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Building and managing a team of developers, designers, and marketers, is just too expensive and complex for most businesses nowadays.
That’s why fractional marketing agencies are popping up everywhere, with just a few ones managing to stand out like NANO did, as proven by their over 800 successful projects and millions of dollars generated for several hundred companies.
In this interview for Website Planet, I spoke to Yuri Iskhakov, CEO of NANO, to learn exactly how NANO managed to expand from a small development company with few key players, to a full-service digital agency.
Topics discussed in the interview:
How NANO helps companies transition from traditional to digital business through platforms with a unique approach to strategic marketing focused on eCommerce and user experience
How relationship marketing helped NANO scale to hundreds of clients
Why Yuri doesn’t look at competitors as competition
What problems are you solving for your customers and audience?
Many businesses struggle with business growth. Some from inadequate marketing efforts, others because of subpar user experiences, but the most common pitfall by far for brands is getting wrapped up in the day-to-day and ignoring the crucial pursuit of innovation.
Businesses that fail to evolve their marketing strategies risk stagnation, loss of visibility among potential customers and falling behind competitors. Many are neglecting their user experience which often leads to loss of business, poor reputation and waste of marketing dollars. I believe innovation should be at the forefront of every business today, considering the rapid growth of technology and changing consumer demands.
Generally, businesses engage in “Spray and pray” marketing strategy. They spray money across random media channels and pray something sticks. On the flipside, they ignore the user experience, and assume that the visitors will figure things out on their own.
Newsflash, they don’t – If you look at online statistics, only 3% convert on the average.
Now, imagine how much time and money gets wasted this way by so many brands…
The marketing landscape has rapidly changed, and the Battle for Attention is harder than ever. Consumer’s attention span is low, and the amount of information that’s being fed to them is vast. Today’s focus should be on Education and guidance of the consumer through short-form videos and distribution through social channels.
Content should be created with the user in mind, addressing their problems and challenges:
▶️ If you are selling products, you have to be able to showcase how this product works, and what is the outcome benefit of using your product.
▶️ If you’re selling a service, you must position yourself as the domain expert and provide helpful information on the specific topics.
It is also important to remember that you have to stand out, and this is where high-quality video and audio production make a big difference. For brands that want an elevated digital presence should utilize a professional team or a studio to create their content. This type of content can also be used on websites and apps to improve the user experience.
And speaking of experience, surprisingly many brands still fail to provide a good Mobile experience for their users. Mobile is where most browsing and learning happens, updating the look and feel and especially performance on Mobile devices is very important.
Which types of companies benefit the most from what you offer?
We have been fortunate enough to work with different companies across all industries, particularly in Ecommerce. Founders and Marketing directors are having a tough time keeping up with the rapidly changing marketing environment and new technologies.
Getting the right message in front of the right audience is tough and requires a strategic approach. And it doesn’t end there, figuring out a way to close that lead into a sale once the visitor enters your digital experience requires analytics, an understanding of user behavior, and consistent optimization of the ux.
Our ideal customers are midsize businesses doing $5 to $50 million in annual revenue. Their needs revolve around marketing and technology innovation, however, it is not cost-effective for them to have an in-house team.
It is very expensive to maintain a team of professional developers, designers, and marketers, especially US-based. We function as a plug-and-play extension of their in-house team, reporting to Marketing Directors, CMO’s or CEO’s of midsize businesses on a fractional basis allowing them to tap into necessary resources without the commitment of a full-time staff.
We treat our clients like partners, and our goal is to get them to a level where they no longer need us and can continue growing with an internal team.
What makes them eventually choose you over your competitors?
Very often companies that get recommended to us have experienced painful engagement with larger agencies, where they did not get the love and the attention that their business needs to grow. We are very hands-on and work side by side with the founders and Directors to provide a proactive approach to business growth.
Unlike other agencies, we tend to go beyond the “contract” and look at the business from every angle. Marketing and User Experience must be in sync with each other to have effective results. This is why we care about conversions just as much as we do about driving the right traffic.
One of our recent successes is Anna Zuckerman, a fashion jewelry designer whose business we helped grow by over 300%.
Marketing is simply not enough to grow a business. You have to consider everything. We educate our clients on the importance of good user experience, maintaining beautiful branding, providing quality content that has to be informative and engaging, and offering incredible customer service. Our mission is to help companies focus on growing their business, instead of worrying about marketing or technology.
“While many people are speculating what model E-Commerce agencies should follow, the team at Nano have figured it out. Yuri and the team at Nano are the model of a modern agency–technologically adept, consumer-focused, and on the cutting edge of current digital marketing.”Jon Pundik CEO, Glamorise Foundations Inc.
