Andy Ferries, managing director at Delete / Kagool looks at the client-agency relationship during the pandemic and sees a positive change in behaviour that he believes is here to stay.
As part of our delivery process we’ve always used technology to aid collaboration with our customers. Over this past year however, the pandemic has curtailed all physical engagement and we’ve had to become fully reliant on those tools to support a new, fully virtual way of working together.
It’s particularly interesting to see how Microsoft DevOps has come into its own and is proving a highly effective and efficient method for our clients to continue to get the results they need – virtually. We started using it in its previous incarnation as Microsoft Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS). Moving to the Cloud-based version of Microsoft Azure DevOps in 2017 and choosing this as our end-to-end delivery and collaboration tool has given us an advantage in ensuring clients can be engaged at all stages of delivery.
We use DevOps extensively at all stages of our project lifecycle: code repositories and delivery pipelines for seamless development and project backlogs, User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and defect management for project delivery. We also use Project Boards and Risks, Issues and Actions.
We see our customers as an extended part of our delivery teams. We believe in giving full transparency during projects and therefore provide full access to Azure DevOps. With all aspects of delivery seamlessly integrated into a single system it’s easy for them to continue to collaborate, stay up to date and interact with the project team.
Custom-built dashboards allow customers and project teams alike to see progress in real time in a user-friendly format. These can be configured for each customer based on their reporting needs.
This is especially important while working remotely with no option of face-to-face meetings. Customers are engaged, up-to-date and working with the delivery teams to achieve the best possible outcomes. It’s been particularly rewarding to see how adaptive everyone really is. Previously there may have been a preference for physical collaboration but now everyone knows they can be as effective working together, wherever they are in physically in the world. This bodes well for a post- pandemic future where, in the new normal, we will continue to use these tools and benefit from the enhanced working practices that the pandemic has forced us all to embrace.
To discover how your brand can benefit from collaborating with Delete / Kagool on your next digital challenge, please CONTACT US.
Digital PR has long been on the SEO scene, but it’s usually been identified as the outsider, the more extravagant younger sibling that many adopt last into a wider strategy. But in the last 12 months there has been a forced change in consumer behaviour and businesses that have been quick to adopt a good SEO strategy have seen some excellent results. Yet, even before the pandemic forced everyone online, fully optimising a company’s digital presence was critical. And enabling digital PR to work alongside SEO clearly maximises results.
Google’s John Mueller set the scene for 2021 and moved the focus firmly to digital PR in a recent tweet. He said: “I love some of the things I see from digital PR, it’s a shame it often gets bucketed with the spammy kind of link building. It’s just as critical as tech SEO, probably more so in many cases.”
This incited quite a reaction but Mueller’s key point is that it’s not about replacing technical SEO with digital PR but highlighting the importance of both being used together to achieve a common goal.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work on a range of award-winning campaigns that have driven incredible SEO results thanks to the digital PR aspect. This success has been down to working closely with the SEO team and coming up with creative ideas that deliver a mixture of high authority and relevant backlinks. Working closely alongside SEO, digital PR can be utilised to increase authority in a brand’s website, improve rankings for target keywords and target specific client’s pages – ultimately leading to conversions and sales. However, it’s crucial to point out that it’s not just about link numbers. They’re not the answer to everything.
Our work on McCarthy Stone for the campaign Top 10 British Seaside Towns is a perfect example of this. This relatively small campaign focused on targeting the keyword group ‘top seaside towns’ and securing links back to the landing page. The results involved 53 links from a range of high authority and relevant sites, delivering more than 159,000 organic sessions and the activity was rerun a few months ago with a 78.53% increase in organic sessions.
This campaign shows how important it is to get the right links, as well as having that SEO input throughout to get the most from your outreach. It also shows the value of having good evergreen content that can be updated and outreached multiple times. In addition, it’s important to ensure that there is an ‘always-on’ strategy that means high authority and relevant links are constantly being pulled through to the domain. And, perhaps most importantly for those looking to adopt digital PR for the first time, these tactics can be incredibly versatile and used to work around any budget.
So, with the incredible results on offer and a variety of flexible ways of achieving them, the question for businesses in 2021 has changed from ‘why should I include digital PR?’ to ‘how much will I miss out on by not doing digital PR?’
