15 Common Logical Fallacies and How to Spot Them

Logical fallacies — those logical gaps that invalidate arguments — aren’t always easy to spot.

While some come in the form of loud, glaring inconsistencies, others can easily fly under the radar, sneaking into everyday meetings and conversations undetected.

Having an understanding of these basic logical fallacies can help you more confidently parse the arguments and claims you participate in and witness on a daily basis — separating fact from sharply dressed fiction.

Our list is by no means an exhaustive guide to every formal and informal fallacy, but it should help you build better arguments and identify logical missteps. 

15 Common Logical Fallacies

1) The Straw Man Fallacy

This fallacy occurs when your opponent over-simplifies or misrepresents your argument (i.e., setting up a “straw man”) to make it easier to attack or refute. Instead of fully addressing your actual argument, speakers relying on this fallacy present a superficially similar — but ultimately not equal — version of your real stance, helping them create the illusion of easily defeating you.

Example:

John: I think we should hire someone to redesign our website.

Lola: You’re saying we should throw our money away on external resources instead of building up our in-house design team? That’s going to hurt our company in the long run.

2) The Bandwagon Fallacy

Just because a significant population of people believe a proposition is true, doesn’t automatically make it true. Popularity alone is not enough to validate an argument, though it’s often used as a standalone justification of validity. Arguments in this style don’t take into account whether or not the population validating the argument is actually qualified to do so, or if contrary evidence exists.

While most of us expect to see bandwagon arguments in advertising (e.g., “three out of four people think X brand toothpaste cleans teeth best”), this fallacy can easily sneak it’s way into everyday meetings and conversations.

Example:

The majority of people believe advertisers should spend more money on billboards, so billboards are objectively the best form of advertisement.

3) The Appeal to Authority Fallacy

While appeals to authority are by no means always fallacious, they can quickly become dangerous when you rely too heavily on the opinion of a single person — especially if that person is attempting to validate something outside of their expertise.

Getting an authority figure to back your proposition can be a powerful addition to an existing argument, but it can’t be the pillar your entire argument rests on. Just because someone in a position of power believes something to be true, doesn’t make it true.

Example:

Despite the fact that our Q4 numbers are much lower than usual, we should push forward using the same strategy because our CEO Barbara says this is the best approach.

4) The False Dilemma Fallacy

This common fallacy misleads by presenting complex issues in terms of two inherently opposed sides. Instead of acknowledging that most (if not all) issues can be thought of on a spectrum of possibilities and stances, the false dilemma fallacy asserts that there are only two mutually exclusive outcomes.

This fallacy is particularly problematic because it can lend false credence to extreme stances, ignoring opportunities for compromise or chances to re-frame the issue in a new way.

Example:

We can either agree with Barbara’s plan, or just let the project fail. There is no other option.

5) The Hasty Generalization Fallacy

This fallacy occurs when someone draws expansive conclusions based on inadequate or insufficient evidence. In other words, they jump to conclusions about the validity of a proposition with some — but not enough — evidence to back it up, and overlook potential counterarguments. 

Example:

Two members of my team have become more engaged employees after taking public speaking classes. That proves we should have mandatory public speaking classes for the whole company to improve employee engagement.

6) The Slothful Induction Fallacy

Slothful induction is the exact inverse of the hasty generalization fallacy above. This fallacy occurs when sufficient logical evidence strongly indicates a particular conclusion is true, but someone fails to acknowledge it, instead attributing the outcome to coincidence or something unrelated entirely.

Example:

Even though every project Brad has managed in the last two years has run way behind schedule, I still think we can chalk it up to unfortunate circumstances, not his project management skills.

7) The Correlation/Causation Fallacy

If two things appear to be correlated, this doesn’t necessarily indicate that one of those things irrefutably caused the other thing. This might seem like an obvious fallacy to spot, but it can be challenging to catch in practice — particularly when you really want to find a correlation between two points of data to prove your point.

Example:

Our blog views were down in April. We also changed the color of our blog header in April. This means that changing the color of the blog header led to less views in April.

8) The Anecdotal Evidence Fallacy

In place of logical evidence, this fallacy substitutes examples from someone’s personal experience. Arguments that rely heavily on anecdotal evidence tend to overlook the fact that one (possibly isolated) example can’t stand alone as definitive proof of a greater premise.

Example:

One of our clients doubled their conversions after changing all their landing page text to bright red. Therefore, changing all text to red is a proven way to double conversions.

9) The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

This fallacy gets its colorful name from an anecdote about a Texan who fires his gun at a barn wall, and then proceeds to paint a target around the closest cluster of bullet holes. He then points at the bullet-riddled target as evidence of his expert marksmanship.

Speakers who rely on the Texas sharpshooter fallacy tend to cherry-pick data clusters based on a predetermined conclusion. Instead of letting a full spectrum of evidence lead them to a logical conclusion, they find patterns and correlations in support of their goals, and ignore evidence that contradicts them or suggests the clusters weren’t actually statistically significant. 

Example:

Lisa sold her first startup to an influential tech company, so she must be a successful entrepreneur. (She ignores the fact that four of her startups have failed since then.)

10) The Middle Ground Fallacy

This fallacy assumes that a compromise between two extreme conflicting points is always true. Arguments of this style ignore the possibility that one or both of the extremes could be completely true or false — rendering any form of compromise between the two invalid as well.

Example:

Lola thinks the best way to improve conversions is to redesign the entire company website, but John is firmly against making any changes to the website. Therefore, the best approach is to redesign some portions of the website.

11) The Burden of Proof Fallacy

If a person claims that X is true, it is their responsibility to provide evidence in support of that assertion. It is invalid to claim that X is true until someone else can prove that X is not true. Similarly, it is also invalid to claim that X is true because it’s impossible to prove that X is false.

In other words, just because there is no evidence presented against something, that doesn’t automatically make that thing true.

Example:

Barbara believes the marketing agency’s office is haunted, since no one has ever proven that it isn’t haunted.

12) The Personal Incredulity Fallacy

If you have difficulty understanding how or why something is true, that doesn’t automatically mean the thing in question is false. A personal or collective lack of understanding isn’t enough to render a claim invalid.

Example:

I don’t understand how redesigning our website resulted in more conversions, so there must have been another factor at play. 

13) The “No True Scotsman” Fallacy

Often used to protect assertions that rely on universal generalizations (like “all Marketers love pie”) this fallacy inaccurately deflects counterexamples to a claim by changing the positioning or conditions of the original claim to exclude the counterexample.

In other words, instead of acknolwedging that a counterexample to their original claim exists, the speaker ammends the terms of the claim. In the example below, when Barabara presents a valid counterexample to John’s claim, John changes the terms of his claim to exclude Barbara’s counterexample.

Example:

John: No marketer would ever put two call-to-actions on a single landing page.

Barbara: Lola, a marketer, actually found great success putting two call-to-actions on a single landing page for our last campaign. 

John: Well, no true marketer would put two call-to-actions on a single landing page, so Lola must not be a true marketer. 

14) The Tu quoque Fallacy

The tu quoque fallacy (Latin for “you also”) is an invalid attempt to discredit an opponent by answering criticism with criticism — but never actually presenting a counterargument to the original disputed claim. 

In the example below, Lola makes a claim. Instead of presenting evidence against Lola’s claim, John levels a claim against Lola. This attack doesn’t actually help John succeed in proving Lola wrong, since he doesn’t address her original claim in any capacity.

Example:

Lola: I don’t think John would be a good fit to manage this project, because he doesn’t have a lot of experience with project management.

John: But you don’t have a lot of experience in project management either!

