Take this for example: Focusing on Umbraco CMS exclusively and becoming a Gold Partner brought Marcel Digital a 20% increase in web development revenue, leading to 50% growth for the agency overall.
Read on to learn how the Chicago-based agency uses Umbraco to implement complex projects, incorporating digital marketing, and what the life of a Gold Partner looks like in the U.S. Umbraco community!
Who is Marcel Digital?
Marcel Digital is a Chicago-based digital marketing and web development agency. Their team of cross-trained specialists provides clients with website development services, search engine optimization, website analytics solutions, and digital media services. Marcel Digital started using Umbraco 7 years ago and has been an Umbraco Gold Partner since 2015.
How did Marcel Digital work before joining Umbraco?
Before focusing on Umbraco, the team would use any platform their clients requested. However, it was inefficient for the agency’s development team and ultimately not a great solution for their clients. “Our team felt we should focus on one particular technology that was best for our clients and become experts,” Ben Swartz, the founding CEO of Marcel Digital, says about what triggered the team to look for a single platform.
The agency’s developers, along with the accounts team, compiled a list of the most important features their clients required - including a strong multisite solution, advanced backend administration controls, and ease of use of the backoffice. This process took over 6 months. “We realized it is not just a matter of a feature being available. Many are able to check a box. The question is whether or not the feature was developed in the smartest way for our clients.” Swartz says about the process.
Marcel’s SEO team and Google Premier digital media experts both verified the development team’s findings from the digital marketing perspective. “At that point, it was clear that Umbraco was the best choice for Marcel - and mostly for our clients,” Swartz concludes.
On top of the fact that we think Umbraco is the best option for our clients, I can trust them as businesspeople as well. They are looking to do things the right way.
How did Marcel Digital grow with Umbraco?
Once all members of Marcel’s development team were trained on Umbraco, the CMS gave the agency an agile environment and maximum flexibility. “Long-term capacity planning is a breeze. When certain projects are speeding up and others are slowing down, we can easily adjust resourcing to accommodate,” says Swartz of their workflow’s new efficiency since they switched to Umbraco. This also applies to growing their team - since Marcel is highly focused on Umbraco, it’s easy for them to see if potential hires have the required skill set.
This more efficient way of working led to impressive growth within the agency. “Choosing Umbraco as our sole focus has led to a 20% revenue growth in our development department. This has led to a 50% year over year growth in our business overall.”
Since specializing exclusively in Umbraco, the agency has also widened their client pool. “We have the ability to work with enterprise clients, mid-market, as well as taking on a volume of smaller, impactful projects. We are successful with all levels simultaneously,” says Swartz. The broader scope of clients creates overall growth. Because they offer both website development and digital marketing, bringing more website-seeking clients on board also creates more digital marketing requests.
Choosing Umbraco as our sole focus has led to a 20% revenue growth in our development department. This has led to a 50% year over year growth in our business overall.
Two Umbraco features in particular that Marcel’s developers put at the top of their wish list - the multisite option and backend user management - help the agency create high-quality, large-scale projects in complex industries such as healthcare. Creating a website for Pipeline Health that incorporates seven hospitals under one umbrella is an example of such projects.
“Umbraco has a particular strength in multisite. Websites won’t slow down and site speed will not be affected regardless of the number of URLs under one instance,” describes Swartz. This, in turn, creates a great base for the agency’s SEO services, allowing them to build and migrate the sites in an SEO-friendly manner. “With Pipeline, it also allowed us to perform ongoing SEO in such a manner that the client is, immediately post-launch, gaining ground on their competition from an SEO perspective.”
For a heavily-regulated industry such as healthcare, user permissions are crucial. “Umbraco’s user permissions and user access are uniquely refined. With Pipeline, it was very easy to determine which pages on which sites have permissions for which people,” concludes Swartz about the manner in which their favorite Umbraco features help them deliver top-tier projects.
One of the benefits of becoming a Gold Partner is being part of this community that is not interested in winning one piece of business from a competitor but understands there is a much bigger opportunity when the rising tide is going to raise all ships.
Marcel Digital in the Umbraco ecosystem
Marcel started building their relationship with Umbraco by building a few websites on the platform - starting with their own. “We became so sure that Umbraco was the right choice, we re-built our own site on the platform,” Swartz says of their journey towards becoming a Gold Partner.
He values the authenticity of the leadership of Umbraco, but more importantly, Swartz feels a lot of trust towards Umbraco HQ, the company behind the CMS. “They do what they say they will do. If there is an issue, they are transparent about it, and work to get it resolved. On top of the fact that we think Umbraco is the best option for our clients, I can trust HQ as businesspeople as well. They are looking to do things the right way.”
Swartz also appreciates the U.S.-based Umbraco community centered around the CMS. “While we compete with the rest of the Umbraco community in the U.S., we have a lot of respect for them and believe they have a great deal of respect for us.”
Marcel Digital has a unique place in the Umbraco community in the U.S. as they have been an organizing sponsor of the Umbraco US Festival, the largest North American Umbraco conference, for several years. The conference has since enjoyed a 200+% increase in registration since 2019.
The agency enjoys meeting community members at conferences where they can collaborate. “One of the benefits of becoming a Gold Partner is being part of this community that is not interested in winning one piece of business from a competitor but understands there is a much bigger opportunity when the rising tide is going to raise all ships,” explains Swartz about the benefits of Umbraco on a larger scale.
Apart from continuing to work with the Umbraco CMS, Marcel Digital also sees an incredible opportunity with Cloud. “We think it’s exactly the right move. We’re seriously excited to move some of our current and future clients to Umbraco Cloud,” Swartz says of their future plans.
They also plan to stay a pivotal part of the U.S. Umbraco community and develop it further by expanding the US Umbraco Festival as well as meetups. “We all feel like we have the best technology. We also believe that the U.S. is a fragmented market and there is a tremendous opportunity for all of the Gold Partners to prosper with the rising tide,” concludes Swartz.
We have the ability to work with enterprise clients, mid-market, as well as taking on a volume of smaller, impactful projects. We are successful with all levels simultaneously.
Key takeaways: What did taking Umbraco to market mean for Marcel Digital?
- Choosing Umbraco as a prefered software option helped Marcel work more effectively and easily manage both large-scale projects, mid-level, and a volume of smaller projects.
- This led to a 20% revenue growth in the web development department and a 50% revenue increase for their business overall.
- Umbraco’s strong multisite capabilities and backend user permissions help Marcel deliver high-quality projects for their clients in complex industries.
- In Umbraco HQ, Marcel found an authentic partner they can trust.
- Becoming a Gold Partner opened Marcel up to a strong, collaborative Umbraco community.
- Organizing and growing the US Umbraco Festival brings the agency an edge with new customers as their involvement cemented their commitment to the CMS.