Evolution and revolution

In the world of search marketing, you can never stand still. Search agency Vertical Leap is always evolving, but now we’ve also started a revolution.

We’ve been in business for almost fourteen years. During that time, we have seen the ever-increasing complexity of Google’s algorithm and how it relates to SEO. We have seen the birth of AdWords and AdSense and the demise of Yahoo, Bing, AltaVista, Excite and HotBot. We’ve been an active part of both the social media phenomenon and the growing content marketing industry. Change is the only constant with digital marketing and we like to lead from the front.

In 2001, we were the first company in the UK to offer an SEO service that provided continuous optimisation as an alternative to the prevalent one-off approach – we called this managed search engine marketing. We were one of the first search marketing companies to embed content marketing into its service in 2009 – what we referred to as content-driven search marketing.

Content and social

 We were one of the first search marketing companies to embed content marketing into its service in 2009 – what we referred to as content-driven search marketing.

In fact, we were so passionate about the power of content marketing that in 2011 we launched a completely new brand called Red Rocket Media. This allowed us to reach new customers with content services that were completely independent from search. Over the past few years, our in-house, professional journalists and content designers have created some amazing results for our customers in a variety of industries using a range of content types.

In 2012, we added dedicated social media marketing services to our Red Rocket Media team and have continued to adapt and grow that service along with the rapid pace of change in the social media landscape.

Design services

We were lacking in-house design expertise and so in 2013 we hired an amazing team of world-class design and build specialists. We have since created some fantastic projects and campaigns for clients of all sizes including the London Irish rugby club and Premiership Rugby.

Vertical Leap technology

Throughout this time, we have invested heavily in technology; and it has been a major component of our business since day one. Our system has historically been built to help our experts provide a better service to our customers, to improve our own internal management, and to provide our customers with a window into how their campaigns are performing. At the end of 2014, we completed a major overhaul of our technical platform – Apollo Insights – one that has been in development for several years and is an incredibly exciting new phase.

Evolution as consolidation

We are now entering the next step in our evolution and start what I believe will be a revolution in the digital marketing industry.

This next phase is represented first by a consolidation and redesign.

As we have always been about helping our clients reach more business, we believe that our core, award-winning brand – Vertical Leap – best represents us – our history, our expertise, our experience and our vision for the future. We are retiring our secondary brands Red Rocket Media and Brightpath Digital and will deliver all services once again as a single company and brand.

We really love the new logo that our design team created and the updated website they have built. We think that we can better engage with both our existing and future customers with this unified brand and with a website that offers more knowledge sharing, less jargon, and clear insight.

Evolution becomes revolution

I believe that this evolution leads us into a revolution as we once again pioneer a new approach to search and digital marketing.

 Marketing has changed more in the last five years than over the previous hundred, but … marketing is going to change even more in the next five years. Marketo CMO Sanjay Dholakia

Marketing and technology are overlapping at an ever-increasing rate and we’re just seeing the beginning of the impact that software and algorithms are having on digital marketing (mass personalisation, real-time bidding, etc).

The reason for this is that digital marketing is data and competitive advantage can be found within it. Data about your website – its visitors, your content, and how all of it performs and converts. Data about your customers – who they are, what they search for, what they share and whom they know.

A lot of this data is available from third party software services but each provider collects just a small piece of the complete picture. You can get information about your web traffic from Google Analytics, or your back links from Majestic or your competitors from SEMRush, and so on.

But simply having access to this data and information isn’t enough. You also need to have the skills, expertise and time to derive any sort of actionable insight from it.

Search marketing as it is and as it will be

I see the marketing industry currently at two ends of a spectrum.

Agency vs Saas

At one end, we have marketing agencies as we have come to know them. They provide services – SEO, creative, paid search, PR, etc. They might use technology to help them provide those services – whether proprietary or 3rd party – but the customer only indirectly benefits from that technology. They are paying for the service, not the software.

At the other end, we have software providers (aka software as a service) who provide technology that satisfies a specific piece of the data or data analysis puzzle. Sometimes they provide professional services, but these services are there simply to help customers better utilise their software. SaaS customers are expected to have the knowledge and expertise to interpret the information in the software and to implement any insight that is created by it.

A new type of digital agency

Vertical Leap is now the first of a new type of digital agency – a cross between a traditional search/digital agency and a software service; one that combines specialist experts with a technology platform.

Agency vs Vertical Leap vs Saas

I truly believe that this approach is a revolution that has just begun. We may be the first, but many more will follow over the next few years.

One reason for this is that digital marketers are drowning in data today and it’s located in so many different places. SEO specialists need to research, interpret and combine data from at least a dozen different sources to be effective. This is no better for any other digital marketing specialist from social media to content.

Everything, from everywhere and in one place

So the first benefit of our method is that we are collecting everything into a single location. This will streamline our own effectiveness, improve consistency of approach between different experts and help us better benchmark performance. We all know that digital marketers have to become more like data scientists, but they shouldn’t have to be systems integrators as well.

A large part of technical SEO is to eliminate problems with sites. When you have sites with several thousand pages, complex backlink profiles, and are being updated regularly (as they should) – this can become a large and very time-consuming task. Once we have every data point collected, we can apply automation and narrow AI technology to improve this sort of “heavy lifting”.

This also applies to other areas of digital marketing such as paid search performance monitoring, content marketing topic opportunities, and social media listening.

Increasing insights

This is not about improving efficiency, but increasing campaign performance by increasing insights. According to experts, performance improvement results from a combination of reducing errors and uncertainty, while increasing insights – and Apollo Insights does exactly that.

We reduce the errors that could exist from having to review dozens of data sources, check hundreds or thousands of potential issues, analyse both lagging and leading indicators and look for opportunities in the minutiae. Our experts are able to make decisions, recommendations and develop winning strategies for you knowing that all of the baseline work has been done completely.

This is the true impact of data-driven marketing – where we are not simply analyzing data but using algorithms to augment our experience and expertise to improve results dramatically.

Two bites of the cherry

This approach where we combine specialist experts with a software service, means that you get two bites of the cherry; it is a win-win.

You get the direct benefit of software that collects and aggregates all of your marketing data in one place with full access, including dashboards, deep analysis screens, and performance monitoring. But you also get the expertise of experienced specialists working on your behalf to interpret this data and take action on the insights that it generates. This combination is a force multiplier.

The end result for you is improved marketing intelligence, increased visibility, more revenue and a better service all around. I know you’ll like it.

Viva la revolution!


Matt Hopkins profile picture
Matt Hopkins

Matt Hopkins grew up in Texas but moved to the south coast of England in 1992. He served as the Managing Director of a software consultancy working with some of Europe's largest and best-known companies before founding Vertical Leap in 2001. He is passionate about the force-multiplying effect that technology can have on business and marketing in particular. He was responsible for our vision and business strategy.

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