So when Return's Managing Director, Guy Levine, agreed to a round of In Conversation With, the award-winning blog series by Infinity, we were eager to get his insights on the Manchester agency scene.
Return does exactly what it says on the tin. It ensures a healthy return on any client's marketing efforts by providing a wide range of client services. Not only this, but the Return team focuses heavily on human behaviour and learning what makes consumers tick. By leveraging smart technology to gather insights, Return is able to offer human-led marketing to any client.
Let’s get started.
Tell us a bit about who you are, and what you do?
I’m the managing director of my agency, Return. On a day to day, we help our clients generate more visitors and then enable them to sell more through eCommerce sites or generate leads. I established the business in 2008 with just myself and a freelancer, and now there’s just under 40 of us working at our HQ in Manchester.
Manchester has been named the fastest-growing tech city in Europe. Was that a deliberate decision to set up camp there, and how have you found it?
There’s no strategic reason as to why I set up in Manchester. The simple reason is that I live here.
It’s a fantastic city, I was born and bred in London but I moved up North. It truly is the second city, which of course has its positives and negatives. It has the vibrancy of London, but a smaller population and that can affect our talent recruitment and acquiring new clients. The positives are that the tech businesses who operate nearby are genuinely all friends.
In fact, we’re in an agency WhatsApp group. Given everything going on at the moment, it’s quite busy. We’re chatting to each other about webinars and Google hangouts we can attend.
One of Return’s specialities is your focus on conversion rate optimisation and learning what makes visitors tick. What’s a visitor behaviour that surprised you over the years?
I don’t think consumer behaviour has changed one bit from the beginning of time to now. All that’s changed is the channels that we have, which ultimately means people can exhibit their behaviours faster.
I’m interested in the conversation that’s going on in the consumer’s brain. Everyone is so obsessed with what the page looks like and what you want people to click on. But what they forget is that there’s a conversation going on in their customer’s head. And, if you can figure out what that conversation may look like, you might be able to say to your customer, “I have something for you that’s tailored to what you really want.”
Once you’ve made someone want something, it doesn’t matter how you package it.
What questions should your clients be asking you in 2020?
Clients should be asking what agencies have in place to provide consistent results, and not just one-off results.
When someone comes to your website they are thinking in their head about the things they are looking for and why they want them - whether they should be spending before pay day, whether they have heard it all before but are checking out this service anyway, or whether they intend to buy as their friend recommended them. So it's those thoughts and internal conversations that marketers have to tap into, not just pretty design.
You should also ask how you can scale their existing results too. A lot of agencies can provide quick results, but often we’ve found that clients want dependable and consistent results. If I was asking questions to an agency, I’d want to know about repeatability and tactics.
It’s about making sure that the agency you work with is looking to the future so they can repeat successes for you.
Customers can choose how they interact with a brand, in whatever way. How can businesses provide an omnichannel experience?
The best way to plan your journeys nowadays is to make sure you are where your customers are. That’s really the easiest way to explain omnichannel. If your customers are dual screening, playing youtube videos, or on WhatsApp - all you really need to do is to match up where they are in their buying cycle, and which channel they’re on at the time. Then all that’s left is to create a message that shows at the right channel at the right time.
How important is including a phone number in terms of generating more sales/leads from your website?
Great question. It depends on what you want your site to do. But, most of our lead gen clients want people to fill in a form so they can be rung back. Here’s where the telephone removes a whole lot of friction and puts people where you want them to be in the first place.
If your desire is to get someone to fill in a form just so you can ring them back, just get them to ring you in the first place.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give a start-up’s marketing team?
I would tell them to re-name their sales/marketing teams to the "lead generation and conversion" team. Because when you begin looking at your marketing as something that needs to generate leads, rather than something that is an afterthought, it begins to focus your team. It makes them think about what your marketing is going to actually achieve
It makes you think about what you actually want to happen as a result.
So for example, if you’re running an event, you might put four months worth of marketing before the event and that’s great. But ultimately it’s about what you’re going to do to create leads after the event that will determine your success. A lot of marketing is nice to look at, but what is it actually doing for your business?
What’s the future of agencies?
I think the future of the agency is to amass as much experience and knowledge of the changing marketing landscape and to be able to feed that into clients to help them with their growth plans. The trick is to bring different agency workers from a wide variety of sector experience and use this knowledge to better your client’s campaigns.
We notice a lot of B2B clients want to work with us because we have a B2C expertise. We give a fresh take on their customer’s behaviour and their campaigns.
In what way?
B2B used to be really slow. Decision-makers would take months and the only way to get information was by speaking to a salesperson. Now so much is online and customers want information quickly, B2B companies are having to speed up, which is where B2C expertise is essential.
A huge thank you to Guy for taking the time to meet with us for this interview.
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