To discover how your brand can benefit from collaborating with Delete / Kagool on your next digital challenge, please CONTACT US.
Now in its 15th year, the Sitecore MVP programme recognises professionals within the community who actively apply their talent and expertise to help others best utilise Sitecore products to deliver premier customer experiences. Of more than 13,000 certified developers and over 24,000 active community participants globally, the 284 MVPs are truly an elite group. This year’s MVPs were selected for their exceptional Sitecore community support with numerous virtual engagements and provided vital feedback on Sitecore’s products for further development and improvement in 2020.
Dan Berry, Chief Executive Officer at Delete and Kagool, commented: “The whole team is so proud of our colleagues’ achievements and the fact they have been recognised by the platform creator’s top awards. We set out to create an industry-leading Solutions team and this award, on top of the results generated by the team, suggest we are doing that.”
The MVP Award enables our architects to gain exclusive access to the private MVP Forum on Sitecore Community. Becoming a Sitecore MVP is a difficult task that requires an exceptional level of involvement in the Sitecore community, online and offline. Each year all the nominations are reviewed by an independent panel of Sitecore employees from regional offices, technical marketing, product marketing, documentation and executive roles.
Jeremy Davis, Solutions Architect, has been an MVP in the Technical category for seven years. He says: “The Sitecore MVP user community is so vibrant and important that I’m privileged to have been a part of it for seven years now and I’m proud to be recognised for my contributions.”
Martin Davies, Solution Architect, has been an MVP in the Technical category since 2015, so this is his sixth award. He says: It’s fantastic to receive the MVP again this year. It’s even more special this time round as both Sitecore and the Delete/Kagool family enter an exciting period of growth.”
Kate Orlova, Solution Architect, joined the MVP community in the Strategy category a year ago and quickly became a recognisable figure in the community. She says: “I’m delighted to have been the first MVP to contribute to Sitecore Documentation and have shared nsights about improving performance of Sitecore in Azure.”
Anna Gevel, Solution Architect, has become an MVP in the Strategy category for the first time in 2021. Her eight years of development experience in Sitecore and more than five years of working with Sitecore marketing features, such as profiling, personalisation, A/B and multivariate testing, made her a valuable contributor into the Profiling Strategy whitepaper for Sitecore. She says, “I am passionate about sharing my Sitecore knowledge and experience with the Sitecore community and hope that Sitecore MVP title will help me to reach a wider audience, contribute to Sitecore documentation and provide feedback about Sitecore products at early stages.”
The award and recognition highlights the hard work and commitment of Kate to the Sitecore community, but also the wider team of Sitecore developers at Delete/Kagool who support our MVPs and our clients with their Sitecore expertise. Here at Delete/Kagool we implement Sitecore platforms across a range of sectors. Our solutions are planned and implemented to deliver maximum value. We combine the power of Sitecore with customer-centric design to unlock the full potential of the platform.
Our team can help you implement a project that meets your aspirations and budget. Contact us to book a demo.
I’m the CFO of Delete/Kagool. Over the last few years, I’ve been working with my board colleagues to shape the business and lay the foundations to pursue an ambitious buy-and-build growth strategy to propel the group into a ‘top 10’ player in the UK digital scene. During peak pandemic in 2020, we achieved two important milestones towards this vision: I co-led an investment round to support our 5 year buy-and-build strategy backed by the Business Growth Fund, and three months later we completed our first acquisition, effectively more than doubling our turnover and headcount. I’m currently working on the integration of both businesses while keeping an eye out for new acquisition opportunities. The integration has proven to be a fun, rewarding and exciting experience. The level of talent in the business is off the charts and I’m surrounded by exceptional people with great ideas – a great place to be!
It is fair to say there is no such thing as a typical day. Every day brings with it a new set of opportunities and challenges but there are certain matters that are cyclical, and these become part of the day’s agenda. The only pattern I can draw from my experience is that my typical day is likely to be busy and varied. Today started by walking my five-year old son to school. I reviewed the latest management accounts and updated the financial forecast for my board meeting. I’ve got calls planned with my insurance broker and the bank as well as a weekly catch-up with the senior management team. I’m also working on a number of client contracts for work due to commence in the new year. Late afternoon I’ll collect my son from school and then plan on going to the gym before spending the evening with my family, and if I’m lucky, some Call of Duty practice on my new PlayStation 5!