15) The Fallacy Fallacy

Here’s something vital to keep in mind when sniffing out fallacies: just because someone’s argument relies on a fallacy doesn’t necessarily mean that their claim is inherently untrue.

Making a fallacy-riddled claim doesn’t automatically invalidate the premise of the argument — it just means the argument doesn’t actually validate their premise. In other words, their argument sucks, but they aren’t necessarily wrong. 

Example: 

John’s argument in favor of redesigning the company website clearly relied heavily on cherry-picked statistics in support of his claim, so Lola decided that redesigning the website must not be a good decision.  

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

The Next Wave in Digital Agency Marketing: Brick-and-Mortar Pop-Ups

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At this point, everyone knows that e-commerce is no longer “the next big thing” — it’s the current big thing. eMarketer estimates e-commerce sales will reach $4.058 trillion in 2020, or 14.6 percent of total retail projections for that year.

The e-commerce space is a hot, crowded market, and the brands that rise to the top will have to be able to cultivate a loyal and rabid fan base. As an agency pro, it’s your job to help your clients grow that base.

You’re probably already killing it using social media, paid advertising, and other digital tools and techniques. However, when even those tried-and-true channels become stale, it’s time to step outside of what we do every day to gain a new perspective.

One way to do that is by placing your clients in a physical location — at least temporarily. 

Thinking outside the box in this way helps them build stronger relationships with their customers, as well as connect organically with fans of similar brands. While people like to purchase online for the convenience, the truth is that many consumers would love to be able to touch, smell, and see whatever it is they’re buying in person.

Building a Concrete Case for Brick-and-Mortar 

According to Retail Dive’s Consumer Survey, 62 percent of consumers want to examine and try out items before buying. Researching products online is key, but most people enjoy the tactile experience of hunting for them and actually touching them.

Shopping is a form of recreation for much of America. One could go so far as to say that America’s real favorite pastime involves going to a store, browsing the options, picking things up, and putting them back — all of which can increase brand awareness and tighten the bond between the brand and the consumer, even if it doesn’t result in a sale.

Of course, e-commerce brands are online for a reason, so diving into brick-and-mortar storefronts may not be in their business plan. That’s why agencies should use physical locations to cross-promote their e-commerce brands. It’s not about making a complete pivot to brick-and-mortar locations — it’s about making a brand’s presence known in a clear and tangible way and boosting consumer interest by bringing related brands together under one roof.

We did this recently at Hawke Media with a new initiative called The Nest. Basically, we took the co-living and co-working cooperative trend to the next level and offered our clients an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a co-retail space.

Launching a Pop-Up Store That Performs

For our recurring pop-up retail space, we curate 10 complementary client brands — including fashion, lifestyle, health, and beauty brands for both men and women — and bring them together seamlessly, without any direct competition.

Every brand has its own custom-tailored space in the store, but we chose certain design elements that lend overall cohesion to the layout of the shop. We produce six in-house events featuring live music, drinks, and giveaways, beginning with a kickoff where each brand can invite 150 guests so there are supporters of each one in attendance.

By launching The Nest, we helped our clients provide a new experience to their customers and cross-pollinate with fans of other brands with minimal involvement on their part. We reached more than 2,800 new customers in person, as well as hundreds of thousands of people on social media.

Before you can make physical cross-promotion work effectively, you have to identify the right e-commerce clients by asking two questions:

  • Who needs a physical touchpoint the most?
  • Who will be able to capitalize fully?

Identify brands that currently sell only online but whose products would benefit from being seen and felt in a brick-and-mortar space. Sometimes, it’s difficult to adequately convey their subtle, yet tangible, selling points in the digital realm. Consider the scent of a candle, the taste of craft tea, or the comfort of a hoodie.

Putting clients who sell products such as these into a physical space allows them to establish a connection with a larger pool of potential customers and really showcase what makes them so unique.

Brand buy-in is vital. A lot of e-commerce companies disregard brick-and-mortar options altogether, and that’s OK. They know their space and where they have the best chance of success, so they’re probably not the ones you would ask to pursue a physical channel.

With The Nest, we drove the promotion and awareness-building efforts surrounding the space, and the brands brought in the people and inventory. If the brands aren’t all-in on maximizing the effort to make the experiment work for them, it will weaken the experience for everyone.

Find clients who are excited to try new things and willing to experiment. Collaboration is also key; brands have to be willing to cross-promote each other and share the wealth. The right brands will make any physical location the place to be.

The Keys to Cross-Pollination

Co-retailing is not about huge spikes in revenue: It’s about the experience and about cross-pollinating customers from brand to brand.

Remember these three key points to keep your agency and your brands focused on the goals of a temporary pop-up store:

1) Encourage brands to invite their most ravenous customers. 

In order for brands to cross-pollinate, they have to bring out people who care about the whole industry, not just their brand. If only friends, family, and targeted shoppers show up, they won’t engage with the other brands in the space.

2) Promote it as a social experience. 

People love farmers markets and festivals for a reason: The experience of browsing is often as good as gaining access to the products. Encourage your brands to re-create that experience, and include brands with broad social reach that will entice even more followers to come out. If you have 10 brands, and each introduces 50 of its own fans to another brand, you’ve helped each brand reach 450 new potential customers.

3) Focus on awareness. 

This is a play for attracting customers, not a direct attribution play. When you gather your brands together, it gives their super fans the ability to form connections with other brands. It’s not about driving a direct response, building revenue, or fueling sales; it’s about letting people experience the product and the brand’s culture. Accentuate visual, aural, auditory, or olfactory features — anything that affects the senses will strengthen the connections formed in the space.

As a digital agency, you’re already taking all of the essential steps to serve your clients. But every other digital agency is serving its clients with the same tactics. Doing the same things your competitors do means settling for the same returns or worse. You need novel ways to help your clients’ brands take flight.

Creating a co-retail space was one of the best things we’ve done for our clients in the last year. Opening up to new fan bases lifted everyone’s brand awareness, and allowing customers to see, feel, taste, and experience their products deepened connections.

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Source: The Next Wave in Digital Agency Marketing: Brick-and-Mortar Pop-Ups
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Copywriting for Conversions: 9 Ways Emotion and Word Count Affect Your Landing Pages [New Data]

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We all know that words matter — in life, but also in marketing.

When it comes to landing page copy, many a debate have begun over which words to choose, the context in which they’re used, the order they’re presented in and the amount you use to convey a message.

“Shorter is always better — no one has the attention span to read hundreds of words!”

“Longform pages get better results!”

“Use fear to persuade readers to act!

“Forget fear, pull at their heartstrings!”

The truth is, these quote-unquote best practices are the result of gut instinct and a ton of trial and error. And what works for one industry might not work for the next. So even if so-and-so does figure out the key to high-converting real estate landing pages, that same key might not unlock the full potential of your legal landing page.

I get it, you need more granular, data-backed insights to help inform your marketing copy. Hell, we need data-backed insights.

So we did a thing.

With the help of Machine Learning model and an Emotion Lexicon, Unbounce data scientists analyzed the behavior of 74,551,421 visitors to 64,284 lead generation landing pages to reveal what kind of emotional language is effective across 10 popular industries.

They looked at eight basic emotions (anger, anticipation, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, surprise and trust) and analyzed how copy associated with these emotions affected user behavior. Specifically, they looked at how language associated with these emotions correlated with the number of users who converted on a page. Not only that, they looked at how word count affected conversions — helpful for marketers and copywriters alike.

Download the full report here, or check out some of the juicy insights below.

