What makes for a great brand-agency relationship?
This week, GO! Network members, Impression, a multi-award winning Digital Marketing agency based in Nottingham and London, sit down with their client Abigail Ahern to discuss the key to mutual success and reflect on their brand-agency relationship so far.
The designer, retailer and author Abigail Ahern launched her namesake brand after returning from America where she worked as an interior designer. Abigail opened her first store in 2003 and from there has grown her own homeware brand, with the help of Impression, in to a thriving ecommerce site and global wholesale business.
GO!: How did the brand-agency relationship start?
Impression: Abigail Ahern was ambitious and keen to bring their marketing activity under one coordinated approach to grow their business., initially interested in SEO and PPC. When Abigail Ahern was looking to select an agency partner, it was essential for them to find someone who was up-to-date on key trends and changes in the industry, and we were pleased to tick this box. The brand appreciated our experience working with well-known e-commerce brands, instilling them with confidence that they could unlock new opportunities and drive results.
We’ve been working together since August 2020.
GO!: What was the brief?
Impression: Abigail Ahern initially hired our team for retained SEO and PPC services and also opted for paid social consultancy which swiftly migrated to a retained service, too. Abigail Ahern set objectives for us to increase traffic, online visibility, revenue and attract new customers.
During Black Friday 2020, Abigail Ahern briefed us to run a successful Black Friday campaign that could maintain the brand’s luxury status. Working in an integrated manner, Our SEO and paid media teams worked towards a common goal of driving traffic from high-intent audiences to increase revenue.
Following an incredibly successful Black Friday, we were then briefed to deliver the same campaign for Boxing Day and the January Sale.
GO!: What moments stand out as being the most memorable during the brand-agency relationship?
Abigail Ahern: The Black Friday campaign definitely marked a turning point in our company and based on our continued collaboration, we have explored new projects. Furthermore, Impression onboarded us very quickly and efficiently despite there being a lot of incorrect data and procedures implemented by the previous marketing manager, which had to be cleared up as well.
Impression: Delivering a campaign that achieved standout results and a very happy client, and was recognised in the form of an award – the work we did over Black Friday 2020 won ‘Retail Campaign of the Year’ at The UK Biddable Media Awards, 2021. Also, our partnership unlocked the opportunity for us to explore CRO as a new service to maximise conversions when traffic lands on the website.
GO!: What have been some key challenges you have faced together and how did you overcome them?
Abigail Ahern: Since we started working with Impression in August 2020, we have had to undertake all projects 100% remotely. Black Friday was a crucial time for us and like many businesses, this isn’t a challenge we’ve had to combat before so we were unsure of what to expect. The campaign that was delivered over Black Friday, however, was one of the most effective projects that we’ve worked on. This was as a result of Impression’s clear communication and attentiveness with us.
GO!: Did the pandemic change the dynamic of the partnership? How so?
Abigail Ahern: Surprisingly, no! As we’ve said in the previous point, we have had an incredibly successful period whilst working with Impression and are really enjoying the dynamic. Communication and reports are flowing seamlessly, we have regular catch-ups in the diary and have learnt lots about each other as individuals working from home.
GO!: What do you think is the key to success in a brand-agency relationship?
Abigail Ahern: Clear two-way communication, transparency on updates or changes in either party’s organisation if they could have an effect on marketing strategy, being honest and setting realistic expectations!
GO!: How do you measure success in your brand-agency relationship?
Impression: Success is often subjective and so it’s important to understand what success looks like to the client. For Abigail Ahern, we know this to be performance improvements not only year-on-year but also quarter-on-quarter i.e. to build on our own performance whilst navigating the peaks and troughs of seasonality, promotional periods, and other brand exposure through broader marketing campaigns outside of our Impression as Abigail Ahern’s SEO, CRO and Paid Media partner. By setting clear KPI targets and tracking our results against these over time demonstrates an openness around performance and we use regular meetings to discuss metrics and activity.
GO!: What is the most important factor when it comes to having a great relationship with the brand/agency you are working with?
Impression: Having a partnership built on transparency and openness, with both parties feeling comfortable enough to be honest about successes but also challenges in the working relationship together. Only by truly knowing what isn’t working and what could be even better does an agency know where to focus their efforts in a bid for continuous improvement (something we thrive on at Impression).
Abigail Ahern: Communication and responsiveness. It’s brilliant to have found a strategic partner with whom we can bounce ideas off and who help guide and educate us to test new things and become more sophisticated in our approach. We are always walked clearly through all decisions made and Impression are always receptive and responsive to our ideas, either putting them into practice or recommending tweaks to fit them into the overarching strategy. The flow of communication is important for all stakeholders to understand what’s happening when.
GO!: What is the biggest misconception that you hear about working with an agency?
Abigail Ahern: Cost, as well as Cost to Revenue Ratio is one of the misconceptions about working with an agency. There was also the preconceived notion of just being a number in amongst a large pool of clients rather than providing bespoke solutions to the needs of our business. This was indeed not the case – we have been very pleased with the level of service provided but also value for money.
GO!: What are you most excited for regarding the future of your brand-agency relationship?
Impression: The places we can go together digitally! By building trust and cementing this through delivering key results and improvements, together we can explore opportunities to test and learn new techniques and approaches and understand what customers respond to, both online and offline.
Abigail Ahern: All the exciting plans in the pipeline bringing CRO into our marketing mix to really squeeze the most out of all our existing digital channels. This is new territory for us but we’re excited to be on the journey with a wider team!
The GO! Network work regularly with brands to help them benchmark existing agency performance, or connect them to new agency partners. If you’re looking for advice or support on building agency relationships, put some time in with us here.