From a young age I’ve always been curious about technology and business. I grew up in Kenya where there was very little tech around me. My dad had a computer for his business. I learned to operate it and became quite good at MS DOS commands and BASIC programming – and this piqued my interest in tech ever since. I graduated with a degree in Computer Science and Management studies from the University of Nottingham.
I joined PwC as a graduate in 2005 to pursue my other passion – business. PwC gave me an ideal opportunity to learn about how businesses work and what makes them successful. I started off working in Audit and did a variety of financial audits, IT audits and pension audits before moving over to the Deals practice where I spent four years working on M&A projects in a variety of different roles.
Working at Delete/Kagool allows me to bring together both my passions as well as my audit and M&A background all in one enjoyable role. I’m able to business partner with the tech and creative parts of the business and ensure that, commercially, all decisions are made with our business goals in mind. Equally I can shape financial and business policy so as to foster innovation, creativity and talent and allow our teams to thrive. Additionally, the experience gained from working in the M&A world at PwC was invaluable when executing the MBO and Kagool’s first acquisition.
I’ve been supported, inspired and shaped by many people along the way from all walks of life. However, the one person who has been my ‘north star’ has been my father. I often fall back on the work ethic, values, principles and pragmatism he has imparted on me when faced with challenging moments or difficult decisions.
I’d invite Sasha Baron Cohen, Jamie Foxx and Trevor Noah. I’ll probably not get a word in edgeways but it would nevertheless be a fascinating night full of laughs.
Mombasa in Kenya is my favourite holiday destination. My parents took my siblings and me there for our holidays and I have nothing but great memories. I visit once every couple of years. Granted, it is a long flight, but totally worth it when you get there. The weather is beautiful, the people are wonderful, the beaches are stunning, the ocean is warm, and the food is to die for.
If you keep your feet firmly on the ground, you’ll have trouble putting on your pants.
That the internet is the best invention ever, gardening is surprisingly therapeutic, and that DIY is best left to the experts!
To learn more about our digital services or to apply to work with fantastic professionals like Ali, please get in touch.
This adapted article was originally published in PWC Alumni Magazine in January 2021.
In the US, 68% of businesses increased investment in AI technologies during the Covid pandemic, whilst one in four CTOs thinks that AI and machine learning will have the greatest impact on global recovery. Even so, it is easy to be daunted by the complexity, the mystery and the possibilities of AI. The reality is that it will streamline complex tasks, identify insights that can truly make a difference in the world and make incredible leaps in our levels of productivity.
But how can you start on the journey of adopting AI in your business strategy when it is such a complex subject?
The foundations of AI
First and foremost, AI depends on a large, healthy set of data. The only way for accurate patterns and insights to be uncovered is for AI algorithms to analyse carefully collected data that reflects reality, otherwise the output will not be reliable. It’s from that data that valid interpretations can be produced. For example, Football coaches are now adapting AI to analyse hours of video footage from past games to provide insights on how to train their teams to compete better. This is only possible with the data collection practice in place.
To incorporate a similar AI strategy, you should first invest in a strong data strategy – data that is captured with intent, consistency and transparency is key. Football clubs have a policy of always recording each match. The process has been for analysts and coaches to spend time watching and taking note of observed patterns and manoeuvres. Now, instead of only relying on human eyes diligently reviewing the footage, football clubs have the additional power of AI to help identify patterns that may previously have been missed.
Data strategy fundamentals
Your company, like many, may have the luxury of developing a fresh data strategy. Often they find themselves with a vast amount of data, and only now are trying to understand what exactly it can do for them. It’s a common pain point for existing data collection to be done without a purpose, or for the data itself to be inconsistent in format, or even that it is hidden within the business across various teams and channels.
So, to advantage of AI, your data strategy needs to address some key principles.
