In this article, Aaron Aders, co-founder of Digital Relevance, shares their agency’s marketing and sales strategy and what is working the best to convert their agency into one of the fastest growing companies in Central Indiana, with a 3596.8% growth in 3 years. This article is based on a great interview from Trent Dyrsmid on BrightIdeas.
How they got started
When they started, they had a list of prospects who were interested in their services. They signed their first contracts at discounted rates with the condition that when (not if) Digital Relevance made their business successful, they would tell 3 other companies they knew about the agency. Their customers agreed to it, the agency did a great job, and, as a result, they got word of mouth and referrals from those early customers. This tactic was critical to get initial growth and momentum.
How they continued growing
Besides the referral program, they used other tactics and strategies for growing. These strategies are the same they implement for their own customers.
This strategy can be summarized by:
- Write great content.
- Use PR to obtain links to this content from reputable media and other blogs.
- Attract natural links, which increases the SEO value of the site and sends more targeted visitors long-term.
- These links bring targeted visitors to their site. They collect their email addresses and put them through their marketing funnel. You can read more about their funnel in this article.
A key part about this strategy is attracting enough people interested in their content (thus, in their services) to their website. This is what I am going to focus on for the rest of this article.
Their most successful campaign, and the PR campaign behind it:
Their most successful campaign, which brought them many prospects in 2011, was the release of Tale of Two Studies: Establishing Google and Bing Click-Through Rates. This was a click-through rate study, which compared click-through rates on Bing and Google. This guide was an extremely useful resource for many companies and professionals interested in SEO.
The key to the success of this strategy was all the PR they did around it. They contacted the most influential and reputable sites in SEO, such as SearchEngineLand, and proposed that they write the first article about the study, with highlights and links to their (Digital Relevance) website. This was a great partnership for both; SearchEngineLand got to be the first to write a great article about this interesting study, and the agency got a lot of visitors from SearchEngineLand coming to the website to download the study. Moreover, many smaller SEO websites, when they read about this study on SearchEngineLand, wrote about it and naturally linked to the site. This brought more visitors and SEO value to the agency’s website.
After SearchEngineLand wrote about it, they did other guest posts on other great (smaller) websites who were also interested.
This strategy was so efficient that, from one day to the next, they started ranking very high for “click-through rates” related keywords. Digital Relevance calls the strategy of writing great content which others want to link to, the earned media strategy.
Producing this CTR guide was not difficult since they already had a big base of SEO customers and enough data to quickly create a significant sample set.
Digital Relevance has followed a similar strategy with other reports, such as the Enterprise Blog Post Optimization Guide and the Facebook Graph Search Cheat Sheet. These reports offered a lot of value, which resulted in hundreds of links coming from all sorts of sites that syndicated the content. Some of these sites were public institutions, public libraries, private companies, magazines, and print publications.
How often do they produce reports?
Digital Relevance produces tier 1, 2, and 3 types of content.
- Tier 1 would be like an e-book or something of that nature. They produce about atier 1 piece every quarter.
- Tier 2 would be a guide, such as a blog optimization guide.
- Tier 3 would consist of well-researched guest posts or studies. They try to do multiple tier 2 & 3 pieces every quarter.
Producing a great report isn’t as hard as it may seem. Most of the time, they just collect content and guides they already have and put them in an organized, presentable, and downloadable format, like an e-book.
How often do they blog?
Digital Relevance has their own company blog, where their own staff of 80 people write regularly. It’s a way of fostering their employees through blogging, and giving them more exposure and credits in their Google Authorship profiles. They also have some regular guest posts.
The most interesting aspects about the process they follow, are:
- How they started getting customers and growing by putting their focus on “forcing” their first customers to give them referrals.
- The importance of creating great content. The better their content is, the easier it is to “earn” links or have other websites link to it.
- Having great content is not enough. Besides creating great content, they have to “push it” through PR. They pitch their content to the most authoritative sites that a lot of their target audience follows.
Once other blogs and websites read the story, they will share it or write about it. Reading the story on an authoritative website first, increases the credibility of the story and the likelihood of other websites writing and linking to it.