If you’re up to date on what’s happening in the marketing industry, you know that consultancies have increasingly become a threat to traditional agencies. With the popularity surrounding digital technology, there has been a shift away from the creative approach of selling “big ideas” and a move towards data-driven marketing. To dig a little deeper into this, let’s take a look at the differences between an agency and a consultancy.
A marketing agency has the ability of handle all aspects of the advertising process. This includes strategic planning, creative, and production. Some agencies are full-service, meaning they offer a complete approach to marketing and advertising initiatives. Other agencies may specialize in a particular creative service, such as graphic design, video, or social media.
On the other hand, a marketing consultancy has expertise in strategies to engage customers and improve business opportunities, both through retaining existing clients and attracting new customers. Their focus is to help companies achieve defined and measurable goals. A consultancy typically helps businesses develop inbound strategies, implement marketing tools, drive traffic, generate and nurture leads, produce content, and improve SEO.
A marketing agency is going to be more focused on executing creative. They are expected to know the best way to shoot a video or create a beautifully-designed website. When it comes to working with an agency, clients typically already have a marketing strategy in mind. For example, they may want to launch a new product or rebrand. Either way, there’s a clear objective and it’s the agency’s job to find the best way to execute it creatively.
Because of the conceptualization involved in designing creative assets, the turnaround time for an agency is longer than a consultancy. However, the main thing that separates an agency from a consultancy is their role in the marketing process. A consultancy will develop a plan to help your company grow, while an agency expects you to already have that figured out. They are the ones who provide the creative assets to support the project plan.
If you’re using a consultancy, it’s typically because you have a problem that you’re not sure how to solve. This could be anything from “why am I not getting traffic to my website?” to “how do I start generating more leads?” It’s a consultant’s job to identify a business-oriented solution to problems like these.
The consulting process begins with researching a client’s company and familiarizing oneself with their services, buyers, and competitors. Consultants immerse themselves in their client’s industry so they can better understand their goals and pain points. They take a data-centered approach to marketing, relying on analytics to inform their strategies. You can expect a fast turnaround from a consultancy as they are skilled in driving performance and producing quick, measurable results.
Which is right for you?
Now, you may be sitting there asking yourself, which option is right for me? It depends on your company’s needs. If you’re looking for quick results that drive revenue and growth, you should go the consultancy route. But if you’re looking for support in executing creative initiatives, an agency is the right pick. Looking for a little of both? There’s a third option- a hybrid agency/consultancy.
SmarkLabs is a prime example of this. We are a full-service marketing operation that create and execute marketing plans. We have a team of marketers who are skilled in growth strategy and a team of creatives who are experienced in graphic design and videography. Because of this, we’re able to handle every aspect of the marketing process and create consistent campaigns that produce reliable results.
To learn more about our services, drop us a line.
The line between agency and consultancy is becoming more and more blurred. Consultancies are beginning to offer branding and advertising services while agencies are moving into digital technology. In terms of the future of marketing, many have argued that consultancies will dominate because the way people interact with brands is changing. It’s no longer about releasing big, flashy ad campaigns, but finding small and truthful ways to engage with customers and create personalized experiences.
No marketer can successfully do their job today without having a content management system (CMS) in place. Today content management systems allow you to not only edit, optimize, schedule, track, and format content, but also create websites and email campaigns. These platforms offer a collaborative environment where multiple users can work on accounts. However, each CMS varies in terms of its strengths. Whereas one platform may be the best for web design, another may be superior when it comes to blogging.
Arguably, the two most popular CMS platforms for marketers are HubSpot and WordPress. HubSpot was started in 2006 with the intent of helping smaller businesses compete, while WordPress began in 2003 as a personal publishing system. Both have evolved over time into full-fledged content management systems, offering a host of different tools to help anyone market their business.
If you’re wondering which platform you should use, look no further. In this article, we will evaluate both platforms by taking a look at 4 main factors: customer base, ease of use, personalization, and cost.
