Newfangled works with independent agencies to create lead development web platforms for their clients.

Newfangled works with independent agencies to create lead development web platforms for their clients.

The Findings of the Digital Marketing for Small Agencies Survey



Last month, we began a survey of the digital marketing practices of small agencies in the United States and elsewhere. The survey contained 132 questions, covering the operations, business practices, websites, content marketing, social media, web development and sales practices of participating firms. The survey respondents provided us with a huge amount of information, which we've organized, analyzed and prepared to share with you below.

I estimate that the results will require a substantial amount of time to review and consider, so find a comfortable spot and read on. Oh, and please share this with anyone you think would find this of interest!

 

Methodology

In addition to making the survey openly available on our website and promoting it through social channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook), we specifically emailed an invitation to participate to two groups of recipients. The first group consisted of our 5,576 newsletter subscribers, 15% of which (828) clicked through to the survey. The second group consisted of a targeted list of 3,936 small agency principals we have assembled, 9.4% of which (369) clicked through. In addition, this survey was promoted by our partners, Recourses and Win Without Pitching. With an estimated 1,197 impressions, we received 299 completed surveys. 

Unless otherwise indicated, percentages for each question are based upon 299 responses received between June 8 and July 2, 2012.

 

About You!

You are, on average, owners of relatively young, small firms in the United States. While your billings are modest, you've seen increases in recent years that keep you optimistic about your future. While many of you are generalists and serve local markets, you're motivated to narrow your expertise.

FIG I. What is your role?

FIG II. Where are you headquartered?
Percentages are based on 299 responses to "City" (100% of all respondents) and 295 responses to "State/Province" (98.7% of all respondents).


View The State of Digital Marketing for Small Agencies in a larger map

FIG III. In what year was your firm founded?

FIG IV. How many full-time employees do you have?

FIG V. What were your total billings in 2011?
Percentages are based on 292 responses to this question (97.6% of all respondents).

FIG VI. Which year was your best year, in terms of total billings?

Was that year also your most profitable year?

It's interesting to note that despite the economic downturn beginning in 2008, the small agencies participating in this survey generally experienced healthy returns over the last handful of years. Though the number of firms experiencing their best year dropped from 2008 to 2009, the vast majority marked 2011 as not only the best year in terms of billings, but also profit in general.

FIG VII. In general, business for your firm is...

FIG VIII. In general, you feel that the economy is...

FIG IX. Are you considered by your prospects to be THE expert in any one particular field?

140 respondents explained their expertise in further detail. You can review those responses here.

FIG X. Would you consider your agency to be "Full Service"?

FIG XI. Are the majority of your clients within 200 miles of your office?

FIG XII. Does any single client (including all divisions) represent more than 25% of your billings?

FIG XIII. Are you using a single, comprehensive, agency management software platform?

If so, are you happy with your agency management software?
Percentages are based on 152 responses to this question (50.8% of all respondents).

Is there a different comprehensive agency management software package you'd rather be using?
Percentages are based on 141 responses to this question (47.1% of all respondents).

27 respondents named a preference for agency management software. You can review those responses here.

 

About Your Website

You believe your website could and should be better. In fact, because you (by vast majority) see your website as an essential marketing tool, and specifically, as a lead-generator, you know you've got your work cut out for you. You're done with Flash (thank goodness!), and though you've got a CMS you're happy with, you're still not updating your site often enough. You're also not converting your small audiences, optimizing your content for searchers and mobile users, or measuring often enough to accurately perceive what to do next. There's work to be done!

FIG I. Are you happy with the current version of your site?
Percentages are based on 255 responses to this question (85.2% of all respondents).

FIG II. What is the primary goal of your website?
Percentages are based on 266 responses to this question (88.9% of all respondents).

FIG III. Do you see your site as an integral part of your marketing plan?
Percentages are based on 262 responses to this question (87.6% of all respondents).

