Thanks for popping by. This website is a showcase of who I am, what I do, and what I think. You can skim the content below to learn more about my bio, skills and experience, catch up with me on my blog, check out where I’m speaking, or get in touch directly.
I am a digital strategist, a marketing technologist, and a full-stack developer.
I help businesses to create better digital strategies and to do better marketing. I connect an understanding of consumer behaviour and preference with emerging digital technologies and modern marketing techniques – cutting through the noise to devise market-winning strategies and tactics.
I have over a decade of blended experience in digital strategy, with expertise in SEO, analytics, brand strategy, campaign strategy, lead generation, eCRM automation, conversion rate optimisation and web development – from defining the ‘big picture’ and strategic direction, right down to getting my hands dirty in the nitty-gritty technical detail.
I’ve worked with agencies, startups, household brands, FTSE 100 companies and global enterprises to define, support and deliver successful SEO, content, analytics and brand strategies at an international level.
I periodically engage in lightweight freelance work to keep me sharp, and I regularly speak at conferences and events on a wide range of topics.
Recent blog posts
Skills & Experience
Digital years are like dog years, and during my long tenure I’ve worn a number of hats. In an attempt to make my journey and my skillset a little easier to consume, I’ve presented it below, split into key topics.
Background & Career Overview
In the late 90’s, I taught myself HTML, and began building websites. My hobby grew into a passion, which grew into a career of freelance gigs, small business digital websites, and miscellaneous projects.
The small businesses I worked for had little budget or sophistication, and so relied on me to make every penny they invested count. So I became obsessed with understanding what ‘best’ looked like. I interrogated every line of code, every line of copy, and every business decision. Without realising it, I was becoming a sophisticated technical SEO and strategist.
I forged relationships with other freelancers to build out my capabilities and was soon operating a small freelance outfit. I learned to manage projects, clients, budgets and business.
I discovered that my passion lies in generating results; from improving websites to consulting on business strategy, to measuring and optimising marketing channels, I was most engaged when moving the needle. So I closed shop, and joined a small, fledgling agency which specialised in end-to-end digital marketing (strategy, content, design, development, reporting & analysis, improvement), and helped clients to get online and generate value.
I built many dozens of bespoke websites, launched campaigns, and generated sales and conversions. I was helping local shops, hotels and companies to generate and attract demand, convert prospects, and to grow through understanding their consumers and markets. I saw the impact on my digital work in the real world around me.
voI outgrew small business quickly, however. I frequently found that, regardless of the sector or challenges, small business digital support quickly becomes ‘samey’. Education, digital transformation, and website strategy vary little between small business with limited budgets – and once you’ve got the basics in place, there’s little dynamic, exciting, or game-changing. I craved the ability to make meaningful change on a larger scale. I applied for, and landed a job in a growing full-service digital marketing agency, as the technical arm of their SEO operation; a partially independent team operating within the parent agency.
Over the course of five years, I gained experience and took on increasing responsibilities, and our continued success grew a team around and beneath me – with the SEO team expanding from just three people to over thirty (including affiliate marketing, paid search and conversion rate optimisation services), and the parent agency from 30-something to over 100 staff.
During this growth period, I defined client strategies, developed product and service propositions, educated clients and team members, and supported the parent agency in its understanding of technical and strategic SEO best practices. I pitched, won, and delivered impactful retained and project work with global, enterprise brands and household names to help define high-level digital marketing, content, website and SEO strategies – as well as tactical initiatives and campaigns – from ideation to delivery, and beyond into reporting, analysis, forecasting and ongoing optimisation.
I made a huge difference to the bottom line of companies whose products you likely use on a daily basis.
Understanding digital, and outgrowing agency
I learned a lot about people, too. I had to come to terms with the fact that the ‘best’ solution wasn’t always viable in a large team with complex, moving processes – and that it was critical to balance budget to ambition. I had to learn that whilst ‘best’ is where I want to aim, a more pragmatic approach – no matter how frustrating – is often important in a world of margins, utilisation, and resource analysis. I learned to understand motivations, to navigate opinion and politics, and the nuances of agency and business culture. Critically, I learned that I couldn’t do and be everything – that it was critical that I listened, supported, delegated, and played well in a team; to compromise, and to collaborate.
