Why Your E-Commerce Site Needs a Mobile Site

The other week our Tech Director Florin Raicu wrote a post about Adaptive Design vs. Responsive Design. These are two important trends on the technical side of mobile development. But you should know WHY you need to create a mobile e-commerce website. Here are three reasons why your company needs a mobile site.

Your Customers Expect It

Whether you’re selling products or services, you always want to satisfy your customers. Your website should be no different.

Your customers are browsing the web on their smartphones, which come in many different sizes. If that’s how they’re consuming your content, it doesn’t make sense to have an outdated website that’s not mobile friendly. Consumers now expect that a company’s website is mobile optimized. A poor mobile experience can turn off a potential customer and even worse, it can push them toward a competitor.

Mobile Traffic is Exploding

We are using our smartphones and tablets more and more to search the web. In 2012, the number of local searches quadrupled! Research firm BIA/Kelsey has reported that more local searches will be coming from smartphones rather than PCs as early as 2015.

Right now, almost 25 percent of searches are coming from some sort of mobile device. This number will undoubtedly change due to the increasing number of mobile devices being purchases as opposed to lagging PC sales.

According to SearchEngineLand, there are approximately 125 million smartphone owners in the US (50 percent of total mobile subscribers).  A large percentage of smartphone owners do an average 20 mobile searches per month. Which calculates out to more than 30 billion mobile searches. Can your company really afford to miss out on 30 billion searches?

Eliminates the Need for a Mobile App

Native mobile apps are a wonderful resource for companies. They’re fast and offer a lot of value to the user. But the costs of creating a mobile app can add up. For smaller companies, it might not be feasible to spend the money for a dedicated app. But, the beauty of a responsive or adaptive designed website is that they’re ready for mobile. You can have an optimized mobile experience, keep interested users, and not spend more money.

Having a mobile site for your e-commerce company is no longer an option. It’s a necessity in order to keep up with your competitors. Xivic is fully capable of creating beautiful, functional, and well-designed mobile websites. If you feel your site needs a mobile upgrade, reach out for a consultation today.

5 Things Lawyers Can Do to Better Market Themselves

Lawyers get a lot of flak and are the butt of many jokes. Despite how people may view lawyers, they can actually be very useful (and really nice people). So how can law firms better market themselves to people who need their services, but might not realize they do?

This is a perpetual problem for lawyers, especially because their time is best spent on billable hours. But there are five things that lawyers can do to better market themselves to potential clients.

1. Search Engine Optimization

Use search engines like Google to your advantage. Unless you are a brand name firm like Fenwick and West, people probably don’t know who you are. And many people don’t think about a lawyer until they’re in a situation where they need one. Then what do they do? Search the Internet.

Make sure your website can be found by users when they conduct an Internet search. Are you ranking for obvious terms like “personal injury lawyer” or less obvious terms like, “What do I do if I’ve been injured in a car accident?”

2. Have a Great Website

Having a great website seems like an elementary step for any business these days. Websites have been around long enough, that business owners should know better than to have a terrible website. Lawyers must not have gotten the memo.

A great website serves as the first form of contact for many potential clients. If your website doesn’t represent your brand and properly inform, it’s not very useful.

3. Create a Facebook Page

Yes, lawyers should create a Facebook page. Are most small law firms going to get tens of thousands of fans? No. But what they will get from Facebook is enthusiastic clients.

4. Write a Blog

In the next phase of the web, creating content will be huge. Quality content is what will make you stand out from the crowd. Search engines are becoming more sophisticated and individuals have a seemingly infinite amount of content choices. Therefore, only premium content will have a chance at really making an impact.

Lawyers are in the unfortunate position of lacking trust from people right off the bat. Therefore, one of their biggest assets can be gaining the trust of potential clients. A blog is a great way to build trust with people you’ve never met. There are so many intricacies of law, and so many different types of law, there is a definite opportunity for lawyers to separate themselves from the pack through their blogs.

