Twenty years ago as a marketing agency founder and executive, I hungered to visualize more clearly the value we provided clients, both to prove ROI and to make our firm indispensable. For certain, I knew we were effectively executing programs and campaigns against an overall strategy, but connecting specific tactics to specific results was a constant struggle. With so much gray area, defending ‘squidgy’ metrics made me uncomfortable. The famous quote from advertising’s godfather, David Ogilvy, certainly rang true: “Fifty-percent of all advertising is useless. We just don’t know which 50%.”
Enter Marketing Automation
‘Squidgy’ was the norm until about ten years when two companies, one in Boston and another in San Francisco, attacked the metrics problem with fierce energy. Their efforts birthed marketing automation, which dramatically changed the landscape for the better forever and now is a virtual juggernaut. With marketing automation, agencies and clients could manage their marketing initiatives more wisely, measure results more accurately, and generate more revenue. If he were still among us, Ogilvy would be applauding. Trailblazers both, these two companies spawned an industry that continues to grow rapidly. Marketers everywhere rejoiced.
Like most nascent industries, however, our friends in Boston and San Francisco targeted large enterprises that sported massive marketing budgets. And, smartly, they priced their subscriptions accordingly. The race to lock in customers was on. Agencies and clients that took the plunge swallowed hard to cover the monthly nut, believing in marketing automation’s awesome promise. Left out, however, were small to medium agencies and businesses that simply could not afford these pricey platforms. I know, because I was one of them. I could not justify these subscription prices to my agency’s clients or, later as CMO on the client side, to my CEO. Powerful and promising, while certainly enticing, could not overcome pricey.
Marketing Automation 2.0 – Breaking Down The Price Barrier
Sensing an opening, SharpSpring’s co-founders Rick Carlson and Travis Whitton committed to building an equally powerful and promising marketing automation platform, but without the colossal price tag. Entering the market at approximately one-tenth the price of those in Boston and approximately one-eighth the price of those friends in San Francisco, SharpSpring’s business model threw open the doors to thousands of underserved agencies and businesses. While Boston and San Francisco turned marketing on its head for those with significant wherewithal, SharpSpring made marketing automation available to the masses.
Let’s call this Marketing Automation 2.0 and mark its beginning a couple of years ago. Representing astonishingly fast growth, more than 1,000 agencies and 5,000 businesses in more than 50 countries around the world now choose SharpSpring and rely on it to power their marketing campaigns and generate higher revenues. I use the word “choose” intentionally because SharpSpring operates on month-to-month contracts, meaning each month 100% of its client base comes up for renewal.
SharpSpring’s disruptive and insurgent business model is hugely popular, permanently upending price expectations and measurably advancing ROI. Despite competitors’ eight-year head starts, SharpSpring has leapfrogged all but one in terms of agency market share. As SharpSpring’s new and inaugural Chief Marketing Officer, I am eager to attempt to take that hill. We love them for educating and evangelizing the space, but we’re happy to continue to compete for share.
Sadly, I had never heard of SharpSpring until a few months ago when an executive search firm reached out to discuss the CMO role. Having selected, implemented and managed marketing automation platforms for more than a dozen clients in recent years as a fractional CMO, I am familiar with their features, benefits and shortcomings. As I peeked under SharpSpring’s hood, I expected to find little more than an email platform on steroids. Whoa Nellie, was I ever wrong. Pound for pound SharpSpring is every bit the heavy weight as the others and price for price, well, there’s no comparison. SharpSpring has the power to improve your funnel with features like behavioral-based email automation, dynamic forms and landing pages, anonymous site visitor identification, dynamic lists/segmentation and even a full CRM if you need it. Plus, it’s an open system that integrates with all of the tools you’re already using.
What Our Agency Partners Are Telling Me
Sure, I’m biased. I work here now, so a grain of salt is warranted. That’s why I reached out to dozens of our agency partners across the globe to understand how SharpSpring has helped them grow. Some reported increased revenue per client of 50%. Others have added dozens of new clients inside of a year. One agency has north of 90 clients on the platform! Many underscored that retainer based relationships with predictable revenue flows has helped smooth out the lumpy project-based revenue and made staffing decisions far easier. The bottom line: all said that SharpSpring has meaningfully changed their businesses for the better and that they’re generating huge ROI.
So, Why Am I Here?
I have more than a few grey hairs on my head, and I have more than a few decades of marketing under my belt. With that experience guiding me, I chose this role because there is magic happening here at SharpSpring…marketing automation magic. Check out Boston and San Francisco to learn about marketing automation. They have produced tons of great content to educate you. Then save yourself a boat load of zeros and buy SharpSpring.
If you’re an agency executive or a senior marketer contemplating marketing automation and just want to connect with someone who “gets” you, I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email at AndrewD@sharpspring.com and let’s connect.