Today, WordPress powers more than 30% of all sites on the internet according to wpbeginner.com. It’s used by some of the most notable brands, including Disney, Sony, and Microsoft. This large customer base means tech providers are likely to offer some type of integration or compatibility with the platform, meaning companies can save considerable time and frustration on tech integration when they use WordPress. Because of this, a company’s ability to be versatile is magnified with this platform.
According to a recent press release, Hubspot has 44,500+ customers in over 90 countries. This pales in comparison to WordPress’s massive ecosystem of 511,000+ active members, but it’s important to remember that HubSpot is a newer platform. However, being relatively new, HubSpot lacks the flexibility and advanced features that a more established platform provides. For this reason, HubSpot is largely still used by smaller organizations ranging from 1-10 employees per iDatalabs’ report.
Ease of use
With thousands of themes, templates, and plugins to choose from, WordPress allows anyone to easily build a website without learning code. In fact, WordPress offers more than 55,000 plugins to improve your site’s functionality according to SoftwareFindr. If you’d like to add something to your site such as complex gallery or forum, there are likely multiple plugins available for you to choose from. Find yourself stuck? Don’t worry- there are a gazillion YouTube videos at your disposal that show step-by-step how to use WordPress features.
Unlike WordPress, HubSpot has built-in tools and features so there’s no need for plugins. This limits the number of feature options a business has, but typically isn’t a problem considering HubSpot is largely used by small, enterprise companies in need of a simple site they can get up and running quickly. In addition, Hubspot offers a ton of resources in the form of blogs, ebooks, guides, reports, courses, and online groups. However, they are largely marketing-focused which can be a disadvantage if you’re looking for technical advice about design or development.
Personalization is the key to converting leads. It offers the customer something that is relevant to them, which keeps them coming back to your website. While WordPress is great for creating beautifully designed websites, you’ll need to download additional resources in order to add personalized content on your site. Depending on what you want to personalize and how you want to personalize it, you may need to do some research to find the correct plugin.
When it comes to personalization, HubSpot has “smart content” and personalization built into their websites. This allows you to deliver content to customers based on where they are in the buying process. HubSpot even allows you to add your buyer personas to a contact list where you can then assign them a “smart rule” or personalized message. HubSpot research shows that “calls-to-action that are targeted to individuals had a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than calls-to-action that were generic,” thus proving targeted messages are extremely beneficial in reaching customers.
There are two options when it comes to WordPress: WordPress.com or WordPress.org. WordPress.com handles everything for you- software, hosting, and managing a web server. It includes a variety of plans you can choose from ranging from free to $25 per month. Each plan offers essential features, free themes, and design customization.
On the other hand, WordPress.org is completely free and allows you to download software so you can host your own site. However, this option requires a separate web hosting account. The advantage is it offers more flexibility because you can install your own plugins, customize backend code, and upload your own custom themes.
Since WordPress is one of the most common content management systems, there are tons of developers and designers that specialize in the platform. Because of this, the cost to hire a WordPress developer is competitive and can be pricey.
In order to create a website on HubSpot, you’ll need to purchase their CMS. It’s available as a standalone product or an add-on to the sales, marketing, or service hub. It costs $300 a month but also gives you access to all HubSpot CRM features such as contact management, email integration, and Facebook & Instagram lead ads. Unfortunately, many of the features are limited. For example, you can only create up to 5 email templates per account and view contact activity for the first 7 days after a new contact is added.
When it comes to picking a website platform, WordPress is the best in terms of design and development. It offers versatility because of its large user base and advanced functionality with thousands of available plugins. In addition, people can enjoy greater ownership of their websites by downloading the WordPress.org software. However, if you’re mainly concerned with marketing and analytics, HubSpot is definitely a frontrunner due to its built-in optimization tools and in-depth marketing data.
Need help revamping your website? Drop us a line to learn how we can help.
If you’re in marketing or sales, odds are you’ve heard of account-based marketing (ABM). It’s a method that’s been gaining popularity in the marketing industry because of its ability to deliver high levels of ROI. In fact, “companies with ABM in place generate 208% more revenue for their marketing efforts,” according to Marketing Profs. This type of marketing involves honing in on a few accounts and targeting them with a highly-personalized strategy.