FIG IV. How many years old is the current version of your site?
Percentages are based on 264 responses to this question (88.2% of all respondents).

FIG V. How was your current website built?
Percentages are based on 265 responses to this question (88.6% of all respondents).

FIG VI. Do you plan on building the next version of your site in house?
Percentages are based on 265 responses to this question (88.6% of all respondents).

FIG VII. Going forward, would you ever choose to build any significant portion of your site in Flash?
Percentages are based on 253 responses to this question (84.6% of all respondents).

FIG VIII. How often do you update your site?
Percentages are based on 264 responses to this question (88.2% of all respondents).

FIG IX. Is your site powered by a CMS?
Percentages are based on 261 responses to this question (87.2% of all respondents).

If so, which one?
Percentages are based on 159 responses to this question (60.9% of respondents).

Are you happy with your current CMS?
Percentages are based on 180 responses to this question (60.2% of all respondents).

FIG X. Do you include pricing info on your site?
Percentages are based on 262 responses to this question (87.6% of all respondents).

FIG XI. Does your site have any calls to action other than your contact us page?
Percentages are based on 263 responses to this question (87.9% of all respondents).

FIG XII. How many unique site visitors do you have per month?
Percentages are based on 253 responses to this question (84.6% of all respondents).

FIG XIII. How many people per month convert on your site by filling out a form?
Percentages are based on 254 responses to this question (84.9% of all respondents).

FIG XIV. Do you feel that your site is well optimized for search engines?
Percentages are based on 261 responses to this question (87.2% of all respondents).

FIG XV. Are most searchers finding you through branded or non-branded keywords?
Percentages are based on 255 responses to this question (85.2% of all respondents).

FIG XVI. Is your site well optimized for mobile devices?
Percentages are based on 258 responses to this question (86.2% of all respondents).

Do you have a separate mobile version of your site?
Percentages are based on 261 responses to this question (87.2% of all respondents).

Does your site design automatically adapt to the available screen real estate on the device which is requesting it (i.e. is it responsive)?
Percentages are based on 256 responses to this question (85.6% of all respondents).

FIG XVII. How often do you look closely at your site analytics?
Percentages are based on 259 responses to this question (86.6% of all respondents).

Do you ever make important marketing decisions based on what you observe in your analytics?
Percentages are based on 257 responses to this question (85.9% of all respondents).

FIG XVIII. Do you do any usability testing on your website?
Percentages are based on 256 responses to this question (85.6% of all respondents).

If so, do you outsource this work or do it in-house?
Percentages are based on 35 responses to this question (13.6% of respondents).

FIG XIX. Do you do any A/B testing on your website?
Percentages are based on 254 responses to this question (84.9% of all respondents).

 

Your Content Marketing Activities

You believe in the power of content to attract, inform, and engage prospects. Blogging is, by far, the most popular platform among you, though you acknowledge that you're not publishing regularly enough. You're a bit discouraged by the lack of engagement around your content, which is keeping you from expanding your content strategy into new territory, like newsletter writing, webinars, video, podcasts, and offsite writing. But most of you are pursuing public speaking. Your next goal is to get to the place where marketing is no longer a cost center but brings you profit.

FIG I. Do you have an active on-site content strategy?
Percentages are based on 234 responses to this question (78.2% of all respondents).

FIG II. Do you have an employee who is responsible for managing your content strategy?
Percentages are based on 240 responses to this question (80.2% of all respondents).

FIG III. Do you maintain an editorial calendar?
Percentages are based on 240 responses to this question (80.2% of all respondents).

FIG IV. Do you write and publish newsletters regularly?
Percentages are based on 243 responses to this question (81.2% of all respondents).

If so, how often?
Percentages are based on 126 responses to this question (51.8% of respondents).

What is a typical word count for your newsletter?
Percentages are based on 126 responses to this question (51.8% of respondents).