Quick tip – If you repeatedly hear the same question from potential clients in your in-person meetings, write a blog post about it. Guarantee you that people will be searching for this question online.

5. Hit the Pavement

Get out there. Not every hour has to be billable. Go to events and meet people in person. Face to face networking still holds value. Make sure you don’t overlook the importance of getting out from behind your desk. The long hours behind your desk might be billable, but once that case is over, where’s the next one coming from?

Marketing is essential in the highly competitive world of law. Be sure to set time aside each week to work on marketing yourself and your law firm. Over time, these steps will pay off with more inbound traffic and a stronger reputation.

Responsive Design Vs. Adaptive Design

To your average web user, the difference between responsive design and adaptive design means nothing. They don’t care what type of technology a website is built on, as long as it works. And that’s all that really matters, what the end user sees. But for those of us that are in charge of creating this content consumption experience for the end user, it’s important that we know the difference between responsive design and adaptive design.

Clients rely on us, the agencies, to recommend and deliver the best possible solution for their needs. Anyone can build a website these days. Content management systems like WordPress make it easy for even a non-technical person to create some resemblance of a website. But it’s our technical expertise and strategic reasoning that keeps clients coming back.

Before we dive into the two different design methods, let’s outline the need for responsive or adaptive design. Mobile devices. It’s that simple. An iPhone has a screen size of 4.87 inches. A Samsung Galaxy Note III is 6.3 inches, and a Motorola DROID RAZAR MAXX is 4.7 inches. These are just three models. There are dozens of additional models, and the future will only bring more screen sizes.

These varying sizes of screens are what make mobile content consumption difficult. Building a website that serves content in an easily digestible format is now a necessity. Which brings us to responsive vs. adaptive design.

What Is Responsive Design?

Responsive design is built using flexible and fluid grids. It uses media queries to determine the resolution of each individual device serving the content. The images and columns on the site will respond to the different screens. Therefore your entire site will be sent to your device’s browser and then it’s up to your browser to make the changes in relation to your browser window.

So your images will shrink and expand and website columns will be added based on screen size. If you visit Mashable’s website and play with the browser size (if you’re on a desktop) you’ll see responsive design in the wild.

What Is Adaptive Design?

Adaptive design is similar to responsive design in that it will allow the website to be viewed on different sized mobile devices. The major difference between responsive vs. adaptive design is that adaptive uses predefined screen sizes.

The way responsive design displays your site is determined when the site has already been delivered to your device. But adaptive design makes this determination before the site even hits your mobile device. On the server where the site is hosted, it will detect the attributes of the device and load the correct version of the site.

These predefined screen sizes means that adaptive design has a streamlined, layered approach that uses scripts to help determine the various screen sizes. Compare this to responsive design, which requires more code to implement fluid grids, CSS, and the flexible foundations. CNET UK is a prime example of an adaptive site.

If you’re in the market to upgrade your website to meet growing mobile consumption, which design strategy would you choose?

The answer largely is dependent on what type of website you have. A content heavy site meant for reading is better for responsive design. A site that has more call-to-actions and requires different UXs, like an ecommerce site, is better suited for an adaptive design.

While there are many different variables at play, these two rules of thumb are good indicators of what type of design your site should have when considering mobile consumption.

How To Write Persuasive Sales Copy

Copy. It might be the un-sexiest aspect of a website, but it might also be the most important. For every moment you dwell on what color your sign-up button should be or where to position it, you should also be thinking about the best possible copy for that page. But the art of copywriting is not easy. You have a limited amount of space to capture users’ attention, emotion, and interest. So every word matters. Your copy can make you lots of money or cost you much, much more. So how can you make your copy as effective as possible? By remembering these 9 tips on how to write persuasive sales copy.

Focus Attention With One Main Idea

Read any sales book and the first lesson of sales is that benefits sell. You can elocute about features all you want, but benefits are what sell.  Therefore you should grab the visitor’s attention with one, main benefit. What’s the major benefit your visitors want from your product? Highlight that in the headline and expand from there.

