Agencies

How 17 Agencies Use Data To Pitch Prospective Clients

Here are the strategies 17 agencies use to identify opportunities and issues before they sign up a client.

Kevin Kononenko on May 18, 2017 • 13 minute read

If you are still using a high-level, services-oriented, generic powerpoint pitch, these 17 agencies are probably closing more new business than you.

In the past 5 months, we have recruited over 60 digital agencies to our Partner Program. Along the way, we have learned a lot about how agencies have transformed their processes using data. From agile marketing on the operational side to data-driven reporting on the account management side, data has infiltrated every process of the modern digital agency.

In recent years, as data from prospects has become more easily available, agencies are using data as early as their first meeting, showcasing their data-driven strategies to potential clients right away. Previously, they might have begun a pitch with their full array of services, from web development to lead generation to ad design and placement. Then, they could launch into a few case studies on past client work. Using this approach, they couldn’t really tailor their pitch to the specific needs of each prospect, though, resulting in a bunch of wasted time for both when they failed to uncover the prospect’s priorities. For those agencies who are a bit more sales-savvy, they often started their first meetings by asking a bunch of questions and positioning their service based on the prospect’s answers. But, with agency after agency doing that, prospects have gotten tired of answering the same questions over and over again. As a result, even smaller clients are publishing RFQs or asking for prices right out of the gate.

Based on our survey, the new business process has changed over the last couple years as data has become more easily accessible and shareable. Out of 17 agencies that we surveyed, 100% said they used data during their sales process at least some of the time. And 30% of agencies said they always get access to client data during the sales process.

 

Data completely changes the way agencies pitch potential clients. Now, they can show up with specific recommendations based on the client’s situation. The pitch becomes client-centric rather than services-centric. Showcasing relevant client work and asking questions is still key. But, with access to client data, agency new business professionals don’t walk into initial meetings blind or empty-handed.

Here are the specific strategies 17 agencies use to analyze client data during their sales pursuits.

Depending on the agency and the client’s needs, agencies use different data sources and look at different metrics to identify issues and opportunities.

To make it a bit simpler for you, I’ve divided up their data-deployment examples by “top of the funnel or traffic” focused services like search engine optimization (SEO) and website design and “full-funnel services” like marketing automation and sales enablement.

I’ve also broken them up by Strategies and Stories. You can read about the strategies they employ and then read stories of how they’ve deployed them successfully.


Types of Services Involved In The Pitch

  1. Top of Funnel / Traffic-Focused Services
  2. Full Funnel-Focused Services

Top of Funnel / Traffic-Focused Services

Strategies

Jeff Coon
Partner, Stream Creative

Stream Creative first evaluates whether the site has a traffic or conversion problem. They focus their initial pitch around whichever seems to be a more pressing need (or both).

  • We dive in to see how they stack up against their competition within search.
  • We review Hotjar data to look for design and usability flaws that we could fix to help with the user experience, visibility and conversions.
  • We identify their top performing pages to look for quick ways to get more from what’s already working on their site and to identify future content marketing and lead generation ideas.

These insights help us have a more meaningful conversation with clients and prospects about ways we can help them achieve their growth goals.

KPIs: Keyword Ranking on Top Terms, Bounce Rate, Conversion Rate
Recommended Dashboard: SEMRush Keyword Mission Control

 


Mary Planding
Partner, OverGo Studio

OverGo Studio focuses on Google Analytics metrics.

Bounce rates, exit rates, device breakdown / visits / bounce/ exit / time on site via device – all of this helps us answer the following questions.

  • How well is their site is performing?
  • What pages are working and what pages aren’t?

KPIs: Bounce Rate, Exit Rate, Visits, Time on Site by Device
Recommended Dashboard: Google Analytics Mobile v. Desktop Traffic Quality

 


Susie Kelley
Founder, Spot On Marketing

Spot On focuses on metrics that can be found in services like GA and SEMRush.

  • We look for traffic, bounce rate, average time spent on site.
  • We talk about improving traffic by improving SEO through using the correct keywords or sometimes PPC/social ads driving back to the site.
  • We lower bounce rate and increase average time spent on site through better quality content and making sure the content fits the user’s persona.
  • We also review the site map for better UX for visitors.

KPIs: Total Traffic, Bounce Rate, Session Duration, Keyword Research, PPC Ad Conversion
Recommended Dashboard:  Google Analytics (Website Traffic)


Jason Diller
SVP, The DSM Group

The DSM Group does a big traffic audit to clean out any noise in the traffic data.

