Episode 79:

Aaron Agius is one of the world’s leading digital marketers according to Forbes. He is CEO of Louder Online, one of the world’s leading digital agencies with a global reach.

Louder Online is an inbound marketing agency, working globally with clients such as Salesforce, IBM, Coca-Cola, Intel and scores of leading brands, showing them how to technically optimize their sites, perform influencer outreach and link acquisition and produce and distribute content that drives significant lead generation and ROI.

Aaron is a highly sought speaker at Search, Content Marketing and Growth Hacking and many other conferences around the globe including the U.S, U.K, Brazil, London and Australia. His passion to help businesses is driven from his own experience. Aaron was at the cutting edge of the emerging digital marketing field over 10 years ago. He uses that lived experience and now translates it into revenue for clients.

He is also a regular contributor to some of the world’s largest editorial publications, including Entrepreneur.com, Hubspot.com and many more, with thought leadership on marketing and business growth.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

    • Why you absolutely must work on and invest in the business (no excuses!)
    • How Aaron established himself as a thought leader through guest blogging and what he would recommend doing today
    • Why you need high-quality proposal documents
    • Why you need to be cooperative rather than competitive with agencies that you share a client with
    • Why Aaron has created smaller sister agencies in other countries instead of using freelancers
    • Aaron’s genius strategy for leveraging LinkedIn
    • How to prove the ROI of your work to a client
    • Why it’s the CEO’s job to stay on top of what’s coming next
    • Resources that Aaron himself uses to stay current
    • How continually writing blogs, being on podcasts, hosting webinars, etc. helps you keep the clients you have

Why you have to write for readers, not search engines

 

The Golden Nugget:

“As the CEO, it’s your priority to stay on top of what’s coming next.” – @IAmAaronAgius Click To Tweet

 

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Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Build a Better Agency, where we show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of expertise as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McClellan.

Drew McClellan:

Hey everybody. Drew McClellan here with another episode of Build a Better Agency. Today we’re going to talk about evolving your agency, and I’ve got a guest that I know is going to have lots of great stories that are going to inspire you to take your agency to the next level. So let me tell you a little bit about him.

So Aaron Agius is one of the world’s leading digital marketers, according to Forbes. He is the CEO of louder online, which you probably have heard about. They are one of the world’s leading digital age agencies. They have quite the global reach. Offices in Sydney, LA and New York. And they’re an inbound marketing agency. They work globally with clients like Salesforce, IBM, Coca-Cola, Target, Ford, LG. But they didn’t start out that way. And so one of the things I want to talk to Aaron about today is how he’s evolved his agency, and he also has some interesting strategies around using LinkedIn and some other things that we’re going to delve into. So without further ado, Aaron, welcome to the podcast.

Aaron Agius:

Thank you for having me and thank you for the intro.

Drew McClellan:

You bet. I’m excited to have you tell us a little bit about your evolution. So as I was saying to you offline before we hit the record button, you’ve had an interesting run in your career, and in an interesting role in how your agency has evolved. So I read an article where you talked about the fact that your first client was a buddy of yours who owned a plumbing business, and now you’re working with the likes of Target and Salesforce, so help us understand the evolution of your business and how you made that happen.

Aaron Agius:

Yeah, it’s been a journey and we have changed a bit. I guess [inaudible 00:02:16] that we weren’t even a consulting agency to begin with. We started off in affiliate marketing, and just doing whatever we could to try and earn money. And we started off driving traffic to hotel and accommodation websites. I think the first day we made money we made 40 cents online, and then turned that into $400 the next day. And then that actually into, yeah, friends and other people noticing that we’re able to drive traffic and saying, “Why don’t you …” So our agency was sort of developed from there.

And yet that is still a big leap from going from there to the large companies that I’m with at the moment. And I think probably one of the biggest things is that we built a lot of the credibility indicators around ourselves that are needed in order to be considered to work with some of those companies. So we made sure that we were doing things like being published in certain places, and being members of certain places. We made sure that we were doing networking and getting speakings. And it was really a combination of working a lot of different areas to make sure those credibility into caters were ticked. And then it came down to confidence in what we were doing, and our approach to clients once that was happening. It’s a matter of people that people seeing us at those events, inbound leads coming through, people contacting us through content that we’re creating on Forbes or entrepreneur or other places like that. And yeah, we saw larger and larger clients from there.

