Industry Insights

A Closer Look at Today's Digital Marketing Agency

Empowering businesses with marketing expertise and technology like never before

It wasn’t so long ago when, if you needed a new website, you sought out an advertising or creative agency. The team typically consisted of a copywriter, graphic designer, and web developer and together the three of them would build a customized site just for you. Your internal people would make whatever connections were necessary behind the scenes and then, voila, the new site would go live.
“Alas poor ad agency, I knew them well”
That was then, however. And this is now. Today, the landscape has changed. Dramatically. Those types of agencies are rapidly becoming an anachronism. As Shakespeare might have put it if he were observing the business community in 2018, “Alas poor ad agency, I knew them well.”
The world of business and marketing is no longer just about websites. It’s about building an expansive digital landscape that includes email campaigns, customized landing pages, digital billboards, webcasts, social media, video assets, and much more. It’s about reformatting your marketing content and delivering it to an ever-growing, omni channel retail environment that began with laptops, tablets, and smart phones and now encompasses video screens in cars, on appliances, in elevators, at the gas pump, and beyond.
Technology heavy agencies led by seasoned business leaders
Yesterday’s advertising and creative agencies have given way to the leaner, more technology savvy digital marketing agency. Yes, they have a solid understanding of business and marketing. But more importantly, they have a working knowledge of the phalanx of marketing technologies that are out there, from Adobe, Oracle, Sitecore, and Kentico to Marketo,  Salesforce, and every conceivable variation in between. And they know how to make the two work together in order to make a business more successful.

Digital marketers interviewed for this article (l to r): Vince Mayfield of Bit-Wizards; Brant Cline of Blue Modus; Jeff Mihalich of Code Summit; Rob Bean of Refactored Media; and Bruce Williams of Thunder::tech. Watch the video at

The creative agencies of yesteryear were often focused on individual deliverables:  A website.  A brochure. An advertisement. A direct mail piece. Or maybe a campaign. Rather than recommend a point solution, today’s digital marketing agencies are more interested in providing a more expansive and far reaching marketing solution.  
They take the time to understand what’s going on with a business at a fixed point in time. They look beyond what a business may think it wants (“I need a new website”), and instead focus on what’s best for the overall business (“What’s really going on here? What’s the root of the problem?”)
Why is that? Because these digital marketing agencies are often led by seasoned business leaders with decades of experience. They have worked in corporate America. They are big picture thinkers and strategists. And they now have working for them some of the best technologists in the business.
 Getting a 360-degree view of your business
“We’re here to understand the business problem,” explained Vince Mayfield of Florida-based Bit-Wizards. “We want to understand how a business makes money, determine what needs to be done, understand any overriding concerns, and apply the right technology.” He continued, “we determine the right solution and then we deliver it, from start to finish. We want to be a full-service partner.”
That’s something that sets today’s digital marketing agencies apart – their dedication to being a “one stop shop” that can assemble a complete marketing solution without going outside for any additional expertise.
Digitally transforming businesses leads to more customers, more sales
“We are able to take a lot of different technologies and apply those across the needs of the business. And those needs are more customers and more sales,” commented Jeff Mihalich of Ohio-based Code Summit. “That’s what businesses are looking for today.”
“We have always been a technically focused agency,” concurred Brant Cline of Denver’s Blue Modus. “We have people on board doing design and strategy, but a lot of our focus has been on getting the execution and implementation right. We’ve become experts at building a multi-platform eco-system and linking it to other corporate stack systems such as CRM and ERP.”
“We offer all of the necessary services – communications, creative, development, and digital strategy,” offered Bruce Williams of Cleveland-based Thunder::tech, “as we focus on the digital transformation of companies.”
Searching for a digital marketing agency? Here’s a short checklist
Marketing savvy – check. Technology savvy – check. But there’s a third component present in today’s digital marketing agency that shouldn’t be overlooked. And that is the ability to serve almost as a business psychologist, developing a deep understanding of what makes each business tick and what sets each business apart.
“It’s important when working with customers to truly understand what drives their business,” explained Rob Bean of Denver’s Refactored Media. “I always try to look beyond the project that they are initially asking me about. If you can understand what’s driving a business, you can much better understand how the solution or the job they are asking you to do fits into the whole of their business.”
Bean went on, “We like to establish some empathy with the customer. We want to understand their business, what drives them, what keeps them lying awake at night. We want to go where the pain is, where the challenges to the business lie. That enables us to strengthen businesses from the inside out.”
Doing what’s best for the customer
I caught up with the many digital agencies cited in this article at a partners meeting in Cleveland. Why were they all there? To learn from one another. To share best practices. To become better business people.
“Sure, many of us consider ourselves to be a one-stop shop,” noted Brant Cline of Blue Modus. “But sometimes we know we have a partner that has a particular expertise that we want to bring to the table. So rather than trying to do it ourselves, we collaborate with them. We are happy to partner where it makes sense and combine our strengths.”
Doing what’s best for the customer – that’s why today’s digital marketing agencies are flourishing in today’s fast-moving digital economy.
About the Author
Jim Panagas is the Director of PR & Analyst Relations for Kentico Software, a leading provider of CMS technology. A seasoned marketing and communications professional, he has invested 25 years in the technology industry and spends a lot of time with digital marketers. His current assignment is educating the market about digital experience platforms including Kentico EMS and Kentico Cloud.

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