The Inbound Agency 6-Pack - Inaugural Edition

Here are 6 great recent posts about Inbound Agencies and Inbound Marketing from all over the web (along with a little bit of commentary). If you are an agency and enjoy Inbound Marketing, these are for you. Enjoy the 6-Pack responsibly!

1. 7 Reasons Why Blogging is Failing to Generate Leads for So Many Marketing Agencies by Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion

Is your agency blog doing much? If not, Marcus Sheridan provides some no-holds-barred reasons why -- and lays out a prescription that goes beyond the normal remedies.

"Unbelievably High CSI: Some of you have heard me talk about CSI before. In marketing terms, this stands for “Content Saturation Index,” and it is at the core as to why so many of these agency blogs are failing. Think about it for a second: How many blogs are there about marketing and social media? The number is in the thousands, which means in order for someone to rise above the noise, they have to do some pretty amazing things. Furthermore, with the CSI being so high, Search Engine Optimization is extremely difficult in this industry. With everyone targeting prevalent keyword phrases, garnering organic traffic and rankings isn’t easy to come by, and can be incredibly frustrating as well...read more."

2. 7 Useful Tips From Real B2B Brands On Using Social Media To Drive Sales by Rohit Bhargava, Influential Marketing Blog

Are you selling the ROI of social media selling - or trying to? Real-life stories sell and in this article Rohit Bhargava shares real life B2B social selling success stories presented at the B2B Corporate Social Media Summit.

"The summit featured brand speakers from SAP, 3M, Citi, Steelmaster, Sage, United Pacific and many other large brands. Throughout the first day, many of them shared some unique insights about what social selling really means and how to use those lessons to drive sales. Here is a recap of some of the most memorable ideas from the first day of the summit...

In one of the most powerful case studies of the day, Michelle Wickum, Director of Marketing from Steelmaster shared a story of how her pre-fabricated steel structure manufacturer was struggling with a 49% decrease in lead volume and 39% sales decline. She worked to adopt a more content-centric strategy and used that content to answer key customer questions and grow engagement. In her industry and category, this was a strategy no other competitor was using … which allowed Steelmaster to dramatically grow its share of voice. Ultimately, the combination of her content and focus on social media helped result in a 92% increase in lead volume and 79% increase in sales revenue. When asked how much social media actually contributed to that figure, and whether she was able to measure that impact, she shared that she was, and between 30% and 40% of the turnaround could be attributed DIRECTLY to social media...read more"

3. 5 Powerful Tips a Marketing Agency Can Use to Target Vertical by David Weinhaus, Inbound Agency Selling Blog

Inspired in part by Marcus Sheridan's post referenced above, this post speaks to agencies who want to pick up momentum by focusing in on specific industry niches and provides practical tips to doing so.

"Recently one of the Hubspot Partners I work with asked a great question. "Are most Inbound
Agencies focused across industries or are they focused on a single industry?" He followed up that he is having trouble deciding which vertical his firm should go after. Let's break it down.

Question #1: Do most successful Inbound Marketing Agencies focus on all industries or a single industry?

What matters is not what most agencies do but the right approach for your agency. An agency needs to start somewhere. If you are a web designer with a large list of past customers that might invest sufficiently in online marketing, start there. If your strength is in local business and that is where you want to stay, then start there with Inbound Networking.

If however, you are building out an agency and want to go after mid-size clients who can invest in marketing, I strongly suggest targeting verticals. It doesn't have to be your whole strategy, but should be at least part. This blog post is not about why to go after verticals... This article is about how to go after them...read more"

How much should B2B growth-oriented companies spend on marketing as a percent of gross sales? 1%? 5%? 15%? I have my opinion-what is yours?  on the LinkedIn Hubspot Partners Forum

In this post (membership required - available to Hubspot Partners and prospective partners), a Partner asks...

"How much should B2B growth-oriented companies spend on marketing as a percent of gross sales? 1%? 5%? 15%? I have my opinion-what is yours?  [and from one response out of many]...we spend significantly more than 5%. You would discredit yourself if you suggested 5% w/out asking the right questions first. Why would any company throttle marketing investment if it provides a clear return? Instead, I'd provide a framework for determining the appropriate investment.How much traffic do they get? How fast can it be grown?... What is their lead to visitor ratio? How much can it be improved? What is ave sales per customer? What is cost of customer acquisition? What is lifetime value? Is LTV/COCA high enough compared to competition? How much money do they have in the bank? How much can they/do they want to raise? How big is the addressable market? I think the question most inbound marketing agencies should ask is, "Should you spend your next $x dollars on marketing to create greater demand?"...read more"

The Web Design Business is Dead by Pete Caputa, Collaborative Growth Network

In this provocative piece, Pete Caputa argues that the web design business (or at least how it has traditionally  existed) is not much longer for this earth - and what to do about it.

"I know that "the web design business is dead" is a pretty dramatic statement. For the record, I don't think it's dead. I think it's going through a major transformation that most web design companies won't survive.

I did a search a little while ago on a yellow pages site and there are 28,402 companies categorized under "web site design" and 41,498 companies categorized under "web sites". This, of course, doesn't include the many small 1-5 person web design businesses who are too cheap to list themselves in the directory or smart enough not to waste their money on it. Then, there are the marketing and ad agencies that have gotten into website design, but still call themselves agencies.

There's a ridiculous amount of companies doing website design. Further, if the number of web designers that download HubSpot's free internet marketing resources are any indication, there are probably 100s of thousands of people or companies that call themselves web designers in the US. A full 15% of our leads are some kind of web or marketing agency. The industry is completely saturated. Most of them won't admit it in public (many have admitted it to me in private), but websites that used to get built for $100k are going for $50k, $50k for $25k and the standard $5k small business website is now getting built for $2,500 by someone's nephew...read more"

6. Minimum Activity Levels for Inbound Marketing ROI by John McTigue, Kuno Creative

Number 6 in the 6-Pack is an oldie but a goodie. In August of 2011, Kuno Creative laid out the thought behind their pricing and service matrix. So many other Inbound Agencies have modeled this structre, I've lost count. You can argue some with some of the specifics (in fact Kuno's pricing has evolved since this post) but it is pretty hard to argue with the framework.

"One of the most common questions we hear from clients and other inbound marketing agencies is "how much effort do we need to generate positive return on investment from inbound marketing?" Clients want to know how much to budget and when to expect to achieve their business goals. Agencies want to know how much to charge their clients and what resources are required to get the job done.....read more."

Thanks for the checking out the 6-Pack. For more Inbound Agency related articles, subscribe to my Inbound Agency Selling Blog.  

photo credit: J. Skilling

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