Do you know where your last lead came from? While the basics of lead generation remain the same, new technology and methodology is changing the way agencies gather leads for their clients and forcing them to assess their own lead gen strategies. With the market being as saturated as it is, marketers are doubling their efforts at measuring the success of their lead generation campaigns to create processes that they know work for them and their audience.
Agencies have the added pressure of finding their own leads on top of building fresh and unique strategies for their clients.
Here’s how 18 top digital agencies craft their lead generation strategies for themselves and their clients, and more importantly, how they measure the success of their efforts.
At Dauntless Agency, they don’t need to run lead generation campaigns because 100% of their leads are referral based, but that doesn’t mean they still don’t need to measure internal KPI’s to track growth.
“We measure the total impact versus our growth curve. Our clients are large, and we’re not a traditional agency,” explains Josh Chesney, CEO of Dauntless Agency. Our campaigns for our clients are more of a digital transform at the enterprise level. We create internal and external platforms to help optimize and restructure their marketing campaigns so that the business can market itself and become more profitable.”
For the past 2-3 years, WebDigital has generated nearly all of their leads from referrals from current and past clients, but, as a digital agency, they continue to run lead generation campaigns for their clients.
“To help them generate leads we use a combination of Google AdWords and Facebook Ad Campaigns,” explains Mihai Alexandru Andrei of WebDigital. “To generate leads for ourselves is a little more complex than for our clients because we have multiple tactics that we apply including Google Adwords and Facebook ads for ourselves, and articles in different publications in Romania for our clients.”
They’ve found the direct marketing approach to be the most successful for them, but different moments in agency life require different marketing tactics to work well, making it essential to recognize that what works now might not necessarily work long-term or in the future.
The Participation Agency
The Participation Agency doesn’t use a lot of technology when it comes to generating their leads. Instead, they look for brands that align with them and use old-school techniques like phone calls and meetings to build those relationships.
“We are very into targeted networking,” says Ruthie Schulder, Co-Founder, and President of The Participation Agency. “Mostly what we do is roll out platforms that become a calling card for the agency.”
Concerning projects, they track metrics via impressions, product feedback, their product in the hands of consumers and what products are more successful and revenue-driven to determine success.
Danielle Perras, Communications Specialist at Community Agency recognizes that there’s no one way to generate leads that performs definitively above all the rest. At least not at their agency.
“We’re midsize, so we don’t do traditional SEO. We create organic traffic by updating our website and posting on Instagram to showcase our creative process and the final product,” says Danielle. “But we don’t overly brand ourselves We may run paid ads once in a while, but we grow our company through word of mouth, winning awards, publishing articles and building on referrals.”
Community Agency emphasizes the idea that all of their efforts work together to help show off the different types of thinking they’re able to bring to the table. They pride themselves in approaching things in a holistic creative manner and not a cookie-cutter strategy that they expect to work every time.
As with most campaigns, Street Toolz creates lead generation strategies specifically tailored for their clients and are dependent on the type of campaign they are running. For their own services, its the same ball game.
“When you work with a diversity of clients, it’s difficult to pin down the most successful techniques,” says Elcee McEdwards CCO at Street Toolz. “It’s usually a combination of different strategies, ranging from A/B testing to remarketing, to using ads to target competitors customers.”
With any campaign, it’s important to remember that trial and error must exist to find out what works and what doesn’t. Every client and every agency will have their own challenges reaching their audience and taking a fresh and holistic look at each campaign is key to finding success for themselves and their clients.
You can try to identify the approach for lead generation before beginning research, but in a world as competitive as digital marketing, the research component is key to finding top opportunities, according to Ryan Flannagan, CEO at Nuanced Media.
“For growth and profitability, you have to look at whole sales funnel; from attraction to lead generation to repeat customers,” says Ryan. “If you do that well, and create valuable content that addresses your audiences pains points and nurtures them over time, they’ll start to see you as a thought leader that they want to do business with.”
Ryan agrees that measuring success in lead generation campaigns all depends on the type of client and the type of campaign.
“In B2B campaigns we can easily find an existing prospect list and start targeting them top of the funnel on social media, then we start reaching out with value ad pieces,” adds Ryan. “From that point then we continue to give them value and nurture the lead until we close and can call it a win.”
Like most agency, Index practices lead generation for their clients as well as for themselves. Regarding their own lead generation, the way they approach is by first segmenting the target into personas, defined as either influencers or decision makers.
“Each person will have his own campaign, which is based on a multi-channel approach, meaning we will try to reach each persona on a multitude of sources,” says Jeremy Easterbrook, President of Research and Development at Index. “Those sources being defined as the channel(s) or the platform(s) where the persona will be reached in the first place, then we will bring this persona/prospect down our conversion funnel toward the ultimate conversion, in our case a form of a call or a form sent to us, which is then picked up by the sales department.”
They separate their multi-channel approach into two kinds of campaigns: notoriety and acquisition. Facebook, for instance, will be used more as notoriety channels; Google AdWords and website optimization will be used to generate organic traffic.
To determine the success of their methods, they look metrics of each channel, often finding that people coming from organic (the results of their SEO efforts) tend to have a more prolonged engagement on the site and will end up converting at a higher rate.