Fundamental to your AI strategy is the surfacing of data that it is collected with intent, in a consistent format for analysis and made transparent across the organisation. Utilities companies are incorporating AI driven chat bots, but in order for these chatbots to work they must be able to access the data stored in different areas of the business, such as account information, payment history, existing charges, etc. Imagine if a customer were trying to access their account balance, but the chatbot didn’t know they changed addresses? The resulting confusion creates more work and poor results. Basic data strategies need to be in place to solve these day-to-day problems.
Don’t start from scratch
There are solutions to help guide the process when you are tackling how to implement a healthy practice in data collection, or retroactively taking advantage of the vast amounts of collected legacy data for value. Finding the right Digital Experience Platform (DXP) means that businesses must think critically about how their overall business strategy fits with their digital strategy, before finally settling and determining their data strategy. In this practice, the complex questions of determining the best solution will come up naturally if done correctly. Furthermore, the additional burden of keeping up with sporadic digital policy regulation changes, can be handled through the use of the DXP – saving organisations from collective headaches of developers to the C-suite.
A well established DXP will establish a strong connection point with customers. It will also enforce a deliberate data collection policy – as a result, producing a healthy data set that accurately represents reality. With this foundational step established, organisations are poised to integrate AI and can begin to evolve their processes.
You can read more from Ursula in AI Magazine.
It’s not unusual for leaders to reflect on what has happened to their business over the past 12 months. I’m no different – but we all know the past year has been like no other. Despite extraordinary successes at Delete|Kagool, 2020 will forever be known as the year of COVID. It has resulted in fundamental changes in the ways we work, live and love. And yet, over the past year I truly believe we’ve discovered something critical about ourselves that fuels positivity in me. There is an underlying strength in our business, undeterred by the pandemic. As a true family of digital professionals, we are helping our clients to adapt, grow and reimagine their customers’ experiences in light of this ‘new normal’.
The agility, empathy and overall ability of our teams to deal with this unprecedented situation has been humbling. We have grown strongly, won new clients and delivered hundreds of projects; whilst working predominantly from home. This is a true testament to the resolve across the business, to the strength of our service offering and to the vision of the clients we serve.
Delete|Kagool’s growth against the backdrop of 2020 is an achievement in itself. Yet we’ve also celebrated two significant milestones over and above business as usual. Firstly, we completed a significant investment with BGF during the first wave of the pandemic. Paradoxically, this timing proved positive, as the investors quickly recognised the underlying strength of our business and didn’t waiver in their commitment. Now long-term backers and integral to our ambitious growth plans, BGF have initiated a first–class board, skilfully chaired by Sally Tilleray, who has considerable industry experience, and a wider expert team whose counsel I find both enjoyable and enlightening.
The second has been the completion of our first acquisition of Delete Agency in October. This has been such an exciting event and one that has energised the whole group. Delete are an incredible Customer Experience (CX) agency and Gold Microsoft, Sitecore and Kentico partner in their own right. They have already started to show they are very much the ying to Kagool’s yang. In just two short months much integration has taken place and we are leveraging the combined benefits of both agencies to strengthen our client offering. A cliché, but this is truly a case of 2+2 making 4. The Delete | Kagool teams have really thrown themselves into their shared challenges and I couldn’t be prouder or happier with the outcome so far. We are entering the year stronger than we were a year ago. We have learned to collaborate in different ways to survive, embrace and turn digital-only, helping us to move forward into a new year with confidence and ideas.
I am therefore looking to 2021 both with incredible excitement and indeed hope. That the world becomes safer for everyone. That we continue to come together as a business, and more so in person. That we also continue to grow as we build organically and acquire more leading capabilities. Most of all, that we are there for our people and our clients, who fuel our ambition to succeed.
Look out for our new thought leadership series: ‘Embracing the New Normal’ coming soon. We will be sharing agency expert and client views on the impacts of COVID on the digital customer experience and evaluating which behaviour changes are transient and which are here to stay.
In Sitecore’s latest webinar our Executive Creative Director, James Bearne, discusses what innovation means to businesses and how to embed the right culture to foster it.
Innovation isn’t just IoT and emerging tech. We explore how it’s defined and how it’s achieved practically, such as in the way people work, the systems they use, how teams are structured and work to solve business challenges, and how embedding this culture can lead to innovative digital products.
