Paul Rouke
Founder & CEO of PRWD
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16th Dec 2016

9 min

2016 was a big year for PRWD on so many levels. From growing the team by 40% to developing our own online tool, there’s been a lot to take from the last 12 months for PRWD.

For me to reflect on both the highs and lows now when I’m writing this makes me proud at what my agency has achieved, but that doesn’t mean to say it has all been plain sailing!

I created an Operations Director role

At the start of 2016, I was considering how I can best get back to what I am most passionate about (being client facing and having the time to educate and inspire the people around me) and what would be best for the business moving forward.

After careful consideration, I identified that as the agency grew, it needed a new role dedicated to running the day-to-day operations. This new role meant that the necessary attention was given to continually optimising how we provide the best services possible to our clients, as well as handling the inevitable issues that come with growing a business.

This has proven to be what I feel one of my most influential decisions I have ever made since starting PRWD in 2004. Now the agency was utilising its strengths like never before. The woman I chose to move into this role is Katie Kelly, the most influential person I have ever employed (at the time of writing). Her impact on the agency can’t be overstated and I recently wrote about the influence Katie had on the business in 2016, starting from 2008.

We took on new global clients including Sage

Ever since I set out on my own in 2004, it has been an absolute privilege to attract and convert major brands to work with PRWD. 2016 continued that trend and we won major global accounts, including Sage on an international optimisation programme as part of their digital transformation strategy.

We worked with our GO Group partners on global optimisation programmes like Sage

 

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PRWD have been the sole UK representative of the Global Optimisation Group since 2013, and in 2016 it has seen our partnership with other industry leading conversion optimisation agencies strengthen significantly. In January 2016, over 20 experts from across the six member agencies (spread across Europe and the US) spent 5 days together in Germany, sharing expertise, strategy, methodologies and strengthening our relationships.

In Autumn we began working with Sage on the aforementioned international optimisation programme.

Providing global clients with true international capabilities is a core purpose of the GO Group and I am excited at which global brands we will help grow in 2017 and beyond.

We won our first ever two-year contract with Wilko

 

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After a very competitive five way pitch, Wilko appointed PRWD as their new strategic conversion optimisation agency. Not only that, this was our first-ever two-year contract.

I still remember vividly the early PRWD years where 100% of our revenues were from one-off project work. Talk about operating from hand to mouth!

Moss Bros. saw their new website deliver a 25% increase in conversion rate

Over my 17 years’ experience in the ecommerce industry, I have heard about many website redesigns that result in a lower conversion rate than the old website. We’ve had our fair share of calls by big brands soon after their new website has gone live asking if we can help understand why it isn’t converting as well as the tired old one.

Moss Bros. are a new breed of brand, whom stop and think how best they can plan, research and deliver their redesigned website. It was a genuine privilege that Moss Bros. approached PRWD to spearhead their website redesign.

A 25% improvement in desktop conversion rate and 36% improvement in mobile conversion rate is evidence that there is a more intelligent way to approach redesigning websites.

We launched PRWD’s Conversion Optimisation Maturity Audit™

 

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I started planning PRWD’s Conversion Optimisation Maturity Model back in 2013, based on the clear need to provide businesses across the world with an intelligent way to assess the effectiveness and approach to their conversion optimisation efforts.

In 2016 we launched what we see as the industry’s most in-depth and intelligent Conversion Optimisation Maturity Audit™ as a free 10 minute online assessment tool.

At PRWD we have major plans for our maturity audit and the launch of the online tool in 2016 is just the start of our journey.

We brought on board our first international colleagues

In January 2016, we had Dr. Fio Dossetto join the business, having relocated a month before in order to take up the opportunity to join us as an Optimisation Strategist. More insights on Fio and her passion areas can be seen in her articles on The right way to approach product copy, Optimise for growth: 5 key areas for ecommerce success, Persuasion, A/B testing and Hillary Clinton, and last but not least The four pillars of digital transformation: process and methodology.