9 Industry-Specific Takeaways About How Emotion and Word Count Affect Conversions

1) In the Travel Industry, Keep Language Positive

Our findings showed that if even 1% of page copy evoked feelings of anger or fear, conversion rates could be up to 25% lower.

anger-image-updated.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

Some of the keywords that evoke fear or anger include: “limited,” “money,” “hot,” “desert,” “endless,” “challenge,” “treat,” “fee,” “rail,” “bear,” “buffet,” “bang,” “cash” and “despair.”

(I don’t know about you, but limited money, hot deserts, and endless fees sure sound terrible to me.)

On the opposite side of the spectrum, words that established trust include: “enjoy,” “secret,” “top,” “guide,” “save,” “personal,” “spa,” “policy,” “provide,” “star,” “award,” “friendly” and “recommend.”

Keep in mind, though, this data was generated by an algorithm, so if you’re using it as a jumping off point for optimization, use your best judgement.

2) Don’t Disgust in Business Consulting

Business consultants get a bad rap. Television shows like House of Lies paint an image of the cutthroat consultant out to make a buck.

Whether or not this has any impact on conversion rates, we’ll never know for sure. What we do know, however, is that you should probably avoid words associated with disgust.

disgust-new.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

The study found that words like “blame,” “cheat,” “collapse,” “disaster” and “offend” tend to negatively affect conversions.

Which, when you look at them together like that, is not all that surprising.

3) Fear mongering doesn’t lead to more conversions (most of the time)

Words associated with fear often had a negative impact on conversions, particularly in Health, Legal and Travel.

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 2.25.07 PM.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

In Business Consulting, however, we found that filling between 1% to 2% of your copy with words that create a deep-seated sense of fear and unease can actually help conversion rates.

So, certainly don’t be liberal with the scary words, but you might see improvement with a little peppering here and there.

4) Shoot for Short and Sweet Business Services Pages

When it comes to Business Services, treat your landing page like an elevator pitch and keep the copy tight and concise.

word-count.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

Data showed that overall, pages with fewer than 100 words convert 50% better than those with more than 500 words.

And when you’re considering words to cut or keep, keep in mind that words that evoke trust may have a positive effect on your conversion rates. The caveat? You have to be extremely trustworthy, meaning more than 8% of your language needs to imply trust — words like “leading,” “compliance,” “account,” “powerful” and “maintenance.”

5) Spread the Joy of Higher Education

Advancing one’s education is a beautiful thing, so it’s no surprise that words associated with joy correlated with higher conversion rates on average in the Higher Education industry.

joy-chart.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

Words associated with joy commonly found on Higher Education pages include “scholarship,” “graduation,” “share,” “succeed,” “success” and “excellence.”

6) Trust Words Work in Some Industries … But Not Others

Using words that subconsciously evoke feelings of trust can lead to higher conversion rates in the Travel and Business Services industries.

In Credit & Lending, however, trust words can hurt conversions:

trust-chart.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

The study showed that words which reinforce a sense of trust should be used strategically and sparingly — for up to 3% of your copy. Anything beyond that resulted in up to 10% lower conversion rates.

Among the common words associated with trust in Credit & Lending were “advice,” “pay,” “cash,” “lender,” “law,” “fixed” and “council.”

7) Keep Copy Concise in Credit & Lending

Analysis of thousands of lead generation landing pages in Credit & Lending revealed that less copy is often correlated with more conversions.

In fact, the study found that while keeping to under 400 words is good, pages below 100 words have nearly double the conversion rate.

word-count-2.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

8) Avoid buzzwords in Business Consulting

If you work in the Business Consulting industry, you may think that words like “predict,” “attainable,” “achievement,” “exceed” and “excel” help hype your offering, but your audience may perceive these as empty buzzwords.

The report showed that pages with more than 1.5% of copy building a sense of anticipation around the offer were correlated with pages with up to 25% lower conversion rates.

anticipation-chart.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

9) Joy Isn’t Always a Conversion Booster

Although joy had a positive impact on conversion rates for the Higher Education industry, having too many words associated with joy is correlated with fewer conversions in the Legal and Home Improvement industries.

joy-chart-2.pngData from The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report

In Home Improvement in particular, the best converting pages tend to have less than 1% of their copy communicating joyful concepts. Words associated with joy for Home Improvement included sun, perfect, satisfied, money, pay, special, safe, happy and more.

Choose Your Words Wisely

When it comes to writing marketing copy that converts, no word should be selected without a purpose in mind. As you build your landing pages, make sure you’re giving extra consideration to how each and every word will affect your target audience and influence conversions. 

Did any of the data surprise you? Let us know in the comments!

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Source: Copywriting for Conversions: 9 Ways Emotion and Word Count Affect Your Landing Pages [New Data]
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

What Color Should Your Logo Be? How to Pick the Perfect Color [Infographic]

Color has a major impact on how we perceive the world around us. 

Research has shown that the psychology of color can not only influence the way food tastes, the way some medicines perform, and the way we feel — it can also play a massive role in our brand preferences and buying habits.  

But selecting the right colors for your company logo (or a client’s logo) can be tricky. You want the color scheme to attract your company’s target consumers and elicit positive emotions, but your own personal color preferences can easily get in the way. 

Just because blue is your absolute favorite color, it doesn’t mean your target persona feels the same way. You need to put yourself firmly in their shoes to find a color scheme that reflects their preferences, habits, and interests. 

How to Pick the Perfect Color for Your Logo

This quirky flowchart from the folks at 99designs can help you select the perfect colors for your next logo design project. Just imagine your brand is a person, and answer the questions below. The flowchart will lead you to a color combo that suits your brand’s personality and reflects the image you want to project to consumers. 


Image Credit: 99designs

What colors are your favorite brand’s logos? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

The Most Searched Agency Services, According to the Time of Year [New Data]

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According to the latest Top Agency Trends Report from Agency Spotter, marketers and brands search for different services depending on the time of the year. Knowing which services to offer and emphasize at different times of the year could help your agency stand above your competition. These search trends, based on seasonality, come down to a couple of different factors based on what companies are looking to accomplish at different times of the year.

The report covers marketing services trends based on data from more than 120,000 unique users and three years, data on service seasonality, the top 25 agency services being searched, and the rise of project-based engagements.

Let’s dig in.

Marketing Services Searched More in the First Half of the Year

As companies begin the new year, they are looking to establish initiatives that are relatively quick fixes and do not take as much time to implement. Business leaders often take a look at their marketing data from the past year and see which areas need more attention or may have fallen down the to-do list.

Looking at the Trends Report, we can see that services like content marketing, PR, SEO, data analytics, shopper marketing, and events all perform better in the first half of the year. From the top 25 agency services for 2016, content marketing took the 7th spot as the most searched service from marketers all year. Interestingly, if you divide the list into H1 and H2, you can see that content marketing was 9th in H1 but did not even make the Top 25 in H2.

Content marketing is becoming increasingly important for all companies to utilize because it helps attract and inform customers and potential customers. But if you think about it, companies don’t generally set a content calendar at the end of the year — they tend to do that at the beginning of the year. Same thing goes for SEO and PR.

Check out the list below to see which keywords fall off or perform better at a certain time of year, and then optimize your site accordingly.

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Agency Services Perform Better in H2

Taking a look at the data, services like ecommerce, branding, UX design, email marketing, and CRM automation all perform better in the second half of the year. These align with initiatives that take more planning and are services that many companies want to have ready before the start of a new year.

Design-based services like ecommerce, branding, and UX all have to do with experiences that directly interact with customers. A website redesign or branding makeover are usually planned in the middle of the year so that companies are ready to debut their new look in the new year.

As you can see in the report, ecommerce went from 18th most searched in H1 to 5th in H2, branding from 12th to 6th, and UX took the 9th spot despite not even appearing on the H1 list.

