"No win, no fee" is a line that we've all heard somewhere before. And while these few words are generally associated with litigation claims, this has been the theme of the business model that has yielded the success that interactive marketing agency, Convurgency, enjoys today.
Based in Toronto, Canada, Convurgency was established in 2006. Starting out as a small company with a single mission of showing small-to-medium businesses how to cost-effectively harness the online world and boost brand equity, the company has grown to a headcount of over 30 employees and developed into a business that works with its clients on a performance-led basis, equating to extraordinary outcomes.
Working with clients in a commission-based manner delivers results, says Justin Cook, president of Convurgency, adding that the relationship focuses solely on increasing clients' profits.
"The reason that we decided to go for this type of business model is because it removes the worry on our clients' part. If we don't do the appropriate work for them then we don't get paid. Our clients pay us based on the actual performance of the campaign and the returns on their business. This also works for us because it means that we no longer need to sell our services. Convurgency becomes more than a simple web contractor. We become a dedicated Internet marketing arm - an extension of our clients' organization driven to deliver the best possible return," explains Cook.
In order for the agency's pay-per-lead business model to be effective, Convurgency requires a very stringent assessment of all prospective clients before they can be accepted as partners. Cook refers to this process as "the three pillars," which evaluates aspects such as the quality of clients (the company/brand and its reputation); quantity (will the campaign produce a big enough volume for any efforts to be effective?); as well as quantifiable elements (value per transaction, margins, closing rates).
"There's a lot of due diligence that we do that allows us to quickly determine whether or not we are able to work with a company. This includes tasks such as researching social reviews on the web, which gives us information on things like a company's financials, their size, client history, any complaints and resolutions," Cook says.
He adds that Convurgency also uses additional research and calculation tools provided by Google Engage that have enabled the agency to make more accurate business decisions and produce better campaigns.
"Having access to some of the extra tools and data has given us the ability to determine exactly what method would work best in generating conversions for clients. These tools have also given us a better understanding of the costs of campaign," Cook notes.
Convurgency's organizational structure is another characteristic that differentiates the agency from some of its peers and assists in the performance of client campaigns, according to Cook. The team is split into specific groups with separate skills, allowing each team member to excel in an individual area. Once this has been done, the team reunites with their respective data for their particular area, and recommendations are shared on how the campaign can be improved all around.
"Whether it is different ways of driving traffic, or lowering costs per visitor, as just two examples, this is then done as a team so we can have all specialized perspectives involved," Cook comments.
Despite Convurgency's already rigorous processes, the success of a campaign can be very volatile and constant testing is always needed. Done right and this can drastically improve performance. Cook gives the example of one client, who could not be named, and says that at one point the agency tested over 230 variations of a single landing page, with nine different campaigns channelling through. This determined which combination of variables led to the highest conversion rate and the agency was able to take the microsite from 5 percent conversion to over 17 percent. "It was phenomenal," he comments.
Looking forward, Cook hopes to expand Convurgency's business into particular verticals. Up until now, all prospective clients have approached the company by rankings or personal referrals, and Convurgency has never been able to choose its direction. This is going to change, says Cook, and the agency is planning to research, propose, and pitch into specific market segments. "Watch this space," he concludes.
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Melanie White is the Editor of ClickZ, where she has worked since July 2012. White has been with Incisive Media (ClickZ's parent company) since 2009 where she was Deputy Editor/ US Editor for one of the financial risk management titles, International Custody and Fund Administration (later Custody Risk).
In addition, White worked on FX Week where she was a Senior Reporter. She has also worked and contributed to a number of other titles, including The Accountant, International Accounting Bulletin, the New York Post, Independent Magazine (UK), as well as the broadcast title Sunday Live with Adam Boulton at Sky News.
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