Break It Down

The structure of your copy is just as important as the words you’re writing down. We’re not all English professors who are used to reading endless pages of dense writing. You’re looking to attract internet visitors who have limited attention spans, which means you have to break down your writing. Write shorter sentences. Stack your sentences on top of one another for emphasis.

Sentences like this.

Can add immense value.

Even if the grammar isn’t 100% correct.

Strategically Add Multimedia

Don’t be afraid to add video or audio to help make your point. A quick 20-second video next to some copy can do wonders. It keeps your word count down (making the page seem less daunting) and you can explain so much more in 20 seconds of video than you otherwise might with copy.

Increase Creditability With Product Details

Benefits sell. But so does trust. People make purchases because they trust you and your product/service. Four bullet points of the top benefits aren’t always going to close the deal. You have to demonstrate to the visitor that you know what you’re talking about.

By adding longer-form copy, you can demonstrate your industry knowledge. Add specific technical information that the power user will understand and appreciate. This technical copy provides the opportunity to prove domain expertise and create the trust between you and the potential customer.

Captivate Your Audience With Stories

Storytelling is big business. Just ask anyone in Hollywood. People love stories. Tell a story with your copy. Let people know the origin of the idea and why you are offering this product/service. Capture the visitor’s attention with your story. Connect with their emotions. Is the reason why you built your product the same reason why they’re looking for a solution?

Highlight The Problem You Solve

If a product doesn’t solve a problem, then there’s really no need for someone to buy it, is there? Make sure your potential customer knows what problem your product is solving. Spell it out.

“Never lose your keys again. KeyFinder5000 sends you a text every time you’re more than 100 feet from your keys.”

Use Analogies to Describe Product Quality

Descriptions can be difficult. How you interpret a copywriter’s concepts are variable, leaving the chance that the visitor might not see the same value in the product as you described. Fix this with an analogy.  By describing your product with a mutually known product, it will help your visitor visualize the product’s value.

“Nike trail shoes offer your feet the rugged durability you’d expect from a truck.”

Use Persuasive Words

Great salesmen are masters are using the right power words to get you to buy.  Choosing the most appropriate and persuasive words will help sway an indifferent visitor to interested buyer.

Be sure to memorize the 12 most persuasive words in the English language:

-       You

-       Money

-       Save

-       New

-       Results

-       Easy

-       Safety

-       Love

-       Discovery

-       Proven

-       Guarantee

Finish With a Persuasive Call to Action

Copy without a great call to action is like ending a great first date without a kiss. You need to leave the reader with something memorable and a next step. Don’t just guide them through a labyrinth and leave them with the option of going back in. Lead them to a door.

I can’t stress this enough, writing great copy is not easy. It’s entirely possible to write copy for a webpage in 4 minutes. But chances are, it’s not very good at all. The input for great copy is far greater than the actual output. Like your web design, test your copy to make sure that you are in fact creating the most effective copy.

Why A Law Firm Needs a Great Website

When competition is fierce, you need a way to stand out. Law is a profession with no shortage of talent. Therefore, lawyers are in a constant battle with one another to acquire new clients. Most firms don’t have a marketing team, or a very limited one, therefore the greatest marketing asset a law firm can have is its website.

Yes, a website can be a huge asset to a law firm’s marketing. Yet there are many law firms that have old and generic websites. Couple this with the increased use of mobile devices, which affects how your website content is consumed, and you’ll start to see a clear divide between the upper tier law firms and everyone else. Xivic just completed production on the Paul Hastings new website. The new site was built to fit the growing global needs of one of the most trusted law firms in the world. Paul Hastings’ need for a mobile site demonstrates that law firms require advanced websites with mobile optimization.

This need for mobile optimization is powered by increased web searches on mobile devices. Studies conducted by companies like Google discovered that mobile-friendly sites increase the likelihood that a visitor will engage in a company’s services by 67%. A site that is not optimized for mobile results in 61% of visitors more likely not to use the company’s services and quickly leave the site. So it has been imperative for an industry leader like Paul Hastings to make the switch to a mobile optimized site.