Drew McClellan:

But you didn’t even have an agency background though, right? If I remember right, you were an IT guy, right?

Aaron Agius:

Yeah. Correct. I was in IT. My co-founder was in marketing for IBM. Head of sales and marketing for Australasia, and when we decided that we were going to try to figure out how people were making money online, we tried to combine our skills and, that led us down the path that we fell into. I was also a full time firefighter at one stage. So yeah, I’ve had a diverse background.

Drew McClellan:

So as you were … First of all, one of the points I want to make, because this is something I talk to agencies about all the time, is you immediately invested in yourself and your agency, as opposed to the cobbler’s children have no shoes, we can’t market ourselves because we’re so busy helping the butcher and the baker and the candlestick maker. You made your own creating a profile for yourself and a name for yourself a priority.

Aaron Agius:

Yeah, we did after a certain period. So when we started off, the only thing that we wanted was make money online, be a digital nomad, travel the world, and be happy with that. Eventually it started becoming more than that and we started wanting more, and so when we decided, “Hey, we’re going to make this agency a proper agency and make it work, then yeah. We spent a lot of time working on the business, not just in the business.” And so yeah, we didn’t have those same excuses that you just mentioned being too busy working on clients.

Drew McClellan:

Right. So at what point did you say to yourself, “Okay …” Because at one point you were living in Thailand, and you’re in essence, working from home doing this, and now all of a sudden … Was it when you started adding staff? When all of a sudden did it feel like for you, “Okay, this is getting,” in air quotes, “Serious,” or, “Permanent,” as opposed to, “We’re going to be nomads, just making money while we travel.”

Aaron Agius:

Yeah, it’s a good question. For me, I felt it came down to [inaudible 00:06:17] thing around confidence level. Because what was happening was … My co-founder said from the beginning, we need to be doing these price companies. And I was saying, “Yeah, look, we haven’t stuck it together enough yet. We haven’t got credibility indicators. We’re not there yet.” And it took me a long time to build the confidence. And then what was happening was, naturally, I was on interviews such as this, or I was getting featured in different expert round ups, or networking with people, and that stuff was happening naturally. And I was thinking, a lot of these places, people I’m talking to, the things I’m listening to, I’m not learning much anymore. I’m providing a lot value than I’m taking from other people.” And that started giving me the confidence that, “Yeah, we actually do know a whole lot more than [inaudible 00:07:08], and we should have started doing this self investing and growth of the agency a long time ago because we could have done it.” There’s a lot of people out there that are doing the …

Drew McClellan:

So that gets to an interesting point of thought leadership. So a lot of agency owners covet being asked to serve on a speakers panel, or speak at a conference, or be interviewed. How did you begin to get on other people’s radar screens so that you became the expert that was sought after?

Aaron Agius:

It started with written content for us, it started with doing guest posting, and then regular contributions. The whole trading up the chain idea in guest posting for some of the lower value sites, using that as a reference point for some of the higher value ones, getting all the way up to some of the best editorial sites in the world like Entrepreneur and Search Engine Journal, Huffington Post, all those sorts of places. And [inaudible 00:08:07] that that was done, those were credibility indicators that we could use in order to leverage positions, speaking positions. So I then used that, moved over to speaking positions, and started doing well on that circuit and [inaudible 00:08:22] as well.

Drew McClellan:

And do you think that that is still as viable a tactic today, the whole guest blogging and working your way up the food chain? Or is there so much content and there’s so much noise out there that that’s been diminished?