How many people subscribe to your newsletter?
Percentages are based on 128 responses to this question (52.6% of respondents).

FIG V. Do you have a blog?
Percentages are based on 245 responses to this question (81.9% of all respondents).

Is your blog on your site, or is it offsite?
Percentages are based on 173 responses to this question (70.6% of respondents).

How many employees contribute to your blog?
Percentages are based on 175 responses to this question (71.4% of respondents).

Have there ever been stretches of more than 2-4 weeks when your blog has been dormant?
Percentages are based on 175 responses to this question (71.4% of respondents).

Do you regularly get comments on your blog posts?
Percentages are based on 173 responses to this question (70.6% of respondents).

If so, does someone always reply to them?
Percentages are based on 142 responses to this question (82% of respondents).

How many people subscribe to your blog?
Percentages are based on 168 responses to this question (68.5% of respondents).

FIG VI. Do you create webinars?
Percentages are based on 242 responses to this question (80.9% of all respondents).

If so, how often?
Percentages are based on 29 responses to this question (100% of respondents).

How many people typically attend your webinars?
Percentages are based on 29 responses to this question (100% of respondents).

FIG VII. How many email addresses do you have total on all of your opt-in mailing lists?
Percentages are based on 229 responses to this question (76.5% of all respondents).

What software to you use to send out your email blasts?
Percentages are based on 174 responses to this question (75.9% of respondents).

FIG VIII. Do you create videos?
Percentages are based on 246 responses to this question (82.2% of all respondents).

If so, how often?
Percentages are based on 107 responses to this question (43.4% of respondents).

Do you use YouTube, Vimeo or another online video service to support and distribute your video content?
Percentages are based on 123 responses to this question (50% of respondents).

FIG IX. Do you create podcasts?
Percentages are based on 247 responses to this question (82.6% of all respondents).

FIG X. Do you write whitepapers?
Percentages are based on 241 responses to this question (80.6% of all respondents).

FIG XI. Do you publish case studies on your website?
Percentages are based on 245 responses to this question (81.9% of all respondents).

FIG XII. Do you write for any industry publications or websites?
Percentages are based on 242 responses to this question (80.9% of all respondents).

If so, how often?
Percentages are based on 71 responses to this question (29.3% of respondents).

Are you compensated for your writing?
Percentages are based on 82 responses to this question (33.8% of respondents).

FIG XIII. Do you do any public speaking?
Percentages are based on 244 responses to this question (81.6% of all respondents).

Are the attendees primarily your peers or your prospects?
Percentages are based on 160 responses to this question (65.5% of respondents).

How many speaking engagements per year?
Percentages are based on 161 responses to this question (65.9% of respondents).

Are you ever compensated for your speaking?
Percentages are based on 160 responses to this question (65.5% of respondents).

FIG XIV. How many hours per week do you spend creating content, as a firm?
Percentages are based on 242 responses to this question (80.9% of all respondents).

FIG XV. What is your most effective marketing channel?
Percentages are based on 241 responses to this question (80.6% of all respondents).

The most common specific answer provided by those respondents who chose "other" was email marketing.

FIG XVI. All things considered, and your billable time aside, do you make money from your marketing or do you spend money on your marketing?
Percentages are based on 241 responses to this question (80.6% of all respondents).

 

Your Social Media & Online Engagement

Using social media has become second-nature… for you. You're on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and value that engagement highly. But you're still getting the hang of navigating these channels as a firm.

FIG I. Does your firm have a social media strategy?
Percentages are based on 229 responses to this question (76.5% of all respondents).

64 respondents described their social media strategy in more detail. You can review their descriptions here.

FIG II. Are you using Twitter?
Percentages are based on 237 responses to this question (79.2% of all respondents).

If so, do you have a dedicated Twitter account for your firm?
Percentages are based on 199 responses to this question (83.9% of respondents).

How many times per week do you tweet?
Percentages are based on 195 responses to this question (82.2% of respondents).