Paul Hastings is a global leader in the legal profession. The firm has a client roster that encompasses top financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies. But Paul Hastings came to Xivic for a newly designed site because its old website did not reflect the image of a world-renowned leader, which Paul Hastings’ services are known for.

Our team set out to develop a new digital design strategy for Paul Hastings and solve two problems many law firms encounter. The first was to make Paul Hastings’ site mobile optimized; the second was to distinguish the firm from competitors through its strategic visual design.

Our team of experts designed a clean look that reaffirmed Paul Hastings’ exceptional brand reputation to be clearly evident when visitors landed on the site. More importantly, the new site was built in adaptive form, meaning that when visitors land on the site from a mobile device, all of its content is mobile friendly.

There is little room for error when law firms compete for clients and talent. A firm’s website sets the tone of its business to prospective clients. A great website will quickly establish a law firm’s credibility and increase lead generation opportunities. This is why a law firm needs a great website, including mobile capabilities. If one of the premiere, global law firms  knew it was time to redo its site, what is your law firm waiting for?

How Do I Market My App? Pt. II

In Part I of our two part “How Do I Market My App” we discussed things app makers must consider to get the word out. It starts by making your app as social and sharable as possible. How can you make people talk about it and share it? Second, we discussed how you can make your app more visible through app store optimization. In Part II we’re discussing inbound marketing, mobile ads, and hitting the streets, and how these tactics generate downloads.

Inbound Marketing

You need to get your app in front of people where they’re hanging out. That’s marketing 101. Where are people hanging out? We’re all caught up in our social streams on a daily basis. That’s where our attention is, so you need to make sure you’re in that stream.

By using social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, a blog (or others), you’re able to capture mindshare and retain the attention of your audience. By controlling the content, you have the ability to tell your brand’s story and shape the conversation. This is incredibly powerful when it comes to branding and differentiating your app from hundreds of thousands of other apps.

Inbound marketing also can lead to downloads either directly from your audience or from other people’s network when they share your content. It’s no secret social media can be viral, and while you might not nab a million downloads from your Twitter account, if you’re not using social media tools, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Mobile Ads

Web to mobile tactics are not always the most conducive to generating downloads. That’s because there’s an extra step for the user to take in order to download the app. This is what makes mobile advertising an effective method of generating downloads for your app.

Enter mobile advertising, which puts your app at the fingertips of your audience while they’re on their phone. The user is much more prepared to actually download the app. Banner advertising has been the most popular way to advertise thus far, but ads in your mobile feeds will prove to be very effective as well.

In my opinion, Facebook is doing a nice job of integrating ads into its newsfeed. Downloading the app as I’m scrolling through my feed is now incredibly easy. Mobile to mobile downloads are the optimum preference, so you should have marketing tactics that support this.

Hit the Pavement

I once attended a startup showcase and when the CEO got up on stage he started his presentation with, “Everyone, get out your phone and download our app.” He was half kidding, but he did what every app owner should do, talk to people. Get out there and talk to people about your app. People will always respond to face-to-face communication. But you have to put the effort in and put yourself out there.

One thing you might see missing is on this list is PR. It’s common theory that public relations with big media outlets will help jump start your app. It can be the first idea people have when it comes to marketing their app. They’re under the assumption that PR will give you a flood of traffic and downloads and that’s all it will take to gain traction. But the reality of PR is that it might give you a short term spike, but it’s not a sustainable tactic that you can build long-term traction with.

There is no silver bullet for marketing an app. There are too many different factors that come into play. But if you follow our five tactics to marketing your app, you will dramatically improve your app’s chances of achieving the success you dream of.

How Do I Market My App? Pt. I

Back in 2009, Apple launched a TV commercial touting its new iPhone 3GS, the “there’s an app for that” campaign. Apple boasted having more than 75,000 apps in its app store. At the time it seemed like an astounding amount of apps. But fast forward almost four years later and that number is now approaching one million. And that’s just for iOS. The Android market has about 700,000 apps.  We’ll almost certainly reach 2 million total apps by the end of the year. Which means, getting your app noticed is awfully difficult.

