Inside the industry and inside the agency
Life at Wickedweb moves incredibly fast. Our Digital Marketing clients are always looking for new ways to engage their consumers and it’s our job to conceive an exciting creative idea and develop the specific digital channels to help them disseminate that idea. But of late, I’ve observed a few important changes regarding our digital clients and how they behave. They want more. A whole lot more.
The BEST Awards drew some interesting approaches to digital marketing this year. And there were varying degrees of competencies and technical deliveries from those that entered the digital award categories. As digital continues to expand as a medium and become more fragmented and more complicated, the challenge for brands owners and agencies alike is to maintain focus on what’s important from the brief.
While judging the categories, some entries were highly creative but lacked a well-executed technical delivery, while others drilled home on technical capabilities but at the detriment of the creative and brand experience. Throw in a dose of social media, mobile delivery, and video, and the complete breath of what full service digital can do for a brand, it’s no wonder there were so many different angles the digital entries explored. In truth, there were few entries that used all the digital channels available as part of their overall campaign, but this is no doubt influenced by budgets and time pressures. That said the entries which scored most highly, were those that effortlessly hung their brand communications around the appropriate digital channels, rather than forcing a message into all the channels at their disposal.
Innovative, concise brand communications, delivered across the most useful digital channels in a way that embraced technology won my vote. And of course, backing that up with tangible analytics justifying campaign success and value.
Stuart Wells, Managing Director at agency Wickedweb talks to Figaro Digital about best practice within design and build - Article by Jon Fortgang - Figaro Digital
"If you build it," runs the line in baseball drama Field of Dreams, "they will come."
That was back in 1989, but until comparatively recently the same theory underpinned plenty of design and build projects. Now that Google decides on ranking, campaigns are seeded on social and the mobile frontier opens up, brand managers and marketers need to approach the planning and construction of their sites – and in particular SEO - with scientific precision.
Wickedweb are a full service digital agency who specialise in this field. Established in 2002, the company's work with a range of clients over the last decade has provided them with a clear perspective on some of the most persistent challenges – as well as the greatest opportunities – open to digital marketers seeking to optimise their presence across all channels.
"We speak to some new clients now," says Stuart Wells, Managing Director at Wickwedweb, "who've been through maybe two or three versions of a design and build project, and they're a bit nervous at the start. They're saying to us, 'we've made these mistakes in the past, we've seen these errors crop up. How can we mitigate the risk and improve our top level approach to a design and build project?'"
For Wells and the team at Wickedweb, the answer to that has involved establishing a clear best practice procedure which, they believe, helps brands refine their objectives and focus on achievable goals with measurable value. So what, for Wells, does best practice within design and build actually entail?
"Most projects start with a client saying, 'I want to deliver this'," he explains. "'I want to do it in three months and this is how much I've got to spend.' But the reality is, at that point, nine out of 10 clients don't know what it is they're looking to achieve, they don't know how long it's going to take and they don't know how much it's going to cost. And the agencies tendering for the job don't know either, because until you get into those detailed workshops and discussions, you simply don't."
Wells uses a three-part model to describe the approach best suited to streamlining and unifying that process. "There's the budget," he says, "There's the deadline, and there's the delivery. The methodology by which a large scale design and build project is delivered is all-important. In years gone by you'd see the 'waterfall' methodology, where you do one stage of the project, agree it with the client, sign off and then move to the next stage."
The problem with that approach, explains Wells, is an inherent lack of flexibility. Budgets change, deadlines shift and objectives are reconceived. "A lot of times that ends in disappointment. We inherit a lot of clients who've been through that relationship. What we're looking at now is a more agile way of working, where we'll ask the client not necessarily to commit to a definite budget but a budget range, not to commit to an absolute deliverable, but to a deliverable range. And not to set their heart on an absolute deadline but to a range of dates. That way you can enter the project and be far more open and pragmatic and say, 'What is actually achievable here? What are you looking to do as a business and what can we do to give you as much value as possible?'
Given his experience, what, for Wells are some of the most persistent challenges facing brands and agencies as they embark on a project together? Though brand managers may imagine the tighter a brief the better, that isn't always the case.
"Eighty per cent of briefs are actually too specific," he explains. That might sound counter-intuitive in a field where clarity of purpose is key, but more information, it transpires, doesn't always mean better information.
"Most brand and marketing managers will have a good idea of what they want to achieve. Let's say it's an integrated campaign – they'll be aware of some of the things they can do in social media, some of the things you can do with a CMS. But they may not know the best things that can be achieved at that point in time. Often agencies will respond to those client requirements because the clients have been very prescriptive. But that may not be the best way to achieve a client's underlying objectives, because there are new methods or more technically advanced ways of doing things." As an example, Wells cites advances in browser-technology versus Flash. But the point, he says, is that agencies should be able to analyse a client's top-level objectives and then present that client with the best routes to achieving those aims, rather than having to stick to a rigid, pre-ordained road map.