In 2016 we also took on our first ever intern in David Mohr, who was one of only two German students who chose to relocate to another country from his class of 50. This is what David had to say one month into working within the PRWD team. I admire people who step outside of their comfort zone and David has certainly demonstrated that.

PRWD now having international employees brings a range of benefits to us both internally and for our international clients like Sage – it also fills me with immense pride that PRWD is attracting talent from outside the UK, leading to people like Fio relocating from Italy to the UK. For what its worth I will never forget Fio’s reaction when I called her to offer her the role she had taken on.

We promoted five people internally

There were big changes in the teams responsibilities in 2016. At the start of 2016, Katie Kelly was promoted to Operations Director from Marketing Manager. A few months later, Dante Naylor was promoted from Marketing Executive to Marketing Manager and Chris McCormick was promoted from Optimisation Strategist to Head of Optimisation. To top it all off, Phil Williams was promoted from UX Designer to Senior UX Designer.

Later in 2016, Emma Travis was promoted from Optimisation Strategist to Senior Optimisation Strategist, and Chris Todd was promoted from Optimisation Executive to Optimisation Strategist.

I want to personally thank everyone of them for the exceptional dedication, passion and drive which led them all to get their promotions.

We finally got round to redesigning our website

It’s been a long time coming! Finding the time to work on redesigning our website (which was last redesigned in Summer 2013) has been hard in this bumper year but we’re happy to announce that in January 2017, our new website will be launching, I can’t wait! It will finally reflect where we are as an agency on many levels.

We may not have the traffic and revenues of our client Moss Bros. whom our redesign with them has had such a significant impact, but for our website redesign we have still been able to harness the same multi-disciplinary skill set and the same user-centered redesign methodology that underpins our major client redesign projects. It is fantastic too that PRWD’s website redesign has been led by our newest UX Designer, Scott Woodcock.

If our new website doesn’t convert better than our current one I will be asking some serious questions!!!

We rebranded

Three years since we last rebranded, our Senior UX Designer Phil Williams has taken us through a complete rebrand. It has been the most in-depth reimagining of the brand we have ever invested in. Our rebrand has been a manifestation of our brand values, which include Be Experimental and Be The Change.

Although at the time of writing the rebrand isn’t 100% rolled out, based on the feedback we have had on our rebranded designs across different channels, I am an extremely proud business owner.

We published my first book

 

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Starting from a simple question to most of the thought leaders in the conversion optimisation industry “What in your experiences is the reason that companies aren’t growing through conversion optimisation?”, we ended up publishing our first book at the beginning of the year. In The Growth Strategy That’s Being Ignored, I join 16 industry thought leaders in providing insights into the CRO industry, from the godfather of CRO Brian Eisenberg through to the one person I respect most in our industry, Craig Sullivan.

I launched the “We Are Growth Leaders” industry movement

In the lead up to my keynote at Elite Camp, I was taking Steve Webster through my presentation and he said “how are you going to provide people with a way to continue the movement you are looking to start in this talk?” My answer wouldn’t come until four months later, when I was with Craig Millar and within 30 minutes of spending time with me, he asked exactly the same question. It was a true ‘eureka’ moment.

24 hours later, We Are Growth Leaders was born on Facebook.

The vision for We Are Growth Leaders

The vision for this group and everyone within it is to create a movement across the whole digital industry, for everyone who wants to be a true growth leader – inspiring others to doing digital and optimisation the right way – and instilling humility within company DNA.

I look forward to seeing you in there!

I now realise that PRWD and I have so much to look forward to in 2017 and beyond

As I write this sentence at 1.32am on Thursday 15th December 2016, having just typed up PRWD’s 2016 experiences, one over-riding feeling is running through me…

No matter how challenging 2016 has been, there is a huge amount of things to look forward to in 2017 for me personally and for everyone involved in PRWD.