The trend for marketing agencies to use software development companies to fulfill the web development needs of their clients is growing, but what is driving this shift away from the internal web design department and what are the benefits of this move towards white label web development?
When marketing agencies added web development to their creative services the web was young, html was in its infancy, Internet connection speeds were painfully slow, and clients were happy to just have a presence on the new stage; the marketing agency had a new toy, and the web design department was born. Marketing agencies embraced this new medium, not only as an additional revenue channel but also as an essential element of an integrated marketing solution, and there was prestige in doing it all in-house.
And then the web grew up; the traditional problems of speed, reliability, technological constraints had all but disappeared, and the possibilities were only limited by the creative ideas and concepts the agencies could generate. It wasn’t just the technology that came of age; the client’s knowledge of this media also grew – exponentially. Suddenly the lines between a website and web application were not so clear. Clients now found themselves locked in a constant arms race, jostling for search engine position, and to do this they needed much more than just information-based websites.
To persuade their customers to engage with their brands, to become loyal fans and to keep coming back for more wasn’t just a question of navigation but of interaction; the complete online experience fussed with brand awareness social media, and connectivity has become an invaluable asset.
As a consequence of the recession, budgets have inevitably been squeezed, ROI is now a staple requirement of any online strategy, and statistics are needed to prove it. But, to get more from their investments, clients are now looking at integration into existing applications, databases that automatically handle their data, in-depth reporting and justification, and providing their customers with online applications. In a nutshell, the client’s requirements have outgrown the technical expertise of most marketing agencies, and it’s not the fault of the agencies; it’s that clients’ requirements are becoming more diverse.
So why now the move away from the internal web design department? Well, first and foremost it’s about cost; to set up and run a web development department with the technical expertise of a software company takes considerable time and money – and you are not always guaranteed that you can cope with the requirements of each project as the technical expertise required may be very specialised indeed, for example, online sales incentives that have automated integration with a back end database have a different set of skills required to complex web to print (vdp) systems.
But it would be unfair to claim that it’s just the raw economics that are the driving force behind the move; it’s also about marketing agencies delivering innovative solutions to their clients, client retention, and keeping competitive advantage with access to skilled individuals without the need to chase technology.
Not always a perfect harmony
But it isn’t easy for all. Some marketing agencies are finding the transition thorny, web development times are traditionally longer than basic information website builds, account managers are constantly trying to catch up with the capabilities of the technologies and, as a consequence, project timescales and costs are not as clear as they were. Combined with a more complex implementation this can make the whole experience an uncomfortable one.
Finding the right white label software partner
A good white label development company partner needs to be tuned into the workings of a marketing agency. They must be proficient in delivering at speed with the quality in output that the agency’s reputations are built upon, and have a wide breadth of experience dealing with marketing data integration projects. They must also understand how brands transpose to the web, the importance of pixel perfect delivery and that even simple forms must embody the brand experience. So, as the client’s needs become more diverse and technically challenging, marketing agencies are embracing the skills of traditional software companies. This doesn’t mean the death of the internal web department but a welcome and beneficial addition to it.
Stuart Kinsey has been involved with web development and online applications for 12 years and enjoys to write on various subjects in the web development industry. To learn more about his company or web development issues please visit http://www.icebergsoft.co.uk.