Many moons ago, I worked for an ad agency based out of St. Louis, MO. The company, let’s call it “Agency X,” is known for its on-premise work with large brands across the US. The agency started to get into the digital advertising game.

After doing a lot of reading on the scoring companies’ and brands’ digital IQ’s, I decided it was time for Agency X to see how they were doing. This was sent out as an internal newsletter to the company, but I figured, as long as it’s anonymous, what’s the harm in sharing it with the whole world? It’s a long writeup, so I’ll only share part this week.

At Agency X, we are trendsetters. We are thinkers, creators, innovators, and doers. And our presence in digital media needs to prove just that.

As a full-service ad agency, Agency X is responsible for setting the trends that brands will follow. Our proactivity cannot stop with our clients – Agency X needs to be more forward thinking for its own brand. The opportunities arising in digital and social media are endless, and Agency X needs to separate itself from other agencies by leading the pack, not following it.

I recently stumbled across a study on Digital IQ that looked at some of the world’s best brands, and their use (or lack thereof) of technology. That got me thinking: what’s Agency X’s Digital IQ?

To evaluate Agency X’s Digital IQ, we have to look at four broad categories: the brand’s site, digital marketing, social media, and mobile.

Agency X’s Site

Let’s start the evaluation under the hood – Agency X’s webpage. Within the site, we need to examine the technology, navigation, aesthetics and interactivity. Agency X’s website is definitely adequate. It is clean, functional and very easy to navigate. It is clearly branded, but not an in-your-face display. There are entertaining videos and photos to click through, as well. AgencyX.com looks and works as though someone spent a significant amount of time on it (because they did).

However, there’s room for improvement. It’s 2011. The Web is all about consumer interaction. Where’s the link to “like this on Facebook?” Where’s the button for “Tweet about how awesome Agency X is?” Why can’t I directly send Agency X my LinkedIn profile?

Even if we don’t need to have those types of interactive features on a webpage, shouldn’t we have them anyway? We’re all about pushing the limits and raising expectations. Our website shouldn’t be just adequate. It should be awesome.

Digital Marketing Efforts

How is Agency X doing with digital marketing? Let’s look at web searching, email, digital marketing innovation, and blog presence.

When you search “advertising st louis” on Google, what do you expect to show up? The obvious answer is Agency X. Well, it doesn’t. Not until the second page, anyway. Search engine marketing and optimization are important aspects of effective web strategy, but unfortunately it is becoming more and more expensive. Unless we personally write Larry Page a check, I doubt you’re going to ever see Agency X as the very first result for a similar search, but we need to be on the first page.

Is Agency X using email to keep our name in our clients’ heads? After asking around, I found we send an email newsletter to clients quarterly. Though it would be nice to email every one of our clients every day about what’s going on at Agency X, there is just no need for that. Companies such as American Airlines email their customers almost five times a week. For an advertising agency, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. We don’t want to annoy our clients, just to keep them in the loop.

Mobile optimization is a very important (and often ignored) aspect of email. Email is the most heavily used data function on the iPhone, yet 87% of emails sent from the world’s top brands are not optimized for mobile technology. That’s a pretty crazy disconnect. I’m not saying that we need to view every email on an iPhone before we send them out, but it is important to think about how our emails will look on mobile devices.

The next sub-category is digital marketing innovation. Agency X has done some pretty cool, interactive campaigns. Even as far back as Agency X’s “——————-” campaign, we have been driving consumers to the web to browse, discuss, and participate in a way that traditional media stops short. We need to keep pushing the envelope. Instead of waiting for trends and opportunities to arise, Agency X needs to start trends and create opportunities. Every campaign, whether focused in traditional or new media, should have some sort of digital element. The web is an amazing tool, and Agency X needs to continue to find new ways to utilize it.

Agency X does great with blog presence. Corporate blogs are nothing new, but ours isn’t just any corporate blog. Here’s what’s cool about Agency X’s blog – it actually has a voice. Agency X’s blog is not telling you what to buy or what Charlie Sheen is up to. We are telling you what interests us (which might be what Charlie Sheen is up to). That passion and excitement (and don’t forget insight!) is carried throughout every blog, regardless of who wrote it – creative department, account services, media, or interns.

Overall, Agency X is pretty good when it comes to digital marketing. We’re known for our innovation, proactivity and forward thinking, and that is evident in both our client work and our personal digital media presence. That being said, we need to keep pushing the envelope in web and mobile categories, and start our own trends in digital media.

I’ll continue with this post next week!

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