Digital 22 started life as an SEO agency but by 2014, its owner and director Rikki Lear was considering broadening its remit. After investigating the inbound methodology, he thought that it would be the ideal way to increase success both for itself and its clients. Digital 22 joined the HubSpot Partner Program and has become the go-to inbound agency in the North of England. It is doubling its revenue every year, while its customers’ revenue has increased by as much as 6X.
Increase in revenue every year
Of leads come from inbound marketing
Of business now from retainers
Founded in 2011, Digital 22 is an inbound marketing agency based in Clitheroe, UK. This HubSpot Platinum Partner uses a holistic approach tailored towards the exact needs of its clients, and it is the go-to inbound agency in the North of England. It has worked with award-winning, market-leading companies at home and abroad and counts DMG Events and Shoes For Crews among its clients.
Digital 22 started life in 2011 as an agency that helped its clients improve their search engine rankings. However, by 2014, Rikki Lear, the owner and director of the company, began to consider how it could help clients achieve success in a more holistic way.
“I thought about expanding into social media and blogging, because I knew that would be useful from an SEO standpoint. But I also wanted us to impact every stage of the buyers’ journey. Then HubSpot got in touch. The representative explained the inbound methodology to us, and I was taken with how it joined the dots between every marketing action that you take.”
The conversation, Rikki says, gave him the impetus to broaden Digital 22’s services and change direction into online and content marketing. However, he didn’t want to use disparate, unconnected tools. He realised that partnering with a marketing software provider would allow the company to offer the full range of inbound marketing services through a single piece of software.
“When I looked at HubSpot’s competitors, like Marketo and Act-On, they didn’t feel as polished or right for us. We knew the HubSpot software plus the inbound marketing methodology would be a winning combination for our agency.
Digital 22 signed up to the HubSpot Partner Program in 2014, and since then, it has gone all-in with the inbound methodology, both for itself and its clients.
Owner and Director
Following the advice of his HubSpot account manager, Rikki immediately began turning Digital 22’s website into the ultimate example of the inbound marketing in action.
“When we got set up with the HubSpot Marketing Platform, we said we want to be our own best case study, we want to live and breathe it. Today, our website is something that we show our clients when we are persuading them to come on board with us. It’s great to be able to see the whole funnel – the visitor’s journey from reading a Blog post, to following a CTA, to downloading a piece of content from a Landing Page and being entered into a Workflow.”
Within a month, Digital 22 had signed two clients onto the HubSpot Marketing Platform, and had achieved HubSpot Gold Tier Partner status. According to Rikki, one of the biggest advantages of the software is that it allows him to prove ROI to his new customers.
“The ROI side of it has always been important to us; we were trying to make SEO tangible. But unless sales went up, our customers didn’t know much about how our work was affecting them. Now, with the HubSpot Marketing Platform, we can show them exactly how what we’re doing is making a difference. We produce reports for each of our clients every month, and at the top we put how much they’ve spent and how much they’ve made. It makes them very happy!”
Rikki says, “When clients see what they can achieve with us, we get their full trust, and they are eager to try the approach we recommend. As an agency, that’s something that you strive for.”
- Rikki Lear
Since partnering with HubSpot, Digital 22 has signed ten clients onto the software – growing companies with between £5m and £20m in revenue. While referrals are always going to be part of the agency’s business model, Rikki says that the inbound method has made them less important. Two years ago, 80% of its business came from referrals and just 20% came from its online activities. Today, those stats have been reversed, with 80% of leads coming from inbound and 20% from referrals.
“We’ve always been retainer-based, but what’s good about going inbound is that the size of those retainers has grown considerably – our retainer amounts have increased by 5X over the last five years, and we have reached Platinum Tier Partner status.”
Digital 22’s customers have seen some remarkable results as well, explains Rikki.
“Our first client grew from £1.9m in revenue to £7.2m in revenue in two years; it only does inbound marketing. Our second client, Shoes For Crews, grew from €300,000 in revenue to over €1.7m. Across the board, the gains they are seeing are considerable.”
He says that since it became a HubSpot Partner, Digital 22 has turned into a different agency.
“Before becoming a HubSpot Partner there were only three of us – now we have nine staff and we’re on track to double our revenue again this year. We have done that every year since we started – I don’t think that we would have been able to do that without the HubSpot software, Partner Program and inbound marketing methodology.”
In fact, Digital 22’s plans for the future are all based around the inbound methodology – within the next year, it plans to be a “HubSpot-only” agency, and it also hopes to reach Diamond Tier Partner status within the next 18 months.
“It makes sense for us to align ourselves with HubSpot; the partnership is going to be a big path for our growth. It has helped us scale and grow our business, and if we can keep going at the rate we have been, we’ll be delighted.”
- Rikki Lear
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