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While it might seem rather straightforward, the question of 'what does a digital marketing agency do for health, wellness and lifestyle businesses?' does not have a straightforward answer. 


When answering this question, some people will focus on the activities they do - such as managing social media, running Google Ads, and building websites - while others talk more about the outcomes.


The truth is, both answers are correct.


When it comes time for your business to seek a digital marketing agency to partner with, it's important to first understand what they do, what they can do for your business, and the different types of agencies that exist.


But first, let's cover the basics: what is digital marketing?


Table of Contents


1. What is Digital Marketing?

2. What Does a Digital Healthcare Marketing Agency Do?

3. Different Types of Digital Marketing Agencies

3.1. Strategic vs Tactical

3.2. Full Service

3.3. Digital Only

3.4. Solutions-Based

3.5. Specialist

3.6. B2B vs B2C

4. Can You Handle Your Own Marketing?

5. Our Recommendations



What is Digital Marketing?

In its simplest form, digital marketing is any marketing activity that takes place online, electronically or using a digital device.


There are plenty of activities that fall under the digital marketing umbrella, but these are the most common:

  1. Social media
  2. Pay-per-click advertising
  3. Content marketing
  4. Search engine optimisation (aka SEO)
  5. Advertorial
  6. Online PR
  7. Email marketing
  8. Marketing automation
  9. SMS marketing

We wrote an entire blog on exactly what digital marketing is, so I won’t go into more detail than I need to here. We’ve got the basics covered for now, so we can take a closer look at what a digital marketing agency does.



What Does a Digital Healthcare Marketing Agency Do?


You’ve probably worked out by now that a digital marketing agency handles all, or some, aspects of digital marketing on behalf of their clients.


But why hire a digital marketing agency? What can they do for your business? Here are some of the most common benefits of hiring a digital marketing agency:


  1. You can access skills you need or don't have 
  2. They provide experience in new areas
  3. They use expert application of marketing theories
  4. You'll get more from your budget and track expenses better
  5. They provide a new perspective on things
  6. You can free up your time to focus on business growth
  7. You avoid employment costs associated with hiring a marketer yourself
  8. They will create your marketing strategy
  9. They understand the latest trends and changes
  10. You'll get detailed reporting
  11. They can scale with you as you grow
  12. They can also support internal staff if you have an existing marketing team
  13. They can help you better understand your customer and market
  14. They can manage your entire online presence
  15. They show you new opportunities for improvement and growth
  16. They can build your marketing technology stack and help automate tasks


Again, we went in-depth on this topic in another blog, which you can read here.



Different Types of Digital Marketing Agencies

Now that we know what a digital agency does, and what it can do for your business, it can be helpful to break down the different types of digital marketing agencies, as each one differs from the next based on the services they offer.


Strategic vs Tactical

I’ll start by saying that there are two categories of marketing agency - strategic and tactical - and that agencies are either one or the other, or a combination of both.


A strategic agency is one that creates a strategy for your business using data insights, market research and knowledge, and background information on your business. Essentially, they create the priorities, goals and roadmap for your business’ marketing efforts. A perfect example of a strategic agency is a consultant or consultancy (you’ve probably heard of businesses like KPMG and Deloitte - they fall into this category), where they advise you on the best course of action based on their research and the strategy they’ve devised, but it’s up to you to implement it.


A tactical agency focuses on the implementation of an existing strategy. They usually partner with an in-house marketing manager (or team) and handle specific aspects of the strategy that has already been created. Common examples include pay-per-click management, social media, or SEO. These types of agencies can either be specialists (which we cover shortly) or more ‘jack-of-all-trades’ and handle all your marketing.


Most agencies, Hawk Health Digital included, are a combination of the two types, where they will create either a brand new marketing strategy for you, or alter an existing one, and then implement it. This is common as agencies have more control over the results of their work if they’ve had input into the strategy behind it, and usually feel more comfortable providing guarantees over the quality of their work and the outcomes. 


Think of it like this: if you hire a builder to complete some renovations on your home, you would expect them to first come up with a plan that outlines not only the end result (a beautifully renovated house) but also the steps they will take to complete it. If they came in and simply did everything you asked of them the outcome probably won’t be very good, and might even be dangerous.


In our example, most marketing agencies operate like the first builder - they devise a plan (either with their own architect, or by hiring one) that outlines the goals of the project, lists the steps needed to achieve this goal, and provides a timeline for completion.