Aaron Agius:

I think just, like anything that used to work better and was new, it doesn’t work as well as it did. But if I [inaudible 00:08:47] again, I would certainly do the same thing. I would just take a few shortcuts in getting there. And I do think it’s valuable, because there’s so many reasons for doing content in these places. There’s a lot of people that are doing it thinking, “I’m going to get referral traffic or links from these places,” or whatever else. But for me it was definitely the branding aspect of it, the thought leadership aspect. The fact that I get loads of emails from people saying, “Hey, can I get your comment on this? Can I include in this expert Roundup,” and just lots of opportunities that only show themselves once I was seen places.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. And I know you do this kind of work for your clients as well. Did you employ certain strategies in terms of … Was your attitude, “I will write for anyone anywhere, or were you more targeted,” and I know as it grew and as your reputation grew I’m sure you were more targeted, but in the beginning for agency owners who aren’t doing this, what was your initial strategy to get on people’s radar screens?

Aaron Agius:

The strategy was start on your own website, or our own website so that we had proof that we could write. Then from there, it was reaching out to industry relevant publications, and I always wanted … They just took a while to get into. So what was successful for us was looking for introductions from other people who already contributed. And so once we did that, we were doing some of the best places in our industry, and then the strategy was also, “I wanted to do some of the best editorial publications globally [crosstalk 00:10:26].

Drew McClellan:

Sure, that were broader.

Aaron Agius:

Industry and I covered marketing and things, not just in search and content marketing.

Drew McClellan:

All right, so you’re starting to get published, you’re starting to get invited this speak, you’re starting to build a brand and a name for the agency and for yourself. For many of the listeners, I suspect that’s still a huge leap from doing that, to sitting in a conference room pitching target or Salesforce. So walk us through, because it’s got to be more than confidence. You have to have opportunity. You have to have the right things to say, how did you build all of that from … At that point, did you have multiple offices? Were you just working out of one office, and what was the breaking point for you where you got a client where you were like, “Okay, this is a name client that is going to open the door to other name clients for us.”

Aaron Agius:

Yeah, look, we’re still a completely distributed team. We have a presence in a lot of different countries around the world, but we still operate distributed. In terms of how we got to that point, we still had … The confidence made a big deal of difference because you could talk …

Drew McClellan:

Sure.

Aaron Agius:

That was a big thing for us. One of the other things was seeing that speaking to some people, other people that we knew in agencies that were successful, and seeing that really their pitch documents and proposal documents had the exact same data that ours did, except that they spent $1000, $1,500 on a nice design for it, custom designs that are nice and fluffy and bright and all sorts of things. And so what I tell people about proposals nowadays, especially to agencies that are wanting to grow and attract these bigger customers, is spend the time managing an effort in getting some properly designed, high quality proposal documents together. It just makes a much bigger impact in terms of your agency is and what you stand for. And I found that surprising, because I even found that some of our data that we used to provide was better than these other big agencies, and yet their designs were a whole lot better, and they were closing customers because of that, often.

So that was another area that we focused on. And then in terms of how we were getting the leads, it’s pretty much how we get to them today. 95% of our leads come through inbound markets, and come through the fact that we are featured in these places, and that we do contribute to a publication. It sort of feeds itself, doing it for branding, and then you using the credibility indicators to be able to speak to these big agencies who are then finding you because you’re featured in these places, and that’s sort of self perpetuating.

Drew McClellan:

And do you now today, do you have different criteria for the clients that you work with? Are you structured in a way that you can still work with smaller brands that maybe are not, obviously the budget level or the brand level, that some of your big name clients are, or are you really now moving to mostly working with big global brands?

Aaron Agius:

We only work … At the smallest end we work with funded startups, and then through to enterprise. We decided pretty early on that small business was just not for us. There’s a lot of agencies out there that … I’m not saying that all of the agencies that do small business are doing this, but there’s a lot of agencies that are happy to just operate on the auction and loan where they’re bringing on small business, taking a few hundred dollars from them, not doing anything that they should be. Losing [inaudible 00:14:09] few months and going again. And it just wasn’t ethically right for us to do that. I find that if you haven’t got a budget to spend, it’s really hard to be successful in SEO and content marketing if you’re trying to pay an agency to do it. So yeah.

