Look Who’s Talking: How Communication Can Solve Five Key Digital Marketing Challenges


This article was originally published by AW360 @ advertisingweek360.com

A digital marketing campaign requires tight communication between team members from the very start to execute successfully. And everyone involved—from company leadership and internal teams to external agencies—needs to understand the endgame. 

Here’s how clear communication between your external agencies and internal teams can solve five common challenges faced by marketers and their partners.


Wasted customer data

Did you know that your digital marketing agency collects a wealth of information about your customers that you’ll likely never see? Nearly every ad platform can provide deep insights into customer demographics, psychographics, and behavior

Let’s say your agency is running a content campaign targeting senior-level IT professionals at enterprise companies on LinkedIn. A LinkedIn pixel on your landing page tracks and identifies visitors by company, job function, and industry. 

Imagine what your sales team could do if they knew that 10% of your website visits are coming from IBM. 

Who should be talking

Your product teams should request a regular quarterly report from your digital marketing agency that answers the following questions:

  • What was learned about our customer? 
  • What messaging resonates best, and with which audiences? 
  • Which user segments are we serving well, and which show opportunity? 

Here’s why

This valuable data can be leveraged for use across your organization. 


Teams with competing incentives undermine results

Many mobile developers have a user acquisition team tasked with driving the most downloads at the lowest cost per download, as well as a retention team—in many cases an outside digital marketing agency—tasked with reducing churn and increasing revenue per user. 

The acquisition team launches an incentivized download program driving hundreds of thousands of cheap downloads from users trying to get a reward (but who will likely never use the app again). 

Guess what happens next? The acquisition team is celebrated for beating their numbers. And the retention team is lambasted for missing theirs.

Who should be talking

Regular communication between the digital marketing agency and your sales team—as well as agency visibility into lead quality—can help ensure everyone’s working toward the same business goals. Share lead data—quantitative factors from your CRM and qualitative feedback from sales—with the agency. And tag campaigns, so sales and the agency can see lead quality at a granular level. 

Here’s why

Ensuring alignment and transparency of incentives can reduce friction between teams, increase efficiency, and drive more revenue. 


Campaign-launch snafus

Launch day is tomorrow and the creatives are running behind. The creatives are finally delivered at 3 p.m and uploaded to the ad server, but the trafficker is hit with “click tag not found” or another error, and assets can’t be launched since the HTML5 doesn’t have the required tags. 

You’re told that you need to go back to the creative agency to get the assets fixed. The creative agency can fix the banners but wants a full list of specifications. This goes back and forth, and that whooshing sound you hear is the deadline flying past. 

Who should be talking

Before any project starts, initiate a kickoff meeting between your creative agency and digital marketing agency to fully brief both sides on scope and requirements, and to gain buy-in. Establish a plan to hold agencies accountable for missed deadlines. 

Here’s why

With tighter communication between agencies, you can avoid lengthy and expensive delays in launching a campaign. 


Teams working in silos

If you’ve worked for a large enterprise with multiple product lines, you’re likely very aware of what the inside of a silo feels like. Teams compete for resources, recognition, a greater share of voice within the company, and, often, the attention of their customers. But communication can be sparse.  

Consider a company with both B2B and B2C versions of a product. The B2C team generates 80% of revenue and has hired a large agency to manage their large budget. B2B is just getting off the ground—they engage a smaller, vertical-focused agency. 

Both teams run search ads and have different accounts, but don’t coordinate keywords—leading to cannibalization and mixed messages. Over the next few months both see increased CPCs and reduced conversion rates that could’ve been avoided. 

Who should be talking

A strong media council within your organization—either a stand-alone team or a scrum of leads—can provide oversight and coordination between all agencies and teams. The council would review media plans and resolve conflicts, set brand guidelines, and meet monthly to ensure alignment.  

Here’s why

Forcing your agencies to talk to each other and establishing strong standards may be difficult, but the results are well worth the effort. 


Myopic channel-level teams

Your very large external agency has teams of people with channel-level focus working on your behalf—from search, social, display, and video to content, development, and SEO. And, at any given time, you’re working with multiple teams.

Currently, your display team is tasked with driving one million brand impressions at a $2.50 CPM. Meanwhile, the search team needs to hit a CPA of $3 and one thousand conversions. The display team finds some cheaper, but unintentionally slightly less-relevant, inventory that can fulfill its target. Search sees their performance tank the following month and believes market forces or other external factors have changed, making adjustments that lead to ultimately worse-performing campaigns.

When agency teams are not aligned, myopic views can lead to suboptimal decisions. 

Who should be talking

Make team alignment between channel-level teams at your external agency a must. Before you choose an agency, ask questions about how the teams supporting your account will coordinate. Ideally, teams are also cross-trained on the full stack to ensure robust support. Already working with an agency? Insist on a meeting with all main stakeholders for each campaign and require weekly updates. And make sure your account manager understands that alignment is a priority.

Here’s why

Your marketing channels are codependent. Communication is absolutely essential to ensure that your program is moving in the right direction. 



Open lines of communication are critical to executing a solid digital marketing strategy, particularly when internal teams and outside agencies are involved. Make sure your product team, sales team, creative agency, and marketing agency all communicate regularly and share information in order to achieve your business goals via customer insights, a unified message, and a cohesive team. 

About Kris Belau

Kris Belau is vice president of digital marketing at global digital agency Firewood. Belau has managed over $200 million in digital spend for B2B and B2C global organizations and currently helps clients obtain exceptional results through detailed planning, execution, and optimization. Kris has extensive experience working across search, display, and video, and specializes in media planning, digital strategy, video advertising, and web analytics.