Even agencies that are entirely tactical in nature usually have some level of input into how they will complete the work for you. If you hire an SEO agency, you can tell them your target keywords and the types of links you’re looking for, but they will also have their own ideas to share with you that can complement your existing strategy.



Full-Service Agencies

A full-service agency tends to be larger than most since they offer services across the marketing spectrum. This usually includes digital marketing and traditional channels, such as print, radio and PR. This type of agency is suited to small businesses that have a substantial budget and require help with the majority of their marketing, including strategy.


They can also help larger businesses since they offer a wide variety of services, meaning companies can outsource most of their marketing and maintain a small in-house team.



Digital Only Agencies

These days, most agencies are digital only. When businesses are looking for an agency they can usually partner with a digital-only agency to look after their marketing, and hire a specialist PR firm to handle publicity. If a business is interested in traditional media, most publishers have in-house teams whose sole job is to help clients with their advertising. For example, many radio stations now offer full production services to help businesses create captivating ads.



Solution-Based Agencies

Some agencies decide to focus on the problems they solve, rather than the work they do. At Hawk Health Digital we consider ourselves a solution-based healthcare digital marketing agency since we focus on the solutions we provide over the actual channels we use. 


Since we specialise in lead generation, patient acquisition and conversion rate optimisation, we operate across many channels, and while we do list these channels on our website, we tend to focus more on how we help our clients.


Solution-based agencies are great options for small businesses who are established and understand their market, but are unsure of how to improve their existing marketing efforts. 



Specialist Agencies

As the name suggests, these agencies specialise in particular aspects of marketing, such as:

- SEO agencies
- Social Media agencies
- Content/Inbound agencies
- Brand agencies
- PPC agencies


Specialist agencies are great for small-to-mid-sized businesses that have an in-house team and need to outsource particular aspects of their marketing strategy. Since they specialise in certain aspects, they can usually help achieve great results.



B2B vs B2C Agencies

Depending on the industry you operate in, and whether you sell to consumers or other businesses, it can help to choose a specialist B2B or B2C marketing agency, as there are significant differences in how the two types of business connect with their customers. If an agency has specialised in B2C, perhaps working mostly with eCommerce brands, then they likely won’t have the knowledge required to handle a B2B business.



Can You Handle Your Own Marketing? 


Yes, you absolutely can and should look after your own marketing if you have the time, skills and knowledge.


While this probably wasn’t the answer you were expecting me to put here, I firmly believe every business should have some level of control/input/management (whatever you want to call it) over their marketing.


So why even bother with a marketing agency?


For the most part, digital marketing agencies should be your partner in growth. It’s great to have someone with certain skills and expert knowledge that can handle your marketing, but no one knows your business as well as you do. And since marketing is simply a way of connecting your business with your ideal clients and patients, businesses should be involved in their marketing in a meaningful way.


For some, this might mean having a weekly catch-up with their agency to discuss how things are going. For others, it might mean hiring an in-house marketing manager to work with the agency. It might even mean hiring a specialist agency to handle certain aspects while your in-house team takes care of the rest.


However you choose, the important thing is having a level of oversight and involvement that you are comfortable with and can manage.



Our Recommendation for Working with an Agency


In our experience, the best results are achieved when clients have a small in-house team, usually a senior marketing lead and a junior assistant, who can act as the ‘bridge’ between the business and agency. 


At Hawk Health Digital, we start any client engagement with a month-long exploration and strategy development phase, so that you have a clear outline and understanding of where we see your business succeeding, and how we’ll take you there. 


This approach works best when we have an in-house champion (note that this could be the business owner, managing director etc and does not have to be a marketer) who becomes the main point of contact and can confidently communicate with us around your needs and wants, tell us about your marketplace and customers, and keep us advised of any significant changes within the business that may affect your marketing.


This approach works because it combines your internal knowledge of the business with our deep understanding and expertise of marketing and the channels we will use to implement your strategy.


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Published by Brock Ashton

Brock is the founder of Hawk Health Digital, an experienced marketer and health and fitness enthusiast. With almost 10 years of experience in the industry, coupled with a Bachelors degree in Commerce and a Masters's degree in Marketing, he is an expert when it comes to helping health and wellness businesses achieve their growth dreams. When he isn't working you'll likely find him at a Japanese restaurant or on the beach with his wife, daughter, and their dachsund.