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Services Shopped Consistently Year Round

There are also agency services whose demand remains stable throughout the year.

The big services like advertising, web design, digital, social media, and marketing perform all year. Use this data to better understand the behavior of your customers and when they are searching.

Finally, here are the biggest shifts from 2015 to 2016:

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Knowing what services perform better throughout the year can help your agency strategically position business development, staffing, and other factors to help your agency rise above the competition. For more information about the marketing service industry, download the free Agency Spotter Agency Trends Report.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

How to Turn Your Marketing Team Into Your Agency's Best R&D Department

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Every time I try a new recipe for a dish at a party, I try a little sample before I serve it to my guests — and not just because I’m always hungry (which I am). I do it because I would never want to serve something new to my guests that I can’t be sure actually tastes good.

How can I confidently stand there and say to my friends and family, “Go ahead and try it! You’ll love it!” when I have no idea what it’s really like?

I bet you probably do this with new recipes, too. But if your agency doesn’t use a similar process when it introduces new products or services to clients, you could be leaving them with a bad taste in their mouths.

If you’re going to sell your clients on something new, you’ve got to have a solid understanding of how it works, how well you can deliver it, and what the impact on the clients will be. You can’t confidently recommend a product or service to your clients if you don’t know what it’s like. And what’s the best way to find out?

You’ve got to give it a try.

How to Turn Marketing Into R&D

Most agencies don’t have the luxury of devoting an entire department purely to research and development. My agency sure doesn’t. What we do have is a marketing team that’s equipped to test potential new services internally before we make the decision to release them to clients.

A perfect example of this in action is Influence & Co.’s first venture into creating full-length books. One of our core services is helping turn leaders into consistent content creators, and over time, we started noticing a trend of clients asking if we could help them take the next step and write and publish their own books.

Without trying it first, we couldn’t answer that question truthfully. So we decided to test a process for writing a book on my co-founder, John Hall. The end result, “Top of Mind,” was published by McGraw-Hill and released in April.

By asking ourselves some important questions and detailing a plan in our documented content marketing strategy, we were able to transform our marketing team into a one-of-a-kind R&D department — and it’s already changed how we market and introduce new services to clients.

To turn marketing into a testing machine and create your agency’s own R&D team, start by asking yourself the following questions:

1) What exactly are we testing? 

This first step seems intuitive, but you might be surprised by how easy it is to jump into an exciting idea before nailing down exactly what your goals are. Are you testing a potential process for a brand-new service offering? Maybe you’re testing your team’s capacity?

When we set out to write our first book, our test was to determine whether our current content marketing teams had the skill sets required to produce it. The main goal was to learn whether we had the ability to create a book efficiently enough to make a profit and to explore how that process actually works.

This understanding of what you’re testing and why brings your marketing and leadership teams together and keeps them focused on your goals. With that foundation, marketing can begin transitioning into R&D to answer those driving questions.

2) How will we measure the success of our test? 

Just like you shouldn’t begin a content marketing program without matching your key metrics to goals, you shouldn’t start a test without understanding how you’ll measure its success.

For my agency, because our goal was to test whether we could efficiently and profitably create a book with our current team, we measured success by tracking how many hours each team member spent on the project. We also recorded details of the exact process we used so we’d understand how much it cost and what might need to change to make it work better for a client.

Success was measured by whether we could create and publish an awesome book and do so within a timeline and budget we thought clients would agree to.

3) What will expanding this test to clients look like? 

Imagine that your new R&D team tested this service, measured its results, and found that it achieved the goals set out from the beginning. Congratulations! Your next step, then, would be to go ahead and roll out this service offering to all clients, right?

Not yet.

When you test a new service internally, your team should constantly ask itself, “What would make this different for a client?” “How would a client respond differently than we do as the internal client?” and “What works better or worse for an external client?”

These kinds of questions will help your team avoid a stalling phase in which your test worked internally but you’re unsure what to do next. Instead, you’ll be able to expand this test to its next phase: select client testing.

This is critical because your R&D team will behave differently from your normal clients. Once you’re confident in your test and in your decision to move forward, consider rolling it out at a major discount to one client as a beta tester. This will help your team understand how actual clients interact with your new service and processes before you spend resources introducing it to every one of them.

Setting Up Your R&D and Client Services Teams for Success

Your marketing-team-turned-R&D-department will get into a groove after it’s got a test or two under its belt, and specific processes will evolve with each one. Still, there are a couple of best practices you should follow each time to set up your teams for continued success:

Track your time carefully. 

Regardless of your specific test goals, you need to know how much time you’re spending and what you’re investing in this research for two big reasons: to understand how much it costs your agency to test new services and to get an idea of what to charge your clients.

Be transparent with clients. 

When we signed on our first client to expand the book test, we told him directly that we’ve successfully completed one so far but that he’d only be the second project. We set up a system for collecting feedback and offered him a discount. Disguising your test as a totally normal full-fledged service won’t help your agency or your clients. Everyone needs to be clear that this is still a test so that expectations are realistic.

Introducing new services to your clients and trying out a new recipe aren’t exactly the same. But by giving your marketing team the resources and support to transform into your own R&D team, you might discover that the ideas and approaches that make testing successful aren’t all that different. So before you encourage clients to try your latest service, give it a try yourself.

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Source: How to Turn Your Marketing Team Into Your Agency's Best R&D Department
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

10 of the Best Ads from May: Hot Dogs, Rhinos, and an Accidental Viral Hit

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In May, agencies got creative with alternative advertising mediums.

While there were still plenty of traditional video and print ads on our radar, some crafty designers and copywriters turned to apps, bottled scents, modeling clay, and even an icy road trip to get their messages across. 

Among other things, this month’s roundup features an accidentally viral print ad, an unusual Tinder profile, and a pop-up travel agency that uses custom scents to encourage spur-of-the-moment excursions. Check them all out below.

10 of the Best Ads from May

1) Visit Sweden

In a clever stunt to generate some tourism buzz, the entire country of Sweden recently listed itself on Airbnb.

Gothenburg-based agency Forsman & Bodenfors (you might know them as the agency behind Volvo’s “Epic Split” ad) developed a stunning video to advertise the listing, showcasing Sweden’s natural beauty and explaining Allemansrätt — The Right of Public Access that enables Swedes and visitors to explore the countryside freely. 

 

2) Syoss

While most hair care ads depend on formulaic, slow-mo shots of unnaturally swishy, sparkly, CGI-enhanced hair, this new work for Syoss by walker Zurich highlights a hair dilemma most of us can actually relate to: where do you find the time to properly style your hair before your morning commute?

Laced with existential dread (and fabulous copywriting), the ad portrays harried commuters as helpless victims of lost time and bad hair. “With this film, we wanted to create something that was different to the usual mould that hair ads stick to,” Pius Walker, Creative Director at walker Zurich, said to Adweek. “We’re lucky enough to have a client who allows us to do this and push away from the conventional.”

 

3) Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Sudan is the last male Northern White Rhino on Earth, and he needs some help finding a mate. So naturally, he joined Tinder.

Since Sudan can’t mate under normal conditions, scientists at Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy need to raise money for research into Artificial Reproductive Techniques to help him breed through one of the 7,000 Southern White Rhinos currently in existence.

Ogilvy Africa launched a campaign around the effort, starting with signing Sudan up for a Tinder account. When users on the dating app swipe right to “match” with Sudan, they’ll be sent a link to donate money via the app’s messaging system. 

Chris Wall, Ogilvy’s late vice chairman who passed away earlier this month, was notably one of the writers on the viral campaign. 

