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Marketing Agency vs. Marketing Consultancy

Marketing Agency vs. Marketing Consultancy

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.

Definition

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.

Process

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.

Looking ahead

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.

The Ultimate Guide to HubSpot’s Marketing Hub

The Ultimate Guide to HubSpot’s Marketing Hub

HubSpot is the leading software for inbound marketing — but it’s an investment. Like any investment, it’s important to do your vetting before you go all in. That’s where HubSpot’s Marketing Hub Free comes in — it allows you to capture some of the benefits HubSpot has to offer without the buy-in.

With this information comes a few questions. What does HubSpot’s Marketing Hub Free offer? What key features is it missing? But most importantly — how do you know when it’s time to upgrade?

First, let’s dissect question number one, which naturally pairs with question number two.

What is HubSpot’s Marketing Hub Free?

According to HubSpot, the free version includes “the basics you need to capture, track, and convert leads — for free.” It’s best for those who want to start developing a marketing strategy, a basic tech stack, and are exploring CRM systems. Let’s unpack this by discussing some of the most notable features, and conversely, what these features lack.

Forms:

Generating leads is good, knowing exactly where they came from is better. HubSpot offers two avenues for lead capture: Lead Flows, and Forms (which are static and would be used on a landing page or in a sidebar for instance). With HubSpot free, you have access to both of them.

HubSpot Marketing Dashboard

However, when you capture a contact there is little action you can take within HubSpot. For example, when someone downloads an asset it’s best practice to immediately send them a follow-up email to thank them and provide a link to the asset.

Unfortunately, the free version doesn’t include email or workflows. As a result, you can’t automatically send emails. If you’re tech-savvy you can integrate HubSpot forms with an email marketing platform using a tool like Zapier. As long as you remain organized, this is an effective solution for companies just starting out with HubSpot’s Marketing Hub.

Reporting Dashboards:

When it comes to marketing, understanding the data from your website and knowing how to leverage it is crucial — so it’s handy that HubSpot’s Marketing Hub Free offers reporting dashboards, but there’s a catch.

When on the free version you are limited to one dashboard — the Marketing Performance Dashboard. This provides elementary statistics which include site sessions, new contacts, and customers.

HubSpot Marketing Performance Chart

Dashboards allow you to choose a timeframe. For example, you can compare the current month to the previous month or even set a custom date range. Stats are limited, but when you’re first getting your feet wet, that’s okay.

You can supplement HubSpot’s data with a platform like Google Analytics which provides more detailed insights. Google Analytics can tell you which pages are driving the most traffic, average user retention, bounce rate, and much more.

Contact Management:

On HubSpot’s Marketing Hub Free, you can manually change a contact’s lifecycle stage, make a note on a contact’s profile, and assign a contact to an owner — just to name a few.

Don’t know what lifecycle stages are? Read “The Right Way to Follow Up with Marketing and Sales Leads”

HubSpot Profile Example

But, there are some features HubSpot’s Marketing Hub Free lacks in contact management. For example, a company on the free version doesn’t have the ability to make lists. Lists are a tool for sorting contacts based on almost any piece of criteria: a specific form they filled out, the type of company that employs them, what pages the contact has viewed, and so on. Lists are great for sending targeted email blasts or just keeping contacts organized.

Another contact management caveat of the free version is the visibility of a contact’s activity — it expires after seven days. Access to this information can provide insight into what services interest a lead, for instance. Without this data, your strategy relies more on guesswork.

Now that we’ve discussed the pros and cons of HubSpot’s Marketing Hub Free, you might be looking for an answer to the third question. How do you know when it’s time to upgrade?

Should you upgrade to Marketing Hub Starter?

First, let’s address the next level up from free — Marketing Hub Starter. There are four major selling points: it includes lists, mass email, more data, and starts at just $50 a month. This version is a good fit for people who have started to develop a marketing strategy, but don’t have many contacts and therefore less to manage.

Need ideas for developing a marketing strategy? Access “Growth Plays” here.

More Data:

Advanced analytics are a crucial ingredient for success. With the free version of HubSpot’s Marketing Hub, you’re looking at stretching your company between two data tools at least — HubSpot and Google Analytics.

