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Digital Agency vs. Creative Agency

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

What's the Difference?

At some point, every entrepreneur or business startup will face this choice, "Do I hire a creative agency or a digital marketing agency?"

Every business needs an engaging website, strong social media presence, logos, and all the moving parts of a marketing campaign that get your brand noticed and products sold. Is there one type of agency that is better than the other?

Each decision will get you different results depending on your needs and goals.

In this article, we’ll define two types of agencies, explain the difference, and help you decide which agency will better fit your requirements.

Defining a Digital Agency

A full-service digital marketing agency offers clients a more comprehensive array of marketing services. They perform marketing consulting and provide creative, strategic, and technical development of marketing products and services. The services they provide are more proactive in marketing such as: Apps Get the right tools for customers to interact and engage with your business. In an ever-growing online society, this is essential for a future filled with growth. (App builder software is a cloud-based tool that helps the digital agency build fully-functional business apps quickly). SEM - Search Engine Marketing When people search for a term related to your business, a digital agency helps put you on the page with paid advertising. This makes you discoverable and finds new leads. SEO - Search Engine Optimization Search engine optimization is a powerful strategy for online growth. With content that adds value to your audience, you build authority and become discoverable through organic searches. Social Media Marketing Today, people want to believe in something bigger than the product. They want to interact with a brand and know what they believe in. Social media is effective at increasing your reach and building loyalty. It’s also great for generating leads and sales. A digital agency helps you optimize your strategy. Content Creation Creating articles, images, videos, and other forms of content establishes you as an authority in your industry, adds value to customers and audiences, and builds a stronger brand. People are more likely to buy from you when they feel like you have given them something of value first. Online Lead Generation / Demand Gen Strategies Your lifeblood depends on sales and you can only get sales with customers. Digital agencies bring them right to your door. Brand Development The only thing that can truly give you an advantage in a competitive market is a brand. Strong brands create long-lasting companies. They aren’t easy to develop without the right partners and plan. An expert digital agency can get you there. Website Design and Development Would you walk into a bookstore if the windows were broken and the floor was dirty? Probably not. Digital agencies make sure your website is pleasant, easy-to-use, and practical for both parties. Media Campaigns Digital agencies create professional media campaigns to build your brand and sell your product. With their expertise, you can expect good results. Video and Email Marketing The two most powerful online marketing mediums become even more effective with a great team at its helm. Mobile Campaigns When most people use their phone than a computer, mobile campaigns are essential for any successful brand.

When it comes to omnichannel marketing, a digital agency should be able to manage each component.

“Omnichannel strategies that display accurate in-stock info at nearby stores, drive an 80% higher rate of incremental store visits.” - Google Incrementality Study

Defining a Creative Agency

In the simplest terms, you can view a creative agency as the team that creates all the content and visual elements of your brand. Think of all the design that goes into marketing a product, service, or company and what comprises your overall brand standards. They include items such as:

  • Logos This image quickly represents who you are and makes you identifiable.

  • Color Schemes Colors affect moods and experiences. They also need to be consistent for a brand.

  • Banners Banners catch the attention of customers and potential leads.

  • Copywriting Copy will determine if you make the sale or not. It also makes a big part of your brand voice.

  • Email Newsletter Design As people scroll through their emails, yours should be recognizable so they stop.

  • Infographics These are great for sharing data and other forms of information in an easily digestible format.

  • Packaging Design Packaging is part of the experience. What customers feel will affect your perceived value.

  • Videos Videos are highly engaging and connect strongly with viewers.

  • TV Ads In a medium with lots of noise, a great agency knows how to capture attention.

Usually, creative agencies are brand experts who create all the graphics and visual designs that define a product.

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for choosing a creative digital agency. It is crucial to review numerous portfolios and teams in order to ensure that their vision aligns with your brand identity and can showcase your products in the best possible way because every creative digital agency has its unique style and expertise.

The Definitions Between Creative Agencies and Digital Agencies Have Blurred

A full-service digital agency combines traditional marketing with digital marketing. They can do it all from media buying and OOH advertising to email and social media campaigns. Each of these marketing segments includes the necessary elements of design for print or digital media.

However, there is no perfect definition of what a creative digital agency can or cannot do. Some creative agencies deliver entire websites from start to finish, and some digital agencies create total brand designs along with marketing strategies. Any digital marketing creative agency has its strength and specializations, so don’t hire based purely based on a company’s title.

A full-service digital agency has the staff to implement a multi-channel marketing strategy and manage your advertising campaigns. They help you reach your target market in multiple advertising channels and multiple devices. They will also help you come up with beautiful ad creatives because they usually have one or more graphic designers on staff.

However, don’t make assumptions about their expertise. Research a digital agency’s services and expertise before hiring them. It is important to ensure that the creative marketing agency can align with your company's goals and can capture your brand identity.

Which Agency Is Better for You?

Unless you only need some graphics, a logo, or business cards designed, digital agencies have more to offer. They deliver a range of multi-disciplinary solutions for the entire customer journey, including sales and marketing, online shopping, subscription services, billing, and delivery. They combine strategic thinking, technical resources, with brand building based on the client’s objectives.

That said, most digital agencies have one or more designers on staff, making a complete package.

Converting Ones and Zeros into Money

It’s a digital world with over 1.8 billion people shopping online and 25% of online shoppers buying every week. To tap into this digital world and grab your share of eCommerce dollars, do you hire a digital agency or a creative agency?

Online advertising has created a shift to digital agencies by advertisers. A digital agency focuses more on marketing strategy and execution. A creative agency focuses more on brand design, content creation, and everything that revolves around creating a brand image. If you want to hire just one company to provide all of those services, the best strategy would be to look for a full-service digital marketing creative agency.

The find the best creative digital agency for your business, interview various marketing agencies to see who aligns best with your goals and needs. Be sure they keep your brand integrity consistent in every channel where you decide to advertise.


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