March 3, 2022
As our friend Marcus Murphy says: “Agencies are the backbone of the backbone of the economy.” Without expert marketers connecting their clients’ products and services to the right audiences, many businesses would not experience the success they have achieved over their lifespan.
High-performing agencies are in demand more than ever. While this is undoubtedly exciting, it does raise an important question:
Is your agency equipped with the means to scale alongside these new opportunities?
To scale predictably and profitably in a 2020s economy, many agencies are turning to a variety of external solutions to fill any perceived gaps in performance. However, few are as involved in your success as a white label digital performance partner.
Whether you are new to white label digital marketing, have been researching the topic for some time, or are an agency leader in-the-know, this guide will provide you with a complete overview. We’re going to cover:
“White label” refers to a business arrangement where Company A purchases products and or/services from Company B at a wholesale rate, marks up the price, and then resells it under Company A’s own brand. In the context of digital marketing, one agency would purchase a solution like SEO or Paid Social from a partner and resell it at a profitable rate to their clients.
During our hundreds of conversations with agency leaders each year, we’ve noticed quite a few common reasons behind why they’re seeking a white label partner.
Do any of these scenarios speak to your agency’s needs?
These are just some of the situations that many agency leaders find themselves in before seeking a solution like white labeling. That being said, each agency is unique unto itself and there really is no “right” or “wrong” reason to seek help if you are looking to drive true scale.
As you research white label solutions, you will likely encounter a variety of providers that seem to offer a similar service at a glance. When you dig in deeper, however, you’ll see that they tend to fall into one of these three categories:
A typical white label platform relies heavily on a suite of software solutions to help you automate certain aspects of a digital marketing campaign. While this can ease your operational burdens, they often require an existing level of product knowledge to use in an efficient manner.
Because platforms leverage more software than a vendor or partner, this can also result in some other potential drawbacks for your agency. With a platform, you will likely experience limited communication with the provider and customizability might be restricted, for example.
Vendors are white label providers that produce a deliverable for your agency for a fee. Their obligations end once the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed on their service agreement.
These white label providers often specialize in one or a small handful of competencies, such as copywriting or graphic design. While they can deliver these services at a high level, they usually lack a complete product suite.
With vendors, it can also become difficult to gauge the quality of a deliverable. If you are not satisfied with the work you receive from a vendor, but they have fulfilled their contractual obligations, options may be limited.
White label partners are fully invested in the account relationship with your agency, acting as a true extension of your in-house team. With a partner, you gain access to a team of other skilled marketers that:
Essentially, combining efforts with a partner is like hiring an entire team of expert analysts to manage your client’s campaigns directly. This allows for more unified communication, elevated performance, and a higher-quality outcome for your accounts.
Have you wanted to expand your agency’s scope of services but have not found the right way to do so? With a white label partner, you can instantly integrate any of their products into your offering and brand them as your own.
For example, let’s say you have heard that OTT advertising is exploding right now. You want to add this service to your agency, but you have not found the right candidate to hire as an in-house programmatic analyst.
A white label solution allows you to leverage your partner’s own team of OTT experts to manage your client’s campaigns on these desirable platforms. This ensures that your campaigns are built in line with the best creative and strategic practices from day-one to maximize the return on ad spend (ROAS) potential.
Modern hiring challenges and labor shortages have created staffing obstacles for every industry. Agencies are by no means an exception.
A white label partner aligns their expert ad operations team with your own. Your team receives the support that they need to deliver elite performance for your clients while reducing strain on internal bandwidth.
High account volumes drive the white label partnership model. When you launch a campaign with your partner, this relationship provides you with a long-term peace of mind that you can continue to manage your capacity, expenses, and volume on a predictable basis while also expanding your client roster.
“I love communicating in siloes,” said no one, ever.
Communication between agency and partner drives world-class performance for your client. Whether you need a sounding board for making campaign decisions or are looking for an active and equal participant in your operations, a partner can provide that responsive interaction you desire.
A white label partner can help your agency offload capacity burdens that distract from your core competencies. You can use this extra time to focus on the services that you love fulfilling in-house as well as concentrate more on sales and growing your business.
…And yes, plenty of time to finally take that vacation you’ve been meaning to take for the past two years.
Let’s channel some GaryVee energy for a moment:
Passing up on incredible new client opportunities flat-out sucks. No agency owner enjoys the feeling of turning down a chance to elevate their business to the next level.
Feels good to admit that out loud, right? It feels even better when you can do something about it.
A partner outfits your agency with the products, resources, and infrastructure to give you the confidence to say “yes” to any white-whale clients that knock on your digital door. As you continue to scale, questions like “can we handle this new massive account?” disappear.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with white label partnerships, let’s see how a campaign could play out in practice:
Every successful digital marketing campaign begins with the end in mind.
Working with your client, determine what they want to accomplish with their campaigns. Identify the ultimate high-level goals and then draw the strategic roadmap to reach them.
For example, if your client is a fashion retailer looking to clear their recent Fall/Winter inventory in preparation for their new Spring/Summer collection, a goal could be to increase sales of the items from the previous season. As the weather warms and these products move closer to the “Sale” section of the website, you may decide to create a campaign that promotes these discounts on channels like Paid Search, Paid Social, and Programmatic Display.
