026 - What clients want from digital marketing with Kristen Herhold

Agency Highway
Agency Highway
026 - What clients want from digital marketing with Kristen Herhold

Kristen is a content marketer at Clutch, an agency directory site that help agencies with lead generation.

In this interview we chat about a couple of recent posts of theirs that are based on survey data across a range of small businesses. The surveys uncover what digital marketing channels are most important to them, and where they plan on spending their money in next 12 months.

This can help you think about what kind of services you want to provide from your agency, whether you need to bring on new skills or just promote something you’re already doing.

Resources mentioned in the episode

Connect with Kristen

About Kristen

Kristen Herhold is a content writer and marketer at Clutch and The Manifest, business news and how-to websites in the heart of Washington, D.C. Kristen is originally from Denver, Colorado, and specializes in writing about digital marketing, social media, and advertising.


James Rose: G'day, welcome back to Agency Highway. Today we've got a, I would say very special guest who I've only met recently named Kristen Herhold from Clutch. Now what Clutch is, if you don't know, they're a pretty massive deal in the agency space because they're a place where agencies can go and sort of list a themselves to get business. Anyway, I'm going to butcher the crap out of it, so I'm going to stop right there and let Kristen introduce herself. And in that introduction, Kristen, can you please let me know what the best thing that's happened to you this year?

Kristen Herhold: Yeah, so I'm Kristen. Clutch is based in Washington DC, but I'm originally from Colorado. and basically what Clutch is it's Yelp for agencies where you can go on, find reviews for agencies and find the best one for you. And I'd say the best thing that's happened to me this past year is I had traveled to four continents actually.

James Rose: Wow. Which ones?

Kristen Herhold: Well, I'm from America, so I'm counting America because I traveled through that Australia, Africa. I went to South Africa and in Europe,

James Rose: Man, that's huge. Wow. Yeah. I've done South America this year and that was fun. I saw a lot of Americans in Mexico. We did Mexico at the end and I was like, could not believe how many Americans were there.

Kristen Herhold: It's an easy and cheap place to go from here.

James Rose: I'm also jealous you're from Colorado. That is a really nice place in the world.

Kristen Herhold: Yeah, it's great. I missed that.

James Rose: Denver is one of my favorite cities in the world actually. And I can't wait to go back. But another thing that Clutch do is a lot of content and stuff for agencies. Right? And this is, this is how I found you guys. And, and that's why you're here today to talk about some of that content because you guys do a lot of research. And this is, this is what really caught my eye, especially the stuff about digital agencies, how consumers or the businesses are using digital marketing and what they sort of plan to invest in. What's the most important to them because this is obviously a podcast for agencies, so we're trying to help out those guys as much as we can and I think this is really useful info and something that I wanted to bring up, is this like the stat, I don't know, like I told you this offline before and that I have no idea what the actual numbers were, but, I saw a stat at a digital marketer conference here in, actually down on the Gold Coast and they were, they showed you how many businesses there are as a number and how many agencies there are.

James Rose: A lot of people tend to think this market's really saturated and it does feel like that at times. But, the numbers, it was something like every agency had room for hundreds of clients. Assuming every business wanted services. But, it goes to show just how unsaturated the market is. Do you agree with that?

Kristen Herhold: Definitely. You know, there's so many agencies that are out there and you know, it's just a matter of finding the right one for you and ones that are qualified, you know, anybody can say they're a digital agency, but it's, are they actually good at it? That's the question.

James Rose: Yeah. And I mean that's the easiest way to differentiate too, right? Because I even wrote like a post on our blog a while ago for agencies on how to differentiate yourself. And one of the first ones was just like, don't suck because there's so many people that, you know, I'm sure pretty much everyone listening to this podcast doesn't or you're on the process of improving, right? Which is one of the most important things. Like I've met so many agencies that are kind of backwards in the, you know, that they're actually big, big agencies and they just stopped learning, stopped developing their skill-set or whatever, and they're still using really outdated technology and actually providing their customers with a poor service. Whereas like new smaller agencies, more agile that can actually do a really good job, based on how small they are, if that makes sense, because they're more agile.

Kristen Herhold: Yeah. And we've actually noticed that too. We actually don't have a ton of big agencies on our site because they're a lot more traditional and they don't use sites like ours to find clients. And as you said, the agile ones that are on our site and with the latest trends.