Mobile apps are a numbers game. There is no way to make any money from your app if you don’t have any users. That’s because the two primary app monetization strategies are either paid download or advertising revenue. If you have a thousand users that pay $.99, you’ll make about $700, one time. Even if your thousand users are very active, you’re not going to make significant revenue from mobile ads. To make money, you need users, and lots of them. Which is why marketing your app is so important.

Like any other product, marketing an app encompasses a variety of tactics. This includes features within the app, web based approaches, mobile choices, and putting in a little elbow grease into your marketing plan. In Part I of  our “How to Market Your Mobile App” series, we look at how you incorporate sharing into your app and how optimizing your app affects its marketability. In Part II we will dig into marketing tactics you should be using to spread the word.

Build to Share

Be conscience of mobile sharing when developing your app. How can you incorporate peer-to-peer sharing within your app’s user experience? An example of an app that was built to share is the Jawbone Up app.

The Jawbone Up Band is a piece of wearable computing that tracks your steps; sleep patterns, and food intake. You can sync your band to the app and get information on your physical patterns over periods of time. The app would work perfectly by just giving the first-hand user this information, but Jawbone incorporated a “Team” function into the app. The team feature allows you to share your activity with your friends.

It seems like a simple feature, but it’s genius and multi-faceted. It gets the user talking about the Jawbone Up Band and encourages your friends to get one. That way you can compare and motivate each other. I personally have convinced two people to buy a Jawbone Up Band since I’ve gotten mine.

App Store Optimization

App discovery within the app store is a mess. But if you want to give yourself a shot at being found more easily, app store optimization (ASO) will help you.  It starts with the title,  it’s the most important element to ASO. What are people going to search for to find your app? Try to be as explicit as possible, making it clear to the user what purpose your app fulfills. Don’t use any special characters in your name, like the trademark symbol. Make sure your name is unique too. Nothing is worse than a user searching for you only to find they download the wrong app.

With regards to your actual keywords, you’re limited to 99 characters. Separate your different keywords with commas and try to be different. Just like with web searches, it’s better to be found for more obscure terms than being drowned in the highly competitive keywords.

Keywords help your app be discovered, but images are key to driving downloads in the app store. This means your icon has to be spot on. You need a distinctive and telling icon. You can’t just have a letter anymore. You’re not Facebook or Twitter, nor can you have an ambiguous image. Make it clear to users. The app store gives you screenshots in your app description. Use them wisely. These are great ways to demonstrate the quality of your app. Don’t ignore this or just submit a screenshot of the homescreen. That’s not going to convince someone to download your app.  Make it visually appealing.

There is a lot that goes into marketing an app. These first two tips will help position your app for peer to peer sharing and greater visibility. Stay tuned for Part II on how to market your app.

Tomorrow’s Consumer: On the Run

It’s no secret that we are becoming more connected to our mobile devices. We live in a multi-device world. When you’re not at your computer, you’re on your smartphone or tablet. When people watch TV, 81% of them are also on another device (i.e. smartphone/tablet). The most interesting stage of this mobile revolution isn’t going to take place tomorrow, or a year from now. It will be a decade from now. When the generation of kids who never knew a world without Internet are grown up and finally at the stage where they can make purchases.

Even as mobile grows at a lightning quick pace today, we are starting at a disadvantage. We are adopting new technology, which is slowly changing behaviors. For the younger generation, this transition has been relatively seamless. But the Baby Boomer generation is much slower to adopt mobile as a whole. As we progress and live in a world of Internet natives, our marketing and advertising strategies will have to be faster and easily digestible for the on-the-run consumer.