I also, didn’t like being … With small business, typically the only marketing spend that they have goes onto SEO. And so they’re calling you frequently saying, “Where’s our rankings, where’s our leads?” And the reality is they need to wait six, 12 months often before the results come in. And then because you’re the only marketing spend, they’re not doing any PR, they’re not doing additional content, any other brand awareness. It’s not an environment where the SEO and rankings can really thrive. So we decided to get out of small business pretty fast.

Drew McClellan:

So when you serve a client, are you typically working in conjunction with other agencies, or are you the only agency in the mix?

Aaron Agius:

Sometimes it’ll be PR agencies. Sometimes there are design agencies. We don’t do any design and development, and any PR that we do is really sort of online PR, which is from a link acquisition perspective anyway. Or a brand growth perspective.

Drew McClellan:

And so that’s an ongoing challenge for agencies today. More and more often, they’re finding they’re not the only fox in the henhouse. They’re not the only agency in the mix. How do you make that work with other agencies? How do you collaborate in an environment where it’s so competitive and people are always trying to steal chunks of business from each other? How do you make that work effectively for you and for the client?

Aaron Agius:

We start off making sure that the partners, or the partner agencies that are involved, that they know that a priority for us is making them successful, just like making the client successful. And showing them that we want to be on the same team and want to help promote what they’re doing. And so we haven’t found, personally, that we’ve had anyone encroaching on our business that’s been a partner agency in any way. So maybe we’ve been fortunate, but I think focusing on making sure everyone’s successful that’s involved is pretty critical from the onset.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. I think a cooperation attitude rather than a competitive attitude is almost required. But I think for many agencies, that’s a difficult corner to turn.

Aaron Agius:

It is. But the other thing is, and I’ve come back to the statement on confidence a couple of times, is our confidence level in our services and knowing that there’s not many people to compete with, means that we’re comfortable in those sorts of positions. Because if there’s another agency involved that’s a design and development agency, that their specialty, if they’re going to say that they do SEO and content world, then they’re not going to be as good as we are, because they’re doing multiple different services. So that key confidence that everyone’s focusing on their specialty.

Drew McClellan:

This is great. I have so many more questions I want to ask you, but I want to take a quick second and pause, because lots of the podcast listeners have been asking me about other resources that AMI can offer them or introduce them to, extend are learning beyond the podcast. So I want to give them that information, and then we will get right back into the questions I have for you.

I hope you’re finding this content really helpful. I just wanted to take a quick pause and remind you that on top of the podcast, we also do a lot of live workshops for agency owners, agency leaders, and account service staff. If you’re interested in the schedule, check it out at agencymanagementinstitute.com/live. Let’s get back to the show.

So you talked earlier about being a distributed team. Are you finding challenges? Lots of traditional agencies are struggling to great talent. To find and keep great talent. Is that an issue for your agency, or have you cracked that nut?

Aaron Agius:

It’s a challenge for us … The place where it’s important in our business to have the best talent is client facing. Our back of house … There’s so many people that can do of house stuff. That can run data, can run tools, that can [inaudible 00:18:33] information on different websites. It’s what happens with that data, how it’s packaged, the story that’s told, the analysis, and the delivery to the client that makes the biggest impact for us. And so yeah, those people are [inaudible 00:18:47] in our business, and they’re hard to find, and with good reason. But yeah, that’s the only struggle that we have. But typically, we don’t need to find them too often. Most of our front of house staff have been around for greater than five years, six years.

Drew McClellan:

So retention is a challenge in a lot of agencies. It sounds like you are not having that issue. Why do you think that is? What have you created in your culture and the way you work with clients and the way you work with each other that makes you guys sticky as an employer?

Aaron Agius:

Well, we … I only am very worried about our front of house staff, as I mentioned. Our back of house staff, what we’ve done is, because we use distributed [inaudible 00:19:30], we’ve actually helped create smaller agencies in other countries where we’ve said, “We are going to teach you exactly what we do, we’re going to give our processes and systems and allow you to use them to set up and look after your own clients locally. We are your number one priority, and we have login arrangements with them.” So we’ve essentially enabled them to be able to earn and create a business themselves, while supporting us. And that’s exactly what we need as a priority. And that’s really worked for us. And it’s meant that automatically we’ve put management levels in place without even meaning it. So we’re not just using freelancers and contractors everywhere. We’ve got proper management levels in place, that means that we don’t even know if one of the the lower level staff has moved on, because our managers take care of that.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. It’s a great model. I have a couple other agencies inside the AMI networks that have done the exact same thing, that they’ve built, in essence, mirror companies that deliver a subset of skills they need that also allow them to go on and earn income inside their own country.

