Paul Rouke
Founder & Director of Optimisation
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15th Sep 2015

12 min

Today, the PRWD team is celebrating its 11th birthday.

 

celebrating 11 years running prwd

 

I am an extremely proud man. Running and growing a business is a unique experience. Running a high growth business is an even more unique experience.

Reflecting back on the past 11 years running PRWD, from its humble beginning inside my bedroom (yes I’m one of those people) to one of the UK’s leading CRO agencies today, this article shares 11 reasons why I’m truly grateful that I made that big decision to go out on my own.

1) Attracting phenomenal clients, from the very start

In the first year (back in 2004), I redesigned the checkout experience for JD Williams, using my expertise built from five years working in user experience for Shop Direct. Ever since this first flagship client, PRWD has continually attracted national and international brands who often chose to work with our smaller but more specialist agency, rather than one of the bigger agencies in the UK.

In the last few years one of our more prestigious clients has been The North Face. Their European checkout experience has been designed exclusively by PRWD, just one of the large range of transformative online experiences we have delivered of which I’m proud. Our client list in 2015 is evidence of the attraction we have to businesses looking to grow through a unique, customer driven Growth Methodology™.

2) Continually attracting exceptionally talented people

 

the team after 11 years running prwd

 

They say businesses are only as good as the people that work there. Being approached by exceptionally talented people is something I have grown accustomed to for the last 15 years. In early 2015 I received an email from Lewis Marshall, a technical expert who flew through Cambridge studying quantum physics. Lewis worked for PRWD for 18 months in 2011-12 as our lead technical architect. I knew this very humble but quite remarkable individual was destined for something major.

In his email Lewis said: “You will be happy to know I got approached by Google back in March about going to work for them. I’ve had 8 gruelling interviews but passed with flying colours :). I am now in the stage of finalising details about salary / location (could be London, Dublin or Sydney!)”

His time has come and Google are a very fortunate company to have him in their team.

More on Lewis and other exceptionally talented people that are part of the PRWD story can be seen in story four from my ‘9 years, 9 stories, 9 business lessons’ presentation.

When I look around the PRWD office today there is one thing I know for sure – PRWD has continued to attract exceptionally talented people, including senior managers from brands like AO.com and Shop Direct during the last 12 months. PRWD clients are in very, very safe hands.

3) Being on the Conversion Conference advisory board since 2012

Back in early 2012, I was invited to become one of the three advisory board members for the UK Conversion Conference, the UK’s largest conference dedicated to conversion optimisation. It has been a privilege to have this role: helping shape the annual conferences, bringing in worldwide speakers and speaking at every one of the conferences to date. Last year, our Head of Optimisation Matt Lacey spoke at both Conversion Conference UK and Conversion Conference Germany. This year another PRWD team-member – Optimisation Strategist Chris McCormick – will be speaking alongside me and other worldwide conversion optimisation specialists, as will one of our worldwide clients Trend Micro. It makes me swell with pride to see PRWD so well represented at such an esteemed event and at the forefront of conversion optimisation’s growth.

4) PRWD being the UK’s sole representative for the Global Conversion Alliance

 

part of the global conversion conversion after 11 years running prwd

 

Having first met him in 2012 at Conversion Conference, in early 2013 I was invited by Andre Morys (co-founder of the world’s largest conversion optimisation agency Web Arts) to speak at their flagship annual conference Conversion Summit in Frankfurt. During my two day stay I was speaking with Andre and he invited PRWD to become the sole UK representative of the Global Conversion Alliance. To become partners with other world leading agencies like Web Arts, Widerfunnel and Conversionista meant I didn’t need to wait to get back to the UK to give Andre my answer.

The Global Conversion Alliance is an extremely rare group and having recently spent a week in Vancouver with the founders of the other four member agencies, I’ve provided a look inside the Global Conversion Alliance which you may find interesting.

5) Gaining a place on the Goldman Sachs 10k Small Businesses High Growth Programme

In mid-2014 I was encouraged to apply for a place on the prestigious Goldman Sachs High Growth Programme. The programme is for high growth business entrepreneurs and has been going since 2012 in both the US and UK. From over 90 applicants, I was awarded a place amongst 25 other entrepreneurs from across the North West of England, each of them running unique, high growth businesses.

I can’t put a price on the value of developing relationships with other high growth entrepreneurs, each at their own stages of growth. Safe to say it has been an inspirational and educational experience.

I recall back in late 2008, looking through my phone book (I had around 350 contacts back then) looking to see which of my contacts were business owners. I was looking for some advice on a particular business challenge PRWD was facing due to the joyous recession. What struck me was that although I was connected with so many people with different levels of experience in the industry, I didn’t have one contact who was an entrepreneur. Seven years later and I’m grateful to have many other entrepreneurs and mentors who I can pick up the phone and speak to (you know who you are, and thank you for being there for me).

6) Continually gaining very special client testimonials

Social proof, both on a personal level and for the business, has played an integral role in the growth of PRWD. Whether this is through my 50+ recommendations on Linkedin, or on a range of client case studies videos from brands like Schuh, Sliderobes and The Student Room, the “silver bullet” of social proof is working extremely well for us. Most importantly, to get the type of recognition and referrals we have so far fills me with immense pride and satisfaction.

I recall about 7 years ago asking a client to provide PRWD with a testimonial. They said “sure that is fine – if you just type up something what you are looking for and send it over I will check to confirm I’m happy with it.” I didn’t do that then and we never will. Whether in written format or in front of the video camera, what our clients say about us is 100% genuine and said in their way.

