Creating a predictable and fast-growing business takes planning, process, and talented people. It also requires patience, especially if you are just getting into marketing your business formally.
As a seasoned business owner, I know that digital marketing is where I should always put my money first. When I see other business owners going in on digital, the mistake I see 99% of them make is thinking they’ll see positive returns in year one. That’s simply not how digital marketing works.
As of 2023, there were over 50 billion web pages and over 1.13 billion websites on the internet. Over 82% of those are inactive, but that still leaves a lot of active websites. You’ve probably done this before, but Google the product or service you provide. How many results popped up?
Getting to the top of those Google results is just one piece of the online marketing puzzle, but it’s also the most profitable. How businesses get to the top of that list of 31.5 million results is a combination of hard work, talent, planning, and budget.
In this post, I’ll help you understand the time, budget, and expected returns that digital marketing can deliver over a five-year period by showing you how we did it at WISE Digital Partners, even amid a global pandemic and recession that hit less than a year after we launched.
If you haven’t read much about my background, this isn’t my first rodeo. In addition to founding WISE Digital Partners, I’ve started 9 other companies, currently own two other profitable businesses, and am about to launch two to three more companies in 2024. I know what it takes to grow a business and do it profitably. It takes long-term planning, appropriate budgets, patience, and great partners.
Here’s how we’ve grown at WISE:
We Focused On Our Foundation: Our Website
We had a strong focus on our digital presence starting in year one and have continued to scale our investment in it. Now five years in, we’ve gone through three separate and complete website builds and are in the midst of a fourth. Each time, we’ve expanded our products and services and put a focus on the new markets we’re serving.
- May 2019: Landing Page Launch
- September 2019: V1 Website Launch
- September 2020: V2 Website Launch
- February 2024: V3 Website Launch (Coming Soon!)
We Implemented & Honed Our SEO Strategy
We laid the initial groundwork for our SEO efforts in 2019 and enhanced our strategy six months later in early 2020. Then we doubled our efforts in 2021, 2022, and 2023. To give you a small taste of what this investment has done for us, consider how our Google Page 1 keyword rankings have grown over the past five years.
Keywords on page 1 include organic and local pack (map) rankings on Google in San Diego, but they don’t stop there. We rank for many terms nationally and globally. Of note, the data shown above reflects keyword rankings on Jan 1 of each year, except 2019, as we launched the business in April of that year.
We Tested Other Marketing Strategies
Our WISE experts developed additional marketing strategies to further connect with our audience, increase our brand visibility, and stay relevant in our industry. Here are some of the areas we targeted:
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising targets customers who are actively searching for keywords related to a business’s products or services. At WISE, we pair PPC campaigns with a solid organic SEO strategy for our clients to give them a powerful one-two punch that accelerates their business growth.
But for our own company, our organic SEO efforts alone were bringing us more business than we could handle or needed. So, we decided to keep our investment in PPC advertising small and use that money elsewhere where it would have more impact.
At WISE, we’ve increasingly invested time and resources into organic social media. It’s part of our plan to continually increase awareness of our brand and remain relevant in our industry.
We’re not expecting a big return on our investment, and we knew that going in. But we feel it’s important to hold a presence in that space, and to date, we have over 23,000 followers on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter).
We started dipping our toes into YouTube in 2022. In 2023, we got serious about it, hiring a professional videographer and editor to help us produce a series of videos to fulfill our company’s mission: In a world of constant change, WISE Digital exists to make sense of and excel at digital marketing for our partners.
To date, we have over 13,500 subscribers and have produced 38 videos that have garnered over 100,000 views.
We hired a podcast booking agency in 2023. Today, WISE Founder and CEO Patrick Dillon is making guest appearances on podcasts like Business Bros and Business Growth Accelerator, sharing the knowledge he’s learned over a decades-long career as an entrepreneur.
In the first year, my guest appearances resulted in several new client leads that turned into fantastic clients.
Monitored & Measured Inbound Agency Leads
All those marketing efforts created a steady and growing number of inbound leads (our biggest source of growth). The thing to take away from this is that it was hardly anything in year one, as it almost always is with a new business. It was in later years that we saw a massive impact. Again, this is the mistake most business owners make. They look at that first line (2019 below) and give up or shift the marketing budget over to something or someone else. They stop before the investment is given the appropriate amount of time.
Perfected Our Sales Process
With a growing number of inbound leads, we knew we had to focus on developing a more predictable sales process to convert that potential business knocking down our door. This is where I stepped in. Here’s a brief history of how things went.
WISE Digital Partners began with a solid base of clients from my previous agency. We signed 2-3 new clients in our first year of business. I was not focused on signing a lot of new business this year, and we were only operating for the last 8 months of 2019.
Unfortunately, the pandemic hit less than a year into our business. This forced us to focus on stabilizing our business and our clients’ businesses. Despite the impact on businesses in 2020, we came out ahead and signed 6 new clients.
In year three, we developed a formal sales process and started tracking initial sales metrics. WISE Digital signed 11 new clients in 2021 but had a solid process in place for bringing on new business by the end of 2021.
With a sales arsenal in hand, we stepped up our sales game in 2022. That year we signed 30 new clients. Key sales metrics were now being tracked, and the numbers were looking great:
- Total new business signed up 636.91%
- Average contract value up 30.2%
- Our website generated 18 accounts and 67.5% of new business
- Of the clients that came from website leads, the contract value was 12.4% higher, and monthly recurring revenue was 11.8% higher than all other lead sources
In 2023, we signed so much new business in the first two quarters that we had to pause sales for the majority of Q3 so the team could catch up on incoming projects. We signed 27 new clients and again saw great advances again on key sales metrics:
- Total new business signed up 14.84%
- Average contract value up 20.36%
- Closing cycle down 47.76%
- Website generated 13 accounts and 55.8% of new business
- Compared to other sources, the contract value was 16 percent higher, and monthly recurring revenue was 14.2% higher on website leads.
We had a great first year when we launched WISE Digital Partners in 2019. Revenue reached $500,000, mostly through old client contacts, friends, and referrals.
From there, we grew more than 50% per year for four years, with a growth range of 51 to 64% per year and an average annual growth of 56%.
WISE’s annual growth included the COVID dip that many businesses experienced in 2020. If you focus solely on our growth after the COVID dip, our revenue growth has averaged 12.7% for 14 straight quarters.
What About Our ROI?
WISE Digital Partners’s online foundation began with an investment of around $10,000 in 2019. The ROI was zero that year because it was a new business. As a new player, we knew we had to convince the online world we existed and build our brand, so that was expected. Since then, the ROI has grown exponentially year by year:
- 2020: $18K invested; 3X ROI
- 2021: $24K invested; 7X ROI
- 2022: $36K invested; 15X ROI
- 2023: $48K invested; 25X ROI
The upward momentum in leads, revenue, and ROI is a testament to our strategic investment year over year. Overall, these efforts grew the company by over 500% in four years.
Your Path to Accelerated Business Growth Begins Here
When you partner with WISE Digital, we deploy the same types of strategies to grow your business, helping it reach new heights. Our team of digital marketing experts is here to help you achieve accelerated growth. Why wait? Book a call now!