It happens to every agency; you get the opportunity to pitch to your dream client, your whole team works around the clock to highlight your agency’s ideas, you bring your “A Game” to the presentation…and then the gut-punch; you didn’t win the business. According to a study by Cubeyou, the average U.S. agency closes just 43% of their new business pitches, while top performers close an average of 85%. The study found the key factors separating low performers from the top closers were a lack of differentiation from competitors and an inability to demonstrate an understanding of the client’s problems, and target audience. In addition, changing trends like lower client tenure, more competition, and higher client expectations, mean agencies are under pressure to offer unique insights to their clients.
To stand out in a fiercely competitive market, savvy agencies are setting themselves apart by leveraging data to bring in new business and strengthen existing client relationships. Here are 6 ways agencies can use data to highlight compelling insights during their pitch process to increase close rates, deliver greater value to existing clients, and employ data analytics to boost the agency’s own prospecting efforts and increase new business opportunities.
The first step towards becoming a more data-savvy agency is to ensure you have the tools and resources to fuel data-driven marketing. Through strategic partnerships with data providers, like Data Axle, agencies can boost their data capabilities using third-party data sources. By vetting and establishing a relationship with a data vendor that provides high-quality data (that is verified and updated in real-time), the agency can increase their ability to provide deeper insights to prospective and existing clients, as well as the agency itself.
Since data expertise is in high demand, not all agencies have access to personnel with the advanced analytics skills to deliver the insights their clients need, or if the agency is lucky enough to have the right people, they might not have the bandwidth to allow the agency to quickly jump on new opportunities. Many data vendors can provide a wide range of consulting services to expand your agency’s offerings – which can act as an extension of your own team or be used on a by project-basis.
Example: Many data providers offer services that range from data management, marketing strategy, and creative to advanced modeling such as attribution, retention, lookalike, and personas. Agencies can either white label these services for their clients or use them for their own marketing needs. For example, home technology provider, Resideo worked with Data Axle to analyze customer data so they could predict when existing users would be ready to upgrade their thermostats and created campaigns that would reach them at precisely the right moment. In addition, they developed lookalike models to improve targeting and boost customer acquisition, which lead to a 20% increase in their customer base.
A key advantage of the data-driven agency is their ability to use data to find and reach their own target audiences to boost lead generation. Agencies can use data to help prioritize target accounts or use technology and data together to boost the efficiency of the agency’s business development strategies.
Example – Boost your MarTech stack with integration:
Agencies can employ technologies, like an integrated platform to deliver business data straight into their CRM. Connected via APIs, this type of platform allows you to connect into a data provider’s database to receive real-time business data. By providing access to data directly into an agency’s CRM, it saves you time tracking down missing or inaccurate information on existing leads and creating new target lists.
Example – Identify which companies are looking for an agency:
Intent data is another tool that agencies can leverage to drive new business. Intent data is based on a variety of data sources such as a prospect’s online behaviors which can identify interest in a product or service. Mainly used by B2B companies, intent data has been shown to raise close rates by an average of 79% – by helping organizations identify and prioritize their target accounts that are in-market for their services, thereby boosting account-based marketing. Agencies can use this data to identify companies (and reach decision-makers) that are actively searching for and consuming content related to agency services.
Ken Robinson, co-founder of Ark Advisors, and a leading expert in helping marketers and executives in their agency searches, says that frequently, when new client pitches have made it to the final presentation, the final pitches from competing agencies can be remarkably similar. In fact, he says his firm has seen the exact same tagline presented by two different agencies. The reason? The agencies are all working from the same information provided by the client.2
During the pitch process for a new client, agencies will not have access to their client’s first-party data, however, third-party data can provide a wealth of insights into audiences and industries that agencies can tap into to provide recommendations (backed up with data) that can truly set an agency apart from the competition.