One of the biggest announcements at Sitecore Symposium this year was around Content as a Service – a perceived major shift from Content Management System to Content Delivery Platform.
The product at the centre of this shift is Content Hub, which works through the collaboration of marketing teams creating, modifying and publishing content, while managers create campaigns, manage timelines and continually monitor analytics to ensure their content is performing. CaaS pivots the focus of the Sitecore Experience Platform from building components based platforms to componentising the content. Further features announced in Sitecore 10.1 mean that Sitecore will start to intelligently suggest content to help cover audience segment gaps that haven’t been identified or segments that are poorly addressed.
Sitecore initially focused on the separation of the front and back-end design & build, meaning that the historical dependencies for developers to make changes based on marketers’ needs was removed. Now with CaaS, Sitecore is separating content creation and management from the laborious manual processes associated with updating all your changes directly in the CMS.
Additionally, CaaS establishes much simpler practices of deploying straight from Content Hub to all your brands’ touchpoints (social media, desktop / mobile, app, etc). This allows you to analyse to a greater specificity how your content is performing for your different audience personas. Marketers can drill down further into which content can be improved and which segments are being overlooked / forgotten, and then make changes directly into CH and deploy those changes quicker and more efficiently.
Sitecore is so focused on the importance and necessity of a strong content strategy, that they now require their partners to be certified Content Hub specialists in order to develop and implement the product. We’re proud to say that, at the time of writing this article, we are one of only six in the UK.
Addressing an enterprise-level content marketing strategy is no mean feat; knowing which processes are business-critical versus processes that only add complexity is something that takes teams years to unpick, and finding the most comprehensive and efficient solution that supports all the various team members that play a part in the process is daunting. Even defining the exact structure for setting the content journey and management requires careful research and consideration.
All these challenges speak to why it’s imperative for agencies to be able to justify calling themselves specialists. Sitecore designed a multi-month engagement programme to enable, train and validate partners as specialised Content Hub implementation partners. In recognising that inadequate DAM processes are stunting brands from reaching their full potential with customers, Sitecore implemented a plan to help boost the learning curve and provide a stronger foundation for customers to take their content marketing strategy to the next level.
At Kagool, our team has completed the training programme and passed assessments set by Sitecore in order to ensure that our solution architects, business analysts and developers can define the requirements and delivery of a sophisticated Digital Asset Management system for your industry.
Each Content Hub instance must be unique because it is adapted based on the focus of your content strategy. Whether that’s thought leadership, managing recipes, or supporting a deep and complicated catalogue of products.
Blending our decades of Platinum Partner level experience with the skillset of our Content Hub specialised team, we can guide yourorganisation through establishing a content strategy and creating a
bespoke system to manage and serve it in a personalized way.
Content Hub can be developed to directly support your long-term content strategy goals. Content Hub combines the data that sits behind the scenes and the experience on the surface. Many organisations mistakenly focus more on the surface-level experience rather than ensuring that value to customers starts behind the scenes with a targeted, rigorous strategy. The better an organization’s DAM can manage the personalised content that is needed to drive engagement for each audience segment, the happier customers will be.
We establish the DAM as the engine for serving personalisation, and its set-up determines how well the platform can achieve it. The philosophy behind the set-up of the DAM is to componentise the content and allow for easy deployment to your platform/s and location, addressing each unique customer. This shifts the responsibility of the content creator from stretching their attention across both content creation and page set-up to focusing on generating the best content. This approach increases the quality and relevance of content and results in higher engagement and conversion. By making the content headless, there are less dependencies, and the talents of team members can be more focused.
We see many common pain points for marketing teams:
And we help to streamline each of those processes by defining a taxonomy that supports marketers in managing the digital asset life cycle, from create to publish to optimise.
As we work with our clients on their content strategies, we are seeing Content Hub as the frontrunning solution to best set up and optimise the most valuable content to deliver the most impact to their audiences.
Much like being unable to see the forest for the trees, it’s challenging to take a step back to design an overall strategy when you’re immersed in the day-to-day. For anyone immersed in workflows and designing marketing campaigns, each detail is carefully considered, which makes it difficult to be selective in prioritising and shaping the bigger picture.