How would you evaluate your use of Twitter?
Percentages are based on 193 responses to this question (81.4% of respondents).

FIG III. Are you on Facebook?
Percentages are based on 240 responses to this question (80.2% of all respondents).

If so, do you use Facebook to connect with both personal and professional contacts?
Percentages are based on 217 responses to this question (90.4% of respondents).

Do you have a Facebook page for your firm?
Percentages are based on 220 responses to this question (91.6% of respondents).

How would you evaluate your use of Facebook?
Percentages are based on 218 responses to this question (90.8% of respondents).

FIG IV. Are you on LinkedIn?
Percentages are based on 239 responses to this question (79.9% of all respondents).

Are you using it personally?
Percentages are based on 234 responses to this question (97.9% of respondents).

How many connections do you have?
Percentages are based on 230 responses to this question (96.2% of respondents).

Do you have a Company Page for your firm?
Percentages are based on 232 responses to this question (97.0% of respondents).

Have you used LinkedIn to find/hire new employees?
Percentages are based on 230 responses to this question (96.2% of respondents).

Are you involved in any professional groups?
Percentages are based on 231 responses to this question (96.6% of respondents).

How would you evaluate your use of LinkedIn?
Percentages are based on 231 responses to this question (96.6% of respondents).

FIG V. What other social media do you use?
Percentages are based on 137 responses to this question (45.8% of all respondents).

FIG VI. Do you read any blogs on a regular basis?
Percentages are based on 236 responses to this question (78.9% of all respondents).

Do you regularly comment on blog posts or other articles?
Percentages are based on 218 responses to this question (72.9% of all respondents).

 

Your Web Development Capabilities

There's almost no way you could thrive as an agency today without doing web work. You've got some people on the job, but you also partner with other web firms when you need the help — which is more often now, as you see your web development opportunity growing steadily.

FIG I. Are you comfortable leading your clients in regard to their digital strategy?
Percentages are based on 238 responses to this question (79.5% of all respondents).

FIG II. How many of your full time employees are dedicated to web/IT work?
Percentages are based on 227 responses to this question (75.9% of all respondents).

FIG III. Do you work with outside development partners to do web work?
Percentages are based on 236 responses to this question (78.5% of all respondents).

FIG IV. What percentage of your billings does digital work account for?
Percentages are based on 240 responses to this question (80.2% of all respondents).

Has this percentage been steadily increasing over the past 5 years?
Percentages are based on 218 responses to this question (80.6% of all respondents).

FIG V. How many websites are you involved in building each year?
Percentages are based on 236 responses to this question (78.9% of all respondents).

FIG VI. What is the average budget range you deal with for client website development?
Percentages are based on 234 responses to this question (78.2% of all respondents).

FIG VII. What percentage of the sites you'll build this year will feature responsive design?
Percentages are based on 231 responses to this question (77.2% of all respondents).

FIG VIII. Do your clients see you as web marketing experts?
Percentages are based on 241 responses to this question (80.6% of all respondents).

FIG IX. Do new prospects regularly get in touch with you about web marketing work?
Percentages are based on 240 responses to this question (80.2% of all respondents).

FIG X. What is the main thing you struggle with when it comes to web development?

185 respondents provided specific answers to this question. You can review them here.

 

Your Sales and CRM Approach

Most of you aren't willing to do spec work, but many of you are willing to spend thousands of dollars on a pitch. You're also still tied to RFPs. The good news is that most of you are doing less push marketing and are finding that your prospects are finding you, instead. Yet most of you cite networking as your most valuable sales tool ‐ significantly more than your website, or any of your other marketing activities. As far as sales are concerned, most of you are handling them yourselves and have yet to find the right technological solution to help you with that process.

FIG I. Do you regularly pitch free ideas (strategy and/or creative) to win new work?
Percentages are based on 231 responses to this question (77.2% of all respondents).