Although ABM is a great tool for any company, small businesses stand to benefit the most. This is because “SMBs can’t afford to scatter their money across various marketing tactics and a huge pool of prospects and just hope to generate enough qualified leads to make a profit,” says Niraj Ranjan Rout, Founder of Hiver. Unlike traditional lead-based marketing, ABM enables small businesses to focus all their resources on a few high-value prospects that are likely to buy.
In addition, small businesses are likely to gain internal buy-in across departments with ABM. This is important because ABM can be pricey due to personalization and a multi-channel approach. With more buy-in across the company, the budget for an ABM program can come from multiple departments.
Sound like something you’re interested in? Here’s our account-based marketing guide to get you started:
First, you’ll want to develop your Ideal Client Profile (ICP). An ICP is different from a buyer persona because it focuses on a company rather than an individual. It should include firmographic data such as company size, industry, number of employees, and estimated revenue plus unique characteristics such as technologies used, hiring trends, or external industry events. This will help you determine the criteria for your target accounts. Take advantage of your CRM or marketing automation platform to begin searching for target accounts.
ABM is different than most marketing methods because the content and messaging revolve around the specific needs of the account being targeted. It offers a highly personalized approach. For example, you could send a detailed analysis report to a company that is specific to their business. Avoid sending generic emails at all costs. Ask yourself, who am I creating content for? What content do I already have? This way, you’ll be able to find out where any gaps exist and create content accordingly.
If you’re not sure how to break the ice with a target account, it helps to mention them on a blog or social media post. Compliment them on a recent win and highlight what they did well. They’ll appreciate the praise and you’ll be on their radar because of it.
After you’ve created your content, it’s time to figure out the best way to reach your target accounts. There are a plethora of options, such as email, social media, video, website, blogs, webinars, infographics, and white papers. If you’re targeting a company that values creativity, you may want to take advantage of video to grab their attention. Or, if you’re looking to reach a tech company, a white paper may be the best way to connect with them.
In order to successfully execute your ABM campaign, there needs to be alignment between the sales and marketing teams. ABM relies on the perspective of a sales team who understands the importance of relationship building, knows how to address a business’s pain points, and has experience working to resolve them. According to Sirius Decisions, “B2B businesses with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth.”
Additionally, be sure to measure the results of your ABM campaign. Hubspot recommends focusing on coverage, awareness, engagement, reach, and influence. Here are some metrics you should pay attention to for each:
- Coverage: take a look at the number of target accounts you’ve identified and reached, how much custom content you’ve sent out, the number of stakeholders or key decision makers you’ve made contact with, the amount of account information you’ve gained
- Awareness: check the number of key accounts visiting your website, opening emails, reading blog posts, attending events, subscribing to a podcast or newsletter
- Engagement: focus on the amount of time key accounts are spending with your brand and whether they’re responding to marketing activities (click-through-rates, content downloads, email response rates)
- Reach: track how successful each channel was in reaching target accounts, check what percentage of campaign success is coming from your target accounts
- Influence: review how fast you were able to move target accounts through the funnel and close deals with your ABM campaign compared to previous marketing campaigns
Use this data to continue optimizing your campaigns for the greatest ROI.
We hope this account-based marketing guide gave you a better idea of how to implement ABM for your small business. When it comes to ABM, it’s all about targeting high-value accounts with highly-personalized content. If you’re looking for help with your ABM strategy, contact us.
Account-based marketing (ABM) is taking the industry by storm. In fact, according to a SiriusDecisions study, 93% of B2B marketing leaders say ABM is imperative to their strategy. Tired of creating content that no one reads and stepping on one another’s toes, marketing and sales teams have finally begun to focus on accounts they would like to win rather than single leads or general audiences.
Of course, ABM wasn’t always the rage. This type of marketing was started in 1993, when the landmark publication The One-to-One Future pushed for personalized marketing. After its introduction, audience-targeted marketing was used more and more until the phrase “account-based marketing” was finally coined in 2004 by ITSMA. As the need for inbound marketing grew (and continues to grow), ABM gained steam and vendors offering ABM solutions became more common.
