Whether your marketing agency is just starting out, doing steady business or is absolutely booming, there’s always room for improvement. You’re ready to step it up for the New Year, but maybe you’re not quite sure exactly what to add to the mix to boost profits not only for your business, but for those of your clients as well.
Many of the marketing trends that look likely to continue through 2016, any of which can improve lead generation for your clients, include:
2.0 Web Design – Rather than just passively receiving information from old-fashioned, static websites, today’s prospects and customers want to participate in the learning process, so companies have responded by creating dynamic, interactive content on their sites to help visitors educate themselves, share feedback, make choices, and opt in for further communication.
Content Marketing – This strategy is all about creating and distributing content (blog posts, eBooks, email, infographics, presentations, videos, whitepapers, etc.) with the goal of attracting new customers, retaining current ones and increasing the value of existing customer relationships. It requires direction and forward momentum in order to guide the audience throughout the entire buyer’s lifecycle – and it’s measurable, which enables reporting and optimization.
Email Marketing – Great email marketing campaigns involve creating multi-stage, automated campaigns to generate and nurture leads and keep current customers coming back for more. The art of successful email marketing depends partly upon proactive deliverability management – which is simply understanding and following best practices to comply with the rules that govern business email.
Mobile Marketing (mobile advertising, site development and apps) – Today’s buyers are BUSY. Smart agencies take that into account and create interactive marketing activities that are specialized and optimized for delivery to mobile devices. This strategy is usually a component of a larger, multi-channel campaign aimed at generating leads for sales teams. If you’ve ever tried to view a non-optimized website on a mobile phone screen, you probably didn’t spend much time on that site.
Organizations that haven’t optimized their sites for mobile marketing run the risk of achieving lower conversion rates than those who have made the effort.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Employing this technique helps ensure that the websites and content you’re responsible for are easy to find on search engines because you’re using relevant keywords and terms. Where your clients’ web pages rank, and how can you help them rise to the top depends on how well you design and optimize their sites. Search engine algorithms are working in the background to punish spammers and reward marketers who follow best practices and provide the best answers to search queries.
Social Media Marketing – Whether you’re looking to increase brand awareness, augment inbound traffic, encourage loyalty or just keep up with the competition, social media marketing can improve your business. Using a social publish app within your marketing automation platform is a simple way to share content through your social channels – automatically. You can integrate Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn into a single publishing interface, easily schedule and share your content, and measure the results.
Some agencies are using none of the marketing techniques listed above. Others are using all of them. But most are using at least a few. No matter where your agency falls on this spectrum, the question is, what can you do this year to boost profits?
Here are three additional strategies you can adopt to help achieve increased visibility, better efficiency, and ultimately, higher profits for your clients. Even if you just embrace one of them in 2016, you’re increasing the probability of improved bottom lines for your clients and thus, repeat business for your agency, which will boost your profits as well.
3 BOTTOM-LINE MARKETING AGENCY BOOSTERS FOR 2016
1. ADOPT MARKETING AUTOMATION (Unless you prefer doing everything manually)
If you haven’t yet adopted marketing automation, there’s no need to panic – you’re not alone. In fact, according to a recent article in Forbes, “less than 10% of companies are using marketing automation”. So why do it now? A better question might be, wouldn’t you rather be an early adopter than a laggard?
Don’t be a Laggard
In his famous Ted Talk presentation, “Start with Why”, Simon Sinek discussed how different people are comfortable adopting new technology at different times. “The early adopters take up the first 15-18%, with the mainstream being the next 68%… the laggards act last.”
Innovators and some early adopters have already realized that manually tracking and managing multiple technology accounts wastes valuable time. For agencies, the problem is compounded since you’re dealing with multiple accounts. Agencies who embrace MA get measurable results by using tools for inbound and outbound marketing, including behavioral email campaigns, web personalization and integration with their CRM to pass hot leads to sales and help their clients grow revenue – and to demonstrate how the agency contributes to ROI.
Start Small and Build from There
Marketing automation is a very powerful, robust solution with vast capabilities, so make it a point to start slow and small during the implementation period.
Newbies: Get the platform set up and then launch one or two minor, controlled campaigns to start. As your team uses it and learns more, they’ll become proficient in no time and soon, you won’t believe your agency ever got along without it!
