In 2013, Element Three was using a multitude of fragmented tools that didn't integrate well to communicate results with each other. Without the ability to piece all of their efforts together to produce a concrete ROI for their customers, Element Three was unable to lock down the retainer clients their agency needed.
increase in largest monthly retainer client
increase in Average Client Spend
increase in yearly revenue
Element Three is a marketing agency that specializes in a “Business First” approach to brand development, marketing strategy and creative execution. It works with nationwide industry-leading brands that want to meet aggressive business goals, take a bold story to market and crush their competition.
Tiffany began Element Three with a clear goal: drive real business results. The agency was successful, but not sustainable. Clients were using a myriad of marketing tools and it was becoming increasingly difficult to master all of them. This model was not scalable and made it hard to show the actual impact and ROI of Element Three’s marketing efforts.
Before HubSpot, Element Three would export and import data from various marketing solutions to try and link their marketing efforts with results. Then, they would request data from clients to close the reporting loop. Manually integrating and analyzing data took significant effort, which distracted and delayed Element Three’s ability to deliver significant ROI to their clients. Tiffany says “at best the data was incomplete...we were wasting valuable dollars.”
Element Three wanted to shift their business model so that the majority of their clients were retainer relationships, allowing a true partnership to form as Element Three would serve as an extension of their clients’ marketing teams. It was difficult to execute this model when they couldn’t prove their value to clients month over month with clear, concise reporting that showed real results.
President, Element Three
Adopting any new software across an entire company can be daunting. When President, Tiffany Sauder, signed Element Three up to offer HubSpot as part of their agency services, she was completely sold on it - “I couldn’t sleep for a week after I saw HubSpot.” she said, “I knew this was going to completely change the confidence level we had going to the marketplace.”
To get her team on board, Tiffany used complete transparency. She let the Element Three team know they were going to try something new and acknowledged that the team would inevitably experience some hiccups, but hiccups go away and that they were all in this together. Tiffany said she had the team put all the fear on the table.
One of the biggest reasons Element Three was named HubSpot’s 2012 Agency of the Year was that they “failed fast.” They didn’t sit around and wait for the perfect strategy to erupt out of thin air. They got started on HubSpot right away and began selling it without the fear of making mistakes on things like pricing models. Tiffany says one of the keys to Element Three’s early success was simply “getting everybody engaged and okay with saying ‘we’re going to try things’.”
With complete commitment and confidence in HubSpot, Element Three began 2012 with a seemingly outrageous goal: to double their revenue. The team united around this goal and began executing an inbound marketing strategy for the agency.
Element Three uses inbound marketing and HubSpot’s All-in-One Marketing Software as the central marketing tool to attract leads and manage prospect relationships. Every month the team at Element Three publishes 16 to 20 blog posts based on conversations with prospects and clients. They optimize and post these using HubSpot’s SEO and Blogging tools to drive relevant traffic to their site. By writing about meaningful and relevant topics, and optimizing posts for relevant and popular keywords, Element Three was able to increase monthly web traffic by 175%.
Utilizing HubSpot Analytics, Element Three determines which blog posts are driving the most traffic and develops more in-depth whitepapers on these topics. Offers, like whitepapers are then hosted on HubSpot Landing Pages and used as a lead generation tool. Utilizing this lead generation method increased Element Three’s monthly leads by 3,680%. Because leads increased 21x more than their web traffic, adopting inbound didn’t just help pull in website visitors, it helped put visitors into their sales funnel.
Once a visitor converts into a lead, they are entered into HubSpot’s Contact Database where Tiffany and her team can map and execute an integrated approach to marketing and selling to a lead, based on actual data from HubSpot - not guesswork. Inbound marketing has allowed Element Three to attract the right visitors, and provide them with the exact resources they need at the time they need them, effectively qualifying them before they even get on a sales call. Tiffany says, “Our sales cycle is much shorter than it once was. Using inbound to educate prospects has completely changed the level of confidence prospective clients have before they even get on a sales call with Element Three.”
The #1 reason agencies get fired? They stop bringing new ideas to clients. Element Three refused to fall into this trap. By deploying a systematic approach to onboarding clients to HubSpot, Element Three was able to avoid overwhelming them with too much information. They took their top five customers and presented inbound marketing and HubSpot to them first. Because there was an established working relationship, high trust level, and deep knowledge of the client’s businesses, they believed the client would be open to trying something new. Additionally, because Element Three was already producing real results for these customers, there was a level of trust that Element Three would continue to deliver.
Asking clients and employees to jump on board with a new movement can be high-risk. What if it doesn’t work out? Tiffany knew she was handling the livelihood of real people and companies, including her own. Tiffany turned to her HubSpot Account Manager, Danielle Herzberg to develop a strategy for positioning HubSpot and inbound marketing to new and existing clients.
Danielle says, “Tiffany and I spent several hours together preparing behind-the-scenes for our first mutual customer. We mapped out a presentation on "opportunities for growth" and emphasized her team's ability to significantly increase lead generation and decrease cost per lead by taking offline print collateral and turning it into digital brochures for inbound lead generation. We brainstormed cross-sell and up-sell opportunities on the table that the E3 team could capture proactively through personalized lead nurturing. Finally, we calculated the number of hours that the team had spent manually putting together ROI calculations for this end-of-year review and had an easy time justifying the HubSpot software by efficiency metrics alone."
Dannie continues, "It took this two-way collaboration to work on our first account together, but this built a foundation of trust that led to a great working relationship.” Tiffany felt comfortable executing on this strategy with the help of HubSpot, “I felt like Dannie was personally invested in us.”