So what about the front of the house? It sounds like you’re able to keep those folks, and obviously I’m sure they’re in high demand and they’re very talented. So what have you done culturally to make working for you guys the right choice and a long term choice for your employees? Because lots of agencies are really struggling with that, especially as you say, in the client facing or account service roles.

Aaron Agius:

Yeah. So we’ve paid them well, firstly. I don’t mind paying these guys [inaudible 00:21:08] to keep [inaudible 00:21:08]. I know how valuable they are. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is, given that we are a distributed team, there’s plenty of flexibility for them to be working in whatever they want to wear in front of their computer. There’s no travel time. They can do it in comfortable, a very comfortable room. They can travel where they want. They can then go and be in Thailand and move to Thailand and do it from over there for periods of time, as long as they’re sticking with their video calls and meetings with the clients. So that flexibility and high pay is what has made people stick around, I believe. Plus I’d like to think that we’re nice.

Drew McClellan:

Of course. So one of the things that you’ve talked about in several interviews that I wanted to dig into is you have an interesting LinkedIn strategy in terms of your biz dev model. Can you tell the listeners a little bit about how you leverage LinkedIn, and what your strategy is around that?

Aaron Agius:

I can. There’s a few ways that I leverage LinkedIn. And one of them was that long time ago when I first started this, I created a group on LinkedIn called The Marketing Leaders of Australia Group. And what I then did was went out and invited all of the marketers … Pretty much our target clients. All the digital marketers, national marketers, CMOs, and all of those people into the group. And what happened then is they felt that they were considered a marketing leader because they’re being invited to the group, and then I put myself in a position of authority because I was inviting them to a group that I was leader of.

Then what I would do is distribute content, just curated content to the group, and invite them to curate that as well. What that would do was it would … When you’re a member of a group on LinkedIn, you get weekly digest of the content that’s shared in the group and it goes straight into your email inbox. So essentially what I was doing there was building up an email list of our target clients that I could get content to their inbox once a week. And that worked really well. Plus if you’re a member of a group, you can direct message the members of the group, do group broadcasts. So it was a great way of sharing content, positioning myself in the way that I wanted, and also running direct message campaigns to drive leads.

Drew McClellan:

And so as you were driving direct message campaigns, were you doing that ,in a mass way or were you sending individual … Would you send a note specifically to me, Drew, about something you thought was relevant to just me, Drew?

Aaron Agius:

A mixture of all of them. I wouldn’t say that we just ran one campaign over the years. We’ve run many. Account based marketing through to hire volume that was, “Hey, check out this content,” “Hey, I’d love to share more content with you. Love what you’re doing,” and I would comment on things that they’re involved in their profile, that they are liking or sharing in terms of content. So try to build a relationship that way, and then third or fourth message somewhere down the path would be, “Look, I think we’re going love to get on a call. Is that something you’re interested in?”

Drew McClellan:

And the success rate of that sounds like that worked well for you, and are you still doing it today?

Aaron Agius:

Within the very first month that I started doing that, I closed a client that was above $5,000 a month in revenue, and they’re still with us today, and yes we still do it today. And yeah, we’ve got a whole lot of stuff happening on LinkedIn, and it’s somewhere I enjoy marketing.

Drew McClellan:

And you said you had a couple other strategies around LinkedIn. How else are you leveraging that?