Since you started, what helped you grow and retain your audience?
The best compliment anyone can receive is the referral from a past client. Our philosophy has always been to treat each client as if there’s two. With a commitment to providing best possible service our referral base grew drastically over the years allowing us to work across many industries with some really ambitious people.
We also believe that your network is your net worth, so I spent many years developing a strong partner network with parallel businesses, like Content studios, SEO and PR firms, Creative agencies, etc. We don’t look at other businesses as competition, instead we prefer to look at them as Collaborative business partners. When you help each other fill in the gaps, business flows like water.
However, to stay ahead you always have to show up and be present. As the world evolved, we invested a lot of effort into creating social content, showcasing our portfolio of great projects. We started to develop videos and LinkedIn articles to share our knowledge about the future of technology and marketing trends. A great addon was when we started providing free educational workshops to help brands get the knowledge they need to take their businesses to the next level.
Of course, like many others, in the past we tried running Google ads and Paid Social media ads and realized that it doesn’t work for us, because we don’t sell one single solution. We are in the business of relationship marketing, and traditional pay to play simply doesn’t work for us.
Our clients feel more like partners, so we worry about their business success almost as much as they do. We pay attention to their business needs, advise when to avoid costly decisions and guide them into steady growth. Most of our clients enjoy a long term relationship with us.
What tools are you using to run your business and daily activities?
We use Google suite for alot of our back office needs. Jira for project management, HarvestApp for billing. ChatGPT also plays a big role across all our departments.
We love Figma for design, Adobe Premier, After effects and Cinema 4D for movie magic. Adobe suite for the rest. We enjoy working with NextJs, React, Ruby and Python. We still support Shopify and WordPress. Klavioy has been a great tool for Email and Text Marketing.
We like WP Engine and Digital Ocean for hosting. WhatsApp and Slack for communication.
P.S. We are currently building our own Authentication solution (scute.io).
What perspective do you have about where your industry is headed?
With the introduction of artificial intelligence, the entire industry will go through a major shift. You will see more personalization and automation, where people will have to make less and less decisions. Many businesses will fall, and new businesses will rise, as it happened during the transition to smart phones. Businesses need to pay close attention to the new technologies and start adopting them with less hesitation.
From a marketing perspective there is a huge shift happening in the battle for attention. People are spending more time on mobile devices and social platforms. The attention went from reading to watching and the big change is that social media platforms are now capable of searching video content very similar to how Google searches website content and that’s huge! I notice more and more people searching for information and answers on TikTok and Instagram rather than Google.
According to statistics in 2024, there are estimated to be 4.89 billion total social media users worldwide and the average person bounces between seven different social networks per month:
Facebook and Twitter have a big emphasis on discussion.
Instagram and TikTok reach younger audiences
LinkedIn is great for networking in the professional world
Reddit and YouTube comment threads often draw enthusiasts with deep knowledge of a topic, or those looking to learn.
Considering the vast differences between the platforms, the type of audience and the intent of content consumption, marketing strategy needs to be dynamic with a focus on the opportunities each platform offers. The goal is to create an eco system that connects your brand with your audience and consistently engages and informs your customers. Brands need to come out from out of their shadows and truly connect with their customers via content, comments and DM’s.
What’s in the roadmap for your future?
We see a big move into the Content space and have been expanding our Marketing department with more content creators and editors. We currently have two partner studios and are looking to expand our capabilities to serve bigger brands. We are also expanding our developer and designer pool as we take on more ventures and bring more unique digital products to the market.
I want to bring positive change to the business world and leave a legacy behind. There are alot of very talented people out there and we want to help them build new innovative businesses that will benefit humanity as a whole.
Today’s biggest trends revolve around artificial intelligence. Within 10 years, every mechanical device with a screen on it will have ai built in and eventually most of the devices will communicate with each other. Shopping, cooking, and travel will no longer be a burden on humans as the AI will essentially take care of it all. People will have an opportunity to truly elevate themselves (as long as they avoid wasting time on entertainment) and we will see innovation on a completely new level.
Bethenny eats, sleeps, and breathes digital marketing. She helps clients take charge of brand awareness and create lead generation strategies via a number of marketing channels, including email, social media, SEO, and content. When not a marketing superwoman, you can find her playing with her three dogs on her five-acre property, or planting yummy treats in her vegetable garden. (She is also a bit of a Real Housewives junky, #guiltypleasure!)