After executing inbound marketing with most clients, Tiffany decided Element Three would exclusively utilize HubSpot, as opposed to other marketing software. The integrated HubSpot All-in-One Marketing Software had proven to be so effective in comparison to fragmented point solutions that selling anything less would not serve client needs satisfactorily. Today, if clients or prospects want to use anything else, Element Three will walk away from the opportunity. “Our systems and processes are built around HubSpot, and it's just too expensive for us to change our model for a few outlier clients.” Need proof this strategy has worked? Element Three was able to double revenue in 2012 with retainer-based inbound marketing offerings.
After success with their agency and top five clients, Element Three took their newfound confidence in inbound marketing and began selling HubSpot to new prospects. Element Three targeted clients most likely to jump on board with a new methodology and retainer-based offering. She used Element Three and her top five clients as examples of inbound marketing success, to show prospective clients how Element Three could help them.
When selling HubSpot to prospects, Element Three has compelling client results and insights from the firm’s experience to support the investment required for successful inbound marketing. When explaining to prospects how strongly she believes in the effectiveness of inbound marketing, Tiffany tells them, “I’m all in - with my words, my business and my cash - so clearly I believe.”
Element Three offers services through the HubSpot Marketplace. After great success producing quality leads and customers on their own, Tiffany was a little skeptical about being featured in the Marketplace. She says, “I was a little doubtful about the quality of leads that would come through...but it’s had a more significant impact than I expected.”
In addition, Tiffany is finding a growing market demand for knowledge of inbound marketing. “A lot of my CEOs now are seeing pieces of this in FastCompany or whatever they’re reading. It’s not a completely new concept for them anymore.”
Element Three is extremely clear in their inbound marketing materials and brand message that they’re an inbound marketing agency built to drive real results for businesses. “With inbound marketing, you are picking up a gigantic megaphone for your brand...The more laser-focused you can get about what you want to become in the market before you begin, the easier it is to execute.” Using inbound marketing to promote this mission and HubSpot’s All-in-One Software to execute it effectively, Element Three has been able to attract new customers and produce real results.
HubSpot hasn’t just simplified the back-end processes in the Element Three office. It has produced impressive results for clients, quickly. Within the first six months of adopting inbound, a client closed over $500,000 in new business. The team at Element Three increased another client’s lead volume by 300% in just the first three months.
As Element Three began to scale, Tiffany says, “We had to find a way to prove our value every month - and get clients to trust us with a retainer focused on results - and not only activity.” A huge reason why clients have been willing to subscribe to a retainer-based model is Element Three’s ability to continually measure and track goals against the robust HubSpot analytics and reporting through a “scorecard”. “We meet with each client monthly to review the scorecard, open up the lines of communication, and make sure we all stay focused on the bigger picture of results - and not get sucked into the tactical details.” These transparent relationships have been just one of the many reasons that 100% of their HubSpot clients from 2012 renewed in 2013, and 94% of them maintained or increased their annual spend.
Managing one integrated system has allowed the Element Three team to become masters in their field. Many agencies avoid saying ‘we only offer this one service’ for fear of losing a sale. Because HubSpot’s software covers most of what a marketer needs, Element Three doesn’t have to walk away from many opportunities. Further, offering HubSpot exclusively has not only simplified their own processes, but has driven such comprehensive results that average client spend increased by 91%.
How did standardizing on HubSpot’s software increase value for customers? Instead of hiding marketing results behind tools that don’t talk to each other, Tiffany says “[HubSpot] takes away all the veils and I think that’s incredibly empowering.” Armed with analytics that reveal the true ROI of marketing strategies, Element Three is taking full accountability. Because of this, they’ve been able to not only convert 81% of business to a retainer-based model, but increase their largest monthly retainer by 400%.
Element Three is able to show the ROI of inbound marketing without wrestling different systems or requesting tons of data from clients. “Gone are the days of spreadsheets. We love HubSpot's ability to tell us cross-platform stories - and the real-time data that can drive quick decision-making so fewer marketing dollars are wasted on long tests and trials.”
With an integrated suite of tools, HubSpot is able to tell powerful cross-platform stories. Tiffany believes that “the fewer times you have to push data from system to system, the less chance there is for discrepancies and errors.” Accurate data collection and analysis is only possible when all of your tools are working in tandem. The combination of content publishing tools with a contacts database with analytics, makes doing, measuring and improving results a much simpler process. Not only do individual solutions have different inputs and outputs that must be mapped to each other, but the tools don’t work together. “I’m not really fixing my problem if I’m having to cobble all this together, and my systems that I put together mature at different rates.” HubSpot tools are always built with integration in mind, making it much simpler to produce meaningful results and to communicate those results to clients, with much less effort.
Having an all-in-one solution has made Tiffany’s life easier, too. “I wanted one partner, one system, one set of technical support, one company to create relationships with, and one company to keep up with new products and training. That's what HubSpot is for my agency.” Tiffany never needs to worry about managing multiple logins or support representatives--with HubSpot she only has to manage one relationship.
“HubSpot will revolutionize the way marketing is integrated into your business - if you use it correctly. It allows you to make better business decisions because it so cleanly maps to the sales process. You know what people are interested in, who converts into a lead - and ultimately what type of target actually buys from you.”
Tiffany urges agencies to stop looking at HubSpot as another offering. Instead, it’s something that supports everything you already offer, and makes the entire process more effective. “Don't look at HubSpot as the strategy - it's a tool that underlies the strategy you're deploying. It makes you smarter so your marketing strategies have a much higher likelihood of being successful.”
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