Cult Beauty and Tom Dixon appoint Leapfrogg as digital marketing partner

2014 is already shaping up to be a great one here at Leapfrogg, as we’ve just won two fantastic new clients in the form of Cult Beauty and Tom Dixon.

Cult Beauty is a luxury beauty retailer, stocking some of the world’s best beauty products. We’re delighted to announce that they have selected Leapfrogg to help support them across their natural and paid search strategy.

Rather than selling full beauty lines, Cult Beauty acts as a beauty curator, using a panel of 48 industry experts to handpick a selection of the most sought-after products on the beauty market. In 2011, the brand has received investment from the founders of luxury fashion etailer, Net-a-Porter and has won numerous awards, including the Sunday Times’ Styles Editor’s Choice award for Best Beauty Website 2010.

Work kicked off with the Cult Beauty team this week and we’re really looking forward to helping establish Cult Beauty as the go-to destination for premium beauty products.

Over in the homeware sector, we’re proud to announce that the iconic British Design company Tom Dixon have appointed Leapfrogg to support them on an optimisation and migration project for their new website  due to launch later this year.

Renowned industrial designer Tom Dixon set up his own brand in 2002, after an illustrious career in the design industry which saw him work as Creative Director for Habitat and Artek and receive an OBE for services to British Design.  Using highly technical manufacturing processes, the company specialises in lighting and furniture and is famous for its innovative contemporary design and construction. To date, their products are sold in over 60 countries worldwide.

We look forward to supporting these great brands during 2014 and beyond.

The Weekly Shop (10th – 14th March)

In the Weekly Shop this week…reasons you need buyer personas,  the five types of ecommerce shoppers and tips on how to find your best customers,  plus demystifying iBeacon’s and some possible changes from Google on the issue of “not-provided” keywords.

Five Reasons You Need Buyer Personas

Developing buyer personas is a great way to start being more targeted with your marketing and ensure you’re speaking your buyers language from the first interaction to the final sale. Our first article this week, explores five reasons why developing a set of buyer personas can provide value to your organisation.

Designing for 5 Types of E-Commerce Shoppers

Following on from the above, the Nielson Norman Group have identified five unique types of e-commerce shoppers. These different user-types are well worth bearing in mind when you’re designing your website as they can help design teams ensure that they are building usable and useful experiences for all types of shoppers.

Finding your best customers with the RFM matrix

Next up is a useful article from Econsultancy on how you can use the recency, frequency and monetary (RFM) matrix to find your best customers. Categorising your customers based on an RFM matrix can help you start identifying your hero customers, and those that need perhaps need a little more attention.

What are iBeacons and why they might change marketing?

This next article explores Apple’s new technology, the iBeacon, which is set to become to next big thing in the marketing world. Taking into account the user’s context, location, behaviour and profile, iBeacon’s offer a more targeted message from marketers. This should increase the likelihood of conversion as the customer’s attention will be caught just at the right point of the journey.

Google Reviewing “Not Provided,” Withholding Keywords From Organic But Not Paid Search Clicks

When Google made the move to secure search, it was a huge blow to publishers and also opened Google up to claims of hypocrisy as advertisers were still able receive the search terms. However, earlier this week, Google stated that they were reviewing the situation and seeking a better solution. This article from Search Engine Land ponders the possibilities of what this could mean for the future of SEO.

5 Tips to Get the Best Out of Your Digital Agency

This last article touches on the subject of the client-agency dynamic and provides five very useful tips on how you can get the best out of your digital agency to maximise your return. We couldn’t agree more.

Thanks for reading…see you next week!

What we learnt in 2012 and what we look forward to in 2013

At the end of each year, I encourage the Leapfrogg team to take some time out to review what they have learnt from the events of the last 12 months. It’s an opportunity to take a step back and think about what we have witnessed in digital marketing, retail and the luxury sector, as well as the strategies and tactics we have employed for an ever-growing portfolio of high-end retailers.

So here are a few of our main observations from another eventful year, with comments from members of the Leapfrogg team, along with what we look forward to (hopefully) seeing in 2013.