In Google Analytics, we look for how they have (or haven’t) set up views, goals, events, filters and segments. We ensure we’re always looking at data we’re confident in.

Most of the Google Analytics accounts I see don’t have clean data. For example, most accounts have about 25% of their traffic coming from Trump spam or Russia, or both 🙂

We’ve found that the principle of having clean data has 10x value vs. improving one metric. For example, the bounce rate on one of the prospects’ blog posts may be OK once we filter out spam, ghost traffic, referral spam and bots.

KPIs: % of Pageviews from Real Humans, Site Activity from that cohort
Recommended Dashboard: Google Analytics (Website Traffic)

 


Ed Heil
Owner, Storyteller Media

For Storyteller Media, it all starts with analyzing traffic.

Website traffic is a must. That will be an initial indicator of so many things beginning with an understanding as to whether people know they exist online. It also helps us determine how much organic content to try to develop to help them appear in search. We’re also looking for keyword opportunities to help direct our initial content strategy. If the prospect is using HubSpot, it’s an opportunity to learn everything about how the prospect is using, or not using, the software. So, the data is terrific, and it gives us a peek behind the curtain into their strategy.

KPIs: Sessions by Source, Total Sessions, Top Keywords
Recommended Dashboard: Keyword to Pageview Dashboard

 


Ryan Malone
CEO, SmartBug Media

SmartBug Media looks at visit to lead conversion rates of each page.

“We look for low-hanging fruit with pages that get a lot of traffic but don’t yield many results. Finding early wins generates significant trust with the client during the sales process and throughout the engagement.”

KPIs: Visitor-Lead Conversion Ratio by Page
Recommended Dashboard: HubSpot (Leads by Source)

 


Kathleen Booth
CEO, Quintain Marketing

Quintain Marketing uses the 80/20 rule to determine priorities for a site redesign.

“We always look at which pages on their site are generating the most traffic. We often find the 80/20 rule holds and 20% of the site pages generate 80% of the traffic. This often informs our recommendations about how to redesign their site (because we do a lot of Growth Driven Design (GDD), the launchpad can typically be much smaller than prospects think) as well as how to prioritize pages for conversion optimization.”

KPIs: Total Sessions, Goal Conversions by Page
Recommended Dashboard: Google Analytics (Website Traffic)

 


Brendon MacDonald
CEO, Yello Veedub

Yelloveedub takes a channel-by-channel approach.

We look at:

  1. How many new users are added by each channel. This shows us any gaps that could be filled – ie with inbound marketing, increasing organic or social media or email.
  2. Quality of traffic per channel (ie the bounce rate , avg session duration , pages / session / goal completions ) This might show a channel, like organic, that has good traffic. We can recommend inbound marketing to increase this and less PPC advertising, for example.
  3. Landing pages that get the most new users organically. We highlight topics / keywords working currently on the website. With an inbound program we can expand on this topic and shows opportunity

We use our metrics funnel to help illustrate the variables they can influence to improve the bottom line.

KPIs: Sessions by Channel, Quality by Channel, Landing Page Conversion Rate
Recommended Dashboard: HubSpot Leads by Source

 

Stories

“Prospects are always impressed when they see us present data from tools like Hotjar, HubSpot and Databox. They’re even more impressed when we show them how we can leverage the data and insights to focus on “continuous improvement” for their website and digital presence.

This article shows a practical example of finding some low hanging fruit to improve a website using Hotjar to drive more people to their blog, in this case. Having conversations with customers and prospects about their existing data often uncovers other business issues, such as them NOT having a good system or process for accountability. Some of our prospects aren’t even sure if or how their existing website is working for them.

By leveraging some of these aforementioned tools, we can help unpack some of their challenges and develop a plan to help them overcome those challenges. It reshapes the engagement to position us more as business consultants vs just marketers or designers.”

Jeff Coon
Partner, Stream Creative

 

“We normally work from the bottom of the funnel up to find quality visitors in custom segments we’ve set up. We use either Google Analytics or HubSpot. We try to find commonalities within these visitors and their experience on the site, paying special attention to new users and their Source/Medium.

Let’s use an SEO opportunity as an example. We look for high-value opportunities (big reward, low effort) by crawling over thousands of keywords using MOZ, SEMRush and Ahrefs and organizing them into two categories: keywords where they rank #3 – #5 and keywords where they rank #11 – #20. We can normally find topics or keywords they could either rank #1 for or get onto the first page of google for with very low effort, which results in quick wins.