FIG II. How much are you willing to spend on a pitch?
Percentages are based on 193 responses to this question (64.5% of all respondents).

FIG III. How many RFPs do you respond to each year?
Percentages are based on 233 responses to this question (77.9% of all respondents).

FIG IV. Do most new business prospects find you, or do you find them?
Percentages are based on 235 responses to this question (78.5% of all respondents).

FIG V. Do you make cold calls on a regular basis?
Percentages are based on 236 responses to this question (78.9% of all respondents).

FIG VI. How much do each of these sources* contribute to your average annual sales?
Percentages are based on 214 responses to this question (71.5% of all respondents).

*The values for each source are the averages of the percentages submitted by respondents.

FIG VII. How many full time sales people do you have?
Percentages are based on 211 responses to this question (70.5% of all respondents).

FIG VIII. Are you currently using a CRM application?
Percentages are based on 231 responses to this question (77.2% of all respondents).

If so, which one?
Percentages are based on 120 responses to this question (51.9% of respondents).

Respondents choosing "other" cited a variety of applications, including PipelineDeals, Solve360, ACT, Zoho, Pipedrive, Outlook, and Basecamp.

How many people in your firm use it?
Percentages are based on 119 responses to this question (51.5% of respondents).

How many seats do you have?
Percentages are based on 116 responses to this question (50.2% of respondents).

Are you happy with your CRM application?
Percentages are based on 144 responses to this question (62.3% of respondents).

Is your CRM application an integral part of your sales and marketing system?
Percentages are based on 153 responses to this question (66.2% of respondents).

Please indicate which of the below you use your CRM to help you track:
Percentages are based on 135 responses to this question (58.4% of respondents).

Please indicate if you use third party applications to integrate your CRM application to any of the following:
Percentages are based on 81 responses to this question (35.0% of respondents).

How would you rate your firm’s use of your CRM application?
Percentages are based on 153 responses to this question (66.2% of respondents).

Do you use any third party lead scoring and/or marketing automation apps (e.g. Marketo, Genius, Eloqua, etc.)?
Percentages are based on 184 responses to this question (79.6% of respondents).

 

Conclusions

What's clear is that our survey respondents have a deeper understanding of what they should be doing and how they should be doing it than they have a capacity to get it done. That disconnect is one we've grown pretty accustomed to in this industry (cobbler's children, anyone?). We'll be presenting a webinar on August 8th at 12pm EST with Mark O'Brien, David Baker and Blair Enns to review and analyze these findings in more detail and to discuss that classic divide between knowing and doing. Don't miss it!

Meanwhile, you can download a detailed report on the findings of the 2012 survey of digital marketing for small agencies in PDF format.

 





Comments

ADG Online | July 31, 2012 6:56 AM
Thank you
The information you shared is very informative!
Rick Bailey | July 31, 2012 9:23 AM
Thanks, guys. This overview is great. We appreciate your effort to gather the data. You're right. There's work to be done!
HoneycombCreative.com | July 31, 2012 11:36 AM
It's interesting to see so many companies in the same boat. When you're paddling it's difficult to know if you're moving forward or not.
Great survey, interesting results.
Thanks for putting this together.
Cristian M. | August 5, 2012 7:16 AM
The amount and quality of information gathered in this suvey are useful and interesting, too.
It will help me getting better decisions as I'm at the start of the road.

Thanks for sharing it!
Eric R | August 6, 2012 8:21 AM
great work, fantastic report !
Thanks for sharing it!
Anya D | August 9, 2012 1:46 AM
Thanks for analysis and sharing the results!
I've got many interesting ideas from the webinar and the report itself, you are doing valuable work, guys.
Sonia Quinones | August 10, 2012 11:04 AM
This is a great report, and even though I'm on the content development side (vs. the web development side) I found a lot of useful ideas in your report to take into consideration as I put together the foundation of my fledging business.

Thank you!

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