While it’s the most successful strategy regarding channels, they also can’t rely only on one source and need to use a mix-marketing approach. Even though a client can come organically, they make it a point to stay aware that most visitors will convert only after 5 or 6 visits.
“Indeed, sometimes the original visit will come from organic but we will retarget visitors on Facebook for instance, and it will only be after few times of touching points with them, that they will finally convert. It has to be a mix-marketing approach to get a good conversion rate overall,” adds Jeremy.
Yesmail has a lead generation strategy that is almost entirely rooted in content that’s informed by their experience in the marketing space and their history of helping their clients.
“We believe in providing something of value to our prospects and clients in exchange for their information – strategic guides, data reports, design lookbooks, industry case studies and much more,” shares Ivy Shtereva, Vice President of Marketing at Yesmail.
They’ve found content marketing to be the most useful source of lead generation success for them. Since they have established themselves as industry thought leaders, clients don’t feel taken advantage of when they follow up. Most other strategies involve more of an inorganic stream of communication and content marketing bridges that disconnect very effectively.
When working on strategic campaigns for Acura, Rhythm Agency put their efforts into what they refer to as ‘interception’ campaigns – creating and delivering valuable organic and paid content to get into the consideration set, engage audiences and generate quality leads. They take a holistic view of the customer journey and design funnels implementing YouTube ad campaigns, PPC, SEO optimized video content on YouTube, etc. – making sure their branded-keyword strategy was optimized to deliver the right content to consumers along their purchase path.
“When we sit down with a client, it starts with business goals and what pieces are going to help meet goals,” explains Kristin Bush, Director of Marketing at Rhythm Agency. “Then we make sure they have the infrastructure, which is a crucial component for us to ensure success.”
It’s also important to note that, while they’ve found success using videos to generate leads, dedicated landing pages tied to targeted email campaigns is one of the most successful strategies for many clients.
“Email not going away,” says Kristin. “It’s still the most cost-effective, delivers best results, and allows brands to send the messages their audience wants to hear.”
Email is also a tried and true way to get prospective customers into the funnel and nurture them for future sales.
With a lead gen strategy primarily driven by existing relationships and category and discipline expertise, creative agency BFG focuses on areas that they know they excel in.
“We differentiate ourselves and position creativity as our secret weapon,” says Scott Seymour, Chief Creative Officer, and VP at BFG. “We can show potential clients how to create a fresh approach to their business and inspire them around what’s possible by activating specific opportunities and focusing on key areas.”
When working with clients who want to build an audience, speaking the same language as the leads you’re targeting is also important.
There are a lot of ways to engage people online. At Advantage, they believe that consumer passions (ie., sports, entertainment, lifestyle interests, causes) are what fuels the entire process of connecting with an audience.
“As an agency, we are in the sponsorship and brand experience arena,” explains Tom Haidinger, President of Advantage, a sponsorship and brand experience agency. “That means we help our clients achieve their goals (usually lead generation) using the currency of consumer passions.”
Their breakthrough in what they do for their clients is to resonate with consumers, whether it’s the general public or a B2B setting, by holding conferences, thought leadership seminars or other onsite events that create engagement and promote passion as their priority.
“For lead generation – when you get past the semantics and engagement, we find an integrated approach serves the purpose, surrounding the consumer with multiple touch points,” says Tom.
TPG – The Pedowitz Group
When approaching a new lead generation campaign, The Pedowitz Group tends to work backward from business goals.
“We first look at what is the total revenue at any given moment and work back coming from there versus starting from scratch to find new ways to acquire leads,” explains Kevin Joyce, CMO at The Pedowitz Group. “Working our way from the bottom of the funnel lets us more easily align ourselves with the overall strategy of the client. company with whom we’re working with.”
They’ve found that while working backward is useful, there’s no one way to find success in these types of campaigns.
For existing customers of clients, focusing on creating upsells to nurture the leads, along with content to promote thought leadership, like webinars, catches prospects in their buying journey and allows them to monitor customer behavior to use as research for future campaigns.
At AND Agency, their team uses a software package that can help manage the process in terms of cold leads, but the remainder of their new business comes almost exclusively from referrals and word-of-mouth.
“Since we work on large projects with large organizations, credibility has significant meaning. We rely on our word-of-mouth leads since our existing customers can vouch for our credibility and reliability,” says Adam Kamieniak, President & CEO at AND Agency.
To measure the success of their campaigns, AND uses Salesforce, which they believe to be an industry standard in real-time reporting and to see what’s coming down the pipeline.
What3Words is a startup making it easy to talk about location by dividing the world into 3m X 3m squares to identify an exact location. Since they are a startup, they concentrate their efforts on B2B2C which is key to measuring the marketing innovation, by testing and learning and proceccess. They are focused on scaling by working with partners like delivery companies, post offices, food delivery, and aid and humanitarian efforts (which the company has committed to provide at no charge).
The adoption rates of partners and customers of partners are the primary way they measure the success of their campaigns, according to Giles Jones, Chief Marketing Officer at What3Words.
