Each week, Northern Startups shines a light on some of the startup innovation happening around the region. To put your startup forward for consideration, contact david@prolificnorth.co.uk

smart-insightsStartup: Smart Insights

What is it? Subscription-based digital marketing strategy advice

Founders: Dr Dave Chaffey, Stu Miller and Dan Bosomworth

Based: Leeds

Founded: 2010

Given the furious pace of evolution and change in digital today, it’s perhaps understandable if marketers can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the blizzard of new tools, strategies and theories that emerge on a daily, if not hourly, basis. That’s where Smart Insights comes in.

This north Leeds-based startup was founded three years ago by Dr Dave Chaffey, Stu Miller and Dan Bosomworth. Chaffey is a familiar face to many in the industry, a regular presence on the conference circuit since the 1990s and a successful author and blogger. Miller manages operations in the office while Bosomworth is now focusing on his role as MD of Leeds agency First 10.

Operating on a subscription basis, Smart Insights provides access to a bottomless pit of templates, regularly-updated guides and courses – generated by a team of 25 specialists – that are designed to improve digital skillsets and ROI. It’s also recently rolled out a marketplace to help people looking for providers to support their digital marketing.

Smart Insights' home page

Smart Insights’ home page

Where did the motivation come from to set up the startup originally? “We found that many businesses knew digital marketing was important, so were actively using it, but were tackling it in a haphazard way since they didn’t know how to plan and there was limited good quality advice available on this,” says Chaffey.

“There’s no shortage of opinion about how to use digital marketing, but we wanted to create a structured approach that would give a framework that companies could quickly apply to their business to reduce the need for consultancy.”

Dave Chaffey

Dave Chaffey

There certainly seems to be plenty of digital marketers with a thirst for improvement. Smart Insights has 130,000 members worldwide and a third of a million visits per month. It has paying members in over 80 countries worldwide – its biggest market is the States – while the Smart Insights blog was recently recognised by Hubspot as the second biggest marketing blog in the UK.

Around half of businesses still don’t have a digital strategy, Chaffey says. “It used to be said that ‘digital is the most measurable medium ever’,” he adds, “but marketers struggle to put in place the best people, process and measures to optimise using techniques like conversion rate optimization.”

The company has grown organically so far, and while it has had “some conversations about investment”, is sticking to its own plan “unless we can work with a partner who can offer us significant new reach”.

“We’re not looking for hockey stick growth – there is a lot of competition within content marketing to support marketing!” says Chaffey. “But we do have a three-year growth plan and roadmap based on maintaining the 40-50% year-on-year growth we’re seeing in audience and revenue.”