Aaron Agius:

One of my favorites is using it as a distribution platform for content. So there’s ways of connecting our social distribution and scheduling tools like Buffer to connect to loads of different groups within LinkedIn. So what I did is connected to, I don’t know, 50 or something marketing groups, connected them to Buffer, and then whenever I had to distribute content or wanted to distribute our own content or curated content, I was doing it at set times through Buffer to these groups. Some of them have millions of different people involved in them. So it was a really way of looking like I was everywhere, and being in many different places by many different people in an audience that I didn’t have to create.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. That’s a great strategy. Yeah. And I’m assuming what you did was you identified content creators who were always putting out good and strong content, so you knew that you could leverage that content on a consistent basis, right?

Aaron Agius:

Yeah, exactly. Everything … It’s something that I say to everyone, is it doesn’t matter what marketing you’re doing, everything comes down to having great content. It’s what fuels every marketing channel. And so it’s essential to have that no matter where you’re going and doing it all.

Drew McClellan:

One of the things that your agency talks a lot about is measuring the ROI. That at the end of the day, if you’re not driving more money into your clients’ cash registers, if you will, then it doesn’t really matter about the clicks or the likes or whatever. And a lot of agencies struggle in their partnership with clients, figuring out how to demo … Especially for things like content. I was just with a bunch of agency owners today and they were talking about, how do I prove the ROI of content for my client? Especially if my client, their CRM system or their sales database or whatever, is not as robust as I would want it to be? Are there strategies around how you embrace a client, and help them figure out how you guys are going to document and measure success in ROI?

Aaron Agius:

Yeah, it is. What we do is have a look at conversions. So we get access to analytics, have a look at the conversions that our sites are currently getting, our clients are currently getting, and we go ahead and make sure that we’re looking at dollar values associated with those conversions. And then when we are estimating traffic increases, we’re able to say, “Well, this sort of traffic increase would mean this sort of conversion increase,” and bring it back to a dollar value to show an ROI for what they’re spending there. There’s so many, when you’re talking about how to measure content marketing in a self and individual pieces of content, that’s a tricky one. I actually just did a whole blog post on that on our website a few months ago that that breaks down how we do it. It can be tricky, and for me to try and explain it in this call would be difficult, but I encourage people to check out the post as well.

Drew McClellan:

We’ll put a link to the post in the show notes so people can go read that. So that’ll be awesome. And your clients are probably large enough that they have more sophisticated tools to measure conversions in sales and ROI. As you were growing the business, and maybe before you were working with the likes of Coca Cola, but you were working with smaller, maybe regional businesses, did you have a different strategies for how you measured ROI or have you always done it in the same ways?

Aaron Agius:

We’ve always tried to do it … There’s often gaps with people in their analytics where they’ve not set up their conversions and not assigned dollar values to them. And that’s tricky. But we’ve always aimed to do that. And I don’t know whether you will or won’t be surprised, but a lot of these big companies aren’t actually set up in as a sophisticated manner as you’d assume. And a lot of that data is missing, or is destroyed by … Because it’s split up in multiple different programs, [inaudible 00:29:07] inaccessible. And it’s quite amusing when you give. Some of these big companies the impression you thought you’d have working with them versus what actually happens behind the scene.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. I think all along the way, I was with an agency on a day who made that comment that sometimes they get inside a client and they think, “I don’t know how these people are actually making money,” because they’re not as sophisticated, or they don’t have their act together as well as you think they would. So I guess it’s probably, I don’t know, maybe comforting to hear that it happens even with the big global brands. So in that case then, then you’re going back in and doing a little bit of cleanup work to get things lined up properly so you can start, in essence to, count, right?

Aaron Agius:

Yeah, definitely. That’s one of the first things. But in terms of being able to try and win the client and prove the value, if we can’t prove an ROI for the work being done, then we can flip back and say, “Okay, well let’s look at the risk aspect of not doing this work or not cleaning this up, and not fixing these problems,” and try and track it back that way to say, “Look, your competitors are doing this. We can see how much they’re making, or the value that they’ve got out of this.” Or we can say, “We had another client that had a penalty that you guys are close to receiving,” because you’ve not fixed X, Y, Z, and this is how much it costs them. So there’s different ways that we’ve tried to show value like that as well.

