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Building from the ground up

July 2016

You’ve got a friend

Best friends use the term “hibu” as a quick text greeting. Small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) use the full-service digital agency hibu as a best friend to widen their online presence and reach.

Offering decades of experience as a marketing solution provider, hibu helps hundreds of thousands of SMBs get to know paid search and more. The company currently employs more than a thousand people in offices across the U.S., UK, Spain, India and the Philippines.

Innovation is central to hibu’s approach to building flexible platforms that easily “plug in” new technologies and capabilities as they emerge and become proven in the market. “We strive to provide ‘future proof’ solutions to our customers, so that they are never stuck in the past,” says Nick Hopkins, associate vice president of digital products at hibu. “We give them the custom digital solutions they need to hone in on and reach the targeted customers they want.”

The company applies knowledge and insights gained from creating and managing local marketing campaigns to deliver websites, search marketing, display advertising, digital listings management, SEO and more ― everything an advertiser needs to succeed online. It’s a veritable one-stop shop for SMBs seeking a trusted advisor and partner. “I think the fact that we have a really broad range of services means that regardless of what your marketing needs are, we can usually find a solution within our portfolio that satisfies you,” Hopkins says. 

Working mostly with professional services, home services, retail and hospitality verticals, hibu employs a basic, but extremely effective philosophy: Build from the ground up. That means you start with a professional and dependable website. Without that, you cheat your audience at the end of its journey. Think of it as a mystery movie in which you’ve created all of this anticipation and excitement for the big reveal, only to be left with an anti-climactic case of the “blahs.” No one wants that website. With an eye-catching site in place, however, you can proudly drive people to visit your site using hibu’s secret sauce for standing out in a local market — and standing up against the stiffest of competition.

With the company for the past four years, Hopkins is now in charge of overall strategy, execution and performance of traffic and social products, and lines of business, including listings management, display advertising, search marketing and social marketing solutions. The most important lesson he’s learned — and that hibu has ingrained into its business model — concerns the fluidity of digital marketing. “Small business owners are not marketing experts or technologists,” Hopkins says. “They can’t be expected to keep up with the complexity and pace of change in the market.” 

The company focuses on navigating through those complexities as an advocate and agent for the business owner. Externally, that means identifying the most effective digital marketing capabilities for a company and then packaging them in ways that are accessible and affordable for clients. Internally, that means ensuring that hibu’s product mix evolves with the marketplace. “We continually monitor, evaluate and test new services and solutions, looking for those which we think will have the most impact for our clients,” Hopkins says. “Our breadth of experience combined with our scale puts us in a unique position to bring these best-of-breed solutions to our small business clients.”

Partnering with Bing

A large component of the company’s paid search advertising comes from Bing Ads. “There are limitations to what we can do with just a Google Ads solution,” Hopkins confides. “Bing Ads offers a really complementary audience and reaches those that we don't through Google.”

The company has been working with Bing for a number of years. One thing Hopkins has noticed is that the Bing audience is comprised of avid Bing users, which he doesn’t find on other search engines. “Well, I think Bing offers a powerful service for helping customers capture consumers who are looking for their service,” Hopkins says. 

Hopkins also values the give and take of their relationship. “We have our own internal platform and engineering team that works very closely with the Bing Ads engineering team to roll out new product features. It's been really good,” Hopkins says. “The Bing team's really been responsive about understanding what our customers need and being able to help us serve that need.”