Q&A: Steve Pritchard, Director, It Works Media Ltd
Steve Pritchard is the Managing Director of content agency It Works Media, with over 20 years in developing and managing digital marketing campaigns for a whole range of global brands.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I have spent 20 years working in search marketing, with the first 10 working at various media agencies for a wide variety of retail brands.
In 2012 I founded It Works Media, primarily as an SEO consultancy to focus on delivering the campaigns I wanted to develop for brands I wanted to work with. The company has grown over the years to include 6 full-time colleagues and our core services include content, digital PR and SEO.
Though still a boutique agency, we have worked with some of the UK’s most well known brands including BrewDog, F.Hinds and Go.Compare.
What does your company do? / What is your USP?
In the early days SEO was all about the technical side to marketing. Very geeky and closed off to non-tech marketers, this made it a “black box” to many and those who didn’t appreciate its benefit usually failed to invest in the channel.
Our approach was to simplify our client strategies and focus on simply making great content, which everyone can read and wants to share.
This doesn’t mean that SEO is easy – it still requires an exceptional investment in resources from experienced teams, but we focus on the needs of the customer instead of the search engine.
What’s special about your approach?
Many agencies focus on keeping SEO a secret as it’s commercially beneficial for them to do so, however our approach provides more transparency allowing everyone involved to appreciate the value SEO has as a marketing channel.
What advantage does it add?
By focusing on the needs of the customer we develop an SEO strategy that not only helps to increase organic traffic, but also improves conversion rates, so average order values and revenue increases.
Additionally, the increased transparency of our approach helps to build trust with the client’s team, helping us to integrate with multiple product owners all focused on improving the consumer experience and organic traffic.
How does a product/service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?
At the start of any campaign we always audit where the opportunities are, what has worked before, what hasn’t and develop a strategy to fix it, with clearly defined objectives and timelines.
We always define some campaign targets over a three or six month period, so we can efficiently measure success against these targets. As most retail brands focus on revenue we always define this as a KPI, however we also include average order value and customer retention as secondary KPIs.
These metrics help us to ensure we provide a highly transparent campaign, where performance is closely monitored and are a great insight into our campaign having a positive impact on customer experience.
How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like?
The immediate benefit to our clients is that they see a higher return on investment within a shorter period of time. Organic traffic usually takes six plus months to increase, however our customer focused approach usually helps to improve conversion rates and revenue in shorter periods of time.
Are there other companies you partner with?
Definitely, we find that our approach works really well with web development agencies, those who work with retail brands and want to deliver a content strategy that helps their clients’ site to work harder. Often these skills and experience are not available in-house, so partnering with an experienced agency like ourselves provides a great partnership opportunity.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2023 / What challenges are retailers facing in 2023?
There is no doubt that the cost of living crisis is having a direct impact on many UK retailers, as consumers experience a drop in disposable income. With less money to spend, retailers may have to reduce prices to stay competitive.
This can be a significant challenge to those companies who do not want to “cheapen” their brand, however it can actually be an opportunity to re-emphasise the benefits of the product and the problem it helps to solve. Many times the story told within the website can help to highlight the value and quality of the product and how it is better than the competition.
We would always recommend retailers focus on defining the product or service benefits before looking at reducing prices to remain competitive.
How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?
Reduced consumer spend is always a challenge to address, however as SEO is one of the most cost efficient marketing channels available, it can deliver an increased ROI through better customer retention and higher average order values.
A successful SEO strategy should always look at customer retention as well as acquisition. Our approach is to focus on helping solve the consumer problem, which helps our retail clients to have a website which works harder for their budget.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
As a company we continue to grow organically, our content and digital PR team is expanding, and we are happy to remain a small boutique agency.
Any final thoughts?
Often during financial challenges it can sometimes be the reaction of a retailer to reduce marketing spend and “weather the storm”, however history has proven that brands that focused on customer retention and acquisition during these challenging times, came out stronger in terms of financial stability and potential growth.
It’s obvious a marketing agency will recommend retailers spend more on marketing, however our approach has proven to provide a highly cost efficient solution which can help a brand to grow even during the most challenging of times.
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