We normally ensure all of the data we’re looking at is visualized in charts that are easy to understand. We are big on data, but we hate looking at spreadsheets, especially from different data sources. We ask the prospect if they would like to see their data in their browser, on their mobile phones, or both. From there, we engineer charts using the following framework for analytics. We create 4 columns in Databox and create: See, Think, Do, Care columns for their marketing data. ” 

Jason Diller
SVP, The DSM Group

 

“In working with a senior living company, we used analytics data to convince the client that their perceived need for a large website was unfounded. The data showed a significant number of underutilized pages did not contribute to lead flow. The result for the client was a lower-cost project and freed budget for proactive marketing activities.”

Ryan Malone
CEO, SmartBug Media

 

“We noticed that a potential client had an old blog article that was their 3rd most frequently visited page every month. So we added a CTA with an offer to a new service. Now this generates approximately £10k a month in revenue and counting from one page. They now have a specific service offering because of this insight on unmet customer demand.”

Brendon MacDonald
CEO, Yello Veedub

 

Full Funnel-Focused Services

Strategies

John McTigue
Co-Founder Kuno Creative

Kuno Creative frames their offering around the Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline framework.

“We ask about their GPCT and look at the quantity of traffic and leads at the different lifecycle stages. We look at how we can improve both quality and quantity of inbound leads to achieve goals and timeline.”

KPIs: Total Traffic, Visit to Lead Ratio, Lead Quality based on Source
Recommended Dashboard: HubSpot Opportunities by Source

 


Perry Nalevka
CEO, Penguin Strategies

Penguin Strategies looks at every step of the funnel to identify choke points.

“We look for ways to bring more quality traffic and improve conversion rates all the way through the funnel (i.e. Visits to leads, Leads to MQL and MQL to SQL)”

KPIs: Lead to Opportunity Ration, Visit to Lead Ratio, Lead Quality based on Source
Recommended Dashboard: HubSpot Marketing and Sales Overview

 


Mike Lieberman
CEO, Square 2 Marketing

Mike from Square 2 Marketing also looks at the full funnel before making recommendations.

“We do full funnel analytics for every client as part of their engagement. This lets us know where in the funnel to focus first and it helps us show the clients the dramatic impact working on each conversion point can have on their ultimate goal of revenue acceleration.”

KPIs: Lead to Opportunity Ratio, Visit to Lead Ratio, Lead Quality based on Source
Recommended Dashboard: HubSpot Marketing and Sales Overview

 

Stories

“During an audit of OnPoint Consulting’s site, the Kuno team discovered some worrying trends.

Specifically, visitors were viewing fewer pages and spending less time on the site. Based on this data, we determined it was time for a website redesign to create an improved user experience. The Kuno team worked to update the website messaging to better reflect OnPoint’s value propositions, improve the site aesthetic and provide a clear path to the resources most relevant to each buyer persona.”

John McTigue
Co-Founder Kuno Creative

 

“Dialexa needed to better leverage existing content to get more engagement. In addition, they needed to measure what specific campaigns were actually driving results.

After setting up HubSpot Marketing, we specifically focused on getting more out of their existing content base. We repurposed older, high-converting content and put together new content based on the topics that leads seemed to enjoy. We ran a series of campaigns to get more results from the content they had already built.”

Perry Nalevka
CEO, Penguin Strategies

 

How to Efficiently Use Data in Your Sales Process

If you’re not using data in your sales process and you’re competing with any of these agencies, you’re probably going to lose.

But, with the specific strategies generously shared by the agencies above, you can focus on the most important metrics for the client starting on day one.

To get started, you can follow these three simple steps:

  1. Develop expertise using different datasources to dissect a company’s website and online marketing assets. For most agencies serving small and mid-sized businesses, start with Google Analytics, SEMRush, Facebook Ads and Adwords.
  2. Develop templated reports that allow you to quickly analyze different assets. For example, here’s a template for analyzing mobile website traffic quality from Google Analytics and here’s one for analyzing keyword search rank using SEMRush.
  3. Begin asking for access to these data sources in your sales process.

Using data early in the sales process allows your agency to identify opportunities right away. Instead of explaining what you’ve done for other clients, you can show them how and how much you can help them.

Further, by getting access to data right away, you can be more confident in your ability to deliver results. With access to data, you can determine whether their goals are realistic as well as the quickest path to achieving them.

Further, your prospect will feel like you understand them and their needs more quickly because you can make recommendations within the context of their situation.

Although important still, winning new business isn’t just about keeping up with the latest marketing tactics or technology or having the best creative. Today, using data to impress prospects is critical.

 

About the author
Kevin Kononenko Growth Marketer @ Databox. Making it easy for marketers to tell the story of their success. Everton FC supporter. Startup guy.
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