Panda’s and penguins changed the game…for the better

Google’s Panda and Penguin updates dominated the search landscape in 2012. Scores of websites found their search engine rankings negatively impacted by the updates. The techniques they had been using to unnaturally garner search rankings (or that agencies were adopting on their behalf, such as buying links) were hit hard by Google’s aggressive, and very public, attempts to clean up their search results.

As Ben Adam, Senior Natural Search Consultant, comments ‘it seems that Google has finally found a means of taking action against web spam; the kind of action that most search marketers have been asking for, for years.’

Website Optimisation Manager, Suzanne Taylor adds, ‘The search engines have got wiser and duly penalised sites that have been chasing rankings with ‘black hat’ tactics. For some businesses, this re-education has cost them time and money, however businesses that have focused, first and foremost, on creating a good experience for their customers have benefitted.’

These updates have had a significant (and in our view, positive) impact on the discipline of natural search (SEO). As Senior Content and Social Media Consultant, Emma-Jane comments, the updates place greater emphasis and reward on traditional content based and PR-style marketing, making quick-win techniques, such as sharing keyword stuffed articles and mass-submitting to thousands of low quality directories, riskier than ever before. A PR-led approach to building a holistic and sustainable link profile has seen a welcome move towards creating editorially-led, consumer facing content. This not only benefits search, but becomes an important part of the customer journey.’

As natural search is now so closely entwined with other marketing activities, such as content planning and PR, Head of Search, Matt, expects to see search getting greater recognition as a strategic business operation in 2013, commenting ‘successful search engine optimisation requires a sophisticated approach to relationship building meaning companies need to work harder to engage with customers, suppliers, partners, press and commentators. This means that SEO should, for the most forward thinking companies, be at the heart of a business not on the fringes, which can only be a good thing.’

Content marketing is nothing new

What was particularly interesting to witness in 2012, as a result of the Panda update in particular, was the sudden surge in interest for ‘content marketing’ services. I’ve been amazed at the number of agencies suddenly changing tact (and in some cases their straplines) to place content marketing at the core of their offering (as if creating genuinely engaging, useful content has always been their approach to search…when quite frankly, it wasn’t.).

‘Content is king’ they said again…and again…and again…

Content marketing, even in the online world, is not a new discipline. Neither is it one that should be getting any more, or less, attention just because Google has found a way to combat the poor quality content that for so long could be used to manipulate your way to the top of the rankings.

Managing Director, Rosie, comments ‘content is not king. Instead, the customer’ is king. Regardless of the marketing activity, whether on or offline, single or multichannel, you must put the customer at the heart of it. Good customer insight is the rocket fuel for your content and wider retail strategy…and always has been. Nothing has changed other than Google getting better at separating the wheat from the chaff.’

In 2013, we hope to see the (somewhat artificially inflated) industry furore around content marketing calm down. We’ll continue to apply a back to basics attitude where content is concerned, namely that strategies are driven by a genuine understanding of the customer, as Senior Content and Social Media Consultant, Emily, explains, ‘delving deeper into our clients’ consumer demographics with detailed customer surveys and audits of each touch point in their retail journey will further develop our customer-orientated focus in 2013, which continues to be at the heart of our approach to content strategy.’

Consumer expectations are moving faster than most retailers can keep up

Driven mainly by technology (the growth in smartphones and tablets, for example), there have been significant changes in consumer behaviour in recent years and, in turn, the expectations that consumers have of the retailers they choose to shop with.

As I noted in an Econsultancy article back in November, ‘what is a ‘nice to have’ now will be the expected norm in 2013. As consumers become conditioned to in-store consoles, delivery on their own terms and a more personalised shopping experience (to give just three examples), they will more readily question those retailers not offering the same. In short, consumers won’t put up with average when exceptional becomes the norm.’

As such, we will undoubtedly see more retail casualties in 2013. However, it would be too simplistic to blame economic factors alone for these failing businesses. Instead, there will be some retailers who simply cannot evolve their business models in line with customer expectations and, as such, will disappear from our high streets.