7) Having a wife of almost 20 years being my foundation

 

2013-07-28 14.08.50

 

In September 2013 we launched the new PRWD brand, alongside delivering our first PRWD Reveal event. During the evening event I delivered a 25 minute presentation titled “9 years, 9 stories, 9 business lessons.” My ninth and final story was focused on my wife Clare and the crucial role she plays, mainly out of the spotlight, supporting her husband on his entrepreneurial journey. I’m delighted that Clare is now playing an active role in the business, managing our increasingly demanding accounts and HR areas, whilst being a phenomenal mother to our two young daughters. I am a grateful man. For all entrepreneurs out there reading this who have a partner or wife/husband, you know just how important a role they play…

8) Starting our thought leadership and content marketing strategy way back in 2008

During the Summer of 2008, Katie Kelly (now our Marketing Manager) came in to the business to develop our marketing strategy. It was a differentiation strategy, focused on establishing credibility, brand awareness and thought leadership.

Fast forward to 2015 and we have truly delivered (and continue to deliver) on this differentiation strategy. One of the main elements that I am most proud of is our weekly updated conversion optimisation blog. With over 100 articles covering everything from cultural transformation, persuasion, user research, user-centred design, business strategy and testing best practices, our team are responsible for delivering one of (if not the most) insightful conversion optimisation blogs in the UK.

Another part of our strategy is the aforementioned PRWD Reveal event, now in its third year. Early in 2015 at our London event, three of our Optimisation Strategists Nicole Prior, Emma Travis and Chris McCormick, presented for their first ever time to senior audience. This moment made me, yet again, a very proud and grateful man.

9) Being asked to develop and deliver Econsultancy’s only dedicated conversion optimisation training course

I have been planning and delivering training courses with Econsultancy since 2009, in particular the Ecommerce Usability & Persuasion course. In late 2014 I was asked by Econsultancy whether PRWD would develop their new and only conversion optimisation training course. Between our Head of Optimisation Matt Lacey and myself, our new training course Conversion Optimisation – How to Deliver Digital Growth was created and it has already been delivered to global brands including TUi, Microsoft, Esure, ODEON, IG, Wickes, Cancer Research, Cathay Pacific Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Active, Photobox and many more.

Econsultancy is a one of a kind, industry-leading authority in digital marketing and ecommerce. With PRWD being the agency chosen and trusted to deliver their one dedicated training course in what is becoming one of businesses biggest growth opportunity areas, fills me with immense satisfaction.

Alongside delivering training courses I have also been a guest writer for Econsultancy since 2009. My approach to content writing has always been quality rather than quantity, and this approach has seen my articles consistently feature in the top 25 most viewed throughout a whole year. For (plenty of) further reading, here are links to all my Econsultancy articles I have published since 2009.

10) Developing, living and breathing our brand values

In 2014, the PRWD team developed our brand values. The questions at the heart of the process were: What makes PRWD unique? What is our culture? What are the pillars of how and why we do what we do?

For some, developing brand values is seen as a fuzzy marketing activity that has no influence on the daily running of a business. At PRWD, we ensure our six brand values are at the core of everything we do. Those six values are: Be Expert, Be Genuine, Be the Change, Be Experimental, Be Open, Be Happy.

 

our brand values after 11 years running prwd

 

The one I’m personally most passionate about is Be the Change. When I reflect back over just the last three years, I know how significant and long term the changes we have introduced within our clients businesses are. Ultimately, we strive to help our clients become truly customer centric with a core strategic focus on intelligent, business wide conversion optimisation.

Here are just six examples of the type of change and transformation we have brought about over the last few years.

  • Schuh – delivered their new responsive navigation and filtered user experience, along with their new responsive checkout experience – from user research, competitor analysis, journey mapping to the creative design process starting from paper and pencil – view a video case study
  • Skyscanner – brought in PRWD’s Growth Methodology™ to establish for the first time a culture of data driven experimentation and optimisation (with aspirations to quickly get to the level of their peers including Amazon and Booking.com – is Booking.com the most persuasive website in the world? I have asked previously)
  • Global banking institution – cultural transformation to make them truly customer centric, starting with a complete end to end, multi-channel, multi-device in-depth user research project
  • Manchester Central – following worldwide user research and competitor analysis, designed their new online user experience which represents one of our strongest ever examples of true user-centred design – view the case study and view the website
  • The Student Room – cultural transformation to bring in PRWD’s Growth Methodology™ and establish their test and learn experimentation culture – read more on this on the Econsultancy blog with a Q&A with their Director of Optimisation Pete Taylor
  • Trend Micro – over an initial 18 months and on-going today, delivering true cultural transformation to this world leader in computer security as they not only become customer centric but also establish a core strategic focus on experimentation to drive the growth of their business

11) Learning to become a high growth entrepreneur

In many ways I would say you have to experience being an entrepreneur to know what it takes and how you have to adapt and learn as you go. There is no one ‘go-to guide’ explaining what the journey will be like and how you will need to adapt and challenge yourself as you grow a business.

In the last 12 months I have certainly become a high growth entrepreneur and in the first half of 2015 our team doubled in size.

I am truly grateful for the fantastic team we are growing at PRWD, the wide range of associates and friends who at different times are there for me to provide support and guidance and of course my wife and family for ensuring I keep perspective and most importantly maintain my belief in where we are going.

I am also truly grateful for all the decision makers who have chosen PRWD as their agency to help them become customer centric and grow their business through conversion optimisation. Providing we continue to deliver value throughout our business, I look forward to sharing 22 things I’m truly grateful for in 2026.

Thanks for reading and thanks also if you have had any input in to the PRWD journey so far.

Now it’s time for cake!

 

celebrating 11 years running prwd with cake