Example – Uncover unique opportunities for the brand:
An agency pitching a CPG (consumer packaged goods) brand might use transactional data to access purchase history from millions of consumers within relevant product categories. Through an analysis of transactions and consumer data, you could uncover unique insights or new opportunities to provide to your prospective client during the pitch process. For example, your analysis could uncover under-served audience segments or geographic locations, identify a recent spike in purchases from a certain demographic, or find a common consumer attribute that can inform messaging – allowing you to provide unique recommendations and differentiate your agency from the competition.
Example – Provide industry and competitive insights:
Agencies can use third-party data to provide eye-opening industry and competitive insights to their prospective clients. For example, every brand is interested in knowing what their competitors are up to (and how they measure up). Using data on competitor activities, such as Data Axle’s competitive intelligence platform – Market Intelligence – an agency could track and analyze their prospective clients’ competitors’ marketing activities, providing insights like email engagement, deliverability, social subscriber growth, top performing campaigns, offers, and deployment trends. These competitive metrics could help inform campaign strategy recommendations from the agency during the pitch process.
In 1984, the average client-agency relationship was 7.2 years; today, it is estimated to be less than three years.3 In addition, research from Bain & Company shows that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.4 These studies highlight both the changing nature of the agency-client relationship and also the importance of client retention. As brands strive to become more data-driven, an agency that provides advanced insights to boost acquisition, retention and loyalty, as well as help clients understand which campaigns and channels are driving the best results, will provide the type of value that keeps clients around for longer.
Example – Audience modeling:
By enhancing their client’s existing customer files, campaigns, and analytics with external third-party data, an agency can help their clients develop advanced models such as personas to help the brand develop messaging that connects with their customers, improve response rates, and increases purchases.
For example, Sagefrog Marketing helped their existing client, Core Solutions, an electronic health record (EHR) solution provider seize on a new opportunity through the development of personas. When the federal government mandated that all healthcare organizations move from paper records to EMRs, the market was saturated with content from industry players vying for attention, making it hard for the solution provider to gain traction. Sagefrog analyzed data to create personas representing key buyer segments and their needs. The brand then helped Core Solutions create persona-driven content that would speak to each segment’s unique interests, questions, and goals. The effort lead to a 164% increase in web visitors, a 945% email open rate increase, a 728% increase in inbound contacts, and a 600% increase in qualified leads compared to previous year.5
A recent Gartner survey found that in 2020 50% of brands lacked sufficient data literacy skills, yet a Forbes study found that companies who adopt data-driven marketing are six times more likely to be profitable year-over-year6 – highlighting an urgent need for businesses and a key value that agencies are perfectly poised to provide to their clients. A key component of data-driven marketing strategies is the ability to provide personalized messaging – either on behalf of clients and or for the agency itself.
Data-savvy agencies can help their clients understand each prospect and customer as a whole person – at home and at work – by combining business and consumer data to create a 360-degree view of each contact. Using these combined profiles to inform customer segmentation, an agency with a B2C clothing retailer client could help them understand that a large portion of their dataset is made up of young tech workers who may be more interested in their casual clothing lines than their business attire since many tech companies have a casual dress code. Alternatively, for a B2B client, the agency could identify that a good portion of the decision makers at the client’s top target accounts have a common hobby or trait. Armed with this information, the agency can create personalized campaigns for these segments, providing compelling messages that compliment their unique interests and lifestyle – whether it is for their B2C or B2B clients or the agency itself. Data Axle’s B2C Link offers this type of blended dataset.
An agency that can demonstrate their ability to generate meaningful insights that achieve real results, is setting themselves up to win. Whether pitching to new clients, landing a new project with an existing client, responding to an RFP, or finding new prospects, data is creating new opportunities for agencies to close more deals and keep clients longer.
Elyse DeVries is a Content Specialist at Data Axle where she is responsible for developing content to educate and inspire marketers. For the past decade, she has been sharing her passion for marketing technology as a digital marketer in the B2B software and services industry. When she isn’t creating content, Elyse enjoys exploring the forests, mountains, and seaside towns of the Pacific Northwest and traveling overseas with her husband and daughter. A proud SciFi & Fantasy nerd, Elyse spends her free time gaming, reading geeky novels, and seeing each and every Marvel movie on opening day.