Once you upgrade to Marketing Hub Start you’ll have access to a “standard marketing dashboard plus 1 additional custom dashboard.” It’s still valuable to supplement with Google Analytics since the data is more comprehensive. However, the data tools that come with the starter version can provide valuable insights into the efficacy of your marketing efforts.

Mass Email:

Don’t be quick to think email is dead. Sending targeted mass emails is still an essential marketing tool. According to emailmonday, “email has an average ROI of $38 for each $1 spent.”

HubSpot Marketing - Mass Email

HubSpot Marketing Dashboard- Email

The email function in HubSpot Marketing Hub Starter includes personalization — but doesn’t include the design manager, blog/rss email, or CAN-SPAM footers. With these limitations, it might more sense for your company to use an alternate marketing email software such as MailChimp or Constant Contact.

Lists:

Mass emails are most effective when they’re targeted. This is where lists provide their value. Lists allow you to segment your contacts based on almost any criteria — down to what information they enter on a form.

HubSpot Marketing Dashboard- Lists

HubSpot Marketing Dashboard- Lists

There are two types of lists — active and static. An active list constantly changes based on who meets the criteria, while a static list does not change regardless if someone meets the criteria after the list was created.

These tools are essential for a skilled marketing strategy, but it’s just as effective, or more effective to “outsource” these functions with an integration tool like Zapier, as mentioned earlier. The main benefit of HubSpot’s Marketing Hub Starter is having these tools in one place.

Or is Marketing Hub Professional right for you?

HubSpot’s Marketing Hub Professional is best for the “more experienced marketers and growing marketing teams.” It allows you to “run complete inbound marketing campaigns at scale with automation.”

What is HubSpot’s Marketing Hub Professional holy grail feature/ headliner/ attribute that makes it worth the investment? Workflows. A workflow is a set of rules you activate within HubSpot to complete a certain task. This one tool is able to unlock an array of time-saving functions that erase trivial manual work so you can keep big picture objectives at the forefront of your to-do list.

They have two main functions: marketing automation and administrative duties.

Marketing Automation:

According to HubSpot, marketing automation is “software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions. Many marketing departments have to automate repetitive tasks such as emails, social media, and other website actions.” This is where workflows play an integral role because they enable email workflows.

An email workflow is “a series of automated emails that trigger based on subscriber behavior or data. These are often referred to when marketers assemble a series of automated emails that work together to accomplish a goal, such as onboarding new customers or nurturing new leads.” Email workflows are incredibly valuable. According to Omnisend, email workflows boast up to a 455% better click rates than traditional newsletters.

Essentially, email workflows allow you to do all the heavy lifting up front. Once a workflow is activated, you can just sit back and watch your long-term lead generating machine work.

Administrative Tasks:

At some point, you’re going to decide the tools you have for managing your contacts aren’t cutting it. There’s no hard and fast rule for how many contacts you need before this happens, but at some point, you’ll need an automatic system for organizing your contacts.

You can create a workflow that changes a contact’s lifecycle stage based on a set of criteria that you set — it’s that easy.

HubSpot Workflow

When set up correctly, you’ll know exactly where someone is within the sales funnel without ever lifting a finger. This insight is crucial for measuring the performance of marketing efforts and knowing the right way to approach a lead.

It’s important to note that this is just one of the administrative duties you can automate with workflows. Let’s not forget lead notifications, buyer persona assignments, and much more.

The Bottom Line

There are many factors that determine which level of HubSpot’s Marketing Hub software you should choose: company goals, size, how developed your marketing strategy is, and much more.

Make the decision easier by bringing in an expert. Contact us today for a complimentary marketing plan which includes a comprehensive assessment on which version of HubSpot’s Marketing Hub software is right for you. We’ll also equip you with a 90-day growth maximizing strategy.

HubSpot vs WordPress: Which CMS Is Best For Your Business?

HubSpot vs WordPress: Which CMS Is Best For Your Business?

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.

Customer base

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.

HubSpot Graph

Source: https://idatalabs.com/tech/products/hubspot

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.

WordPress Plugins

Source: https://wordpress.org/plugins/

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

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.

HubSpot Personalization

Source: https://www.hubspot.com/products/how-personalization-works

Cost

WordPress

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.

HubSpot

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.

Conclusion

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.

5 Mistakes That Can Derail Your Product Launch Plan

5 Mistakes That Can Derail Your Product Launch Plan

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.

Bottom Line

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.