 

4) Thalys

Particular smells can conjure vivid memories and stir up old emotions, but can they spur us to travel somewhere new? In this inspired campaign for French rail company Thalys, Paris-based agency Rosapark set out to bottle scents that captured the essence and energy of different European cities.

Thalys then set up a pop-up travel agency in a Brussels art gallery, inviting people to select trips on the spot based on their favorite bottled scents. The stunt is captured in the artful spot below.

 

5) Merck Consumer Health

In an effort to change the perception that you can’t learn new skills after a certain age, German pharmaceuticals company Merck Consumer Health teamed up with Ogilvy Italy to film this “social experiment” with parents of the Turin diving team. 

As the parents watch their children practice in the pool, they’re asked if they would ever take up diving themselves. Their responses are pretty unanimously: “I’m too old to start.”

Perfectly on cue, 79 year-old Pino Auber executes a perfect dive from the highest-platform, spurring applause from the parents. We learn that Auber didn’t start diving until age 57, setting the ad up for its main message: “Today we’re living longer. There’s always time for a first time.”

 

6) The Friars

Thanks to some seemingly lazy but actually ingenious copywriting, this simple ad for an English pub went viral in May after someone uploaded an image of it to photo-sharing website Imgur.

The ad features a text conversation between the owner of The Friars, a Bridgnorth-based pub, and designer Dave Blackhurst. At first glance, it looks like Blackhurts simply used a real conversation as the ad, but it turns out he cleverly fictionalized the whole thing. 

“The irony is I don’t have a smartphone, I have a Nokia C2, so it took me about three minutes to come up with the idea but a few hours to put it together with an online message generator and Photoshop,” Blackhurst said to a local paper, The Shropshire Star.

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Image Credit:
Tom Wysocki on Twitter

 

7) Oscar Mayer

In an effort to bring hotdogs to every remote corner of America, Oscar Mayer’s team of professional “Hotdoggers” (yes, this is their official title) hopped into the iconic Wienermobile and trundled off towards Whittier, Alaska.

The branded adventure, orchestrated by Mcgarrybowen, Olson Engage, and Starcom, was documented in the below film. Watch as the two Hotdoggers — Kayla and Franscico — heroically navigate precarious roads on their quest to bring nitrate-free joy to Whittier’s 220 citizens. 

The whole thing is like a fever-dream version of Ice Road Truckers — in a good way. 

 

8) Play-Doh

In honor of the company’s 60th birthday, Play-Doh teamed up with DBB Paris to create a series of epic, imaginative sculptures for use in a print and poster campaign. 

“I had written a series of headlines that each described one aspect of this world that is governed by the imagination and positive values,” Jean-François Bouchet, senior copywriter at DBB Paris, said to Adweek. “And with [senior art director Emmanuel Corteau], we thought it would be wonderful to actually hand-make the ads and be 100 percent in the DNA of the brand. We also wanted to speak both to parents and adults, who could each discover a multitude of details in each print and experience the excitement of a child in front of a Christmas shop window.”



Image via
Adland

 

9) Apple

In this charming, energetic spot from Apple, the iPhone 7 plus’ new Portrait Mode setting helps transform a quiet neighborhood barber shop into a popular destination.

When one of the barbers starts snapping professional-looking pictures of satisfied patrons and displaying them in the window, word quickly spreads — and pretty soon there’s a line around the block. The ad excels at showing how easy it is to use Portrait Mode, without boring us with the specific details. 

 

10) Alzheimer’s Research U.K. (in collaboration with Shazam)

To raise awareness for the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease, Alzheimer’s Research U.K. worked with agency Innocean Worldwide U.K. to create “The Day Shazam Forgot.”

The popular app, which can identify song names on the spot, started to temporarily “forget” the names of songs and artists. Once the app “remembered”, users would be directed to a page on Alzheimer’s awareness and encouraged to donate.

What were your favorite ads from May? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: 10 of the Best Ads from May: Hot Dogs, Rhinos, and an Accidental Viral Hit
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

How to Personalize Transactional Emails With Dynamic Content

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According to the latest Radicati report, the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received in 2017 is likely to reach 269 billion. And that number is expected to jump to 319.6 billion by 2021.

Email marketing isn’t going anywhere.

But there’s a big catch. With so many emails landing in our inboxes, there needs to be something unique about your emails so that you stand out from the crowd.

You’re probably already acutely aware of this, and have already started to incorporate personalized elements into your promotional emails.

But what about transactional emails?

Transactional emails are those triggered by a user interaction on your site, such as a purchase receipt or a delivery confirmation. Most companies don’t give too much thought to these types of messages, but they represent an important marketing opportunity to interact with your customers at their most engaged.

Research from IBM company Silverpop’s 2015 Email Marketing Benchmark Study found that transactional emails enjoy an average open rate of about 45%, compared to just 20.8% for non-transactional emails.

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Data source: IBM

The click-through rate for transactional emails also has a significant edge on other marketing emails at 10.4%, while the average CTR for non-transactional emails is 3.2%.

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Data source: IBM

So before you write off these messages as boring, think again. In fact, you can harness transactional emails to amplify your marketing efforts. Their potential is way beyond just welcoming a new subscriber or sending ecommerce-related updates.

What is a Transactional Email?

There’s a general perception that transactional emails are only sent after a customer has bought something from your website — an order confirmation email, order shipment email, order delivered email, etc.

In reality, transactional emails have a broader defintion.  A transactional email is a message sent to a subscriber because of a certain action they took on your website, such as visiting a particular page, signing up for blog updates, or abandoning a cart. 

Personalization in Transactional Emails

We all love to receive emails that are tailor made for us. And that is the reason why personalized campaigns help improve click-through rates by around 14% and conversions by 10%. We all know this is true for promotional emails, but few marketers have begun to further optimize their transactional emails with advanced personalization. 

As a general rule of thumb, your transactional emails should be 80% informational and 20% promotional. Transactional emails are intended to deliver important information, so you can’t compromise this with too much promotional content. The key is to give users the information they need and expect, and offer them a personalized next step to continue their journey with your company. 

To help you start harnessing the power of your transactional emails, we’ll take a look at three impressive examples of optimized and personalized transactional emails sent by real companies. Each example represents a different type of transactional interaction, enabling you to create messages that are extremely relevant to recipients and profitable for your business.

The Welcome Email

The welcome email is the first email you send to a person who has opted in to receive your emails, or someone who has made their first purchase on your website. As your first direct interaction with a user, the welcome email is an important chance to start things off on the right foot.

To help you gather data for a positive personalized experience, It’s important to ask for a few key pieces of information about your new subscriber at the time of sign up. The information can be used to tailor your welcome email to resonate with the subscribers.

If you have asked for their name, you can go ahead and open with a personalized greeting . Isn’t it natural to like someone saying “Hey Joe” rather than just a “Hey there”? If you have collected their zip code, providing local store information is also a good idea.   

Here’s a simple yet awesome welcome email from Upwork. They have made good use of the of the subscriber information they collected at sign-up. The global freelancing platform makes the person feel special with just a few simple, personalized lines.

They welcome Mike and provide all the information he needs to know to get acquainted with the platform. Prominent CTAs can be used to guide the user back to the website for more relevant info.

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The Purchase Email

After a customer makes a purchase, there are 3 types of emails that are usually triggered: order confirmation email, order shipment email and order delivered email.

We know none of these sound exciting, but they’re important to the customers who are waiting to know the status of their order and should thus be very important to marketers as well.

To interact with your customers at their most engaged, you should customize these emails with relevant content. Apart from the basic dynamic information of the order, you can make best use of upsell and cross-sell techniques, which direct users to content or products relevant to their purchase.