Over time I developed and nurtured a network of peers, spoke at events, and developed robust, unique ideas and opinions about a broad range of digital topics, from analytics to business culture, and to the changing nature of the digital economy. My speaking profile grew, and I became a respected name in multiple corners of the digital marketing industry.
The more I developed my thinking and exposure in the industry, the more I became increasingly
frustrated fascinated by the agency model itself; if, and how, internal processes and politics, client management, revenue models and blended services could be tweaked, matured and improved to nudge closer towards providing ‘best’, rather than ‘good enough’. I developed a deep understanding of the agency model, its benefits, its flaws, and its possible futures – and took a step back from day-to-day client work to focus on working tools, processes, standardisation, education, and efficiency.
Stepping outside the box
I’d realised that one of the biggest challenges of most large agencies is one of time vs cost vs resource. Essentially, it’s a variation of the “do you want something fast, cheap, or good” model, where increasing any of those attributes polarises the remaining attribute(s) (e.g., cheaper + better = much slower) – and that the kind of clients who work with agencies are frequently the kind who demand all three (and/or often have educational, political or personal barriers, which push against those constraints).
So when I started talking to Linkdex about a role focused on prototyping new technology, processes and services for agencies and teams, I was excited by the idea of shaving off some of the ‘time’ component from the resource formula by better connecting marketers to the insights, reports, forecasts and actionable data that they need, without having to do hours of heavy lifting. It was an opportunity to fix that dysfunction, in a small but meaningful way, across the whole industry.
Over two years, I prototyped multiple tools (and even a game), processes, managed a team of data scientists, and contributed to the business’ strategy and its products. I supported some of the world’s biggest companies with data, insight and analysis; providing consultative services and problem solving for some of the largest and most complicated challenges in the industry. The analysis and insight I provided changed their behaviours, strategies, and results, on a tectonic scale.
I began to speak at some of the industry’s most influential and respected events, influencing and inspiring my peers and their organisations with the ideas and thinking we were developing and applying to, with and for these clients.
As Linkdex’s product and market positioning gradually changed, I temporarily hung up my consultancy hat to broaden my skills, and took on responsibility for Linkdex’s digital activity and profile – from building and managing the website ecosystem, to designing and implementing the entire eCRM, acquisition and nurture processes, from a global perspective. I developed a deep understanding of B2B lead generation mechanics.
I designed and deployed sophisticated, multi-channel inbound marketing frameworks, which were deeply integrated with website behavioural analysis, email and eCRM processes and more – all feeding into a sophisticated lead management and nurture processes which fed into a deeply customised Salesforce ecosystem.
I increasingly found myself looking forwards to the future, considering what digital marketing might look like next week, next year, in five years – and to develop the skills which will ensure that I’m still relevant, thought-leading and impactful in my chosen disciplines. I increased the frequency and depth of my writing and speaking, exploring what’s coming next, and helping to inspire marketers and digital practitioners to up their game.
As I began to miss consulting, I took everything I’d learned from my journey, and finally joined the team at Distilled – one of the very few marketing agencies who I believe make a real and valuable difference, and who will survive the transformations to the agency model which are disrupting many other players in the industry.
SEO & Digital Strategy
In the perpetual wake of increasingly frequent, impactful and complex updates to Google’s search processes, digital marketers and publications are quick to proclaim that ‘SEO is dead’. Nothing could be further from the truth. For a long time, SEO has only really been effective and impactful when it’s more than SEO – when it’s applied at a broader level than a set of tactics; when it operates at a strategic and managerial level, integrating components of social, reputational, brand and paid media tactics into a larger plan and process.
This is important because we live in a world where consumers search to research and make decisions – consciously or otherwise. Purchases, consideration set developments, brand discovery and preference, and even voting decisions involve and are influenced by search.