Your client’s ideal audience avatars will inform all aspects of your campaign. From keyword and copywriting choices to targeting tactics, creative assets, and desired channels, you cannot build a successful digital campaign without knowing first who you are trying to connect with.
Now, how do you determine these ideal avatars? Consider attributes such as:
Let’s use the fashion retailer client once again as the example here. Their sales data suggests that their largest customer segment is women between the ages of 20 and 35 that live near their physical storefront in New York City.
To reach these ideal customers, you could create a campaign strategy that targets local women within this age range. You may also decide to set targeting parameters around income level if you are trying to attract individuals with larger or smaller shopping budgets. A sale promotion might attract more people who have wanted to purchase items in the past but did not complete the transaction.
Additionally, depending on the platform, you could also draw a digital geo-fence around competing retailers near your client’s store. Customers that visit these locations will be served your client’s ads while they are within the boundaries of the fence.
Because the client also sells their products online, you could launch an additional national campaign alongside one that is locally targeted. For example, you may launch a Google Shopping campaign with a keyword strategy focused around affordable winter coats that does not consider location-based terms.
Key performance actions (KPAs) are used to measure a campaign’s results against your client’s goals. These touchpoints combine to write the holistic narrative of your digital efforts. They are reverse-engineered from the campaign goals that you identified during your initial strategic planning.
As we stated above, our hypothetical fashion retail client’s goal is to clear out their Fall/Winter collection. Let’s say that you’ve identified “completed online checkouts” as the primary KPA to gauge campaign success. To contribute to this KPA, you’ve decided to direct Paid Search, Paid Social, and Programmatic Display ads toward a landing page promoting the sale on last season’s goods.
While “completed online checkouts” is the ideal, there could be other actions the target audiences are performing that also indicate positive or negative performance in other areas, such as:
These additional touchpoints supply your team with valuable insights. Why are audience members interacting in these ways instead of completing a checkout? Following the data trail, you can uncover new optimization opportunities to improve the ad experience.
You have your end-goal, targeting strategy, and KPAs. Now, it’s time to select the best digital products to support the work you’ve already done.
For our fashion retailer’s campaign, we have already pointed to Paid Search, Programmatic Display, and Paid Social as potential channels. These most intuitively align with their need to clear their previous season’s inventory.
Your agency can start with one or two channels and always add more products as campaign needs evolve. Start with the ones that provide the most direct benefit and can generate the most desirable KPA activity.
Depending on the nature of your client’s products or services, business model, and industry, your partner may benefit from additional resources beyond what you submit in an insertion order. These could include items like product brochures, specific website pages, examples of past creative assets, and other similar points-of-reference.
For example, if you are developing creatives around a specific product, send the product listing as well as any sales literature to your partner. This will help direct their own efforts for tasks like ad copywriting and keyword research.
When you begin your white label partnership, your partner will provide you with their rate card. This document contains the prices that they charge for products and services. Use this as a reference point when creating your markups to resell these solutions to your client.
You have created the campaign strategy and have given your partner the green light to implement. Along the journey, the reports your partner provides will allow you to track ongoing progress and past optimizations.
Performance is proven through reporting. During an active campaign, check in on your partner’s reports at least a few days each week. This transparency allows everyone to remain on the same page and make more impactful decisions in real-time in the event that any further optimizations need to be made.
Successful white label partnerships are built on two foundations: Communication and performance. Respond to messages from your partner’s ad operations team and do not hesitate to reach out to them with any questions, comments, or feedback you might have from your perspective.
A holistic product suite completes today’s digital marketing needs and evolves for the ones that will appear tomorrow. This equips your agency’s sales team with the ability to attract and land new quality accounts as well as expand opportunities with existing ones.
Look for a partner that fulfills your campaign needs completely in-house instead of offshoring or outsourcing your work to another provider. Single-origin performance ensures higher-quality deliverables, more impactful communication, and timely action.
When entrusting your client’s campaign budget to another provider, you might be wondering: How can I be sure that my partner knows what they’re doing? This is a fair question, as you might be testing a white label solution for the first time and have not received a deliverable or report from them yet.
Look for a partner that can provide you with tangible demonstrations of their capabilities and expertise. Examples could include case study libraries, high-level platform certifications, and samples of their campaign reports.
You started your agency to make a difference for your client’s business, not to play phone tag or juggle thousands of emails. Look for a partner that prioritizes your partnership experience as much as you do by providing you with a single point of contact to act as your key liaison for all of your white label needs.
A performance-driven white label solution will equip your agency with the resources needed for you to resell their products and services effectively. Assets like product playbooks, partner portals, and a white label rate card can empower you to sell with authority and confidence that you will have the infrastructure behind you to seize new opportunities.
A “white label” product or service implies that your partner’s deliverables can be custom-branded to suit your agency’s business needs. Look for a partner that allows you complete creative freedom to customize your shared deliverables so that you can brand them under your agency or client.
Not all agencies desire to disclose their white label partnership to their clients. If you wish to remain private about your partnership, look for a solution that will faithfully honor your request for a non-disclosure agreement.
At Conduit Digital, we serve as the elite performance partner for successful digital agencies globally. By equipping your agency with best-in-class products, performance, reporting, and communication, we enable you to say “yes” to any can’t-miss opportunity.