When someone purchases something from your website, you get an idea as to what kind of apparel they like or what kind of holiday destination they prefer. Dynamic content for these type of emails can be fetched on the basis of the customer’s current purchase, past purchase history or any other real-time interaction.   

It might seem a little dicey when it comes to recommending products, but if used carefully, recommendations have the potential to make a strong impact. After all, it costs 5 times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one.  Also, convincing your existing customers to buy from you is easier than convincing a new subscriber, isn’t it?

Make sure you do not bombard the customer with a big list of recommendations or they might soon lose interest in you or feel overwhelmed. Restraint on the number of suggested products serves to keep the customer engaged.

We love this purchase confirmation email from Teespring. It provides all the essential information about the order — which the subscriber needs to know. But they’ve also taken full advantage of relevant cross-sell opportunities, presenting the user with customized information about other products. 

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Cart Abandonment Email

It’s a nightmare for a business to see abandoned carts. But they exist in big numbers. According to a SalesCycle report, around 74.52% carts were abandoned in 2016.

But it is possible to recover some lost carts through email marketing. And personalization of cart abandonment emails makes things easier. Generally, when a subscriber receives relevant suggestions, they are more likely to take the desired action.

Lux-Fix.com, a fashion retail brand, implemented an email personalization program to get 85.7% rise in email conversion rates and a 136.2% rise in recovered sales from cart abandonment emails.

By personalizing the email with products the customer or prospective customer was looking for, you can create context and remind them about their interaction with your brand. Also, you need to make sure that when they click on a product image or description you send in your email, you take them to the exact product page on your website.  

Moreover, you can also cross-sell in this type of email. By giving color options of products they put into the cart or recommending similar products that they may like, you are actually broadening the horizon of your brand in more ways than one.   

You can also segregate the cart abandoners on the basis of what caused them to do so. By implementing your knowledge regarding shopping habits, stage of a particular subscriber’s journey, etc. we have a few ideas you can make use of:

  • First time visitor/ price-sensitive visitor:  a discount works the best
  • Those deterred by shipping cost: offer free shipping
  • If someone puts a product in the cart and it is out-of-stock: send an email when the product is back in stock

This email by MCM is an excellent example of cart abandonment emails. The top menu is in place and there’s a major focus on reminding the subscriber about what they left in the cart. Apart from all this, they have cross-sold well by adding some similar products that the subscriber may like.   

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Don’t Forget Your Transactional Emails

Personalization plays an important role in increasing the probability of your email campaign’s success. While personalization often gets limited to just promotional emails, it’s important to consider personalization options in your transactional emails as well to improve open and click-through rates.

Customized transactional emails can perform even better with this targeted approach.  

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Source: How to Personalize Transactional Emails With Dynamic Content
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Marketers, This Is the Best Way to Truly Serve a Nonprofit

We all want to do good in the world. Agencies have a strong tradition of taking on pro bono work for nonprofits — this sometimes means designing a logo or creating a brochure; other times it’s sponsoring an event, or even just simply offering advice.

Those things serve an immediate need, but they don’t necessarily make a lasting impact.

If you want to make a substantial difference, dive deeper: Adopt a nonprofit for one year, and treat it like a paying client. It’s a mutually beneficial strategy: The nonprofit gets high-quality attention and resources, and the agency gets an infusion of positive exposure.

How Agencies Can Serve Non-Profits

Finding a Great Match

There are thousands of amazing organizations out there — choosing just one is difficult. To select a nonprofit that will benefit from your services, send out an application that asks organizations to explain their mission and goals.

One requirement of your adoption should be that your agency will make a quarterly presentation to the nonprofit’s board, updating them on progress and next steps. Why does this matter? Because community and business leaders tend to be active in the nonprofit scene, so the potential connections could prove invaluable.

When making your selection, consider each nonprofit’s board membership. Does the board include individuals who would be beneficial for your agency to get in front of? Any potential business prospects? The nonprofit itself probably won’t be able to hire your agency after the yearlong adoption, but if you can score just one client from its board, that’s a great return on investment.

Partnering with a nonprofit benefits your agency beyond the bottom line. According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, nearly two-thirds of CEOs are increasing their corporate social responsibility efforts, in part in pursuit of intangible benefits such as bolstered consumer trust. Studies have shown that workplace philanthropy initiatives improve employee morale, increase motivation, and boost the company’s reputation among employees. It will also improve your agency’s reputation and broaden its exposure.

Begin the relationship like you would with any other client. Take the nonprofit through your discovery process to learn everything you can about what it’s trying to accomplish, the resources it has available, what’s worked for the organization in the past, and what’s been challenging.

An All-Around Win

When you adopt a nonprofit for a year, you change its trajectory. My agency has been doing this for more than a decade, and we’ve never had a nonprofit say we didn’t make a difference.

Just taking nonprofits through our discovery process points them in a better direction. We help them articulate their message. We force them to get clear about who they are, what they do, who they help, and what they need from the community to deliver those services. 

How can you make the biggest impact? Help nonprofits create events or improve upon them. For instance, one nonprofit we adopted held an annual event that brought in $25,000. We revamped the soiree, and it now nets more than $300,000 each year. Talk about a sustainable, lasting difference.

Adopting a nonprofit is, of course, about leveraging your resources to do good, but there’s no reason why you can’t get some traction out of the initiative, too. Once you make your selection, send out a news release. Throughout the year, report on your progress and what your partnership has accomplished.

5 Steps for Making a Big Difference

Any work you do for a nonprofit helps it carry out its mission. But to maximize the good your agency does, take these five steps.

1) Create your adoption plan.

Drum up a PR plan for how to get the word out to nonprofits about your adoption initiative. Press releases work well — it’s a feel-good story, so the local media will usually be more than happy to spread the information. Consider calling up your local United Way and asking it to notify the nonprofits it serves.

2) Select the nonprofit.

Use specific criteria to select the perfect nonprofit for your agency. The organization should align with your company culture and champion a cause you and your team care about. Also, consider what difference you’ll be able to make in both the short and long term — even if your team is passionate about a cause, it won’t be a good partnership if there’s not much of an impact to be made.

3) Align with the proper vendors.

In some cases, the nonprofit may have needs that go beyond your agency’s skill set. If that’s the case, it helps to have a network of vendors you can call on to join the cause. These vendors can include audio companies, videographers, web developers, photographers, or others.

4) Treat the nonprofit like it’s a paying client.

The discovery process is essential for figuring out what the nonprofit needs. Learn what resources it has available and what its team can take care of. Think through what you can do for the nonprofit, as well as any skills or strategies you can add to its toolbox so it can sustain the marketing strategy year after year.

5) Keep the process going.

If you’re doing things right, word will get out about your nonprofit work. Be sure to maintain a spot on your website to outline your initiative, share news, and provide the application for other organizations to apply next year. Make sure the application deadline remains the same year after year so nonprofits always know when to apply.

If you want to truly make a difference, adopt a nonprofit for a year. The organization and the community it serves will benefit, your agency will get great exposure, and, if you do it right, you’ll net some new clients along the way. It’s good for business, and it’ll make you feel good, too.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

9 Reasons Your Marketing Agency's Retainers Aren't Bigger

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I’ve seen the inside of hundreds of marketing agencies over more than a decade, including my own.   

Most marketing agencies struggle to generate recurring revenue. Many suffer through the ups and downs of the cash-flow roller-coaster because they never make the switch to recurring-revenue engagements.

Some inch their way to consistency by securing one, two, and three thousand dollar per month engagements. But, those low fees aren’t usually enough to justify much work, and after failing to make a big impact on their client’s business, they get fired after 6 months or a year.