Xivic’s Director of Content Strategy, Jesse Bouman, offers a snapshot of tomorrow’s consumer behavior. Almost all of Jesse’s purchases are made exclusively through a mobile device. Three quarters of his purchases are made by iPad or iPhone. Half of these purchases are made on a tablet in front of a TV, while the rest are made on the run (i.e. in line at the grocery store). Marketing has to focus on the mobile user. That means contextual, personalized, native advertising.

This is why I am bullish on sites like Twitter and Facebook. They have yet to scratch the surface of their advertising potentials. Native advertising will fuel ad dollars and purchases in the future. By integrating ads into our feeds, we are naturally exposed to ads. Thumbing through your Facebook feed, it’s impossible to completely miss a promoted post. I scroll and stop on every two posts just to digest what they are, then I move on. I’ve actually downloaded several apps because I saw them in my mobile Facebook feed.

Tomorrow’s consumer is going to be much more comfortable making purchases on the run. This uber connected consumer will change the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). ZMOT is a “new decision-making moment that takes place a hundred million times a day on mobile phones, laptops and wired devices of all kinds. It’s a moment where marketing happens, where information happens, and where consumers make choices that affect the success and failure of nearly every brand in the world.”

But ZMOT is rooted in search. We seek out information when introduced to something. In the future, ZMOT will become a constant state. The increased state of social, personalization, and proper context will remove layers of ZMOT. Purchase decisions will be more fluid and direct. This evolved purchase mentality, combined with better supply chain infrastructure, will severely gauge brick and mortar retail.

Ecommerce is only 8% of the entire retail industry right now. Think about it. Think about how big Amazon is, and they are just one company within that 8%. There is a huge amount of growth to be had, and it will come as native Internet users grow up and earn a disposable income.

The writing is on the wall. How tomorrow’s consumer makes purchases will change dramatically. Commerce will be faster and your marketing strategies must be able to keep up.

3 Ways You May Be Hurting Your Brand Without Even Knowing It

Companies strive to be brands. That’s why so much money is spent on brand advertising.. That’s because brand establishes expectations and mindshare. These billions of dollars are spent in an effort to maintain or increase a brand’s level of recall with consumers. But not everyone has ten figure ad budgets to ensure they stay fresh in the minds of consumers. Small businesses have to be mindful of its brand, even if they don’t consider itself a brand.

The Internet has turned everyone into a brand. Whether you like it or not, you are judged by your online presence. Which is why small businesses must take its online brand more seriously. Often times, small businesses don’t even know its hurting its own brand online. Here are three ways your company might be hurting its online brand and not even knowing it.

Absent or Dormant Presence

The most obvious culprit of self-sabotaging your own brand online is not having a presence or completely ignoring your online presence. Your potential customers are going to look you up online. Consumer behavior trends indicate that 74% of people use a social network to influence a purchase. If you’re not on these social networks, you’re losing potential sales and you didn’t even know it.

Just like Hollywood is littered with one-hit wonders, the Internet is full of brands who “got social” by signing up for a social network account and never doing anything with it. Of course some profiles are going to die down, unless you’re in music, there is no point in keeping up your MySpace account. But getting a Facebook page and never updating it in the current state of social media, will have a damaging result. Brands who fail to utilize social media don’t really grasp the opportunity cost of social media.

In-Attentive to Social

So you company is on social media and you make sure you post on a semi-regular basis.  It’s at this point, many companies feel like they’ve mastered social (seriously). Getting up content is the victory to the battle. It’s a great first step, but definitely not even close to an effective social media program.

The major problem I see with this attitude is the brand is essentially using social media as an old-fashioned, push advertising tool. If you’re tuned into social at all, you’re probably tired of hearing this, but I’m going to repeat it anyway. Social is about two-way communication, a mutually beneficial conversation.  Companies that are not attentive to its social media channels are bound to miss this. When I see a friend “like” a page I often go to the fan page to see what is going with that fan page. Sadly, I see a lot of user posts unanswered. By not answering these interactions, you’re basically telling the customer they’re not important and don’t care. I never interacted with your brand online, but you already lost me as a potential customer. Opportunity cost.