From what we’ve seen in the past, we predict that ABM will go on to become more prominent as businesses work to streamline and further customize marketing tactics. That’s why we’ve compiled an extensive list of helpful account-based marketing tactics that will take you from planning to execution to measurement.
Arguably the most important step in your ABM strategy is planning your approach. With a strong foundation based on these account-based marketing planning tactics, your ABM strategy is far more likely to succeed.
Define your Ideal Client Profile
Choosing your ideal customer profile (ICP) is your most important task. Your sales and marketing teams must collaborate to ensure that the companies you will be targeting fit your solution. You’ll need to consider the firm’s firmographics data and business needs to make the right decision.
Align sales and marketing teams
Ensuring your sales and marketing teams are on the same page is the key to your entire strategy. Read Agent3 CEO Clive Armitage’s steps to ensure alignment, which includes allowing both teams to contribute ideas, choosing target accounts together, and setting up a communications process for sharing project progress as well as results.
Choose an executive sponsor
Every account-based marketing strategy needs an executive sponsor. This team member champions and guides the project in a big-picture way, ensuring that both sales and marketing teams are on board and happy. Your executive sponsor can also sweep in and mediate an issue, close a deal, or offer valuable advice about any tough decisions you may need to make.
Organize account data in your CRM solution
Before you begin your ABM execution plan, your CRM data is probably lead-based or has some serious coverage gaps. You’ll need to change from lead-based reporting to a measurement structure based on accounts and contacts. This process will take some work, but there are some hacks you can use, courtesy of industry professional Lauren Frye.
Gather and maintain clean data
Companies now have access to a lot of data—but if it isn’t clean, it’s worthless. Review existing data, checking for duplication and old data, and updating mission-critical fields like company name, email address, contact name, and title. Communicate standardized data entry requirements to your teams to avoid the need for cleanups in the future.
Identify buying signals and other data
Determine the signs that indicate a company might be in the market for your product. These triggers will mark the addition of a company to your target list or the start of a new phase in your ABM marketing campaign. Depending on your product, triggers range from office moves to leadership change, and can be automated.
Commit to target account pursuit channels
Once you lock in on target companies, decide which channels you’ll use to reach them. Consider various factors, like company culture and buyer personas. For technology startups, try Twitter mentions and targeted blog posts. For established corporations, segmented email campaigns and personalized direct mail may be more helpful.
Targeting and Engagement Tactics
Now we get to the bread and butter of account-based marketing tactics: engagement. This is the stuff marketers love—creating innovative content that strikes a chord with targeted accounts.
Source: Content Marketing Institute
Tag target accounts on social
Ninety percent of businesses use social media for marketing, meaning your target accounts are probably on a few channels themselves. Monitor social channels carefully, retweeting articles created by or mentioning the target account and tagging them when appropriate. Your target account is sure to notice and appreciate the amplification.
Feature target accounts within content
Everyone likes to be heralded as an expert. Next time you’re writing a blog post, use a target account as an example of an innovative industry leader. Once you have released the blog post, tag them on social channels to be sure they—and their extended network—get a look at your work.
Conduct a mini-survey
Ask a target account employee or leader to answer a mini-survey or interview for a blog post you’re creating. This win-win-win account-based marketing tactic will draw attention to your business, flatter your target, and provide you with research for a blog post.
Create a “State of” report or case study
In a similar vein, you can create an extended report about a target customer’s industry. You may either use the target account as an example, asking for interviews or advice, or you can use the report as a way to let your target account know that you’re an expert in their field who knows exactly what product might help them out.
Host a podcast series
If you’re looking for other content formats that will draw your target accounts in, branch out with a podcast. Create a specific theme and invite guests from your target accounts to weigh in with their industry tips and tricks. Be sure to follow up with the finished product—in shareable format so the interviewee will forward it to his or her boss.
