Not a lot is said or heard about this very important position of Digital Account Manager at Digital Marketing Agencies.I’ve worked with many clients and agencies in marketing and it’s an incredibly underestimated role.
People often talk about the SEO’s, the Adwords guy, content writers, graphic designers, heck – even the sales team!
But we hardly ever about the Account Managers.
Who are they? What do they even do? What makes a good Account Manager? And how are Account Managers critical to a digital agency’s success?
Well, read on to find out.
What Exactly Is An Account Manager ?
Traditionally, Advertising and Media Agencies used to have these positions not just for managing day to day client communication but also for strategic inputs and insights with experience.
Account Manager eventually evolved to Account Planners and Account Directors. Account Managers act as the key client influencers post-sale in many cases, and are the client representative stakeholder within the agency, ensuring the strategy is maintained and/or optimised on behalf of the client as production moves forward.
The Account Manager is responsible for understanding the capabilities of the agency, along with its strengths and weaknesses, while also having the perceptive ability to apply these functions to the client’s goals and needs.
An Account Manager hears the client’s desire for more sales, a “better website” and “just get me more leads!” and translates this into tangible requirements, benchmarks and goals for the agency to produce and achieve.
Ideally, the Account Manager is the conductor of the orchestra, they might not write the song or play the instruments, but they certainly have a critical impact on the quality of the music.
Who Are Digital Account Manager ?
Account Managers are the frontline, client facing, agency and client advocates who bridge the gap between the client and the agency.
An Accounts Manager is unlikely to be a technical expert, but rather, like a site foreman on a construction site doesn’t know every trade inside out, or a project manager in an IT or development setting might not even know how to code, an Account Manager doesn’t need to be an expert in any particular field.
While some account managers may come from a background in a specific marketing area such as PPC or Content Marketing, it’s more important that they have a more theoretical understanding of many facets of marketing, to contribute to and guide the overall strategy, as the product specialists will be able to support them with their expertise in this goal.
A competent and effective Account Manager needs to be great at Business Analysis, Competitor Analysis, Marketing Workshops, Marketing Fundamentals, Client Relationships, Analytics & Reporting and Campaign Management among other things.
A Digital Account Manager needs to have a solid understanding of all digital marketing channels like SEO, SEM, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, eMail Marketing, etc. and how the integrate, along with the above skills.
What Does An Account Manager do?
A Digital Account Manager should be great at asking discovery questions to uncover the client’s real needs versus what’s been sold to the client. More investigation may be required around what the client may believe to be the problem and what the issue actually is.
That’s not to say the client isn’t right about whatever it is that’s troubling them; However, allow me to use a trip to the mechanic as an example, I know my pain point is that my car won’t start, my mechanic knows that by fixing the clogged fuel filter, I’ll be on my way. This translation from pain point to result is what the Account Manager needs to focus on, so a good Account Manager will be taking a thorough look under the hood of any business.
A Digital Account Manager understands and helps to set client expectations, as they become the advocate of the strategy and a trusted advisor to the client. They will guide the client with key decisions about the specifics of the campaigns from keywords to creatives to content to measurable KPIs.
He or she needs to build rapport with the client and genuinely gain the client’s trust as the client is dependent on the Account Manager to give recommendations that benefit his or her business. Keep in mind if the Account Manager is always after upgrades and cross-sells eventually the client will realise this and lose trust in the Account Manager as well as the Agency.
The Account Manager is responsible for the account, they need to find a balance between the agency, the client and the goals, to ensure successful outcomes in their tricky job.
What Should Account Manager Do To Be Great At Their Jobs?
Besides project management skills and an overall technical understanding, Account Managers must be great communicators and negotiators both within their agency amongst producers and specialists, and externally with clients and stakeholders.
Account managers have to liaise with and coordinate all other teams to make sure they are on the same page with the strategy and are on track to deliver client goals. This starts from day dot and is an ongoing process.
The Account Manager supervises production in a sense, to ensure client KPIs are met and are also set appropriately in the beginning and as campaigns develop. The rapport and workflow they build within their organisation as well as with any external contractors can impact the output and quality of work greatly, and a charismatic and organised AM can really make work flow smoothly between all dependencies.
While all team members have parallel priorities, they are generally focused on one facet or phase of a particular campaign, moving on to the next job soon after completing the first, as is their specialisation.
This means that the cohesive sum of marketing campaigns comes down to the Account Manager’s understanding, coordination and negotiation skills, as their focus is the strategy and their specialisation: delivery of results.
These same skills are applied client-side too, as Account Managers need to plan the client account, deliver results and find ways to grow the client’s business while growing the value of the account with the agency.
What Should Account Manager Do To Perform At Their Best?
Digital Account Managers should not stay quiet and let accounts go into cruise control.
A great account manager will keep in contact with the client at every opportunity to strengthen the strategy and build rapport in the relationship.
The They’ll plan the campaign with the team well in advance and set key milestones along the way.
A good AM will work out goals with the client and delivery team so everyone is on the same page for the most effective strategies are combined with most efficient use of production. A win-win for client and agency.
Experienced Account Managers will set KPI’s and not just goals. They will benchmark progress so that progress is tracked along the way, letting clients and agency know what is working and what isn’t.
Reviewing the campaign performance and goals are a constant duty for a decent Account Manager. Making sure goals are still achievable and being honest about outcomes is a must and any Account Manager worth their salt will put their pride aside when it comes to decision making regarding a campaign. They may have thought SEO was the go to begin with, but PPC seems the smarter option after a month or two of tracking; Any AM who is willing to tell a client they may need to change course has their best interests in mind and is likely much more trustworthy than one who just gives a thumbs up and lets the campaign slide into poor performance for their own ego’s sake.
The best Account Managers keep learning about technology and techniques all the time. Digital Marketing changes faster than most other forms of marketing and business. While it’s great to solidify your process and stand by your tested experience, don’t be afraid to experiment, this is the only way to grow and learn.
Why Are Digital Account Manager’s Pivotal To An Agency And ClientCampaign’s Success?
By now I hope I’ve made it clear that Account Managers are a strategic asset, shaping client management and expectations along with campaign success internally.
Account Managers have a large part to play in Agency revenue and profitability. An experienced AM will know how to service a client effectively while delivering profits to the agency, these diplomatic project managers should be able to bring results to both sides and foster mutually beneficial relationships.
This delicate balance is easily thrown off by avoidant or untrustworthy account managers. On the flip side, over-servicing kills any opportunity to upsell the client, which limits the Agency’s revenue growth significantly. This is not a bonus for the client in the long run either, as over servicing denotes a more significant agency issue across the board, and quality control and production delays affect resources and in turn client work, it truly is a symbiotic relationship and equality is needed for either side to flourish.
In the long run Account Managers should be able to transform clients businesses and lifestyle as well. The right Account Manager for the client, is the right Account Manager for an Agency and as you can now see, it’s dangerous to underestimate such a critical role, but an absolute asset if you utilise the position properly.
How Can I Hire/Train/Work?
with/be the best Digital Account Manager?
Maybe you’re looking to hire an Account Manager, or still deciding whether your business needs one? Perhaps you’ve already got several client-facing staff already that you’d like to train into Account Management masters. Maybe you are a Digital Account Manager and would like to enhance your work and make yourself an expert in the field.
Whatever it is you need in relation to Account Managers, I’m your guy. With almost two decades in the field, I know what it takes to be the best in coordinating production and guiding client accounts.
Contact me today and let’s discuss your needs over coffee – my shout!