Intermediate: If you’ve recently started using an MA platform, it’s time to increase your reach and results. Besides using it to attract potential clients, make sure you’re marketing throughout the buyer’s lifecycle, particularly in the middle and bottom portions of the marketing funnel. You can harness MA’s power to communicate with warm prospects, turn them into hot leads for sales, and stay connected with existing customers to increase loyalty and retention.
Benefits to Marketing Agencies who Adopt Marketing Automation
- Combine a flexible marketing platform with your creative and strategic services to deliver more value to your clients, faster
- Use an agency dashboard to modernize the process with integrated tools
- Simplify platform management
- Streamline account management with a simplified, centralized login for managing multiple client accounts
- Maximize assets by sharing content and digital executions across accounts
- Create flexible teams by assigning and reassigning account managers and creatives on the fly
- Keep teams focused and clients informed about campaign performance with easy-to-understand dashboards and analytics
- Control expectations, improve communication, and prove value to clients with custom reports that show the metrics that matter
Your Agency is Ready to Embrace Marketing Automation If…
- Your marketing department doesn’t have enough time to do everything they need to do with your current resources
- Your team needs a more efficient way to create and send targeted, multi-touch email campaigns – you need to send different messages to different titles and industries at different times and track them all
- The buying cycle for your clients’ customers lasts longer than a week
- Your clients sell different products or services to different demographics
- Sales people are complaining about the quality of leads marketing is delivering
- You want to know which marketing campaigns are the most effective
- You’re ready to deliver smarter strategies, more successful campaigns, and repeatable results
2. CREATE CONTRACTS WITH EVERY CLIENT (Get respect and get paid)
You might be surprised at how many small marketing agencies operate without contracts with their clients, but frankly, it’s a huge mistake to do business without them.
A contract is an agreement between a marketing agency and a client/company. It can contain standard language and clauses, and can further be customized to make sure all areas of concern are covered. It establishes the basis for rights, responsibilities and expectations for both sides, signed by both parties.
Agencies who use contracts with their clients convey legitimacy and professionalism – clients will take you more seriously and it ensures that your agency is covered if things go awry. *Contracts can be simple or as detailed as you wish.
Common elements of a contract between a marketing agency and client generally include:
Appointment – Here’s where the client appoints your agency as their representative agency for the desired term.
Scope of Services – This portion is usually spelled out in a separate schedule and includes a list of services the agency agrees to be responsible for, including research, writing, design work, illustrations, layout, messaging and more.
Ownership – Spells out that all work products produced by your agency are the property of the client, provided certain conditions are met, including acceptance date and payment.
Term – This area defines the length of the contract including start date, end date and termination details regarding possession of work products and assets.
Compensation and Billing Procedures – Since this portion is generally quite detailed, many agencies attach a schedule to the agreement to spell out all the terms. It can cover payment amounts, timetables, taxes, expenses, advances, billing methods, invoices and more.
Confidentiality and Safeguard of Property – Here’s where the client and your agency agree to keep in confidence any information, documents, or materials that are reasonably considered confidential.
Indemnities – This helps to protect both sides: your agency agrees to hold client harmless with respect to any claims by third parties against the client, and the client agrees to hold your agency harmless where material created by your organization is substantially changed by the client and with respect to any death or personal injury claims arising from the use of client’s products or services.
Commitments to Third Parties – ALWAYS include this segment – it’s crucial, especially because it ensures that your client will cover the monthly cost of the marketing automation platform that you’ve contracted for use on their account. It can also include a line that the client’s prior approval is required before purchases are made on their behalf by your agency.
Amendments – This is just a formality to make sure you both agree that any changes made to the contract need to be in writing, signed by the agency and client.
Notices – It’s a good idea to determine acceptable types of notices and terms for both parties, including timing.
Governing Law – A standard practice is to agree to abide by state laws, jurisdiction and venues.
There are lots of sample agreements and contracts available online. Google it and check some of them out to find one that best fits your needs.
*Disclaimer: This is not intended as legal advice. Consult with a legal professional to create your agency’s contracts.