Send personalized direct mail
Direct mail has a bad rap, but actually, it has a response rate thirty-six times higher than that of email. For the best results, personalize your direct mail (a classic account-based marketing tactic) and make sure the image is out-of-the-box and fun. This guide from direct mail guru enthusem will get you started.
Ship out gift boxes
If you have the cash to spare, personalized gifts are an excellent way to establish a connection with your target account. Since your gift recipients will almost certainly read your note to see who the gift is from, take the opportunity to include a personal note that shows you know their business needs. (Just make sure the gift is one they will really enjoy.)
Deploy retargeted social ads
Retargeted social ads allow you to send your ads directly to a list of targets—as long as those targets are connected to their social accounts by their work emails or company. Given that the click-through rate (CTR) of a retargeted ad is 10 times higher than the CTR of a typical display ad, it’s worth the risk. Check out this HubSpot guide for pointers.
Create personalized landing pages
We all know that personalized content yields better results. Personalized landing pages are a great way to drive even more leads. You can customize based on company—or the individual—level, using information from past visits, browsing history, in-session behavior, and third-party data to encourage more clicks.
Host sales dinners
Whether you’re hosting a one-on-one dinner or a small network cocktail gathering, you’ll find that salespeople rarely turn down free food and drinks. One thing: make sure your event is unique. Steak dinners are ordinary, but dinner at a cinema and restaurant combo? Legendary.
Run a roadshow
Personally contact target accounts to arrange your stops and before the event, ramp up excitement with hashtags and email campaigns so you’ll have a sizeable audience. Combine your spectacular roadshow presentation with a less salesy account-based marketing tactic, like a dinner, to even out the pitch. You’ll prove your product’s value and create a strong, trust-based relationship with your target account, ultimately encouraging future engagement.
Source: B2B Marketing
Sponsor an event
Sponsoring an event that a target account cares about or will be attending is a sure way to gain entry into their hearts (and wallets). Whether you choose to make a public donation to their favorite nonprofit or provide free DJs for their rockin’ holiday party, you’ll catch their attention and their admiration, which might lead to a sale.
Participate in or host a roundtable
Most companies makes it public knowledge which industry conferences they’ll be attending. Once you know some of your target accounts will be at a certain location, try to attend a roundtable featuring one of your targets. There’s a good chance you’ll make strong connections and that other target accounts may be in the audience listening.
Measurement and Reporting Tactics
Measurement and reporting are vital to your ABM strategy. After all, how will you know whether your strategy is succeeding if you don’t measure your results? Here are the top measurement and reporting account-based marketing tactics for post-engagement use.
Track account coverage
You need to ensure all your target accounts are being engaged, and engaged thoroughly. Track factors such as the amount of research done on accounts, the number of accounts that have been engaged, and the number of contacts engaged within an account. Bizible offers a simple chart that may help guide your definition of success.
Trace account awareness
This metric can be measured by the amount of web traffic from targeted accounts, as brand Integrate notes, or views on social media ads. Though simple, account awareness is an important metric. Awareness is the first step in the customer journey—and an immediate precursor to engagement.
Measure account engagement
Ensure you track all relevant engagement metrics, including items like responses to personalized webpages, CTR on social ads, and event attendance. Though there are many opinions about ideal metrics, Engagio suggests that teams measure an account’s total minutes responding to marketing activities and engaging with sales teams.
Review conversion rates
In the planning stages, you will have determined what counts as “account conversion.” This is a vital item to measure, as it will determine your ultimate success. Because it is such an important metric, conversion rate is certainly one to review with your executive sponsor, who may have pointers regarding the best definition of this critical metric.
Gather results in regular reports
With ABM, regular reports are vital. Reports should be short and simple—something that employees can skim through and comprehend. The more obvious it is which areas need improvement, the more quickly your teams can take action. As B2B software brand Bizible notes, ABM measurement software can simplify the reporting process.
Communicate your results
At the end of the day, communication is key. Be sure that sales and marketing teams are sharing reports, making constant changes to improve their strategy, and keeping their eyes on the goals ahead.