In 2013, the successful retailers will be those who place much greater emphasis on customer insight and ‘big data’ to drive marketing decisions. Gone are the days when retailers can afford to throw money at something on a whim. The customer needs to be at the heart of every decision. As such, we expect to see customer experience become more and more of a focus during 2013 to the extent it occupies board level discussions.

Social media is evolving to become a mind-set, not just a tactic

Alongside Google’s well publicised efforts to clean up their search results, 2012 also saw social media’s influence on search results increase. As Client Services Director, Greg, comments ‘Google+ started to show real signs of traction in 2012 – especially with regards to having an impact on natural search visibility within the search results’.

We still think the jury is out when it comes to the role Google+ plays in meeting wider customer engagement objectives (simply put it hasn’t reached critical mass) but, without question, Google is making a massive push for it to a part of our everyday lives. I just hope consumers, brands and agencies invest in the platform in 2013 because it adds genuine value to their retail strategies, not just because it is a necessary vehicle to improving Google search rankings.

Aside from Google+, in 2012 we saw a definite step change in how clients’ perceive social media and the role it plays at every stage of the customer journey. As Emily notes, ‘across our client portfolio, we’ve seen an increased interest in (and understanding of), the importance of social, both for accessing and expanding their consumer bases, as well as becoming an increasingly important factor in search.’

Greg continues ‘brands have been much more willing to at least ‘have a go’ in social media even if specific objectives and KPIs are unclear at the start.’

Measurement and attribution remains a challenge

Mobile and tablet use exploded during 2012 with Matt commenting ‘adoption of mobile devices was notable last year. Customers of premium brands are more likely to own a smartphone and tablet with some of our clients seeing up to 40% of their website traffic coming from mobile devices.’

As consumers move so freely between channels and devices whilst researching, considering and making their purchase, tracking this journey and attributing revenue to the appropriate channel presented a major challenge in 2012…and it will continue to do so in 2013.

Head of Search, Matt, sees part of the solution in social media. He comments, ‘Social media offers a solution to attribution issues created by multiple devices and cookie deletion. With a billion people on Facebook and other networks such as Twitter and Pinterest growing quickly, people logged in to social media platforms and email services, especially on their mobile devices, could be the solution to the attribution conundrum’.

Watch this space!

Things get better with age

In December, we will be celebrating our tenth birthday. Quite frankly, I don’t know where the years have gone!

One thing I do know is that Leapfrogg is evolving all of the time. Each day, month and year we improve, never satisfied with our approach, processes and knowledge. For me, that is what makes a great agency; the constant desire to be better than you were yesterday.

Therefore, we look forward most to celebrating 10 years in business by continuing to work with some fantastic retail brands, constantly innovating to help them meet their commercial objectives.

Account Manager, Nick, sums this up best; ‘for me, what I’m most looking forward to in 2013 is pushing our fantastic clients to be bold, experimental and ultimately, successful. With the green shoots of an economic recovery beginning to show, 2013 will be the year when forward-thinking and innovative clients can really get the jump of their competitors. I’m looking forward to leading the way with Leapfrogg’s fully integrated approach and setting the standards.’

With that, we’d like to wish you a happy and prosperous New Year!

Client / Agency relationships – the evolution continues…

As we enter the last quarter of the year, much continues to change in the world of search – technically and commercially.

At Leapfrogg, we have also become ever more aware that those clients who really believe in search as a core part of their marketing armoury will face a key question as they reconsider their objectives and strategies for 2013; how much of the work involved in search – especially in terms of pure implementation – can or has to be brought in-house?  What is the best balance of staffing up internally and retaining external, specialist expertise to ensure their strategy and tactics are making the most of how search marketing is evolving?

This has become a more frequent discussion with our clients this year than ever before.  As clients develop more confidence in what search can bring in terms of revenue and ROI, so there comes a time when they weigh up whether extra budget allocation for search should be invested in expanding the team internally or with external specialists.  Quite rightly, it’s not best use of client budget to be spending it getting external specialists to be doing ‘grunt’ work.  At the same time, if someone in-house is being tasked with devising a search strategy and executing this tactically, alongside other marketing responsibilities and tasks, they are at risk of not being as ‘sharp’ on the latest insights and techniques that specialist agencies make it their business to know.