In my mind, SEO is the discipline (arguably, a meta-discipline) which manages this ecosystem, and the search experience. SEO is an umbrella term for the strategic and tactical management of multiple channels, tactics, skills and processes (including offline inputs, consumer research, behavioural analysis, etc) – specifically with an intent to influence and manage what the customer sees and thinks during the search process (and their subsequent actions; which is something I’ve spoken about at conferences [slide format]).
Some of the most significant brand moments – discovery, preference, brand affinity – all happen in or as a result of search(ing). And when you’re operating in that top-of-funnel space, where success is about reputational management and positioning, about competitive landscapes and strategic manoeuvring, what you’re really describing are some of the more interesting and important components of brand and digital strategy creation. Search, as a discipline, becomes elevated to the grown-up table.
I’ve worked with brands and companies, using this kind of thinking, to help them to understand their markets, their consumers, competitors and opportunities, and to craft and execute strategies which create and capture consumer demand. From standalone campaigns designed to generate engagement with specific initiatives to broad, ecosystem-wide strategies, I’ve developed and deployed SEO and digital strategies which moved the needle for huge, international brands.
So whilst I’m passionate about SEO because of its impact on high-level brand strategy and performance, I still deeply enjoy rolling my sleeves up and auditing, diagnosing and improving things under-the-hood.
In fact, I’ve worked with hundreds of brands to assess, diagnose and resolve faults or omissions in their servers, websites and broader digital ecosystems (to the value of many millions of pounds/dollars), including some of the world’s largest and most successful organisations. Beyond fault resolution, I’ve designed solutions for complex technical SEO challenges which do more than simply fix issues, but rather enhance performance and capitalise upon opportunities which improve performance, grow market share, and generate revenue.
Analytics & CRO
Many organisations are shockingly unsophisticated when it comes to measuring their performance – digitally or otherwise. Even enterprise organisations frequently utilise ‘off the shelf’, generic KPIs and measurements which don’t provide insight into their outcomes and opportunities, but rather simply count digital beans. Other businesses jump at new metrics, tools and processes, and pivot on their KPIs without ever stopping to ask “what does success look like”?
Both lack a clear path from data, to insight, to action.
My experience in consulting, scoping, designing and implementing sophisticated analytics ecosystems helps businesses to understand the metrics which matter to them, and the actions which they should take next. Years of workshops, consultations and analysis of the businesses and their data sets has enabled me to develop effective processes for empowering businesses to collect, understand, and use data impactfully.
The processes I’ve created for identifying business priorities, the technical and measurement frameworks required to capture data in relation to those, and the codification of target-setting and action-taking processes has transformed businesses large and small for silo’d teams working on generic metrics, to coordinated omnichannel marketers collaborating on meaningful work.
Of course, underneath these strategic frameworks sits a robust methodology for tagging, collecting, combining, segmenting and storing data from multiple sources; including phone tracking, user surveying and satisfaction metrics, and bespoke event & flow data.
I was one of the earliest adopters of Google’s Measurement Protocol, to pass offline business data back into Google Analytics, to allow for post-conversion analysis.
Marketing Channels & Technology
Increasingly, successful marketing must be omni-channel. In a consumer-centric world, the only channel divisions which exist are those which your organisation creates and enforces through its team structures, management and reward systems.
Concepts like the Zero Moment of Truth, (and some of the related concepts which I’ve spoken about at events) don’t allow us to operate within specific silos or verticals, but rather, require us to think about the interactions which consumers have as they discover brands and products, build and refine consideration sets and preferences, and make purchase decisions.
Whether you’re running campaigns, building a brand, or disrupting a market, channels and verticals must work together to form a seamless consumer experience. Combining skills, teams and strategies laterally, rather than vertically, creates phenomenal synergies and amplification effects. That’s why I continually stretch and expand my skillset to cover a broad array of digital disciplines – so that campaigns touch consumers in multiple locations, provide joined-up experiences, and hit harder than the competition.