Drew McClellan:

So all of that, talking about penalties, and I think about the ever changing algorithms and all of that. How do you stay current and ahead of the wave of information that’s out there, and the changes that are happening almost on a daily basis? How do you and your team stay ahead of what’s coming next?

Aaron Agius:

I personally consider it a priority in my role as the CEO of the company to be able to stay on top of these things, be very close to the news sources, strong networks with people, and know which publications to be reading. And I hear things through connections that I have, and often that allows me to be able to create the sort of content and the sort of news that people then benefit from and take action from. Yeah, it’s the fact that I’m going and speaking at events and networking with people, networking with people online and collaborating with people. It’s usually … As time’s gone on, it’s usually people that are influencing industry, and everyone seems to know a little bit of something, and can share and collaborate that way.

Drew McClellan:

And for you, what are the resources, not counting people, but what are the resources where you say, “I wouldn’t be able to do my job very effectively if X, Y, Z, wasn’t around.” So what are your go-to, I’ve got to read this on a daily or weekly or whatever it is basis, to make sure that I’m staying current? Where are your must, “I can’t miss out on these.”

Aaron Agius:

I have so many of them. So I have a lot of content that automatically pulls in through different feeds and dumps in a central place. And so I often don’t know the content that I’m reading, which side it’s on. But off the top of my head, some of the sites that I’m regularly reading, Search Engine Journal, definitely reading Neil’s stuff at QuickSprout and [inaudible 00:32:43].com, Marketing Land, Conversion Excel and [inaudible 00:32:52] fantastic. Look, I could keep going. There’s lots of content out there.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, that’s right. So in terms of your clients, how do you … Because is the world that you live in with clients is evolving so quickly, how do you go about keeping your clients educated so that they will go along on the path with you or the journey with you? Or do you feel that they’ll just do what you suggest they’ll do because you’re delivering ROI, so they don’t really need to understand it?

Aaron Agius:

The size of businesses that we deal with, our contacts are typically the digital marketing managers, or the CMOs. And as they’re in those positions, they’re typically quite knowledgeable, and very interested as to where they’re going. So the [inaudible 00:33:35] level there, and they always seem to know part of what we’re saying and be able to piece it together as we’re explaining. So usually we want to make sure they understand why they’re doing things, but it’s not uphill battle to get them to understand it for most of our clients.

Drew McClellan:

So for a lot of agencies, we’re always chasing the new client, we always want the new acquisition, even though for most agencies a lot of their new revenue should and does come from their existing clients. So in an industry, and with an agency like you guys, where you are constantly creating content and educating everyone, how do you make clients feel special? Like they get some sort of secret sauce or secret information or secret access. How do you make them feel like you’re still courting and wooing them, even though you’ve had them as a client for a year, or five years, or however long it’s been since they’ve been on the roster?

Aaron Agius:

Okay. So I make sure that from the get go, our clients understand that there is no secret sauce, there is no magic that happens, and that the thing they should be excited about is the results that they’re going to get. So I make sure that they’re aware of that and that we are delivering on that. The reason that we can keep them happy and engaged with us is also because, and this happens regularly, often a client will email me a piece of content that I’d written and distributed somewhere, or entrepreneur piece that I’d written, or they hear a podcast, an episode that we’ve recorded, and they think, “Oh, that was really relevant,” or, “I really loved this.” And the fact that they are hearing us in many places and seeing us dealing with so many other big companies, I think that that excites them to know that they’re in good company, and in a good place with us.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. I’m sure that’s true. Absolutely. So one of the comments that you made in an interesting interview, was you’re talking about the fact that very few people do SEO correctly. And I think a lot of agencies, particularly traditional agencies that come from a very analog background, they’ve been around for 30 or 50 years and they’re trying to catch up on the digital side, what are some of the mistakes you see being made out there that even well-meaning companies or agencies are tripping over themselves, that you shake your head a little bit and you say, “Okay, that’s SEO being done incorrectly.”

Aaron Agius:

Okay. So what I see is people … Well, if we’re talking smaller business, I see people working for their clients and after a while saying, “Look, I’m not seeing any results,” so eventually they go and try things like private blog networks or little ways that they can think to get their client results and be able to hang on to them a little longer. That’s a mistake in itself.

