What was the scope of their involvement?
We’ve done a range of work over the years with them. The first thing they put together for us was a marketing automation playbook, which was definitely more of a strategic look at how we would go forward with a comprehensive strategy. This included, for example, how we would restructure drip programs, how we would want to segment our audiences, and some thought leadership work. We have a small internal team that can actually execute the work, so they did more of that sort of cerebral strategic element for us.
We did also tap them for some creative and technical work from time to time. They created some infographics for us at one time and they also designed a few pages from a technical standpoint, including some simple HTML coding and layout modifications for some templates that we have in place and didn’t have the capability to do in-house.
As our relationship moved forward, we grew with them, to an extent. They help us develop a lot of those competencies, so they do a great job of sort of teaching us as we go so that we continue to push the frontier together. Today, we’re still engaged and one of the things we’re working on is a marketing analytics framework. We laid a lot of foundation over the last few years and wanted to be able to measure the effect of marketing efforts and to quantify that in dollar terms to understand the ROI for different investments we’ve made and different tactics we have used.
Our newest project for this year has been starting some AdWords work and they are helping fill a temporarily open role on my team related to email execution. Like everything else they’ve done, they’ve been knocking it out of the park. They are very supportive, responsive, and willing to work with the rest of the team here, so I don’t have to play the role of a middleman.
What is the team dynamic?
The relationship started with two of the principals, Mike and Dave. As the organization has grown, we've kind of made a shift to an account manager named Melissa. She has been absolutely incredible to work with and we really enjoy working with her. Depending on the nature of any given project, they've got resources on their teams that are experts in different areas, so they'll bring in the appropriate resource based on the project.
We generally reconfigure the team as needed and continue to run the main communications through a point person on their team. However, we have the opportunity to get direct access to the team and work in a way that makes the most sense and not in a way that is overly structured or rigid. They give us more flexibility in that aspect, which is something that we really appreciate.
How did you come to work with SmartAcre?
They actually used the same tool in order to market to us and get our attention. So, from the get go, that got us hooked on the idea that they knew they were doing. They've got all of the sort of things you would look for in terms of the baseline certifications. But the two big things are that they are really easy to work with and they also help teach us. Because of this, we look at our engagement with them from a long-term perspective. They want us to learn these tools with them so we can gain some expertise and move onto new challenges more quickly as we grow.
We've tried some other people in this space, particularly in marketing automation, and the expertise wasn't there. It wasn't easy to work with other groups and it was quite clear too that they weren't interested in being a learning partner. All of these factors together have made SmartAcre a valuable partner and a vendor that is very different from other relationships that we've had.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with them around August 2014 and it’s still an ongoing engagement. We work on a project-to-project basis. We've been in pretty constant contact for the last three years.