Whether you are planning your ABM strategy or preparing a final report, we hope this list of account-based marketing tactics will be helpful well into 2019. And if you need help setting up any part of your strategy, we’re here to help.
Interested in learning more about ABM? Check out our blog post 5 Effective Account-Based Marketing Strategies For B2B Companies.
Pulling off a successful product launch is never easy. It requires extensive planning and flawless execution. Many companies make the mistake of rushing their product to the market before doing the necessary research and preparation, which can lead to a disappointing reaction from buyers.
In order to help you achieve the best results possible, we’ve made a list of the top 5 marketing mistakes you should avoid when launching a new product or feature.
1. Constructing a poor value proposition
If you read our article The Top 10 B2B Value Proposition Examples (And How To Create Your Own), you know that a value proposition is important. It persuades buyers to purchase your product by stating what it offers and how it’s different from other brands. If your value proposition is unclear or wordy, you may need to rethink your product. Ask yourself, is my product unique? Does it solve a problem for my buyer?
In addition to a value proposition, it helps to create a story about your product that is relatable to your audience. According to The Insider, “a recent study suggests that by telling their brand story well, companies have the power to increase the value of a product or service by over 20 times.” Frame your product as a solution to a common problem or frustration your buyer experiences. Tell a story, either through video or compelling copy, and use emotion to communicate your product’s value in an authentic way.
2. Neglecting to develop a marketing strategy
When it comes to a product launch, marketing is everything. No one can buy your product if they don’t know about it. The best way to get people excited about your product is by rolling out a campaign across web and social. In order to do this, you’ll need a strong marketing strategy. Here are some marketing tips for a successful product launch:
- Keep in mind who your audience is and determine what channels you should use to reach them
- Establish your messaging or how you want to position your product- aim to communicate the valuable aspects of your product without going into too much detail about specific features
- Design branding materials that tie all your textual and visual elements together in a cohesive way
- Plan ahead and organize your content by creating an editorial calendar
- Give your team enough time to roll out the product successfully and make sure there aren’t any conflicts with your product launch date
If you need help executing a marketing strategy for your product launch, contact us.
3. Assuming there’s a need for the product/feature/version 2.0
Don’t just assume your product is great and everyone will want to buy it. Conduct research and find out whether there’s actually a need for it. This should be the first step you take when you develop an idea for a product. Pay close attention to industry trends, buyers, and competition. Here is a list of 17 tools and resources you can use to conduct market research.
After doing research to confirm there’s a market for your product, take it a step further and build a prototype so people can test it. Once you have the prototype, you can do beta testing. This involves sharing your product with a small audience so you can gather data and make improvements before it’s released. Beta testing is basically a test launch and provides you with real-time feedback. It allows you to feel confident your product is ready to be put on the market.
4. Vaguely defining target audience
It’s important to make sure you’re targeting the right people with your product, otherwise, it won’t sell. Make your target audience as specific as possible by developing buyer personas. According to HubSpot, “a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”
Developing these personas allows you to paint a clear picture of your target audience with key details such as where they live, what industry they work in, and what publications they read. With this information, you’ll be able to form a better marketing strategy to reach your target audience.
To learn more about buyer personas, check out our blog post What Are Buyer Personas And Why Do We Need Them?
5. Failing to include a testimonial or user story
You can tell people your product is great and easy to use, but don’t expect them to just take your word for it. It’s crucial to build trust in your brand and that’s done through testimonials and user stories. Use the feedback you received during beta testing to create these narratives. People will be more likely to purchase your product if they know others had a positive experience with it. Share the testimonials and user stories in your marketing campaign and include them on your website for potential buyers to see.
It’s tempting to overlook certain steps and rush your product to market for an immediate reward, but you’ll see more success if you invest time and resources into your product launch. Develop a strong value proposition, establish a marketing strategy, do extensive market research, create buyer personas, and showcase user stories. That way, you can be certain you’re offering a great product that buyers will love. Lastly, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of an agency that has the expertise and know-how to deliver results.
Drop us a line to learn how we can help with your next product launch.