I see people jumping on the bandwagon of wanting to do content marketing, and they need content because therefore you can get the links that you need. And what I find then is that people just still are trying to take shortcuts with content, and writing it for search engines, writing it so they can get loads of internal and external links, and not really thinking about the value to a reader, where it’s going to be distributed, and if it’s a piece of content that is something that you’d naturally want to link to through your own website and that you’d share socially. Those two things for us are really key when creating a piece of content. I see so many people just ignoring that and creating content for the sake of content for their clients, and struggling on the link reach. I think those are the common things that would be happening.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. The creating content based on the recipe of how many times you have to say the keywords and all that, as opposed to creating content that people are going to go, “Wow, that was awesome. I want to share it,” Or, “I want to link to it,” or, “I want to find out more about the company that wrote that content.”

Aaron Agius:

Exactly. But it’s so [inaudible 00:37:37] you have the right content strategy in place, because that leads the marketing. If you think about it from a marketing perspective first, it’s can this thing be linked to and ship socially, and would that happen naturally if people came across it? And if so, the whole marketing side of things is going to be a lot more friction free and successful

Drew McClellan:

Absolutely. So we need to wrap things up cause I want to be respectful of your time, but I’m curious, what trends are you paying attention to? What do you think is coming next? The business is evolving so quickly today. So what’s on your radar screen that you know in the next six, 12, 18 months is going to bubble up and be something that you and your clients are really going to be focused on?

Aaron Agius:

I know what it is, but I don’t know how to get there yet. And I believe that’s around artificial intelligence and machine learning, and how that impacts search and content in terms of things like personalization, and basing search based on where you’re searching from, and the weather in your area, and so many different aspects. I think that that’s coming, and I’ve heard straight from Google that that is coming, but I don’t quite know how to take advantage of that just yet.

Drew McClellan:

It’s a fascinating time to be doing what we’re doing, because every day it changes a little bit and it’s new.

Aaron Agius:

Yeah. That’s one of the things that I love about it. And for me, this is why I love SEO and content. And it’s the core of our business is because of the competitive aspect of it. I love the fact that if you know more, try harder, and earn your way a bit, then you get the results, and you’ve got to have your finger on the pulse of all of these changes that happen.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. There’s no set it and forget it in our business anymore.

Aaron Agius:

No.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. Yeah, I agree. Anything else that you would like to share with the listeners as we wrap up? I know that there was a welcome page that you wanted to talk a little bit about, so do you want to tell us a little bit about that?

Aaron Agius:

Yeah. Please head over to the website. I’ll make sure that the full URL is in the show notes as well. We’re at [inaudible 00:39:48] online. You can on find me on Twitter @IamAaronAgius, find me on LinkedIn as well. But any of those sources, you’re sure get in contact.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. Awesome. I will make sure all that’s in the show notes. Aaron, I knew this was going to be a fascinating conversation. I know the listeners are going to eat it up and be excited about it, and I’m guessing that you’ll hear from some of them. So thank you very much for your time. I appreciate you sharing your expertise, and some of the insider information about how you’ve built the business. It’s an amazing evolution from where you started. So congratulations on that, and it’ll be fun to see where you take it next, because I’m sure you have places still to go.

Aaron Agius:

Thank you. I really appreciate you having me.

Drew McClellan:

Okay everybody, this wraps up another episode of Build a Better Agency. I will be back next week with another guest to help you build a bigger, better, stronger agency. In the meantime, if you need to get ahold of me, you know how to reach me. I’m [email protected] Have a great week, and I will be back next week with another guest. Talk to you soon.

Speaker 1:

That’s all for this episode of Build a Better Agency. Be sure to visit agencymanagementinstitute.com to learn more about our workshops, and other ways we serve small to mid-sized agencies. While you’re there, sign up for our e-newsletter, grab our free e-book, and check out the blog. Growing a bigger, better agency that makes more money, attracts bigger clients, and doesn’t consume your life is possible here on Build a Better Agency.