The new SharpSpring Agency Growth Series features an awesome curated lineup of the top influencers in digital marketing. We could not be more excited about the group of great minds we were lucky enough to pull together to make this agency-focused series happen.

The free series is made up of 14 unique web sessions, all with a livestream Q&A segment, and all focused on helping agencies accelerate their growth.

Sessions feature digital marketing superstars speaking candidly about the industry topics they know best and are most passionate about. And we want to make sure to share the love – so, in addition to providing recordings of the sessions and live Q&As, we’ll also be posting key takeaways here following each session.

Here’s a look at a few key highlights we pulled from our recent Agency Growth Series session “Influencer Marketing & SEO” with author, speaker and tech company founder, Rand Fishkin.

Rand Fishkin on challenges for agencies

I think that a lot of agencies sell themselves short by not having conversations around strategy and how it connects to tactics. And so, you know, the challenge becomes building a practice where you can have that higher level executive conversation about why are you trying to achieve these things, and what are the goals for what you’re achieving. And then how do we know how to do the tactics that we’re engaging in, plug into that?

Rand Fishkin on influencer marketing

I think that six, seven years ago, influencer marketing, you know, the definition, if you’d asked marketers, ‘Hey, what is influencer marketing?’, they would’ve said, ‘Oh, that’s the process whereby you go and find all of the sources of influence, the blogs and Web sites and mainstream media and podcasts and YouTube channels and social accounts that your audience follows, listens to, pays attention to and you go do marketing in all of those places directly,’ which, which I think is brilliant. What a great way to do marketing.

Today, unfortunately, influencer marketing has come to mean pay half naked people on Instagram $500 to pose with your product, which is a very niche tactic that’s probably dumb for most people, but works for a few B2C brands in some very particular industries. And it’s extremely frustrating to me that the definition of that phrase has changed.

Rand Fishkin on hiring agencies vs. employees

I love using agencies. It helps my cost structure. I get way more value from working with savvy agencies and consultants because they see my problem, you know, 100 times in a year from 100 different companies instead of just once from us, right? And so the perspective that they bring, the ability to make smart, quick decisions is is just terrific, right? Having seen that problem before and seen how people solved it or didn’t. That’s huge. I, I love that.

Rand Fishkin on demand for SEO

My perception is that there is more opportunity now in SEO than there ever has been. Meaning there’s there’s more interest, there are more companies that are investing in it, that want to invest in it. I get emails almost every day asking me, ‘Hey, do you provide SEO services?’ To which of course, my answer is ‘no, but I can probably refer you to somebody good who does.’

And my sense on the on the other side of that, on the on the negative side of that equation, is that I have been monitoring for several years and reporting on it via the SparkToro, our blog, Clickstream data, about what’s happening with Google’s search volume and what’s happening with their search referrals. And you can see a pretty clear pattern in the last five or six years where Google is essentially doing two, three things.

Number one, the percent of searches that result in a paid click–click on one of Google’s ads–that has gone up pretty dramatically, I think, 30, 35 percent over the last five, six years, maybe even more than that. Simultaneously, the percent of clicks that Google is sending back to their own properties. So you search Google, you get to Google Maps, Google Flights, Google Hotels, Google Jobs, YouTube. You know, one of Google’s entertainment sort of one boxes, right? That gives you all the details about that stuff. Or go back to enhanced results inside Google search itself. That number has been climbing pretty dramatically. I believe the last time I got data was January, and it was around 6 percent of all searches, 12 percent of all clicks, going back to an Alphabet property, which is obviously Google’s parent company.

And then the third one is the worst news of all, which is that the percentage, of course, the percentage of searches that result in an organic non paid click, which is where SEO gets all of its value, that’s gone down, right? And that’s dropped fairly precipitously. It’s more on mobile than on desktop. And so, interestingly enough, in the pandemic, when we’re all at home and we’re on our desktops and laptops, that number hasn’t been shrinking as fast this year. It’s been sort of plateauing as a result of everybody using their desktops more and their mobiles a little less.

Rand Fishkin on SparkToro’s most successful acquisition channel

Our most successful acquisition channel by far, and very obviously, is other people’s platforms. So essentially every week I am doing a few things, just like what I’m doing with you today Chip, and essentially being on other people’s podcasts, doing webinars, doing events and conferences. I’ve done a number of like AMAs on different Web sites and in different communities and been published on other people’s blogs and written about and a lot of that comes through essentially my own activity, like going to social networks, you know, posting some things, engaging, building relationships. We’ve done a lot of email marketing, all that kind of stuff.

Rand Fishkin on email versus social media

So you can see that–you know, whatever it was six years ago, seven years ago–the average engagement rate on a Facebook page post was in 7-8% range. Today, the average engagement rate with a page with a post from the percent of people who liked a page is 0.09%. That’s according to Rival IQ, who puts out a very good report every year. But 0.09% is… Why would you ever try and get Facebook likes? What’s the point? Right? Just get an email address. My God. Email addresses, they’ll have a 25% open rate.

Rand Fishkin on the power of sleep

To be honest, the best advice I can give you is it’s very challenging but sleep, getting lots of sleep, not just enough sleep, but a lot of sleep is really good for your mental health and psychology.

And, you know, when I think about what an agency owner, what a manager, what a CEO has to do, well, it is to make great decisions. And all the scientific research in the world says that your decision-making skills will be best when you are well-fed and well-rested and in reasonably good shape.

Your physical body is what is providing a ton of the quality around your decision making. So if you can find ways, whatever they are, to get, you know, nine hours in bed and eight hours of sleep or however much, you know, your body needs, that will be that will be huge. It’s way more important for you to do that than get that extra hour of work in. Those extra two hours of work in.

I think that we have this weird culture in American entrepreneurship that prioritizes and glorifies the sacrifice of your body and yourself and your health in exchange for your business and that is not how it works at all. That is, in fact, the opposite of how, how you do well in your working life. You, you sleep well, you eat well, you get your 45 minutes of exercise a day. You know, you go on your walk, you ignore your e-mail for a little bit and your decision-making skills, your ability to choose what you invest in and how and why, will be massively upgraded. That’s, I think, how you keep your sanity and momentum.

Interested in watching Rand Fishkin’s entire Agency Growth Series session? You can find the full recording on our website.

If you missed our previous Agency Growth Series sessions, you can check them out here:

Optimize Conversion Rates for Clients with Neil Patel

Positioning Your Agency with David C. Baker 

Turning Conversations into Clients with Tom Martin

Driving Momentum for Your Agency and Your Clients with Shama Hyder

How Agencies Can Successfully Sell in 2020 and Beyond with Drew McLellan

What SMBS Want From Agencies with Chris Brogan

It’s not too late to sign up for all of the rest of our Agency Growth Series sessions. You can still catch top influencers like Ann Handley, Ann Smarty, Seth Godin, and many more!

Rebecca Wentworth