When the pandemic hit causing the loss of a third of retained clients, Eddy Webb, CEO of digital marketing agency InSynch and digital marketing trainer for a number of Welsh Government projects, faced a difficult decision: furlough newly-hired staff to save money, or use digital to navigate his team safely through the initial wave of the pandemic.
“Being online is vital, now more than ever.” says Eddy. “Of course, as digital marketers, we know this: but I think even we underestimated just how much digital would allow us to completely change our business model and shift to working remotely to keep the business running as smoothly as possible during the pandemic.”
Leaning on his and his team’s expertise, they went with what they knew and switched to home-working, while helping their clients do the same.
Not only did it unlock huge efficiency savings for InSynch, but they were able to deliver twice as many online seminars and secure over 30 new clients from places as far away as New Zealand, all while delivering the same high standard of service to customers.
“Being online is vital, now more than ever”
But it wasn’t just how they worked that changed: the agency changed how they promoted our free marketing courses and one-to-one sessions, revamping its online advertising strategy by broadening the reach of search and social ads.
Eddy explains: “we already used Google and Facebook to advertise our courses and saw good return, so we spent more money on ads that targeted a much wider area, just to get the initial enquiries in.”
The choice to expand the ads’ target criteria paid off and in June 2020 they had their best ever month, taking on twice as many clients in one month than they ever had done before.
“What become more important was what we offered, rather than where we were”
As the ways of doing business changed, so did perceptions of distance. Pre-pandemic, many of InSynch’s clients were within driving distance of their offices. But as working relationships moved from face-to-face to FaceTime, so did the opportunity to attract new business from new regions.
Eddy says: “It made us all realise location isn’t as much of an issue as we thought. Our one-to-one sessions took off, as businesses all around the globe needed help transitioning to working online. What became more important was what we offered as a company, rather than where we were based.
“Without needing to travel, I’m easily 50% more efficient that I was before. The number of client meetings we can have has gone up significantly, so we’re serving our clients better.”
In fact, InSynch went from hosting zero online meetings before the pandemic, to over 900 in just five months via virtual meeting platform Google Meet. Their internal team kept in touch using comms platform Slack, which has helped maintain staff wellbeing during a difficult time.
“Our staff are also much more connected. By fully embracing Slack, we’ve improved our internal communications. Email can be such a slow way of working, so the instant nature of Slack means our team are probably 25% more efficient than they were before. Even then, if anything takes more than a few messages, we’ll jump straight on a video call and resolve things straight away.”
“As a team, we’re more connected than ever”
Despite everyone working from home, InSynch wanted to make sure they still had the same opportunities to have those office conversations that spark ideas.
“We created an ‘Open Office’ video chat on Google Meets which lets our team can hang out as if they’re in the office,” explains Eddy. “It’s recreated that office environment where people can have direct conversations with each other. It something we wanted stay strong despite everyone being remote; across our two offices we’re actually more connected than ever!”
As well as supporting their own clients, InSynch have made sure they’ve stayed ahead of the curve with continued training for staff. This included attending a Superfast Business Wales digital marketing workshop in September 2019, with the follow-up one-to-one session with digital business adviser Paul Gadd providing a great opportunity to take a step back and assess their use of digital.
“The support was great,” said Eddy. “It covered a wide range of ideas and really encouraged us to think more strategically about our approach to digital as a whole.”
“What really benefitted us though, was the one-to-one with digital business adviser Paul Gadd. It was a great chance to get impartial feedback from outside of the business. It made us take a step back and focus on what was working and how we could apply that to other areas of the business.”
“Digital has been a business saver for us”
And with twice as many retained clients since May last year, InSynch look forward to continued growth. Eddy concludes: “The internet has come into its own during this last year. It has proved to us we can be just as efficient online, even more so, than you can in person and has helped us grow the business despite facing an unprecedented challenge.
“I recommend businesses in Wales sign up for Superfast Business Wales support. Digital has been a business saver for us this year.”