On the flip side, I’ve also had the opportunity to see many agencies prosper as they’ve secured bigger and bigger clients that stick with them for years. When I met Stream Creative (now a Platinum HubSpot Partner) in 2010 at HubSpot’s INBOUND event, they told me they had no recurring revenue. Every year I’d ask them, “How much revenue is from recurring contracts now?” Every year, their percentage would go up. Last year, their response was, “All of our clients start as retainers, and now we add projects on top of that.”

I have hundreds of stories like this. This kind of success continues to fuel me in my mission to help agencies grow their recurring revenue. It’s why I started HubSpot’s agency partner program in 2008, and why I’ve launched an agency partner program at my new company, Databox.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of some common dumb moves that prevent agencies from winning new retainers, landing bigger ones, or losing those precious few ongoing contracts — and what to do instead.

9 Reasons Your Retainers Aren’t Bigger

1) Your Own Marketing Sucks

You wouldn’t hire a dentist with rotten teeth or hire an account who has filed bankruptcy 6 times over.

So why the hell would a company hire an agency that doesn’t prioritize their own marketing?

I’m not going to lecture you on how to do this. If you don’t know how to market your own business, you have bigger problems.

But if you want to start winning more, get more at bats by doing inbound, internet marketing.

If you need some inspiration, follow the lead of Impact Branding, a HubSpot Diamond Partner who now gets more than a quarter million visitors to their site every month. “We’ve grown from two to thirty-two people and the majority of our clients have found us through our online marketing,” said Bob Ruffolo, Owner of IMPACT. “The smartest decision I made as a startup agency was to dedicate time to it and when we were bigger, to dedicate a full time person to it.”

2) Your Clients Are More Tech-Savvy Than You

Marketing technology is a given these days. Clients expect you to have expertise in the software products they’ve chosen.

When I ran my own little agency, marketing software was pretty new. Google Analytics, Moz, and Constant Contact were really the only well-known tools. There was such a lack of tools, we often edited websites with Notepad and configured our own email server for sending email campaigns.

 When I joined HubSpot in 2007, web content management systems were still pretty new and HubSpot was really just a blogging platform with some keyword research tools and a form builder built into it. Today, HubSpot is a full marketing and sales growth stack that makes it possible to execute a multi-channel marketing campaign. And at Databox, our average paying customer visualizes key performance indicators from more than five different tools.

You need to be a tech-step ahead of your prospects.

3) You Aren’t Aligned with Marketing Technology Vendors

Marketing technology isn’t just a fact of life you must adapt to. It’s a massive business development opportunity for agencies.

Here’s why: marketing technology is booming. Investors have been putting billions of dollars behind marketing technology companies (known as martech) and it’s cousin, salestech, for more than a decade now. There are a bunch of marketing technology companies generating hundreds of millions of dollars — and a few generating more than a billion dollars in annual revenue. In fact, marketers are expected to spend more than $120 Billion over the next 10 years.

Where do you think they’re investing all that money? They are putting much of it into marketing and sales, or what they like to call it: customer acquisition. In fact, they’re putting more into sales and marketing than they make in many cases, as investors continue to put money behind them and their unprecedented growth curves.

When I started HubSpot’s agency program, partnerships between martech companies and agencies was a pretty new idea. But, today, most of these companies have agency partner programs. And the benefits of partnering are great for agencies.

In addition to earning commission when you resell their products, you can also do co-marketing to generate leads, buddy up with their sales teams to get referrals, and market and sell your expertise directly to their install base. In other words, you can leverage their customer acquisitions machines to generate new clients for you.

If you pursue these partnerships to help you win new clients, you can’t fake your way through it, though. First assign someone from within your agency to identify, learn and drive adoption of new software programs.

“Clients hire us because of our experience identifying and using technology to improve their marketing and sales results. They’ve come to depend on us for evaluating new technology and presenting new opportunities to them. Even though HubSpot is a broad “all-in-one” marketing and sales platform, our average client uses more than 5 pieces of software integrated with it,” said Elyse Meyer, owner of Prism Global Marketing Solutions. Her firm won HubSpot’s Integrations Innovations Award for leveraging HubSpot and other software that is integrated with HubSpot to drive client results.  

Maybe you’re just not that into technology, though, and this doesn’t feel natural. If for no other reason, do it for the leads. “Not only do our clients get better results, but we get more opportunities with larger companies that are looking for a tech-savvy agency that can focus on their business holistically,” Meyer added.

And if you’re clinging to your “We’re technology agnostic” line, stop it. Like any other personal or business relationship, the benefits of picking a mate are greater than going it alone. Plus, I usually find that technology-agnostic agencies are actually just technology-ignorant. I bet your prospects will make the same conclusion.

4) You Look and Sound Like Everyone Else

If you work at an agency and you haven’t read Blair Enns, “Win Without Pitching Manifesto“, you are doing yourself a disservice. He says it as concisely as possible:

The world does not need another generalist design firm. There are enough full service advertising agencies and marketing communication firms. The world is drowning in undifferentiated creative businesses. What the world needs, what the better clients are willing to pay for, and what our people want to develop and deliver, is deep expertise. Expertise is the only valid basis for differentiating ourselves from the competition. Not personality. Not process. Not price. It is expertise and expertise alone that will set us apart in a meaningful way and allow us to deal with our clients and prospects from a position of power.

As I was building HubSpot’s agency program, Enns and fellow agency luminaries David Baker and Tim Williams started warning me that the sheer volume of HubSpot partners marketing themselves with the same message and the same tactics will soon make them all look like a commodity.

And even though demand for inbound-certified practitioners still outweighs supply, inbound agencies do tell me they are being shopped around more and more and under-cut by new entrants all the time.

But this doesn’t mean your agency shouldn’t do inbound marketing. Inbound is an unstoppable movement driven by buyer’s interest in self-educating, self-serving, and ultimately, being served better.

What it does mean is that you must differentiate yourself by establishing an expertise no one else can match in another way. A great example of this is TREW Marketing, an inbound marketing agency and HubSpot partner that helps companies market to engineers. But they don’t market to all kinds of engineers. They’ve specialized even further than that. They focus on working with specific types of manufacturing companies like control and automation companies, embedded semiconductor solutions, and just two other specialties that I (nor you, probably) will understand even if I name them.

Here’s an excerpt from their website: “TREW helps design and embedded companies generate demand for their wireless chips, reconfigurable FPGAs, UI development software, and electronic control solutions (to name a few!) in this rapidly changing space.” Find another agency with that on their website. Go ahead, I dare you. They even wrote the book on inbound marketing to engineers.

“By focusing on these niche markets, we bring our collective knowledge of what works to each client, making it a win-win for both agency and client,” explains Rebecca Geier of TREW Marketing. “Not only can we serve them better than anyone else because we understand their products, markets and technical buyer, we can do it faster and more effectively than any other agency. Based on our knowledge and relevant experience with similar industries, we can help them create a differentiated position, develop content engineers are seeking, and drive conversions to fuel demand and business growth.”

5) You’re Trying to Be All Things to All People

Most agencies are small. According to Digiday, “Two thirds of advertising agencies in the U.S. employ fewer than five people.”

There is no way you can be an expert at everything. Instead, partner with firms who are truly experts at things and focus your own resources on developing one or two core competencies.

“Thousands of HubSpot customers use our website templates. We’ve worked with hundreds of them one-on-one to lower their Cost per Customer Acquisition with Conversion Rate Optimization.” said Joe Jerome, owner of Brand Builder Solutions. “Not only does our efficiency allow us to beat the competition on price, but we’re continuously investing in our processes and systems around this type of work.”

