How to choose a web agency in a downturn

As the world considers forecasts of another (yes, the word that no one wants to say) recession, service businesses are bracing themselves for some choppy waters. And when the storm hits, marketing is the first to go overboard.

Mike Perk
Mike Perk, Managing Director of digital marketing agency World Wide Creative says "Businesses are considering their options on how to navigate through the next phases. Digital is the one segment within marketing that appears to have a bright immediate future. Web marketing provides a cost-effective, yet 100 % measurable channel to attract, convert and retain traffic to your business."

So, how to tackle digital in these trying times?

Here are some points that you can follow. Remember that, while you need to have an agency that can handle the strategy, development and ongoing marketing, some of the facets need to be managed internally. For example, it is not always a good idea to outsource your social media management to an agency, or individuals within an agency, since they will just not have a 100% accurate handle on the culture, philosophy and tone of your company.

Track record

Louis Janse van Rensburg, World Wide Creative's Johannesburg Branch Manager, explains "In a segment where dozens of agencies are popping up every month, it can be a bewildering prospect sifting through the credentials of each one. If you're a manager, it's folly to ignore the record of not only the agencies themselves but the track record of the individuals you're working with. We've seen a proliferation of gurus, experts and 'rockstars'."

"The only key credential here," continues Janse van Rensburg, "is that there is someone behind the wheel whose professional portfolio includes way more than setting up a few blogs and Facebook pages. Digital is rife with snake-oil salesmen peddling fear. Ask loads of hard questions about the projects that your proposed team have has worked on, and enquire about the personal experience of the key figures managing your account."

Proven ability

The key word here is results. And we're not talking about creative awards (although those are important as well). The reason why leading companies across the globe are embracing digital is the minutiae of data that can be generated to measure campaign performance. Ask for this. You must be confident that your agency places a premium on performance tracking, and that they have the ability to not only attract traffic to your brand but also to convert.

Depth of skill

There are three phases to every online project. Attracting traffic, converting traffic, retaining traffic. Be assured that your web provider has proven ability in all three. Some may argue that it is better to stick to specialists in each, but we (respectfully) disagree. There is something to be said about a company that can create beautiful websites or mobile sites, but problems will arise when your other providers need changes done. Say, for example, your advertising partner needs a page created on your site. A whole plethora of challenges suddenly come into play, from design consistency, to speed of turnaround because the one provider has limited understanding of the way the site is built. Believe me, you don't want to be the poor Account Manager to brief the grumpy programmer that the ad sales team have requested a Facebook plugin by 'yesterday'.


A few years back, a client challenged us with the seminal statement "I never trust a skinny chef!" The reason? We were trying to sell a suite of services like blogs, social media, newsletter campaigns, Pay Per Click advertising and SEO when we were not actively using these services ourselves. Since then we've worked hammer and tongs to become 'Heavy Chefs'. This has created a culture in our agency of taste-testing every ingredient that we sell to our clients. The Heavy Chef Project arose out of this, and has subsequently become a profitable enterprise on its own. We encourage all digital agencies to become Heavy Chefs in their own right; and I encourage you, the client, to consider using agencies that walk the talk. If an agency is selling you a social media strategy, check their own social profile. And so on.

Lastly, for those managers still sitting on the digital fence, the gauntlet has been thrown. The times, they are a changing... fast. Don't hesitate a minute longer to put a serious digital strategy together. With the current financial crisis, digital is proving itself to be cost-effective - and effective - in creating sustainable marketing campaigns. In South Africa specifically, there are still significant opportunities for you to shine in the blue ocean of online marketing.

So where to start?

Put us, World Wide Creative, to the test with the above points. Contact Louis Janse van Rensburg (GM of World Wide Creative Johannesburg) or Fred Roed (CEO) on 0861 932226 to set up a meeting.

6 Oct 2011 13:16


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Mike Perk

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Fred Roed

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World Wide Creative is a digital marketing agency
based in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
Our philosophy is “Never trust a skinny chef!”
Through intensive trial, analysis and research,
our strategists, designers and programmers are
able to deliver profitable websites for our clients.
We offer Digital Strategy, Digital Development and
Ongoing Marketing. To get a taste of our work,
look at the marketing recipes we’ve cooked up
here - or if you’re interested in taking a bigger bite
of our services, contact us here