We are in the process of working with a couple of our clients through this transition process, where elements of search strategy and tactics are ‘in-sourced’ and our expertise is deployed in a more purely consultative role, advising, guiding, corroborating and fine-tuning.

We look forward to seeing how this will evolve.  We may find that the skills and expertise in-house are more robust, and that they can throw off the need to have agency ‘stabilisers’ sooner than perhaps even they think. Alternatively, it may be that the ‘weaning off’ process has tried to do too much too soon, to the detriment of campaign performance, and so agency involvement may need to be re-assessed.

Only time will tell.  We shall adapt and adjust as we always must in the business services sector, as client/agency relationships continue to evolve naturally.

New clients bringing Christmas cheer to Leapfrogg

By our own admission, we don’t shout nearly enough about the great work we do for our clients (a new year’s resolution for 2012 perhaps!?). In the last few weeks, we’ve been successful in winning a number of fantastic new clients so thought we’d take the opportunity to tell you all about them.

First and foremost, we are delighted to have been appointed by Filofax. A brand steeped in history, Filofax dates back as far as the First World War when an Englishman working in the USA, came across an American organising system consisting largely of technical leaves for engineers and scientists. More than 90 years later, the Filofax personal organiser continues to be a valuable and practical asset to people in all walks of life. Initially tasked with looking after natural search, we will also be working with the client to develop a wider online retail strategy in 2012.

In the fashion sector, we have recently been working with one of the UK’s leading nightwear and loungewear specialists, Hush. We were tasked with helping the Hush team put in place greater structure and process around the creation, optimisation and marketing of content. This has included running a number of workshops with the client’s in-house writers to come up with creative themes and ideas that support product sales, whilst also helping to build a lifestyle brand. We have helped the client put in place a highly detailed week-by-week, structured plan outlining the content to be created and the channels by which that content is to be marketed. Alongside this, we have delivered training and put in places processes to ensure the value of that content better supports natural search and social media activity.

Sticking with fashion, we are delighted to have been appointed by Bastyan to manage their paid and natural search campaigns. Started by Tonia Bastyan (and part of Aurora Fashions), Bastyan is a collection aimed at the 35+ market giving design solutions to women searching for both quality and design from the upper middle market. Tasked to drive sales during the pre and post-Christmas sale period, we set up a Google Adwords campaign, which exceeded the clients sales targets for the entire trading period within the first two weeks!

Longer term, we are developing a natural search strategy aimed at increasing customer acquisition, whilst supporting on- and offline PR initiatives.

In the world of high-end travel, we start work with Simpson Travel in January. We’ll be developing and executing a natural search strategy aimed at increasing bookings to Simpson’s luxury villas, apartments, boutique & family hotels in Corsica, Greece, Majorca and Turkey. Our work will combine on-page optimisation, user-experience, content strategy and online PR.

And last but by no means least, Insight Guides, publishers of the world’s largest series of visual travel guidebooks and maps, has appointed Leapfrogg to provide support in the upcoming launch of their new website. We’ll be delivering a bespoke program of SEO training to the Insight Guides team of editors, empowering staff to optimise site content as it is being created. Following that, we hope to be working with the client to put in place an ongoing search strategy aimed at increasing traffic and e-book sales.

So there you go…some fantastic new clients that we look forward to working with in 2012. We’re showing off a little bit but having seen growth of more than 20% this year, in a difficult market, we’re feeling just a little bit pleased with ourselves! Expect to hear much more about our clients next year as we support them in meeting and exceeding their commercial objectives.

Have a fantastic Christmas and New Year!

Digital marketing snakes and ladders

I don’t know if you saw it but there was a great episode of Property Snakes and Ladders on Channel 4 last week, which saw Sarah Beeny working with a couple who seemed determined to ignore all her good advice and do things the hard way.

They made one mistake after another and only at the last minute did they do a U-turn and finally follow Sarah’s advice to turn their property into a number of flats as opposed to the swanky LA pad they had in mind (next to a derelict tube station in a somewhat run down area of Rotherhithe, East London!). Unfortunately this U-turn came far too late in the day and the couple looked set to lose almost half a million pounds on the project. Eeek!!

