By: Dave Devitt on May 10th, 2018
7 Common Development Problems Marketing Agencies Face (& How to Fix Them)
Businesses are always looking for the perfect marketing campaign for their next product launch or company facelift. This means that it's increasingly difficult for marketing agencies to stand out and win clients.
One of the most in-demand skills that marketing firms can offer is web, software and mobile app development. Before you start offering development services to your clients, however, you need to make sure that you address the seven potential challenges below.
Our free guide covers everything you marketing agency needs to know about choosing the right development solution for you.
1. Meeting Demands
Many of your clients see their website as their window to the world. It's one of the most important representations of their businesses, and it may form a large part of how they generate their sales (e.g. via e-commerce). This means that your clients' websites should be as optimized and functional as possible in order to execute a successful marketing campaign.
However, meeting clients' demands for website design and development is a challenge for many marketing agencies. Some firms retain one or two full-time developers on staff, but most don't believe that the benefits are worth the costs. Instead, they use freelancers, or they outsource the work to a development company that will do the programming for them.
Marketing agencies may struggle with having enough team members to meet their clients' demands for work. This is particularly true when agencies use in-house developers, or if they experience seasonal demand that ebbs and flows.
For this reason, many marketing firms prefer to work with development companies, which can offer the skills of an entire team of people, instead of a freelancer. Another issue with using freelancers is that there's less of a formal relationship, which means that the freelancer might have other priorities to complete before working on your project.
3. Skill Level
Before you begin a project, you need to be absolutely certain that the developers have the right skills and knowledge to complete the work correctly. If you discover halfway through that the project is too overwhelming for your developers, then you'll lose valuable time, money and effort. You may also create friction with your clients.
Less experienced developers may have problems foreseeing the roadblocks ahead of them, which means that delays may be more likely. You have to decide whether the lower rates of less experienced developers are worth the risk that they won't be able to finish the project.
The costs of development can vary widely, depending on whether you use in-house developers, freelancers or a third-party development firm:
- In-house developers will be paid a salary and benefits. You also need to account for the costs of hiring, onboarding and training them. Additionally, in-house developers require your agency to buy the specialized computers, software, and other equipment they require to get the job done.
- Freelancers generally charge by the hour, although some of them charge a per-project fee. If the person charges by the hour, you need to know that the freelancer is skilled and reliable so that you don't get billed for too many hours.
- Third-party firms usually charge a per-project fee. This is often preferable because it sets clear expectations for the project's cost from the beginning.
5. Staying on Schedule
One major pain point for marketing agencies when it comes to complex web development is delivering the final product on time. The fewer developers who are working on the project, the more difficult it is to predict beforehand whether the deadline will be met.
Marketing firms need to make sure that they set realistic deadlines and don't bite off more than they can chew. Create a reasonable schedule that makes sense based on the project's scope and your choice of development solution—in-house, freelancer or third-party.
6. QA and Bugs
Any development schedule needs to include time for testing, quality assurance and fixing bugs. If the client finds major issues with the product or finds it difficult to use, your agency's reputation can take a major hit.
When it comes to testing and QA, adding more people is the best way to speed up the process. Remember as well that you can outsource not only development to a third party, but also testing and QA. You can find both freelancers and outsourcing firms willing to test your product.
7. Scope Creep
One of the biggest problems with development projects is "scope creep": the addition of new features or changes partway through the project. Scope creep can create delays or even cause the project to fail.
When non-technical people are the primary points of contact with developers, scope creep is more likely to occur. Without detailed knowledge of the technical requirements, you might not account for some items that could take a large amount of time.
In order to avoid scope creep, make sure that all parties have a clear picture of the project requirements before it begins.
The seven problems above can be major roadblocks for marketing agencies that want to offer development services for their clients. However, you can largely avoid these issues by taking the time to find the right development solution for you—whether that's in-house developers, freelancers or a third-party development firm. Make sure that you understand the pros and cons of each choice as they pertain to you and your clients.