An online marketing agency that provides a complete suite of services for startups and small businesses seeking to grow their audience and revenue online.
Founded in 2012, Visually is a full-service digital marketing agency that provides everything from strategy to execution. The agency was co-founded by Max Fisher, who previously worked as SVP of Marketing at Airbnb, and Steve Shingles, who previously founded iContact.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Fisher and Shingles to learn more about how they came up with the idea for Visually, and what types of clients they typically work with.
A Brief History Of Visually
Steve Shingles and Max Fisher met while attending Northwestern University. Shingles, who graduated with a degree in Computer Science, started his career as a product manager at iContact, where Fisher worked as an Associate Product Manager. While there, they became friends and eventually decided to found their own agency.
The two built a strategic partnership and established Visually in 2012, after iContact was acquired by HubSpot. During the time that they were building Visually, the two co-founded HubSpot’s original marketing agency, SendWaves, which was later acquired by iContact.
Today, Visually is a full-service digital marketing agency that provides everything from strategy to execution for customers seeking to grow their audience and revenue online. The agency is unique in that it provides a single contact point for its customers to work with, collaborating with experts in various fields such as content creation, conversion optimization, and email marketing.
When a customer refers to Visually, they’re typically referring to Max Fisher, CPO, or Steve Shingles, CTO. The company’s tagline is “A Single Point of Contact For All of Your Marketing Needs,” and they hold themselves out as a one-stop-shop for all things digital marketing.
How They Work
Fisher and Shingles don’t offer a typical agency structure. Instead, they structure their business model based on the unique needs of their clients. Typically, they partner with a large corporate brand that has a marketing department, seeking to offer assistance in areas such as:
- Creating a brand voice
- Creative concept development
- Strategy formulation
- Website and digital marketing design
- Product management (including marketing research and analytics)
- Sales and marketing reporting
- Operations and management
- Performance marketing
- Content creation
- Content strategy
- Web analytics and optimization
- Design and UX research
- Repurposing content
- Content promotion
- Email marketing
- Social media strategy
- Content monetization
- Video production
- Content upgrades
- Mobile marketing
For clients that don’t have a large marketing department, the two cofounders work closely with the customer to create a detailed strategy, which is then implemented across various platforms.
While the agency primarily works with brands, it also takes on individual projects for marketing clients seeking to gain visibility and learn more about digital marketing.
In terms of industry, the majority of the work comes from smaller businesses that are seeking to gain a competitive edge in their respective industries, seeking to understand the fundamentals of digital marketing and how to properly implement marketing strategies to grow their audiences.
One of the agency’s largest and most recent marketing projects came from Tailor, a tailored clothing company that had 20 employees and 20,000 active users on their blog at the time they contracted Visually. In 2017, Tailor sought to increase their web traffic by 20% and grow their email list by 10,000 subscribers.
As the name implies, a content creator is someone who creates content for different platforms. This could include videos, blog posts, or any other types of content that can be consumed online.
While there are traditional media types that you’ll typically find content creators in, such as a freelance writer or director of photography, these days it’s becoming more common for people to become a content creator simply because it’s a way to make money online. With the growth of TikTok, and others like it, audiences are hungry for content and are more likely to pay for content than they are to watch ads for products they are familiar with.
In terms of the creative process, content creators will typically start by defining the purpose of the piece and the target audience. Next, they’ll turn to the project brief, which will set the scene for the piece. From there, they’ll move onto creating the outline in Word, followed by the actual text, which is usually the biggest portion of the content creation process. Once the content is complete, they’ll work on formatting and uploading it to the various platforms (at this point, typically Word for blogs and Medium for writing) and finally, monitoring and evaluating the results of the content campaign.
Sales And Relationship Building
As the name implies, a sales person is someone who builds and maintains relationships with potential and existing customers. This could include cold calling, visiting customers’ websites, sending emails, connecting on social media, or any other form of contact that builds a relationship.
While there are some professionals that solely focus on sales, most full-service agencies also include a relationship builder as part of their marketing team. This individual will work with the sales team to identify potential leads and close deals. Most agencies will have someone specifically focused on closing sales and growing the business, which the relationship builder supports.
The key to a successful sales approach is developing a good rapport with the customer, which is why the relationship builder will typically begin by establishing himself/herself as an expert in the field and a person that can assist the customer in some way. Next, the relationship builder will listen to and address the customer’s concerns and questions, and finally, seek to close the sale.
Operations And Management
An operations person is someone who manages the businesses’ day-to-day operations, while a management person is someone who sets the direction of the organization and oversees the day-to-day activities of the department heads.
The operations person manages the agency’s finances, reviews and approves all marketing contracts, and creates and distributes marketing materials. The management person oversees the operations, reviews and approves all marketing plans, and sets the direction of the organization.
Like the other specialists in this guide, the two focus on implementing a marketing plan, seeking to get the most out of their limited time and resources by establishing clear next steps and metrics for each task..
With the explosion of data and the growing amount of information available online, companies now have the ability to track and analyze their performance across various platforms. This is where a marketer’s work comes together, seeking to establish key performance indicators to measure the success of their strategies and marketing plans.
Since performance marketing is a relatively new field that was birthed in the 2000s, it is still trying to solidify itself as a profession. However, as more and more companies turn to data to establish marketing performance, the need for someone specifically to analyze these numbers and report on performance becomes more apparent.
In order to attract potential customers, you’ll need to have content that is highly relevant to your target audience. Once you have this content, you can use various platforms to promote it. This can include paid ads on Google or other search engines, or it could be done for free (i.e., organic search results), depending on your budget.
While content creators typically focus on the content itself (i.e., the text of the blog post or the video script), a content promoter works with the content to establish strategies for distributing the content, which could include creating social media posts, running banner ads, or engaging with customers on chat platforms.
Unlike other types of marketing, which are often performed online, email marketing is a method of direct communication with customers that has been around since the 1980s. The key to a successful email marketing strategy is to have a large and engaged audience, which can be difficult to gain if you don’t have the right tools.