Digital marketing services are a dime a dozen.
From your 500+ employee large firms, to the mid-size boutique model, and even your one-man show working from his garage, there is a lot of noise made by marketers who claim to offer the best services. In reality, very few regardless of size, do it the right way.
According to Small Business Trends, 82% of clients left their digital marketing agency in less than a year do, primarily, to a poor experience. 68% were reported to have left because clients felt their agency was indifferent to them. 47% of disatisfied clients said they would take their business to another agency within one day of terminating services if they felt they were poorly treated. Finally, it costs a marketing firm 16x more to onboard a new client than it does to retain current ones.
These statistics are alarming and the point to one big answer that will triage both agency and client wounds: the inbound marketing methodology. In its most basic explanation, Inbound is designed to help agencies better understand their client’s needs, and offer high-level services that locate and nurture the right buyers through an agile funnel that may or may not include a strategic workflow between the brand’s sales and marketing teams.
What Many Agencies are Doing Instead?
Most agencies offer the bread and butter of digital marketing services: SEO and paid search. Although these are vital to one’s business growth, employing these in of themselves without any data-driven strategy designed to actually increase a client revenue aside from merely ranking, is a waste of manpower, time spent, and dollars. Yet marketers do this, as many are intimidated by Inbound. Instead they try to perceive value to clients by offering a customized package.
The problem is this: the package isn’t truly customized. Nine out of 10 agencies use the cookie-cutter three tier digital marketing solution: “silver”, “gold” and “platinum” service plans designed around a client’s affordability. At the end of the day, clients are paying for the same service 20 other businesses receive. There is no originality in strategy, all businesses are viewed the same, and services become diluted.
Inbound Forces Marketers to Get Personal
Part of understanding a business at a high level means you know who their customers are, and understand how all consumer cohorts make purchasing decisions within your client’s industry. This is where the inbound methodology arms marketers with the ability to understand buyer behavior through the buyer’s journey. This is a three-stage process that includes the Awareness Stage, Consideration Stage, and the Decision Stage.
By using custom content designed to resonate with various buyers at each point in this journey, marketers can nurture readers through educational and entertaining content that moves them through a funnel towards making a purchase or performing the desired action. But the inbound methodology can’t target consumers in these stages without first researching, defining, and creating various buyer personas–something traditional SEO agencies aren’t doing.
Without Buyer Personas you are Shooting in the Dark
Buyer personas are partially fictionalized, generalized representations of your client’s ideal customers. Inbound-driven digital marketing agencies use buyer personas to internalize and attract ideal customers by relating to their human qualities, i.e. pains, needs, wants and joys.
Traditional agencies simply take search volume metrics and execute organic search engine optimization tactics without targeting specific groups more likely to make a purchase. These agencies trapped in antiquated practices need to stop ranking their clients for the sake of claiming real estate on page one of Google. After all, what good is it to a business or their capital if they are seen all over the internet, but not by the right people who will make transactions?
One of the main reasons agencies have failed to grow in 2017 is because they offer little value to the client; they are only able to move the needle so far, but without high level data from sales teams, social research, and a number of other resources for gathering information on buyers to use as a foundation for growing a profitable search strategy, all you have to offer your clients is old fashioned SEO and general content that isn’t directed to any specific buyer.
Don’t Miss the Boat in 2018
Buyers are more savvy than ever. Gone are the days where consumers make purchasing decisions based on phone sales agents or in-store sales assistants.
With the advancement of mobile search capabilities and Google’s evolving algorithm that employs machine learning and AI to decipher queries and understand user intent, buyers are able to engage in detailed online research anywhere their is an Internet connection, weigh all the pros and cons, and make an educated decision that best meets their needs.
This is why 2018 will be all about inbound in the world of digital marketing, and if you don’t incorporate it into next year’s methodology, you will be left in the dust.