I guess by now you are wondering where I am going with this. Stick with me because I could see great similarities in the way Sarah Beeny works with her clients and how digital agencies work with theirs. Why did this couple ask for Sarah Beeny’s help and then almost completely ignore it?

If you are an agency, does this sound familiar? And if you are a client have you continuously challenged your agency to the point where nothing actually gets done? The best agencies will provide very detailed, clear advice on the best way to grow your business through the web using techniques such as website optimisation, link building, social media and content. But virtually all consultants and agencies report that in numerous cases their advice is ignored, despite being paid good money for their time.

I am sure that the beautiful Sarah Beeny will agree; the most successful projects she has worked on are those where the client has listened fully to her advice and implemented it. I know this is true for the projects that I have managed.

However, the similarities do not end there. The change of program name from “Property Ladder” to “Property Snakes and Ladders” is indicative of the market that we find ourselves in today. The housing market has crashed and with it the demand for the vast majority of products and services has done likewise. It is therefore more important than ever to ensure you have a strong online presence, that your site is able to convert visitors into enquiries/sales and that you focus on retaining those lovely new customers you acquire. Therefore, if you have employed an agency based on a thorough review and understanding of their approach, requests for case studies, testimonials and references, it is vitally important that you go on to implement the recommendations that they make.

The key thing underpinning this of course is trust. By doing your homework you will find it much easier to let go of what you think you is right and listen to their sound advice.

So how do you get this heightened level of trust? Here are a few more pointers:

  • Firstly check out the agency before you sign up. Ask to speak to their clients and search on the web to check out their reputation. Find out long they have been in business and ask to see evidence of successful campaigns
  • Do some research around the topics of SEO, social media, etc but be willing to learn. Remember not everything you read on the web is true and this is particularly evident when it comes to search marketing where everyone has a different opinion. In the end, an established and successful agency will have the experience to know what is best for your business.
  • Make sure you are aware of what is involved in the project; how much time, cost and work is going to be required and commit the appropriate resource. Don’t let things disappear down the dreaded ‘black hole’.
  • Make sure your agency is open about what they are doing. A good agency will be in contact regularly asking for feedback and discussing creative ideas. Transparency is key; run a mile if there is any suggestion of ‘cloak and dagger’ techniques or especially if the agency askS to have access to your website without telling you what they are going to do.
  • Remember there are no magic formulas to achieving your goals online. If it sounds to be good to be true, it probably is.

In summary, if you have done your homework and employed an expert the worst thing you can do to damage the relationship, and limit the results you are likely to achieve, is to ignore their recommendations. You have employed an agency for their expertise. Make sure you are prepared and willing to listen to their advice. By all means question things; a good agency will want you to learn but your goals will only be met by taking the advice of an expert and running with it.

This all reminds me of one of the first things I read when I joined Leapfrogg all those years ago. It was pinned to the wall just next to Ben and was a quote by much respected search marketer, Jill Whalen of High Rankings.

“ SEO company in the world will be able to help you unless you are ready to forget about what you think you want and learn more about what you really need’.

I could not have put it better myself!

The blog frogs…

In our wonderful Leapfrogg office as you know we all contribute regularly to the Froggblog.

The account managers have a unique reminder system in order to encourage us to keep on posting.

So I would like to introduce you to the blog frogs….

The system works like this:

A blog Frog will appear on an account managers desk a day after a post is due. After this one day gap, the account manager receives one blog frog on their desk. Then for every 2 days after the account manager gets another blog frog!

Once an account manager has produced a post which is added to the Froggblog they move on to the next account manager.

We have three blog frogs in total and those guys will just stare at you all day long until you post!

Currently I have the three little chappies in front of me so now I have posted they will be moved on to the next account manager.

Having a reminder system for our blog works really well for us, this ensures our content is updated regularly by different members of staff. It also helps us to share the workload of blogging and makes our jobs so much easier when we work together as a team.

If you have your own system let us know what it is?

Universal Search

Search, it’s getting better.

