Digital agency WebEnertia made the best of 2021’s unprecedented pandemic dilemma by pivoting its strategy to focus on collaboration with clients and project-based initiatives.
Where most agencies were sticking to pre-pandemic strategies and trying to make them work despite business challenges, WebEnertia adapted and doubled down on creating a memorable client experience by serving its customers in whatever way it needed. That philosophy and strategy won WebEnertia a client retention rate of 90% and an average growth rate of 68% over three years.
And the team behind the 2021 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies took notice. Client retention is one of the primary reasons WebEnertia received the attention of the Inc. 5000 list, yet it was the 68% growth rate that caught the outlet’s attention.
“A commitment to client retention gives employees the stability to know you are with them for the long haul,” CEO Steve Ohanians says. “There is a direct correlation between staffing and client retention. Our hiring practices are very deliberate. Employee retention is everything, especially in Silicon Valley, where we are competing for the same developer and designer that Apple, Google, and Facebook want to hire.”
Talent search must be intentional so companies avoid compulsive hiring and firing in response to unexpected market changes. WebEnertia proactively combats this issue by cultivating prospective employees and contractors through its internship program.
From the beginning, the internship program has been highly structured and focused on offering tangible benefits to both the interns themselves and the team at WebEnertia as a whole. Interns aren’t sent on coffee runs or assigned menial tasks; they are included in real-world projects with real-world clients.
“These are paid internships,” Ohanians says. “They shadow employees, work on real projects, create portfolios, and get feedback from our team. We help the interns with building their resumes. It’s an opportunity for us to find those ‘diamonds in the rough’ and bring them on staff after the internship. It’s a way to get a jump on great talent in a competitive market.”
When COVID hit, this collaborative, face-to-face culture at WebEnertia was tested.
“We went from 100% office-based to 100% remote overnight,” Ohanians says.
Moving forward, the company plans on a hybrid approach to work, leaving it up to the employee whether or not they want to work in the office, from home, or wherever.
“When everyone was working remotely, we saw some of our employees actually thriving and very happy and productive working from home,” Ohanians says. “Why mess with a good thing? Employees appreciate a stable work environment.”
Facilitating steady growth also means WebEnertia focuses on understanding trends and applying them to their work. In the digital agency world, Ohanians says AI is the next big thing agencies should focus on.
“The big change I see in digital marketing, in general, is the shift toward machine learning and artificial intelligence and how they will play a more critical role in web and brand experiences.”
WebEnertia uses AI tools to better understand and predict customer behaviors, so clients can respond to the needs of their customers more quickly and in ways that are more specific to their needs.
Joining the ranks of the Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies in 2021 is no small feat. Yet WebEnertia would rather look ahead to how it can better serve its clients and build on the success this recognition symbolizes.
“The funny thing for us in becoming the fastest-growing company is we’re actually a fairly slow-moving company that is patient and strategic,” Ohanians says. “Being included on the Inc. 5000 list is tremendous, especially because we achieved this recognition during a global pandemic and after being 20+ years in business. It’s a true testament to our model and approach.”
For many years, WebEnertia’s primary business model was built on developing a client’s web presence and then moving on to the next project. With relatively quick project turnaround, WebEnertia used to spend a considerable amount of bandwidth searching for new clients. Now, as more companies have popped up to fill the web development sector, the company has shifted its approach. Ohanians and his team determined that there must be a better way, so they shifted their model to focus more energy on serving existing clients.
Now, WebEnertia engages clients beyond the initial web design and roll-out. In this way, the company became necessary to its clients by helping them develop and retool successful online strategies over time. The team provides deep-dive analytics regularly, showing their clients the continued ROI for their digital strategy.
WebEnertia does this by helping brands look and think beyond themselves.
“We see it quite a bit, especially with B2B organizations, that they go into this rabbit hole of talking about how great their products are, the specs, the functionality and all of that, ” Ohanians says. “They miss the point of being there to solve a problem for a person who has found your offering.”
The solutions-oriented message often gets lost in typical marketing initiatives. That’s why WebEnertia helps clients clearly communicate how they solve specific pain points in their industry. Solving a problem or fixing a pain point is a principle that too often gets lost, Ohanians says. “By serving as a partner and staying focused on the core purpose of a business, we become more valuable to our clients.”
“A big part of our success is converting our project-based engagements into ongoing collaboration relationships,” he concludes. “We have expanded and deepened our partnerships and the strategic support we can offer through this model, and look to do so even further in the years ahead.”
Copyright © 2022 California Business Journal. All Rights Reserved.
This article was edited and published by Rick Weinberg, California Business Journal’s Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. Click here for Rick Weinberg’s biography.
For testimonials on the impact of California Business Journal articles, click here.
Contact us if you’d like an article written on your business: Rick@CalBizJournal.com / 949-648-3815