“W3W prides itself on using 20% of their marketing budget on marketing innovation,” says Giles. “The team is willing to try any experiment, see what works, take risks. It keeps their marketing fun and always innovating to try new methods.”
At Pixel Union, they’re putting a lot of effort into cross-promotion—more than they’ve ever done in the past.
“As theme developers, we’ve always had a lot of products to sell, but the cross-selling opportunities are limited since you can’t use two themes at once,” says Hal Williams, Marketing Manager at Pixel Union. “That’s even more true in e-commerce, where there’s so much at stake when it comes to overhauling the look and feel of your online store.”
Since they started making apps in addition to themes, they suddenly have a range of products that merchants can use in concert to increase customer engagement and sales, making it a bit easier to measure the impact of their products.
Whereas before they focused on individual product marketing, the results of their cross-promotion efforts are what will take them to the next level. As a platform partner, they’ve found a lot of success partnering with great companies like Shopify—and in addition to that, they now have large communities of their users that they can leverage as brand ambassadors who will act as a marketing team.
They use customer lifetime value (CLV) to measure the success of their efforts. By increasing the number of Pixel Union products a merchant uses, they effectively increase LTV. With apps, this measure becomes more of a product metric, since it’s incumbent upon the product and merchant success teams to provide a great experience and keep that customer.
“Our goal is to help merchants sell more and become integral to their success. If we can do this by creating and promoting an ecosystem of tools and resources—not only our products but our partners’ products, too—I think we’ve positioned ourselves for big things,” says Hal.
This year, Plutora doubled down on their account based marketing strategies and integrated a set of campaigns designed to bring inbound and outbound marketing techniques together.
“Our accounts and persona strategy started to incorporate old-school techniques that were used 5 to 10 years ago,” explained Bob Davis, Chief Marketing Officer at Plutora. “We would see direct mail, an old-fashioned technique, starting to become en vogue again and working nicely.
The Plutora team also started to engage a lot of partners so doing some marketing in concert with our channels and business partners because we’re a small company and we are doing momentum market, so the amplification of our voice is significant.
Plutora measures the success of their campaigns by tracking KPI’s but ultimately consider the prime measure of success to be the return on investment of their marketing efforts. Rather than sales, they think in terms of partnerships. They monitor each campaign on ROI and optimize and refine as they go to drive that number up.
“In our market, we have a tremendous maturing going on, so people are looking for solutions we offer. The awareness level of what we do and the share of mind that we get from competitors,” adds Bob. “It just reasons that if we accomplish these goals, we will get invited to the party, so we win a lot more than we lose right now. It’s about shared pocketbook.”
Felix Morgan, former head of strategy at youth-led creative network Livity and Emily Goldhill, strategist at Livity believe that the internet has changed everything when it comes to how they build and form identities.
“Previously, society was made up of sub-cultures where people united over shared consumptions – mods, punks, hippies, etc. Being part of a subculture defined how people experienced culture, what products they brought, what services they engaged with. It was hardwired into their identities, making it incredibly hard to change their behaviors without hard interventions at the point of action. But with the internet, people are no longer subscribing to tribes in the same way as they are able to now consume multiple streams of culture simultaneously.”
They explain that this means people’s identities are fragmented, especially young people, as they explore the many different sides of their personalities across many different channels, platforms and streams of culture. Their identity is fluid as they continually try to balance multiple and often inconsistent views at any one time. This has had a direct impact on our habits. As research has shown identity and habit formation are deeply intertwined so now our habits are also incredibly fluid.
It is this thinking that has led Livity to create a new pioneering model for habit change, built around adopting a more holistic approach to the audience – viewing them as a person, not just a consumer. Previously models of change were focused on choice architecture and nudges but Livity argues that the focus should now be about driving cultural change by creating memetic ideas, and finding the most authentic voices and spaces to deliver them.
The end goal is the same, the methodology has just changed which means traditional behavior change metrics and models like TTM will still be used to measure the success.
Although FrieslandCampina Kievit is not a digital agency, they demonstrate to be a leader in lead generation campaigns. FrieslandCampina Kievit has a long history of working closely with customers to create food and beverage solutions to enrich everyday life. They believe customer intimacy is key to building successful business relationships. However, customer intimacy involves personal contact, and this cannot be achieved by merely talking on the phone or sending emails.
“We consider client meetings to be extremely valuable to our business. That is exactly why a large part of our marketing efforts is directed at getting the most out of these meetings,” says Sarah Darweesh of FrieslandCampina Kievit.
When prospecting new clients, they make sure to come prepared to add as much value as possible, offering market insight and trends (often extracted from their own market studies), as well as inspiring. This way they show customers and prospects that FrieslandCampina Kievit is not only a reliable supplier of high-quality food and beverage ingredients, but can be a valuable partner in developing new, innovative products, that can help them stay ahead of the competition.
“To measure success, we look at how our marketing efforts are contributing to business results regarding volume and margin, but other key performance indicators are also taken into account, like the share of wallet and market share,” adds Sarah. “Our online marketing is continuously monitored, and each month a cross-channel report is used to evaluate and optimize our online marketing.”
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