As you are no doubt aware, search engines not only let you search for websites, they offer more specific searches as well. You can use Google, Live Search, Yahoo and to search for images, video, blogs, books or news. These vertical specific search engines work in the same way as the traditional web search function but allow you to target a specific set of search results.

Whilst that is lovely and useful most web users are creatures of habit and that extra click or two before getting your search results is bad news. Fortunately, the big four search engines have got your back. Last year, Google introduced Universal Search, have given us ‘Ask 3D’ (which features an excellent preview function to view the webpage without clicking on it – very cool) and the other engines introduced blended search results, all aimed at giving you what you want, in one place.

Now when we search, we can see results pages filled in glorious rich media goodness. For an example, follow this link below.


We see pages with local business listings, news feeds, youtube videos, images, all relating to our search query. And if we were searching for something different that they have not suggested, we are presented with alternative suggestions.

By offering these search results embedded in the traditional results page you are provided with a more rounded set of search results from just one click. Good stuff and great for users but how can this help you?

Simply put, adding content such as podcasts, video, news, pictures or a blog and making sure you optimise these well, you can improve your visibility in search results and drive up your rankings.

How, you say. Well….

Tag and label your content with clear and concise wording – if you can, add relevant search terms.

Transcribe your video and podcast contest; search engines are not quite clever enough to understand the content, give ‘em a hand.

Videos should be branded throughout to protect your property and as a way to drive brand awareness.

If relevant, sign up for local business listings; these results often appear above the natural search results. You can add pictures and reviews to these as well.

As well as optimising press release and news stories, syndicate through online news sources

Regularly write informative and interesting blogs posts.

Adding new, optimised rich media content will also aid you natural listing by consistently adding fresh content to your site. Get creative, get inventive, get involved with your customers. Go universal

The 3 P’s of PPProject Management

This is a post about Presentation, Planning and Processing; the three cornerstones of project management.

Anyone who has ever tried to organise something important seems to either love it or loath it. I remember friends organising trips out for people’s birthdays and just not being able to cope with having multiple people to deal with, the planning of train times or car pools and the often continual flood of questions, niggles and other bits and bobs that are important to the person, but overall not so key.

Therefore I would like to break project management down into three categories and speak a little about each and what it means for our clients. All three categories are equally important because with one omitted your project will be earmarked for failure from the start and it is likely only a matter of time….


This is not presentation in terms of securing the business it is more about the presentation of the project on an ongoing basis. The project manager is the one who knows about all the different aspects of the project and is normally the one people come to with questions. Therefore it is your general method and approach to different departments and to the project as a whole that is important.

It can be hard to find the right balance between urgency and taking a relaxed attitude to things and it has to be modified and rebalanced for almost every project. However a general rule of thumb is it that it if it’s important it’s urgent unless otherwise stated.

A second rule of thumb is even if something is urgent, appear somewhat relaxed about it. There is nothing better to instill calm confidence in someone than the project manager running round in circles crying “It’s all over! It’s all over!”

Presentation is also important to keep people focused on the project. Often people and clients come to a project with all guns blazing and more promises than a labour government but as soon as other projects call there is too great a split in their time causing at least one project to suffer. This can be painful to watch as you know that every day that goes by is a day where they could have been making more money than before.

Therefore it is important to keep all people intimately involved in the project so that they stay focused and continue to understand its importance months after the start date. The freshness of anything new is often exciting, but it is important to keep that going throughout the whole time frame of the project.


This is processing in almost a mechanistic way where following procedures to the T is important. It is critical that the project manger is on the ball with the project as a whole and if they can’t work through each step then it is unlikely anyone else will be able to.

This links in with being calm and processing information and problems in a logical fashion. It is rare that something goes so drastically wrong so quickly that the project is over however it may seem like that at the time. Perspective on events is important and this can come from processing information in such a way that you end up with the correct answers to that frame of reference and can work from a stable foundation.

Ending up with the right answers is not a matter of bending things so they fit your client’s goals and objectives, it is about using a tried and tested method to arrive at a conclusion. If things aren’t looking great then work smarter so they are better next time. As Ed Boyden says “make your mistakes quickly” and move on.