That’s where we add real value for our clients. Our team is equipped to uncover the relevant and central themes of your brand which can help drive the best configuration and use of your Content Hub solution.
Contact us to discuss how we can help. We are 1 of 6 UK certified Content Hub partners and we would be happy to organise an intro call with our technical and strategy specialists to see if you’re getting the most out of your DAM solution.
Kagool, one of the UK’s only independent Sitecore Platinum Partners, today announces its acquisition of Delete, a multi-award-winning digital experience agency, as part of Kagool’s growth strategy to become the leader in marketing technology and digital experience.
Kagool is combining its strong engineering and technical heritage with Delete’s strategy, creative and UX expertise, in a deal that will strengthen both agencies’ offers while laying the foundations for scale and focused specialisms. The acquisition will grow Kagool’s experience design and performance marketing capabilities whilst also adding consultancy as a key service to underpin clients’ digital strategies and platform solutions.
The deal gives the joint group a headcount of over 160 people working across multiple offices, including London, Leeds, Manchester and Cardiff. CEO Dan Berry will lead the overall group, while Tom Dougherty and Andy Ferries will lead the Delete and Kagool teams respectively as MD. Both brands will operate together seamlessly to provide their clients the very best in strategy, design and experience technology.
This acquisition is the first of many planned by Kagool, which has a dynamic growth strategy backed by a recent £6 million investment by BGF. Its growth is intended to give clients scale and specialisms across a range of services and digital experience platforms, whilst continuing to put first the transparency and customer intimacy often associated with smaller, more traditional independent agencies.
Kagool offers digital design and build specialism in the Sitecore DXP platform, as well as extensive services across CX, digital strategy, performance marketing and CRO. Their clients include some of the UK’s biggest brands, such as Barratt Developments, Parkdean Resorts and Welsh Water. Delete helps clients with digital transformation, and works with the likes of The Open, Guinness Pro14 Rugby, Biffa and Southampton Football Club. They recently won the 2020 Sitecore Experience Award for the Most Sophisticated Implementation in EMEA for their work with McCarthy & Stone, ‘Agency of the Year’ Sports Technology Awards 2020, and ‘Best Agency’ and ‘Best Specialist eCommerce’ at this year’s eCommerce Awards for their work with leading sports and utility brands.
Dan Berry, CEO of Kagool, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have completed the acquisition of Delete and to welcome them to the team. The coming together of these two great companies will give our clients and prospects the very best in innovation, experience design and technical capability second to none. I’m also passionate about maintaining our customer focus and by acquiring Delete we are providing a market-leading offer for our clients’ ever-evolving CX and DXP needs. It also gives us the best possible platform, people and partnerships as the foundation of our exciting growth plans.”
Mark Walton, Founder of Delete, said: “Delete has provided for me what I can only describe as an amazing and highly rewarding journey. I will always be grateful to the loyal individuals and their incredible talent that have made this great adventure possible. There comes a time as a leader where you must decide on what is right for the business commercially and what the future should look like for the people that define why the business exists. It is not an easy responsibility to have. I have known Dan professionally for many years; in February we began discussions by chance and what became clear very quickly was his vision very much aligned with my own personal aspirations. Fundamentally, bringing both Kagool and Delete together ticked every box. At a challenging time, Delete is one of the most highly awarded agencies this year – we have continued to provide full employment, supported and delivered great results to our current clients and enjoyed fantastic aspirational new client wins. What a position and what a time to create this new opportunity for everyone. I can now rest with confidence that Delete’s new Managing Director Tom Dougherty with the Kagool Group support will take the business from strength to strength.
Tom Dougherty, MD at Delete said: “This moment represents a key milestone in Delete’s evolution. For the last twenty years we have built and run an agency that has always, at its core, had an unwavering focus on delivering first-class digital products and services to our clients. To become part of an agency group that shares that philosophy and enables the growth of our joint capability is an exciting prospect for all. For many years Kagool has been an agency we have admired in the market for it’s leading technical offer, so to now have the chance to fuse that with Delete’s CX, Experience Design and Marketing services ensures we are primed and ready to kick-on into our next exciting era. I’m personally very much looking forward to leading Delete alongside our new team at Kagool. Watch this space!”