I listened in on a free Webinar this morning, “The State of Digital Marketing for Small Agencies,” presented by David Baker of ReCourses, Mark O’Brien of Newfangled and Blair Enns of Win Without Pitching. The Webinar was a chance for Baker, O’Brien and Enns to present the findings of a detailed survey they performed in June with owners and managers of 299 small digital marketing agencies, wherein they explored how agencies use their own websites, email newsletters, Webinars and speaking opportunities to establish expertise, provide leads and drive conversions.
Most of the respondents’ firms employ between two and 20 people; half bring in less than one million in billings per year; and the majority of clients are within a 200 mile radius. So, this isn’t about the Razorfishes of the agency world.
Some of the more interesting findings include:
- Most firms are building 10 or fewer websites per year with the average budget ranging from $10K to $25k
- Six out of ten firms are not happy with their current site (which they rely on to generate qualified leads)
- Two thirds of the firms have less than 1000 visitors per month to their website (with five or less conversions via a Contact form per month)
- About half of the firms publish an email newsletter, but send it out to less than 500 people
- Just over half feel their firms are considered experts within a specific field
- Two-thirds of the firms responded to five or fewer RFPs last year
I can certainly put a check next to all of the above boxes.
During the Webinar today, Baker said, “Your agency website has but one purpose — to motivate people to sign up for your email newsletter.” I have never looked at it that way, but I do see value in one-to-one communications and relationship marketing. O’Brien added that small agencies need more than 500 people on their lists to get to scale and see the kind of positive results that well executed email marketing can deliver. Bonehook’s email list is currently at 54, so I have quite a bit of work to do to raise the newsletter bar.
Speaking of another old school method for new business development, Blair Enns said, “Cold calls are diminishing in effectiveness, but you still want to call the very specific opportunity.”
Enns also called for a much stronger POV from industry experts. “You should be nervous before pushing publish,” Enns advised. “Attack conventions, piss people off, provoke,” he argued. I don’t think Enns is saying become a clown, or caricature, but agency heads do need to be performers. To sell the work and to get the opportunity to do the work in the first place, presentation skills and a finely tuned ability to “convince and convert” on the fly are required. It’s part of the job, and a much different part than the designing and copywriting at the core of one’s practice.
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