I’ve designed, developed, implemented and managed multiple end-to-end, multi-channel lead generation processes in both B2B and B2C environments; from traffic aquisition, to identifying and lead-scoring users, through to tracking consumers across multiple touch-points in complex user journeys, through to managing the data flow into data warehouses and eCRM platforms. I bridge the marketing-technology divide.
I’ve had the privilege of working with brands and clients in a wide array of sectors and verticals. Whilst many of them face the same kind of strategic and organisational challenges, there are nuances to each industry which present unique challenges and opportunities, as well as by site-type and business type. I’ve learned a lot, working across a range of businesses, and my knowledge transfers between disciplines, sectors and strategies.
Speaking & Workshops
I speak regularly at conferences, meetups and other events – typically in London, but periodically further afield. I speak on a variety of topics, which align to my core skills and interests; from exploring the future of digital marketing, to building digital measurement and analysis frameworks, to deploying cutting edge website performance optimisation.
I also periodically run training sessions and lead workshops to help digital marketers and similar practitioners develop their skills and understanding.
Information on past and upcoming events can be found on my speaking page, and I’m always looking for opportunities to entertain and educate new audiences.
Web Development & WordPress
Digital marketing, at its heart is a technical discipline. The internet, the websites which inhabit it, and the search engines and bots which crawl it are all technical systems, constructed from code and algorithms. And whilst understanding and applying concepts like consumer centricity, creativity, and business processes are critical skills (especially whilst our industry undergoes a maturation process where it moves from tactical, technical initiatives to strategic, brand-level thinking), it’s imperative that marketers consider and understand the arena in which they’re operating.
Without an understanding of how websites work, how systems connect, and how equity is earned, owned and managed, your digital marketing is just… marketing.
That’s why I feel that it’s important for me to comprehensively understand the entire technical stack, and the skills and business processes which support it. I’m proud to say that I’m capable of independently implementing a project in its entirety from start to finish – from concept and ideation (or responding to a business challenge, including understanding user needs, personas, etc), to database and infrastructure scoping, to prototyping and UX design, to back-end and front-end development, to CMS integration and beyond, into reporting, analysis, and perpetual test-and-learn improvement cycles.
Without this level of understanding, brands and teams miss out on opportunities for efficiencies, grasping new opportunities, and out-performing their competitors in terms of agility and capability – I can uniquely identify, capture, and deliver on those opportunities.
Additionally, I’m proud to say that I have an incredibly deep understanding of WordPress, to a level which far exceeds most experts in the field. From bespoke theme-development, to complete reinvention from the back-end to the front, I think, dream and breath the WordPress platform.
Only solving for today’s problems means that you never get ahead, and frequently, you get left behind.
To build distance between you and your competitors, you need to understand tomorrow’s problems. Correctly understanding, anticipating and acting on tomorrow’s landscape can provide incalculable advantage. That’s why I’ve increasingly started to look forward – to analyse trends, patterns, and brand strategies to understand what comes next for digital marketers.
My deep understanding of what the next generation of digital brings (the new industrial revolution, and the post-digital era, just to name a few) is helping the brands I work with to prepare, and to survive.
Hobbies & Outside of work
When asked what I do outside of work, my response is frequently ‘more work’, or ‘other work’. Staying up to date on digital trends, developing my skills and thinking, and writing exhaustive personal bios keeps me pretty busy, both during office hours and beyond.
When I do manage to get away from the screen, I voraciously consume science-fiction and fantasy literature (see some of my favourites here). I find that exploring theoretical worlds and scenarios is a uniquely powerful tool for opening my mind to new possibilities, to different ways of thinking, and to challenge my perceptions and ideologies.
When I’m in London (I currently live in York, and commute to the capital), I make a point of attending a wide variety of networking events, generally focusing on digital trends, emerging techs, and business strategy. When I’m at home, I spend time with friends, and relaxing in front of the fire.
I’m also a casual gamer, not a terrible cook, and a connoisseur of specialist gins.more