I personally know several other agencies who outsource their work to Jerome’s team because his quality is high and because he stays in his lane. He doesn’t offer the kind of services his agency partners do. Therefore, agencies trust him not to steal their clients. And Jerome is often in a position to refer agencies work too.

Find partners who are experts at one or two things, and be more like them too by building your own deep expertise in one or two things.

6) You’re Not Using Data To Justify Investments

Marketing results are more predictable today than they’ve ever been. It’s not an exact science, but over time, more and more things have become measurable.

Just a few years ago, it was possible only to measure CTR of paid ads and not ultimate conversion rates. Now that’s easy. As technology continues to advance, marketing and sales activities will become even more measurable and improvable based on data.

And if you’ve been doing digital marketing correctly, you know the longer you work with a client, the more data you can collect, and the better you can predict the outcome of future marketing activities.

When you’re starting out a relationship, it’s hard to predict how much value or ROI you can deliver. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, though.

According to a survey we ran at Databox, most agencies use data in their sales process sometimes, but only 30% require their clients to give them access to data every time. In addition to putting forth a more relevant and customized proposal to the client, there must be a reason these agencies always request access. Maybe they close deals more often because they do?

Here’s how they do it …

Without even asking for anything from your prospect, you can use tools like HubSpot’s website grader to evaluate issues with a prospect’s website or competitor grader to evaluate how they compare against their competition. You can use a tool like SEMRush to evaluate ways to increase organic search traffic.

Don’t stop there. If the prospect has Google Analytics setup, ask for access so you can evaluate issues and find improvement opportunities. If they’re already using tools like HubSpot or Databox, ask for access to those, so you can look for opportunities deeper in the funnel.

If you want to make this process systematic, consider developing standardized report templates for your agency that allow you to quickly view the data the way you want to view it, like HubSpot Platinum partner, FullFunnel did, “We’ve created templates for our core funnel metric reports that make it even easier and quicker to roll out new reports to new clients and prospects.”

By doing this in your sales process, you’ll demonstrate your approach to data-driven marketing and set the stage for using data to justify future investments too.

7) Despite Your Claims, You’re Not Actually Data-Driven

All digital agencies say they’re data-driven. But, do you really use data to adapt your marketing plans? Did you do it once a long time ago for one client or do you make data-driven decisions every day for every client? Do you adapt your marketing mix for each client each month based on the performance of the campaigns you ran? Do you tweak your campaigns or content calendar to ensure you hit client goals each week? Do you tweak ad campaigns and social promotion daily as you gather data in real-time?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, you’re a rarity.

Most agencies I’ve interviewed cut and paste some data into a KPI scorecard, send it off to the client and call it a month. Or worse, they cut and paste some screen grabs from a few different tools into a powerpoint presentations, add a few sentences of interpretation and email it off to the client each quarter.

These agencies are treating “reporting” as a thing they have to do to cover their ass.

What makes this pro-active really shameful, this is not how most data-driven agencies sell themselves. Many of these same agencies set numeric marketing goals with prospects during the sales process, but don’t hold themselves accountable to achieving them. They might revisit the goals at their quarterly review, but most don’t ever re-visit them.

Don’t get me wrong. Most agencies do produce results and are able to show a lot of “up and to the right” graphs to clients. But, they could be doing much better if they adapted client marketing plans more frequently.  

There are a few agencies that do this right. Some agencies have established consolidated near-real-time views of marketing data from different sources and made these views accessible via all devices to clients and all agency employees. By making it easy to monitor data against the goals set, monthly reporting almost becomes unnecessary and marketing results can be incrementally improved.

I know a few agencies who even use mobile, slack and email alerts to let software monitor when issues arise or when goals are unlikely to be achieved. Like a software company monitors when their software or servers are down, these marketers are receiving alerts when specific metrics aren’t where they need to be. Then, they’re adapting their activities to ensure achievement of the goal.

That is what it means to be a data-driven, agile marketing agency.  

Need a system for this? Read HubSpot Diamond Partner, Kuno Creative’s process for visualizing and monitoring sales and marketing data.

8) You Are Too Focused on Top of the Marketing Funnel Services

There are not enough agencies that know how to grow sales for their clients.

I’m not suggesting you should stop building or re-designing websites, ignore search engine optimization, or social media marketing, but at a minimum, you need to be able to connect those efforts to sales.

To do that in a B2B or high-ticket B2C client, you need to serve the sales leader as much as you serve marketing. Marketing is essentially a support function for sales, so it’s ludicrous that an agency wouldn’t.

In the early days of HubSpot, we taught agencies how to generate leads for clients, which certainly helped turn top of the funnel results into client revenue. Then, as marketing automation became popular, generating qualified sales leads became the norm.

Today, generating qualified leads is no longer good enough. Agencies need to help drive CRM usage, align sales and marketing goals and messaging and enable sales teams with training and content for use during the sales process.

Many agencies have told me they’ve doubled their retainer sizes by offering sales enablement services. Other than the fact they have no reason to lie to me, I believe them. Why? Enabling a sales team is a time-consuming activity when done right. And it is a very quick return on investment when done right too. In one case, an agency reported they created a “a more stable pipeline and consistent flow of opportunities” just be getting the sales team to send out a sequence of pre-written templated emails to one additional prospect per day.

9) You Aren’t Introducing New Ideas to Clients

Typically, companies hire agencies because (a) they don’t think they can execute on certain concepts in-house or (b) because the same old stuff isn’t working as well as it once did.

It’s an enviable position to be in where clients are expecting you to pitch them new things. Most companies are expected to just do what they’re hired to do.

If your agency isn’t introducing new ideas to clients, you’re not only failing to deliver on expectations, you’re squandering an opportunity to retain and grow your client accounts.

Don’t have ideas of your own? Leverage technology to find opportunities for improvement. LeadG2, a HubSpot Platinum Partner leveraged SeventhSense, a send-time personalization solution, to do just that. Email marketing is an extremely important marketing channel for many of their clients, and they were at a loss on how to improve deliverability, opens, and click-through rates. By using SeventhSense to send emails to individual recipients based on the recipient’s activity profile, they achieved “a 26% Increase in open rate, 141.38% increase in read rate, and a reduction in hard bounces to almost zero.”

There are plenty of technology companies with clever ways to help your clients grow traffic, leads, and sales. Don’t feel like you have to figure it out all on your own.

Do These Things to Land Bigger Retainers

Most agencies really struggle to grow. The most common blocker I’ve seen is they take on project after unprofitable project.

While conventional ‘marketing agency’ wisdom says you need to go upstream to get bigger retainers, my work with HubSpot partners proves you can get bigger retainers from small and mid-sized businesses too. Sure, it helps to go upstream and you can gradually move upstream if you want. But, don’t fool yourself into thinking you need to go out and miraculously land big clients to get there.

Instead, stop making the mistakes above. Alternatively, start doing the things below.

  • Commit to consistently doing great marketing for yourself
  • Get tech-savvy
  • Partner with marketing technology companies
  • Differentiate yourself from all other agencies
  • Become an expert at one or two things
  • Use data to convince prospects to hire you and clients to pay you more.
  • Use real-time data to improve the results you deliver and ensure you hit goals that are meaningful to your clients.
  • Offer down-funnel services like CRM setup and sales enablement in order to deliver and prove ROI more easily and more convincingly.
  • Always be introducing new ideas to existing clients

Start doing all of these things and I guarantee you’ll never have cash flow problems again. Instead, you’ll start growing revenue and profit consistently. Oh yeah — and you’ll have bigger retainers too.   

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Source: 9 Reasons Your Marketing Agency's Retainers Aren't Bigger
blog.hubspot.com/marketing