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Last week we published our Top 100 Digital Agencies Report, detailing the who's who of those in the digital marketing industry.

While many of the names are similar, the emergence of new players and the shifting of rankings indicates that the market is still undergoing continuous change.

There is also some discussion about the changing nature of the agency model.

To explore some of these issues, we asked Sitecore’s marketing director Shawn Cabral for his opinion on the opportunities and challenges for agencies in the coming year. His answers are below...

What do you think will be the main opportunity for agencies over the next year?

Customer experience management as a marketing concept is gaining real traction.

From my perspective, the best way to achieve this and what brands should be working towards is by delivering across all engagement channels in real-time.  

From recent joint research we carried out with Econsultancy, 89% of brand marketers believe that a great customer experience is the key to building customer lifetime value, and 64% of brands want to improve their customer experience and see it as the key to build customer lifetime value in the future.

The view of marketers on Customer Lifetime Value

Brands need agencies to build and implement strategies that will deliver great customer experiences, which is essential to ensure continued future customer lifetime value.  

In many sectors, the customer experience will be as important, if not more important than the brand.

One of the main themes that came out of the report this year was customer experience. How should agencies be approaching this area?

Agencies should be at the cutting edge of developing the best customer experiences, combining digital and offline.  

It is an area which is very much still be defined and shaped, allowing for innovation and creativity, and delivering great customer experience is disruptive, new entrants and existing brands are jostling to compete on innovation in customer experience.  

All these factors make it a ripe area for digital agencies which appeals directly to the skills and experience that digital agencies have.

How important would you say the following softer skills or behaviours are to being an effective marketer in the modern digital world?

Another theme was that of agility. How can agencies help their clients to become more agile?

We see agility as agencies enabling their clients to work towards engaging with their customers and prospects in real-time across all channels.  

Clients want to take advantage of the huge opportunities that exist in being able to understand what their customers want, responding in context and then being able to deliver an experience in that moment, as part of a continuing customer conversation.

Agencies can really help clients to achieve this by working to ensure they can collect and connect customer data, to be able to then predict and act on it, building customer experiences that work for both the customer and the brand. 

We've seen a significant growth in the number of consulting firms who are vying for budgets in the agency space. What do you think these big firms (with a background in IT and business consulting) could be doing better?

At Sitecore, our partners span across the complete spectrum – from partners who specialise in implementation, design, full service and integrated through to consulting firms, and it is the end client’s choice of who they feel will deliver the best for their brand.  

It’s probably true that consulting firms would like to be a bit more like digital agencies, and digital agencies would like to be more like consulting firms, so it’s both ways.  

On the longer term horizon (i.e. three years plus), how do you see the agency landscape shaping up?

With the economy motoring along, I think we will see digital agencies looking to expand and take on more staff – especially as the demands from brands broadens and digital becomes so engrained in their business  that they need to switch and drive investment into their digital activities.  

Similar to clients, agencies are also looking for technology and solutions that help them get to market quicker, increase agility and deliver fast ROI, and as a vendor partner, Sitecore’s go-to-market proposition is all around helping our partners and their clients achieve this.

What do you think? Have you experiences any challenges within the agency you work for? Or have you been able to react in an agile fashion to take hold of opportunities as they arise?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Andrew Warren-Payne

Published 24 June, 2014 by Andrew Warren-Payne

Andrew Warren-Payne is a Senior Research Analyst at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or Google+

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