behaviors.

From an agency to a thousand skills: the years 2010-2020

Social media, search engines, digital direct marketing, mobile, apps, augmented reality... the digital world of the last 10 years has changed rapidly. The first specialization, which clearly separates it from the traditional communication agency, was the ability to place a website on search engines.

The SEO and SEA/SEM activities, the skills that make your site visible, required new skills, such as the understanding – at least partial – of the logics of search engine algorithms and the planning by "keyword". This world is even more complex today, thanks to the ability of acquiring traffic and users not only on search engines, but also on platforms such as Amazon, Booking, Tripadvisor with paid ad mechanisms.

Facebook and Twitter, at least since 2008, have produced a new kind of reality: the social media agency, that place of strategy, techniques and persuasion actions on the new channels of interaction. The "classic" metrics of clicks and views have changed and new ways of evaluating their success have been introduced, including engagement, or the ability to make users participate in a conversation about their brand .

Direct marketing, with the arrival of newsletters and, above all, of database segmentation logics and delivery based on the actions of users, has become a digital specialization with its own logic. Next to this, the position of CRM agencies has been consolidated, i.e. those that manage the information and contact methods for their own customers, in order to increase sales and loyalty.

The relational part has also changed in recent years. Public Relation, an offline environment made up of press releases, events and interviews, has been progressively digitized to find ambassadors and influencers able to describe brands through new languages and digital devices.

So, what changes in the situation of the agencies and, above all, what do we need to know before choosing one's own? Here is our vision:

Agency or freelancer?

You don't have to work with an agency, of course. There are various services, including Fiverr, that allow you to recruit freelancers at a very low cost and sometimes with high quality. The essential difference is that the freelancer's task will begin and end with your request, while an agency can provide a wider network of competencies that you will often find necessary as your digital projects grow.

What does Digital At Play do in all this?

Our agency offers all the services you have seen and combines marketing skills for the management of your point of sale. In addition, we are always available for consulting, also to choose together what is the best digital path for your goals. Contact us now.

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