James Rose: Yeah, totally. Cool. So you guys have written a lot about different studies around how businesses use digital marketing and social media and all kinds of stuff. I'm looking at about 10 links here. So I'm just going to try and pick a couple and the two that seem the best. Ah, well I really liked both but how businesses use digital marketing in 2018. So this is a link that I would drop into the show notes. I can't say that url because it's way too long. So you're going to have to go to the show notes and check it out. But let's start there. Let's talk about how businesses use digital marketing in 2018. And I mean really we can wrap up the other posts that I'll drop in from the manifest.com, which is Clutch's, sister site. Which is more of a content play I guess lots of different posts there and studies as well. But this one is about how businesses invest or plan to invest in digital marketing. We can kind of wrap these up together because if we're an agency and we want to land some more clients, this is the stuff we've got to be focusing on really. Is that kind of the gist?

Kristen Herhold: Yeah, definitely. So basically we write this content to show businesses, the trends in digital marketing and social media and what they should be focusing on for their clients.

James Rose: Yeah. Awesome. All right, well let's dig into it. So, yeah, I don't know, up to you, which posts do you want to start out? Which points you think are the most obvious here? I really like the first two points, I'm going to read these out. So, your findings of the top three digital marketing channels,businesses use are, Social Media Marketing, eighty one percent, Website 78 percent and Email Marketing 69 percent. The least popular channel that businesses invest in his SEO. I find that it's so funny because I love SEO so much and it's like my favorite channel because once you get it going, it sort of keeps going as long as you do it right. But if businesses aren't investing in it, or planning to invest in it, then maybe it's not something we should focus on.

Kristen Herhold: Yeah. So basically of the channels we kind of found, you know, social media website, email, the top 30, those are the ones that are pretty easy to have a strategy for. You know, anybody can have a social media account. Anybody can have a website, whether it's good or bad, it's so easy to have a website and an email is not too hard. You just gather a list of customers and send them an email versus SEO, which only 44 percent of people invest in. It's a lot harder to have a strategy. And you don't see the results right away. So it's, I think it's one of the most important ones, but a lot of companies aren't patient and don't want to wait to see the results. They want to see how many people like their Facebook post or visited their website,

James Rose: Even though likes on social media are pretty much a vanity metric. Right? Exactly. But maybe there's an education play for digital marketing agencies is to actually educate their clients why SEO works and then, and then hopefully get them across the line. Like I know one strategy that I see people using is Adwords first to try and work out which keywords actually work and then you know, later coming in and SEO-ing, if that's the right term, those keywords without having to pay per click to get them into redwoods. Yeah. What else would you like to cover about these articles?

Kristen Herhold: So, you know, of course businesses, main goal for digital marketing is increased sales and revenue.

James Rose: I knew that.

Kristen Herhold: Yeah I know it's really surprising. No, it's not. And, you know, basically digital marketing is such an important tool and we learned that businesses are starting to see its importance and they realize they need to have a digital marketing strategy in place, you know, everybody's online. Their customers shop online or Google search or are on social media. So it's really important for businesses to be on there too. And on the manifest article to how businesses invest in digital marketing, we actually found that 99 percent of businesses that already invest in digital marketing plan to increase their investment and at least one channel in the next year. So businesses are investing, see them, for instance, plan to keep throwing more money at it.

James Rose: Well, and yeah, and one of my favorite points which you brought up earlier, offline, was that nearly one third of businesses, so 32 percent that don't use a digital marketing agency already or they don't use a freelancer consultant. They planned so outsource digital marketing efforts in the next year. So that's pretty massive because that's a lot of businesses. There's so many businesses out there that I would have expected trying to do this thing on their own and don't really want to hire anyone. So to see a third of them are actually looking to get into digital marketing through some kind of consultant or freelancers. Very cool.

Kristen Herhold: Yeah, it's really interesting. So we've found that 50 percent of businesses have an agency. So of the 50 percent that don't already use an agency, 32 percent are planning to invest or invest in an agency. So what is that 17 percent of the company's overall who, whether they do or don't have an agency and that's crazy. It shows that agencies might be saturated, but they're still looking. People come to are still looking for these agencies.

