In this case, we’re focusing on marketing automation for agencies, or inbound platforms.
These platforms were either wholly embraced or eschewed initially- many agencies wanted to be on the cutting edge of something new and potentially game-changing, and seemingly just as many found the platforms overly complicated or too time-intensive.
What we see in this year’s report is a slight drop in overall usage from agencies, however, we saw some of the highest levels of effectiveness from these platforms yet in our five years of the survey.
What’s behind that?
Agencies told us some reasons why in their open-ended comments:
“It is cost effective and the integration of marketing automation and CRM is a win-win”
There were quite a few positive comments, although some agencies still have issues, many internal:
“We do not have capable in-house staff to use and manage these tools”
Overall however, we saw quotes from agencies who understand, like any new business program, process and consistency are paramount:
“We have set up processes between our Interactive team and our Business Development team to produce weekly reports of what all is coming through our social and websites.”
Going to the source
The leader in usage for this category, as in past years, is HubSpot, and with agencies finding the top platforms more effective than in past years, I was curious if we could ask a few questions of them directly as to why.
And I’m pleased to be able to do that-HubSpot’s Angela O’Dowd was nice enough to answer a few of my questions. Angela (@angieodowd) is the Sr. Manager on the HubSpot Marketing team.
Since 2014 she’s worked exclusively on HubSpot’s Agency Partner program, enabling agencies to grow and scale their businesses with inbound marketing.
Below are a few of the questions I asked and Angela’s responses. If you’re considering one of these platforms, ideally, along with our report, this brief Q&A will help provide further guidance.
RSW/Lee question: Since agencies started working with HubSpot, many embraced it, while others struggled with it being too robust a platform. Fast forward to today and I don’t hear that as often. Do you attribute that to agencies simply having a better understating over time with the platform, or have you streamlined certain aspects to make it more managable? (Or possibly both?)
Angela: It’s a combination of both the factors you mentioned; the tools have become more intuitive, and agencies have continued to expand their proficiencies into services managed on platforms that can track ROI, like HubSpot.
A bit about the tools becoming more intuitive. At the end of 2016, we challenged ourselves to make using HubSpot a better, faster, and more human experience. This initiative resulted in a more streamlined user experience: with tips that provide help from within the tool, and more clear connections between each tool in the platform. For agencies in particular, we’ve improved the software to help people create and collaborate with each other in more intuitive ways.
But, I can’t give credit solely to the tools. All agencies are becoming more tech savvy, and it’s because they have to. Their clients are no longer looking for PR or content creation from their marketing partners, instead they’re demanding strategies that they can track through to revenue. This shift in the market is great for us, because agencies know they can prove ROI to their clients when they offer their services on top of a tool like HubSpot.
RSW/Lee question: What offerings are you seeing agencies embrace most often today, in 2017?
Angela: The biggest trend we’re seeing is that agencies are moving down the funnel, and are offering sales related services. The most common frustration I hear from agencies is that their client cancelled because the marketing qualified leads didn’t turn into revenue. They feel like they’re “throwing leads over the fence” to sales, and lack visibility into how those leads are worked.
Since HubSpot has a free CRM, we’ve seen our agency partners capitalize on this connection between marketing automation, and the CRM, by offering sales related services . This gives them visibility and control of the bottom of the funnel. It’s an obvious choice for our agency partners since the CRM platform is free, so they can charge for sales services (increase their retainers) without increasing their clients software costs.
A big thank you to Angela for taking the time to answer my questions.
While some agencies are still figuring their way around these platforms, it’s good to see companies like HubSpot recognizing the needs and questions agencies have, in order to help them streamline their new business processes.