A New Agency on an Inbound Mission
Nick Carlson and Paul De Ath have decades of experience in client-side marketing, helping both large and small organisations to fix their marketing strategies or reach new levels of growth. At the end of 2015, they decided to pool their expertise and set up their own agency, Secret Source Marketing.
“We wanted to make the inbound methodology the cornerstone of our new business because we knew just how powerful it could be. In the early days, we developed our inbound strategies in a manual way, using various point solutions. Then, as technology developed, we moved on to all-in-one automation platforms, which made our lives a lot easier,” says Nick.
Choosing a marketing automation solution was a big decision for the agency, but the founders had some useful insider knowledge. They had both used Marketo and Eloqua in the past, but their best results had come through the HubSpot software.
“I think one of the key differentiators is that the HubSpot team truly cares about your success and actively works to help you succeed.”
However, Nick and Paul needed to be sure that it would be a good fit not only for the agency but for its clients; they tested the waters by trialling HubSpot’s free CRM. They were impressed by how it gave them a clear view of all their leads, which made growing the sales pipeline easier. They also concluded that it would be a good fit for its potential customers.
“We already knew HubSpot was scalable and robust, but we dug deeper into the things that we knew would be important for our clients, like flexibility, ease of use and reporting. It was also good for us to experience the HubSpot onboarding process. We could tell our prospects exactly what to expect; we weren’t sitting in an ivory tower giving advice that we weren’t taking ourselves.”
They realised that although the CRM was good on its own, it would be more powerful if they leveraged it with HubSpot’s Marketing and Sales software.
“We started looking at the HubSpot Partner Program. We did our due diligence by investigating other programs and by polling our colleagues, but it was an easy decision. HubSpot was the company we wanted to work with, and we signed up in 2016.”
A Showcase Website that Convinces Clients
Secret Source uses the HubSpot growth stack – a combination of the Marketing, CRM and Sales software –.on its own website, to demonstrate to clients “what good looks like”. It defined its key personas, including the CEO, the sales director and the marketing manager, and created content to appeal to them.
“That content is easily discoverable thanks to the SEO features of the HubSpot Marketing Platform, and we’ve added Calls-to-Action and Forms to encourage visitors to interact with us,” explains Nick.
Leads are nurtured down the marketing funnel with Workflows, and the agency can see how effective its efforts are with the Marketing Analytics Dashboard. The sales team then uses the CRM and the Sales Pro software to engage with prospects and close deals more efficiently.
Nick notes that lead quality has improved considerably since Secret Source joined the HubSpot Partner Program. It is getting interest from companies in the software and professional services industries – the agency’s “sweet spot” – and those prospects are already engaged and primed to make a decision. The agency’s own use of the HubSpot software then allows it to make its case in a convincing way.
“For example, a smaller business owner may not have heard of the inbound methodology, and we find it very easy to educate them by showing them our results and HubSpot’s own research. When we’re dealing with experienced marketing professionals, we find that they are often doing inbound in some way themselves, but they aren’t getting the outcomes they need. We can show them how they can go from shooting in the dark to producing MQLs and SQLs.”
Secret Source uses the free CRM to start some of its clients on their HubSpot journey. Once they see the value it can add, they then upgrade to HubSpot’s marketing and sales products.
“HubSpot’s free tools are a great way for us to introduce clients to inbound. Once they see value from the CRM, it’s much easier to talk to them about HubSpot’s premium products ” says Nick.
Secret Source leverage the Reporting Add-On which gives them and their clients a clear picture of marketing activity and its ROI. “With HubSpot’s reporting functionality we can quickly and easily give clients trending data. This insight is often a major catalyst for investment,” says Paul.
Raising the Bar as a HubSpot Partner
Since becoming a HubSpot Partner, Secret Source has increased its web traffic and leads by 40%. It has nine clients using the HubSpot CRM, five of which have upgraded to the marketing software.
“We’re at Silver Tier Partner level now, and we have several prospects in the pipeline. Overall, our revenue has increased by 50%, and we expect that upward trajectory to continue.”
90% of its customers sign up to retainer contracts, which has given Secret Source a predictable revenue stream, says Nick.
“Our clients want us to help them get more high-quality leads, and that’s something we can do. One company we are working with saw a 10% increase in just three weeks. Once they see results like that, they are eager to sign up to more of our services. That’s really important to us; it allows us to spread our wings and plan ahead.”
As far as long term goals go, Secret Source hopes to get all its clients using at least one element of the HubSpot software.
“That will allow us to concentrate on growing their brands and developing their pipeline. We want them to look back and say, ‘we’re so glad you recommended this to us’.”