James Rose: Yeah, absolutely. And I think the saturated thing is kind of a mindset that some people have and I've definitely been there before. We don't so much run an agency anymore. But it was definitely. At first, It was hard to get over the fact that there was so many other web designers out there, or agency, digital marketing people and everyone seems to pretend to be an expert. And it was like, how am I gonna stand out? And in the end we didn't need to, we just needed to get some clients do a really good job and then it would lead into other clients through referrals or whatever. And then it also helps once you've got that confidence in the way you talk to potential clients, as in other small businesses. That confidence comes off and you know what you're talking about, and suddenly that's your differentiation factor because so many people don't.

Kristen Herhold: Yeah, so we also found that 41 percent of businesses of all sizes. They're investing more than half a million dollars in digital marketing every year, which is a huge amount and businesses are not, are starting to focus less on traditional marketing and advertising because they're just not getting the results versus digital marketing. You know, as I said, everybody's online, you know, I don't know anybody who hasn't ordered something online or, you know, searched for business. So it's just, it's really essential. And I really do think unless you're a huge company and you can ask somebody 100 percent devoted to digital marketing an agency is always good. It's always good to have an outside source. And I think businesses are starting to see that.

James Rose: Yeah, absolutely. So where did this data come from, by the way? That was just a question I had in my mind that I'm sure some listeners, we'll have survey data, like who were the businesses, how many were there? I can see there's about 500 on that one.

Kristen Herhold: Yeah. So we normally start from about 500 businesses, sometimes a thousand. And they're all surveyed online. We use a third party source, it's called Survata and so we create the surveys and from there they find the people to survey, and then we do everything else, analyze the results, write the articles so we don't actually find the people ourselves. But use a third party for that.

James Rose: That's probably better, right? Like, to have someone else do that kind of thing because I'm sure there'd be some kind of biases that you'd actually accidentally introduce. If you did it yourself, I mean I probably would.

Kristen Herhold: Yeah, because I know when I make these surveys I hope, you know, for certain outcomes and I feel like if I surveyed them myself, I would skew it for the outcome I was hoping for.

James Rose: Yeah. I'm really surprised. I mean I'm surprised, but not surprised by the Stats around social media being the biggest one. Like was that also saying that this is what businesses want to invest in is social media marketing.

Kristen Herhold: Okay. So the first article in Clutch it's 81 percent of businesses invest in digital or in social media, which is, you know, everybody, every business has a social media account. So that's not as surprising. But then we found on the manifest article that 64 percent of businesses tend to spend more time and money on social media this year.

James Rose: Now, does that include paid advertising?

Kristen Herhold: It does, yes.

James Rose: Right. Okay. That makes more sense because I was thinking of, do people seriously still think that putting some posts on facebook and twitter is like, that's how you

Kristen Herhold: No, I think it's more people are starting to see the importance of paid social.

James Rose: Yeah. Right. Okay. Well that's good. And I mean that's a fairly easy channel to justify too, right? For agencies because, and I think this could relate to why SEO is hard too, like you said it, there's a long time before you see results. So it's quite hard to show clients what kind of return they're going to get, which is why I'm starting to see people doing like guarantees, like if you don't get x, in three months, you know, commit to three or six months and we'll refund everything if we don't get to whatever position. But, I can't remember where I was going with that now. A social, shit! Oh yeah. But social media, you see it, you can see it quick. More with paid ads specifically, right. You can see quite quickly that return, and this is one of the biggest things I see. Successful consultants doing is getting a quick win for a client. So sometimes that can be i dunno, like, it could just be a few sign ups through like one post or like for me it's like automation stuff, right? That's all I do a lot in that space. So it's automating just like one task that saves them a bunch of time, like finding that one thing to get a quick win. I think that's way more possible with a pay per click because you can wow the crap out of clients very quickly when you can drive traffic like that. Right.

Kristen Herhold: And I think it's just a matter of educating them. You know, most businesses think, oh, you know, we can easily become an Instagram influencer or get 100,000 likes on Facebook and you know, it's not that easy and you know, Pay Per Click and SEO tends to lead to more conversions and sales. So I think it's just a matter of educating these clients that, you know, social media is important, but there's also other channels that are just as important if not more so.