3. INTERACTIVE CONTENT (Invite audiences to play along!)
A recent report by Demand Gen on content marketing revealed that the vast majority of buyers want B2B brands to offer more interactive and visual content for their consumption. Nearly half of those buyers rank interactive presentations as being “highly valuable” (four to five on a scale of five!) during their pre-purchase research phase.
In other words, they like interactive content, so why not give the people what they want?
There are several clever ways to invite people to interact with your content:
- Interactive Infographics ― This tactic allows you to ask your audience relevant questions while they’re processing the content. Marketing designers combine visually pleasing graphics and relevant compelling data with bits of dialogue, then code the infographic to react and gather valuable data about who the viewers are and where they are in their buying process.
As viewers scroll, they may see a graph change… when they click, they can watch as a picture changes or information pops up. Click here to see some clever examples of how visually engaging, easy to digest, and fun to share these infographics can be.
- Webinars ― The benefits of including webinars in your clients’ marketing plans are well-known. Hosting webinars gives you the opportunity to build events around ideas and information from your clients’ companies, helps establish them as thought leaders, differentiates them from their competitors, and creates positive awareness about their products and services. When people sign up for a webinar, the sponsoring company gains access to valuable contact information for prospective customers.
Additionally, the organizers and presenters can add more value by incorporating question and answer sessions and polls into the webinars to get learners involved during the sessions, and to measure engagement and message resonance. Throughout an event, hosts can track engagement metrics and key performance indicators with answers to poll questions and participant interactions (including chat and status updates) to arrive at an overall participant-engagement score.
Recommended: Webinar Best Practices eBook
- Calculators ― Besides being fun for users, these little gadgets can be your gateway to information about prospective customers. Website visitors enjoy interactive calculators because they get to fiddle around with buttons or sliders, and the immediate results provide them with instant gratification.
Your agency can generate leads with online calculators by giving users the option to email the results to themselves or even request a sales call once they’ve seen the calculations. Other methods can include gating results with a form before the user sees the results, and offering to send pricing results to the prospect instantly via email.
Some examples of interactive calculators include:
- Revenue-Generation Calculators
- ROI Calculators
- Benefits Calculators
- Cost Calculators
- Time-Savings Calculators
- Calls to Action ― Embedded in landing pages, forms, emails and e-newsletters, these short ‘n’ sweet messages help inspire people to perform desired actions right away. Those actions might include adding items to their carts, downloading documents, requesting information – really, whatever it is you want them to do. Failing to include calls to action (CTA) is the equivalent of forgetting to invite people to an event – if you want people to join you, you’d better ask them to the party!
To inspire immediate responses, use action verbs and clever tags like these:
Add to basket · Book tickets today · Get your free white paper · Build a gift box · Buy now · Chat with a specialist · Get started · Give it a try · Let’s do it · Request a free quote · See plans and pricing · Send a gift cert · Share now · Start today · Talk to us · Tell us what you think · Gimme!
CTA Buttons & Links: When people are on your clients’ websites, a proven way to make it easy for them to subscribe for more content is to include subscription buttons and links. For instance, you can place a button (that’s provided within your marketing software) next to your other social media buttons for seamless integration with the design.
While visiting websites, some people are more visually oriented and prefer buttons to click. Others are more analytical and are prone to browsing the links in drop-down tabs, the top menu bar and along the bottom of the page, so include those as well.
Here’s a sampling of buttons that go beyond the predictable:
CTA Feature Boxes: Unlike more subtle approaches like links and small buttons, large call-to-action sections integrated into your page designs are easy to find and can encourage more clicks. Of course, you’ll want to include a brief list of the irresistible benefits of subscribing, and provide fields to capture names, titles and email addresses.
Here’s an example of Act On’s clean, simple sign up box for our weekly blog recap (which provides a review of the blog’s most popular posts). We’ve A/B tested many times and found that, for this particular type of sign up feature box, we receive higher subscription numbers when we limit the fields to request an email only.
Have fun with the calls to action that you create – add images, interesting art, eye-catching text – while keeping the look relatively simple like these:
Some of these ideas are fun and creative, while others are more pragmatic and analytic. Choose a combo of options that will work best for your agency and your clients. No matter which path you choose, go forth, embrace new ideas and watch those profits grow!