Identical Messages

Pushing the same message across your social profiles is a huge pet peeve of mine. Each social network has different messaging purposes. Some people use Facebook and not Twitter. Others don’t use Twitter but love Instagram. And in the case of teens, YouTube trumps Facebook. Because these channels have different messaging purposes, it’s not a best practice when people push one message from platform to platform. It comes off as lazy, apathetic, and disingenuous.

By not automating content, brands are demonstrating that they actually care about its customer. Now it’s ok to have the same content on different social channels when appropriate, but I prefer to reposition the content for that audience. For an article on shoe repair, I might on Facebook post something like, “Have you ever tried one of these home shoe remedies?” with a link and a photo. But on Twitter I might tweet out, “5 surprisingly easy shoe repairs you can do at home.” I took the same content, and applied a different message/intent for each social channel.

We’re entering a stage of social ubiquity online. It’s no longer an option. Brands need to understand this and catch up, otherwise they risk losing relevance.

Can Agencies Build Stand-Alone Products?

It’s no secret that agencies are going through evolutionary changes. Digital has completely changed the agency model. Part of that change is agency desire to develop its own products. This temptation has been exacerbated with the renewed popularity tech startups and venture capital. As agencies toil in evolving business models, small five-man companies raising millions in venture capital and then selling for hundreds of millions. This product envy is what fueling more agencies to dip its toes into stand-alone product development.

The major reason why agencies watch anxiously from the sidelines is because most are equipped to build product and have the knowledge and resources to bring it to market. Yet, even with all this experience and resources behind them, few agencies successfully created its own stand-alone product. But that trend seems to be changing. How are the cutting edge agencies managing to connect its agency world with the tech startup world to build stand-alone products?

The spin off model that seems to be the most popular method to building stand alone product. This is when an executive at an existing agency champions an idea, incubates the idea within the agency, and spins off the company after outside capital is raised. Two particular examples are MRY’s Crowdtap and Huge’s Togather.

MRY (then known as Mr. Youth) is the creator of Crowdtap, a marketing platform that connects marketers with engaged consumers. Brands can learn and ideate, and market with their consumers on-demand. The idea came from MRY’s then Chief Strategy Officer, Brandon Evans, who now serves as Crowdtaps’ CEO. MRY incubated the idea started with $3 million in seed funding from the agency. The company has completely spun off from MRY after raising $7 million in a Series A.

Digital agency Huge has a six-month-old incubator known as Huge Labs. It recently launched Togather, a tool to connect authors with their fan bases through in person events. Like Crowdtap, Togather is lead by a former exec from the parent agency, this time the creative director Andrew Kessler. Like Crowdtap, Huge’s CEO is not involved with the day-to-day operations, but still closely linked to the product development.

But even with these successful spin-offs, the question remains whether or not this is a feasible practice for most agencies to engage in? The reality is most agencies should not become distracted by the startup gold rush and stick to its core agency work.

The simplest explanation why not to chase product is time and responsibility. Agencies are service businesses. We fight on a daily basis for new clients and keep our existing clients. If one of our clients says, “Jump” we jump. The needs of our clients supersede anything else. Which is why at the end of the day, your agency’s product will always fall to the bottom of the to-do list.  If you start investing agency dollars and resources into a product, but split the time with your clients and product, most likely the product will flounder and you’ll have wasted time and energy on a pipe dream.

There is value to having an incubator to an agency, if they can afford it. The value of having an incubator isn’t actually financial gain, it’s marketing. Agencies can demonstrate research and development and innovation through its incubators. Potential clients can directly see how the agency has its thumb on the pulse of technology and innovation. For some agencies, simply scratching its product itch while helping close deals might be value enough to keep the incubator open.

Products are very hit or miss, while a service company is much more stable. If you can’t get over the allure of hitting it big in the product jackpot, make sure you have a precise long-term plan for the product and your agency. Misappropriating time and resources to fulfill your product dream could derail your entire company, so be careful. But whatever you do, don’t forget your clients.