With all aspects of project management it is important to make sure that you are precise, particularly in terms of your goals and expectations. Managing expectations and keeping them focused, grounded and in check is incredibly important to overall success. Personally I always have two or three sets of goals: minimums, expectations and ideals so I can gauge how well something is doing in terms of its proximity to failure and sky rocketing.

Finally the two coldest aspects of project management processing are analysis and the setting of priorities. Here you must set all personal feelings aside, put one thing before another and crunch some numbers. Sometimes things just don’t make the cut and part of good management is being able to cull those aspects.


Need I say more? Plan, plan, plan, plan and plan some more! Plan to succeed, plan to fail and plan for everything in between. This is the most important aspect of project management. I want to say it doesn’t matter how to plan, but often it does. Make your planning clear, effective and for god’s sake make sure it covers all the bases!

Ultimately you want to plan to be:

* On time, more commonly know as early. Just because others are late it doesn’t mean the project has to be (particularly if you planned for them to be late!).
* On budget, plan for the extra expenditure via experience from similar situations.
* On track for producing a high quality product by planning all aspects and eventualities whilst managing expectations and objectives.


Project management is an immense field and one which changes from industry to industry and project to project. Rarely will two be the same and personally I find it worrying if it goes 100% smoothly for too long. Planning is fundamental but it cannot dominate the landscape; processing and presentation have their own amazing benefits and taking advantage of them is only the start of a great project!

(Integration + Differentiation) * Communication = Client Success

SEM in general is quite an encompassing field to work within as it crosses boundaries between traditionally distinguishable sectors. In one moment you could go from discussing the actual way in which a site is programmed to the last press release that you distributed via your favorite set of sites (plus of course your secret golden sites that you think no-one else knows about).

Therefore it calls for a number of different skills and abilities, or a real degree of specialisation. Which ever position you are coming from it is important to realise the dual aspects of integration and differentiation and how these can be actively employed to primarily benefit of the client and secondarily yourself and your working practices.

Your average client can have quite a number of groups of people all working to make sure that their on and offline marketing is a success. They can include: internal or external PR companies and marketing departments, web developers and IT departments, senior management, copy writers, project sponsors and project managers and of course their faithful SEM team.

So with all of these groups working together what is the best strategy for success? I mean we are all working for the client’s benefit, so what is the best way to go about it? Well I’m sure there are numerous answers for this dependent on project type and scope, but for our lovely SME clients we find that a mix of integration and differentiation of departments, mixed with great communication gives the best value for money in the sector where it is often needed the most.

So, I hear you all saying, integration and differentiation? Didn’t I do that at college? Communication? Yeah I talk, so what? Well with the correct mix you are almost guaranteed client success!

Most SMEs are beyond the stage of having to hire a one-man-band and bodging some press releases, meaning specialisation is really the key. With a little budget you can make sure that you have different people covering almost all bases and that these people have at least heard of the internet before.

From here it is unsurprisingly about letting each person get on with their job as often they know best and this is why they chose to specialise in that field in the first place! But ah-ha, here comes the clever bit, after that get them all together (this doesn’t have to be a physical meeting as this often can be impossible and take too much time) and let them understand each other’s role and how in an environment that is essentially multi-disciplinary it is important to be sensitive to another’s practices and goals.

In other words, communication is key and will benefit the client, who is ultimately paying our wages. By communicating to the web developers that changing the URLs without using 301 redirects it will damage the rankings and explaining to PR companies that putting keyword rich back links in their really nice articles helps rankings your client will stand a much better chance of succeeding. This client success will spawn financial success and this will eventually filter down and they will spend more on your services because they worked so well before.

All of this seems sensible, but it is amazing how many projects are set back, sometimes irreparably, by a lack of communication between specialists. It is important for every specialist to be open in the sense that they are free with their knowledge, yet are free to accept and incorporate the knowledge of others into their own work practices.

By this method of total integration yet differentiated specialisation, focused only around the client’s success, it is almost hard not to see how a client couldn’t thrive. I mean that is why we got into departments in the first place right? So it’s time to do what all good mothers said and ‘share nicely now’.

Image from