Is a retainer with a Digital Agency right for you?

5 min read
Jonny Pathan
A person writing

As your business grows and you become the latest Surrey based business success, you’ll notice you need more time spent on your online presence. New content for your website, calls-to-actions, landing pages, pay per click campaigns, social media updates are all things that change often. So you can keep on top of things, you’ll most likely need a monthly retainer with a digital agency.

So, what’s a retainer anyway!?

Depending on who you speak to, retainers vary slightly from agency to agency, but the core principles apply. A monthly fee paid by your business for a predetermined amount of agency hours every month. Some digital agencies require you to come up with hours for your retainer, at Watb we work differently: with monthly strategy meetings, we’ll work with you to work out how best to grow your business month on month, and how much time we’ll need to do it. Once we have a plan, goals and strategy in place, we’ll schedule in all the work we need to do across the month.

What does a retainer cover?

Again, depends on the agency. To give you an idea of ours, it could include any of the following:

  • Support: on-going telephone, email support and regular strategy meetings
  • Analytics: monthly reporting on marketing statistics, including insight and recommendations
  • Marketing Research, Strategy, Planning & Workshops
  • Content Strategy & Creation
  • Creative Direction, Graphic & Print Design
  • UI & UX Design
  • Web Design & Development
  • Social Media Strategy, Planning, Content Creation & Analytics
  • Influencer Marketing
  • SEO, PPC & Bid Media, Conversion Rate Optimisation
  • Newsletter Campaigns

The good, and the bad.

The good: Money saving

One of the most common benefits is money – A retainer will usually get you a lower fixed hourly rate, depending on the agency. We base our discounts on how many months you’re with us. The more time, the cheaper it gets. As you’re guaranteeing time to an agency, and they don’t have to scramble for their work, there should be some cost savings in place.

The bad: It’s a monthly investment

Whilst that is true, and you should certainly think about whether or not your business is at that stage in its lifecycle, employing your own team of creatives, marketeers and developers is no cheap exercise; having those talents in-house costs a small fortune. Being able to scale up and down the team and services you need at the right time is a flexibility you can achieve by using an agency retainer.

The good: The agency are experts in their field, and spend all day doing the things you don’t have time for

Getting through all of the tasks that quality digital marketing entails is a hefty order. You’ve got more important things to be doing than fine-tooth combing Google Analytics. Many of our clients are too busy maintaining relationships, running their business and just need things to get done. That’s the beauty of guaranteed hours. You have the comfort of knowing the work will get done.

The bad: You’re not using up your time each month

From time to time this can happen, you suddenly run out of things to get done. Why bother with an agency? Well, a good agency would be meeting with you, finding out your goals, aspirations, and offering ways to help achieve them. A good way to avoid this being a problem is to create a list of projects you’ve been wanting to get done, but you just haven’t had the time to do. That way, if there’s ever a lull, your agency can crack on with those. There are so many ways to market your business, and a good agency can start attacking them one by one. After all, their goal should be getting paid to help you grow, right?!

The good: Your agency knows you oh so well

If you’ve used your agency for a project before, they should by this point have a deep understanding of your business. If learning about your business wasn’t on their list of things to do at that start, ask them why.

Knowing your business through and through means you’ve effectively got your own in-house team working on your side. Presenting your brand as it should be, understanding your audience, your potential, your core ethos and message.

The bad: You don’t know what the agency is up to all the time

Whilst I’d like to think trust is a key factor in any relationship, at the end of the day, you’re still paying for a service, and you need to know what that service is. Transparency should be a top priority in the agency you use. They should be happy to provide a breakdown of time usage, and should be using the right tools to track their time, progress and results.

We use a bunch of tools to do achieve this and even give our clients access to a real-time dashboard so they can see results and data at any time. Some of the other tools we use are:

So, is it right for you?

A retainer might seem like a big commitment, but, partnering up with the right agency could yield you fantastic results. As long as transparency is in place, contracts are clear, and times are tracked correctly, you’re on to a winner. Over time your relationship will get stronger, your agency will be more efficient and you’ll love having a team on your side, helping grow your business every day.

Further Reading
Here’s a more detailed look at our relationship with Chickidee Homeware, one of our retainer clients.

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