In an age of lean management, it's tempting to get rid of the middle person. When you work with a marketing agency, why aren't you working directly with the creative types who help to build your campaign or place your media?
From the outside, project management (or, as other agencies call it, account management) can easily seem superfluous. These are not your content creators or media buyers. They're not the Google Ad Experts of Facebook wizards. What they do happens in the shadows--but that doesn't make it any less important.
In fact, we believe that project managers are among the most important members of our team. Without them, we could not serve the clients we do and achieve the successes we do. These are the 7 reasons why digital agency project managers are core to the success of your marketing partnership.
1) Project Managers are Communicators
Read any article on building a successful agency-client relationship, and you'll quickly notice the central quality of communication. Two different entities like your business and your agency partner can only come together through this link. Without it, the relationship falls apart.
Now, consider who you're communicating with. If you don't have a central contact, who happens to be in the know about all projects related to your marketing initiatives, who will it be? A project manager's job is primarily about both internal and client-focused communication. They'll be happy to have a chat, take your feedback, and build the relationship over time.
2) Project Managers Understand the Digital Team
The modern digital agency project manager is much more than an account executive who just acts as your go-between to get actual work done. They organize campaigns and projects internally, meaning they need to bring a significant amount of digital marketing expertise to the table.
These professionals are marketers in their own right. They can provide initial feedback and advice, or elevate your questions and feedback as necessary. They can solve initial problems, expediting the time it takes to get answers. Internally, they understand what the agency's digital team is talking about and can translate that into more client-friendly language.
3) Project Managers Complete the Legwork
Think about the steps required to build a digital marketing campaign. Some of it, like keyword research and A/B testing, will require heavy digital expertise. But there is quite a bit of legwork that needs to be done as well. Building reports, proofing content, ensuring delivery, and reformatting ads are all necessary for the success of the campaign.
If not the project manager, who should take on this task? You might not have the expertise or time to do it, which is why you hired an agency in the first place. The creative and digital teams, on the other hand, need to focus on those more in-depth tasks. A project manager then builds the bridge in making sure the legwork always gets done.
4) Project Managers Keep the Project on Track
At their best, these professionals are as much organizers as they are communicators. They don't just know how to talk about your campaign, but can also make sure that it stays on track.
Again, think about the steps involved in creating a campaign. Goal setting, budget, creative, launch, and ongoing optimization all need to be both built and approved by you. Many of these steps happen simultaneously, making it difficult for any one person working on them to keep track.
That oversight belongs to the project manager. They keep an eye on timelines and deadlines, ensuring everyone has the content they need to keep the campaign moving. Without that expertise, it's easy to drop one or more tracks as you focus on creative or reports.
5) Project Managers See the Bigger Picture
The above point already hinted at it, but it's important to draw out in its own right: in a large campaign, especially once you layer in multiple channels, it's easy to get lost. It's impossible to expect a graphic designer or Google Analytics expert to know exactly what everyone else is working on.
And yet, that bigger picture is absolutely crucial to success. The copywriter will need to know what the graphic designer is doing. The GA expert will want to connect to the person building out the ad. Your agency's project manager provides that bigger picture view internally, ensuring the context is always available for the teams working on your campaigns.
6) Project Managers are Client Champions
From the client's point of view, the digital agency project manager is the conduit to the digital team. In fact, the same process also works almost identically the other way around. The longer they work with a client, the more they get to know the business, industry, and audience.
That, in turn, becomes a crucial part of their internal role. Project managers tend to become internal content experts and champions of the clients they represent. They recognize preferences and trends, becoming an invaluable resource for creative and digital team members with questions about the specific account.
7) Project Managers are (Almost) Always Available
Finally, project managers ease the client-agency relationship simply because of their availability. All of the above points are part of their job description. But at their core, they're simply representatives of the agency that you can always get in touch with.
You might have a question about your campaign. The wording or graphics in the ad may have become questionable because of some happenstance. When that happens, you need to know that you have a single point of contact who can help you immediately. That's your project manager, working with you to make sure these questions and issues get resolved in a timely manner.
The Key Qualities of a Project Manager
Don't look at them as overhead or a nuisance. Instead, consider project managers at your digital agency for what they are: a core part of the relationship that help you maximize the success of your business and its marketing strategy in a variety of ways. They're marketers, communicators, and organizers. As such, their job never gets boring.
If you're interested in this position or just want to learn more about the types of qualities we look for in our project managers, check out our open digital project management jobs today.
Whitney Parker Mitchell
Whitney is a highly sought-after B2B online marketing expert with more than 12 years of experience leading marketing and communications teams in a variety of organizations, including nonprofits, small businesses, tech startups, and large global corporations. She’s helped dozens of brands gain greater recognition for their causes and products in the digital world.