Best Practices for Account Managers in a Digital Agency [Checklist]

May 30, 2017 Content Marketing 1 comment

Best Practices for Agency Account Managers

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Imagine that you’re a client of a digital marketing agency (or any marketing agency for that matter).

Something screws up during your campaign. The visuals look awful. The copy is off-brand. The response is lacklustre.

Who you’re gonna call?

Nope, not the Ghostbusters, but the agency’s account manager.

Performing the role of a bridge between the client and the creative, content, and technical teams in a digital marketing agency, the account manager is  a vital lynch pin in an agency’s organisation.

Holder of key client accounts, she is responsible not only for bringing in the moolah each month, but to improve client satisfaction and delight.

And we all know how important that is.

So what tasks should an agency’s account manager do? If you are one, how can you differentiate yourself from others to perform at the peak of your game?

Here are some best practices to follow.

Prior to Meeting Client

  • Read up on client’s business before hand
  • Clarify on client’s specific needs
  • Prepare sales and marketing deck with information on agency credentials and case studies
  • Fix appointment date, time and venue
  • If necessary, get Subject Matter Expert (SME) to attend meeting together
  • Have an idea on how to negotiate with the client

During Meeting with Client

  • Ask the following questions to clarify on client intent/need and prepare a client brief:
    1. What are your digital marketing objectives?
    2. What are the KPIs/ metrics you hope to achieve?
    3. What are your existing online properties and assets?
    4. What is the current status of your digital marketing efforts?
    5. How many brands or business units does the effort cover?
    6. How many countries or regions are covered?
    7. Are your current efforts tracked and monitored?
    8. What are your available budgets for the project?
    9. What are the time lines needed for the various phases of the project?
  • Find an opportunity to impress the client with your knowledge or problem solving abilities. Offer some immediate ideas or directions if you can.
  • Get the client particulars and contacts
  • If possible, try to get a written brief from client. If not, the account manager should help to prepare the brief.
  • Note down the deadline of the project proposal
  • Take down salient points of discussion with client. Share with the team preferably within 12 to 24 hours after the meeting for quick follow ups.
  • If possible try to walk clients through some of your projects. This can be shared through a deck of slides or the client website/social media channel.

After Meeting with Client

  • Assemble and trigger the project team for the campaign/ retainer
  • Brief team on what took place during the meeting, and the precise deliverables
  • Map out both internal and external deadlines, especially if there are multiple parties involved
  • Draft the project proposal, and garner inputs from all the parties involved – content team, analytics team, PPC team, and so on.
  • Look through the entire proposal carefully to ensure that there are no irregularities
  • Have one of the principals/director to eyeball the proposal once through before it goes out

Things To Look Out For In Proposal

  • Overall flow and logic to be clear
  • Proposal must meet client brief
  • Good use of graphics/ visuals
  • Proposal can have the following components:
    1. Objectives
    2. Client profile
    3. Current situation analysis (stock take of current efforts)
    4. Online scanning
    5. Competitor analysis
    6. Customer profile
    7. Proprietary approach
    8. Strategy
    9. Implementation Timeline
    10. Itemised Budgets
    11. Team involved (Full execution team, including outsourced partners if their CVs are strong)
    12. Case Studies/ Track Record
  • Check on deliverables, time-lines and costing
  • Check on availability of resources to execute

Proposal Accepted/ Contract Won

  • Draft the quotation and sales agreement and send to client
  • Close the loop with client and get them to sign on the sales agreement
  • Clients may negotiate on payment terms. If so, get agreement from principals for waivers.
  • Ensure that the deliverables stipulated match what was stated
  • Pop champagne and celebrate!

Ongoing Management

In general, the account manager has to act as the police, timekeeper, and client advocate – all rolled into one.

Comfortable in closely working with the client, she needs to negotiate with the client on timelines if the team has a problem meeting them. At the same time, she needs to also communicate her client’s preferences to the team.

Here are some of an account manager’s role on an ongoing basis:

  • Establish the project schedule for each cycle of activity:
    1. Inputs from client on what to include each month
    2. Materials and information from client (eg written text descriptions, visuals, images, promo details)
    3. Convey information to content / production team
    4. 1st draft of content from content / production team
    5. Client input for 1st draft
    6. 2nd draft of content
    7. Client approval for 2nd draft
    8. (If necessary, buffer sufficient time for 3rd draft)
    9. Green light to content / production team once client OKs the content
    10. Schedule the content in the channel and publish at the right time
    11. Advertise/ boost the content. If necessary, conduct A/B testing
    12. Monitor analytics and performance
    13. Report on outcomes and update client and content/ production team
  • Note down client preferences and communicate them to content/ production team.
  • Remind client to provide inputs on a timely basis.
  • Manage the calendar to ensure that dates of deliverables are achievable.
  • Check all content pieces before they go to client for factual accuracy, client preferences, timeliness, quality and other factors.
  • Alert content/ production team on any trends or insights gleaned from the analytics or client interactions. For example, what are the upcoming campaigns? Which are the events that client wants to push? Which types of content are doing better than others?
  • Brief and update content/ production team on client preferences. These should be captured in emails.
  • Trigger content/ production team on production schedules and timelines.
  • Manage client relationship.
  • Prepare regular analytics report to update clients. Copy should be shared internally with content / production team so that they are informed of what worked well and what didn’t.
  • If client changes are small and could be managed at Account Manager’s end, the incumbent should try to do the edits directly and clear with client. This helps to save time on all parties end.
  • Update content/ production team of the whereabouts for all client assets. For example logos, templates, images, videos, brand ID guidelines, etc.
  • Arrange meetings/ schedule conference calls if need be to clear on content.

More Than Just Sales

An account manager’s job doesn’t end with closing the sale or maintaining existing customer relationships.

Rather, a good account manager helps an agency in project fulfillment, troubleshoot quality issues, and manages multiple parties to ensure smooth delivery.

What are your thoughts on the roles of an account manager? I’d love to hear them.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.

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