James Rose: Oh yeah, absolutely. And I was listening to a podcast by James Schramko the other day who's a pretty well known marketer here in Australia and he was, he always talks about like social media and vanity metrics and stuff. And I can't remember who the discussion was with, but they were talking about people with like over 100,000 followers or whatever that on Instagram that, you know, by all accounts influences doing air quotes there, if you're listening to this that don't make any actual money from it, like they make plenty of free products and stuff. That's about it, right? Like get some protein powder or something. But, it kinda goes to show that, you know, the, metrics that some clients want a mean kind of almost nothing. So that's potentially an education piece there. So let's talk about the website stuff because I know a lot of people that listen to this build websites. So what did you guys find out, you know, is there certain things that people are looking for in websites?

Kristen Herhold: Yeah, so 78 percent of businesses have a website and that number's always increasing.

James Rose: Only Seventy eight.

Kristen Herhold: Yeah. So that was surprising. We thought it would be, you know, the top number, what's a business doing these days that they don't have a website? But we did find that 55 percent plan to spend more time and money on a website this year, so that's positive, you know, maybe the ones that don't necessarily have a website or aren't investing in it, see the importance and know they need to.

James Rose: Yeah. And I think everyone gets to a point where they realize that the website is super important, so 55 percent. That's obviously including a lot of people who already have a website and need changes or whatever. So there's plenty of opportunity there. That's cool.

Kristen Herhold: Yeah. And I think, hopefully people realize that it's 2018, it's almost 2019 if they don't have a website. What's the point in having a business at all?

James Rose: Yeah, I love this, that I only just noticed. For some reason my eyes completely skipped over it before. That 53 percent on a mobile app. Oh man, this might be controversial, but I actually wrote a post not long ago on the jimmyrose.me site, which is mostly me just ranting about crap. And it's called. No, you don't need a effing mobile APP. When were an agency, the amount of times, I like my job to talk people out of mobile apps. How many people would come with like, we need an APP that does this and I'm like, your website, does that.

Kristen Herhold: Oh sorry, go ahead. And you know, the survey shows that 53 percent of businesses have a mobile app and 53 percent use content marketing. So it's the same number of people that have an APP are blogging and using content marketing, which is really crazy to think about.

James Rose: Yeah. Well I mean content marketing is that something that they are investing in on this. Like, is that what you found or was that people that are just doing content marketing?

Kristen Herhold: Doing content marketing is 53 percent and only 39 percent of businesses want to invest in content marketing more.

James Rose: Oh, sorry, I was looking at the wrong stats. Okay. So the 40 percent want to invest in a mobile APP. Thirty nine percent want to invest in content marketing.

Kristen Herhold: Which is crazy. Yeah.

James Rose: And 43 percent. So yeah, you guys are going to have to have a look at this, but I'll just read out in order, the channels that people are wanting to invest in the most. So, 64 percent social media marketing, 55 percent want to spend money on their website, 43 percent email marketing, 40 percent mobile apps, 39 percent content marketing and 36 percent SEO. That's super interesting. Hey, I'm glad you guys did this because like I would not have expected these results at all.

Kristen Herhold: Yeah, that's exactly how we were talking about. If I surveyed people on my own, there's no way I would've expected to get this.

James Rose: So is there any other key take-aways you think, we could share from these?

Kristen Herhold: One interesting little tidbit is that, you know, the businesses that are planning on spending less on certain channels next year. It's a lot fewer businesses, but display and banner ads and paid search ads are the highest that businesses plan to decrease their investment in. Yeah. It's only 19 percent and 19 percent for display ads and then 18 percent for paid search. But still that's about one in five businesses that don't really see their importance.

James Rose: Sorry, say that again. So one in five want to decrease their spending in that space? Yes. Wow. And you know what that could potentially be because of rising costs, right? Like Facebook used to be a gold mine. It was very easy to get really cheap clicks to your content or to offers and I think people are probably getting some kind of fatigue now, you know, from seeing ads. So it's harder to crack through. There's more advertisers. So It's driving prices up, you know, all have definitely noticed that. Like we stopped doing Facebook ads for Content Snare, which is our software product. Which actually most people listening to this will know it there's an Ad in the start and the end. Yeah. So. Well because it's actually getting really hard for us to hit a cost per click or cost per acquisition, whatever CPA, if you want to get all technical, that makes sense for us through Facebook ads

Kristen Herhold: We found that they're just really costly as you said, and like SEO, it's a lot harder to see the immediate results and to see how many people you know down the funnel. Did this ad truly lead to a purchase.

