A marketing retainer is an agreement between a business and a marketing agency where you'd pay monthly or quarterly for a range of services. They tend to last longer than one-off projects and it means marketing agencies can become familiar with your brand, helping you exceed your long-term goals.
So if you find yourself regularly purchasing projects from agencies and you know it's something you'll continue to do, chances are a retainer with a marketing agency is what you need.
- How does a marketing agency retainer work?
- Is it flexible to your needs?
- What are the benefits?
- What services are typically included?
- When you should use a marketing retainer and when you should avoid it
How does a marketing agency retainer work?
It's a lot simpler than you think. A business enters a contractual agreement with a marketing agency and you work out how much you'll pay per month or quarter. This depends on the services you take up and the volume of work the agency will do for you.
But all of this means nothing without all of the graft before marketing agencies can execute your plan.
It involves a lot of strategy work, plans on building awareness, fixing all of the backend stuff like your CMS to make sure everything is set up as it should be.
When you sign off the goals and strategy, the marketing agency can then jump in and crack on to help you accomplish your goals within your retainer budget.
Things to keep in mind
Your budget can differ depending on the channels you select. For example, choosing pay-per-click (PPC) advertising will be one agency cost - but you'll also need advertising spend budget within the agreement.
Do you want someone on-call whenever you need them or set weekly call times? Some agencies will be there for any immediate needs whenever you call. But if you're busy and weekly updates are fine, that's also an option.
That doesn't mean they'll neglect you. They'd always be available when you need to talk but remember - they're working hard in the background to help you with your goals. Trust their expertise as you'll always be a marketing agency's priority.
Talk it out with the marketing agencies on your shortlist to find a balance that works for you.
Is it flexible to your needs?
This can depend on a few factors:
- Your requirements
- Your budget
- The agency and how they price up their retainers
There's no right or wrong way for an agency to price up its retainer. For some, staying rigid and keeping all channels on a similar level works. For example, you might find a 'starter' retainer has fewer deliverables for all channels, such as SEO, content marketing and social media.
When you move to the next package, those deliverables will increase. For some, that works perfectly and if that's what you need, great. Others do enjoy more flexibility, though, and it's something you can talk through with your chosen marketing agency.
At Digital 22, for example, we'll tailor your retainer based on your unique requirements and update it month to month or campaign to campaign.
That means if you need a bit more SEO one month and not as much video marketing, for example, you can be flexible and change the requirements. As your goals and needs change, so can your retainer.
What are the benefits?
- A team to rely on: Even if someone in the agency is off sick or on holiday, your work doesn't suddenly stop. A marketing agency has multiple experts in each department to keep things running
- Genuine experts: Speaking of which, they also have experts in every department. You can focus on other tasks knowing genuine experts are working on your account in every channel
- Better value: Over time, your relationship with the marketing agency will get better and they'll understand your business more. That means you can get a quicker, stronger and more efficient service
- Proactiveness: A marketing agency wouldn't just wait for you to give orders. They have the knowledge, experience and knowhow to proactively make suggestions to drive your business forward
- You're the priority: As a retainer client, you'll have a set amount of time per week or month to catch up with your agency. Some agencies even give you access to their project management systems so you can see exactly where each task is up to
- Access to leading tools: In some cases, you benefit from access to tools that come as part of your retainer. Where in the past you might have had to shell out extra for certain software, marketing agencies use tried and tested tools to help your business grow
- Predictable costs: One-off projects can be a pain to track financially, especially since the scope can change regularly. With a marketing retainer, you know what to expect for an invoice every month, making it easier to budget and forecast.
What services are typically included?
Again, this depends on the marketing agency. Some might only specialise in a particular area while others might cover every base. Do your research to make sure you choose a retainer with a marketing agency that covers what you need.
What marketing agencies typically offer as services include:
- Content marketing and PR
- Web design and development
What we believe, however, is that you don't need a retainer for absolutely everything. This comes down to the flexibility we offer where you can choose which channel to hone in on and where you can afford to move the focus away from.
The services we offer include:
- HubSpot management
- Marketing automation
- Inbound marketing
- Web design and development
- Growth-Driven Design
- Chatbot creation
- Video marketing
- Content marketing
- Social media
- Custom HubSpot integrations
- Sales enablement
- Video transformation
When researching for a marketing agency, make sure to ask which services you can choose from to make up your retainer.
When you should use a marketing retainer and when you should avoid it
Plenty of reasons suggest your business will benefit from putting an agency on retainer. If any of the below sound familiar, it's a good indicator that you should reach out to one:
- You don't have enough resources in-house to reach your goals
- Growth is a priority
- You have the budget to afford a retainer
- You need quick turnaround times rather than trying to do everything alone
- You have ongoing needs for deliverables
- You need help managing all the channels and platforms you currently use
- You have projects in mind that are longer than a six-month timeline
- You want to start creating more strategic campaigns
- You want experts on hand to not only deliver the work but also guide you with recommendations
But there are also scenarios when a retainer with a marketing agency might not be the best idea for you right now.
- You have a limited budget
- You have a very specific project or service requirements agencies can't help with
- You don't have ongoing marketing needs
- You don't spend much on advertising or other channels
- You have enough resources in-house to keep your marketing efforts ticking
A retainer with a marketing agency shouldn't be something you set up and ignore. A strong agency retainer relationship is like a real-life relationship. You both push yourselves to be better versions of yourself and grow as you're in it for the long haul.
The challenge is usually finding a long-term partner that can help you accomplish your goals. If that's where you're at right now, it's time to take your marketing efforts to the next level with a marketing agency retainer.
That's where we come in.
Grow and learn with a marketing agency retainer from Digital 22
We have a team of 40+ in-house marketers, copywriters, designer and developers - all experts in inbound marketing. We also know the HubSpot platform inside-out and we'll work with you to turn your ideas into tangible results. What makes us unique is we'll share our learnings with you on this journey.
A marketing agency retainer from Digital 22 means it'll be like you've hired your dream team, without all of the hiring and training headaches. If you're ready to fast-track your growth using our proven processes, speak to our Head of Solutions, Caz, today to find a marketing retainer that works for you.