Starting with SEO
Key to any design and build project is SEO. For Wells and the Wickedweb team, it's the foundation on which everything else rests. So how does best practice apply here?
"To get the best results in SEO," says Wells, "you have to be there right at the beginning. Your organic search strategy has to be considered right at the start of the project. And that search strategy needs to filter through to the content audit – understanding where content is going to be placed. It needs to filter through to the information architecture stage, ensuring that the structure is correct around the content and search strategy. And on the back of that it should fall into design and build in a way that's fairly straightforward. You're then at the point where you've got the right foundations for search."
Dealing with data
Though the focus is inevitably on the launch of any campaign, when it comes to looking at data, this is the beginning rather than the end of the story.
"The brands that we see doing best in digital are the ones who understand their data best," says Wells. In the past this meant relying on disparate methods of analysis. "Now, with newer platforms and technology – Sitecore for example - we're able to work with customers, look at the data, look at the audience and actually prescribe the user-journey we want people to go down as we engage with them. That strategy can be put in place right at the beginning of the project and be constantly checked and progressed throughout."
While agility and flexibility are key, Wells acknowledges that the speed with which digital technology moves means specific strategies must themselves remain fluid. What works this year may need revising next. But remaining nimble, adaptable and open to change is a surefire way for brands to protect – and see measurable returns on – the investments they make in digital.
Best Practice in Practice – 10 Tips For Design & Build
- Choose you partner agency on who they are – as people!
- Get the background on senior figureheads leading all key roles within the agency
- Ask about their internal project management processes and methodology, status updates and meetings
- Ensure you know your SLA, response times, maintenance and support retainers
- Ensure you know how they and you will measure the ongoing success of the project
- Ensure you have portability
- Ensure you have performance
- Ensure you have scalability
- Ensure you have targeted content
- Ensure you have data and information
We are excited to announce that Rob will be joining the specialist creative panel for The Great Idea Escape: Best Awards 2012. This will be chaired by Alistair Ross, Head of Ideas, Draftfcb London. Rob will be asked to judge a number of important creative awards across a range of media, along with special awards for innovation, writing, art direction, and discretionary awards for best typography, illustration, photography.
The Best Awards 2012 are seeking a mix of twelve creative experts to demonstrate that the Best Awards really do honour only the Best. Rob’s inclusion in the panel will ensure the high standards met by previous winners continue to reflect in the quality of work chosen for the Best Awards 2012.
Rob comments: “I am thrilled to be asked to be on the judging panel, it’s a real honour. We worked with the MAA to produce the Best Awards website and so to continue our involvement with them and the awards to help select the winners is fantastic. I am really looking forward to seeing the nominations, and judging by the quality of last year’s work I think this year is going to be a real challenge singling out the winners“.
All of us at Wickedweb congratulate Rob in accepting this prestigious position – well done!
Last night Wickedwebers descended on Waterloo’s Dim Sum restaurant Ping Pong for a spot of No. 268 The Sichuan Feast Selection… Chicken, beef and clams individually cooked with Sichuan spice and served with ginger, garlic and chilli soy sauce… there were a few beers too... lovely food, lovely people, just lovely...
Having worked with Alterian Immediacy for three years, Wickedweb have in recent months become a fully certified partner of the software provider. The move sees Wickedweb's transition into looking to work more with B2B corporate and government clients.
Stuart Wells, Managing Director at Wickedweb commented, "We’re delighted to solidify our partnership with Alterian Immediacy. We’ve been a partner for over three years, but now as a fully certified partner agency, and only one of seven in the UK, we’re in a better position than most to help our clients take full advantage of the software. With the possibility of endless customisable plug-ins and integration options, the opportunities are endless. We look forward to expanding our Alterian Immediacy offering in the coming months and welcoming new clients to our Alterian support programme.”
This month sees the exciting launch of the new Wickedweb brand and reinforces a very positive transition into a more strategic digital marketing agency
Traditionally Wickedweb has been known primarily as a team of web design and build specialists but our continued growth over the last 18 months and recent account wins with Ellas Kitchen, Watts International EC Harris, & Medway Council, sees Wickedweb leading on strategic digital planning and execution and results-driven tactics.
The brand has been given an injection of understated confidence and leadership and effectively repositions Wickedweb into a more strategic and consultancy-led arena. It also allows for a shift to a more integrated focus as clients are looking for a wider range of activities across the marketing communications landscape that can be pulled together under the umbrella brand.
Wickedweb are proud of our award winning portfolio of work and continue to push the boundaries for our clients with wicked ideas, wicked consultancy, wicked technology and wicked creativity.
Both the Agency and our Clients are set for great things over the next 12 months...
Contact us to discuss your digital requirements
Tel. +44 (0)20 7183 4999
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