James Rose: Yeah, that's true. I was saying before it's fast, but in reality, I mean you can get quick wins, but to see the true results can take a while. You're right. Because it could take six months to convert someone. We've had people sign up for Content Snare that had been on the list for a year or more. So when you've got that lag time as well as optimization time, it can take a while for an ad campaign to sort of get to it's, you know, you started high cost per click and technically it should come down over time, but if you start and you've got that high cost, then clients not gonna want to keep going

Kristen Herhold: With any other statistics or anything.

James Rose: Yeah, I think, that's, that's pretty much it. Like people can go through these on their own time anyway, right? Like I'll drop the links of both these articles in the show notes and ones at clutch.co and one's at the vmanifest.com, which,are both you guys have awesome resources for agencies on both of those sites. And you know, I'm actually subscribed to, well I didn't know about the manifest until like two days ago. But I was subscribed to Clutch because I do a weekly newsletter for agencies to like show them some information. Right. And a Clutch has been on my list but the Manifest was not and now it will be.

Kristen Herhold: Um, and yeah, and if you guys are interested on getting listed on Clutch, feel free. It's clutch.co is our website. I think you'll share my email, feel free to email me and I can, you know, connect you with the right person

James Rose: If you're happy for me to put your email address on a public website that's fine.

Kristen Herhold: Yeah, that's okay. It's all over other websites.

James Rose: Fair enough. Sounds good. So, I guess we'll wrap that up there and this is any other sort of points you'd like to cover?

Kristen Herhold: I don't think so.

James Rose: Alright, cool. Alright, well might as well wrap that up then. So my final question, what's your favorite piece of technology right now?

Kristen Herhold: So I recently gave in and got an apple watch. I know, I refused for so long. So you are checking notifications in a meeting, but I don't know, it's just made me more, I don't know because my phone's always on silent, you know. I'm a typical millennial where I'm always on my phone, but it's always silent and getting notifications on my phone. I can actually see when somebody or you know, feel it vibrate when someone is calling me so I can actually answer the phone now. And it's nice. It keeps you accountable. It tells me when I need to see enough if I've been sitting for too long.

James Rose: Yeah. Nice. My Fitbit does that. That's why I didn't get the more expensive versions because I didn't want apps and notifications and all that stuff. So I've just got like the basic charge to Fitbit which does sleep tracking and all of that. And it's fine. Apparently I'm on 200 steps today. I probably need to step up my game. I did just wake up though.

Kristen Herhold: Yeah. See it's 6:40 pm for us. So gone in most of my steps today. How many steps? Let's see. I still have to commute home, but as of right now, just 4,000. Not Too much, but I still have to like I take the metro home and walk so I'll get about 8,000.

James Rose: This is totally off topic, but it's fine. I think it's still helpful, like the whole game of vacation of fitness or at least moving has been super helpful for me same as sleep tracking, you know, like I can go back and look at how much sleep I've got every night and especially. That's actually the reason I got this Fitbit, its because i listen to the Joe Rogan podcast. Which in fact I might link in the show notes as well because I want everyone to listen to this because it was so shocking to me. Like it was a massive wake up call on how much we all need sleep. Like, huge wake up call for me. So I was like, I got this thing and now I track my sleep and if I'm, if I notice that I'm doing poorly over one week, I try and find out what the symptom like the cause is and fix it because man, sleep's so important. Clearly off track.

Kristen Herhold: And it's just crazy. Like, you know, you think you're getting eight hours of sleep but you're really not. You really need to allot yourself nine hours to get eight hours.

James Rose: Yeah, that's right. But it also depends how much you need to like I think I've worked out that I need like seven or seven and a half, so, but still like to get that I got to be in bed for eight and a half hours anyway. So that was a good little tangent. I'll drop a link. Actually, I'll drop the link to my summary of that podcast episode. Because it does go for a long time. Classic Joe Rogan. And then you can listen to it if you like. Alrighty. Where can people find out more about you? We've talked about the Manifest and Clutch.co. Is there anywhere else you'd like to send people?

Kristen Herhold: You know, if they want to visit my social accounts, they can. But I don't have a specific website or anything.

James Rose: That's cool. I'll drop all that in the show notes as well because I think we've got a got all of that data already already. Alright, thank you for joining me.

Kristen Herhold: Yeah. Thank you for inviting me.

James Rose: If you've enjoyed this episode, please head over to itunes and leave a review and share with anyone you think will get something out of it. I'll see you in the next episode.