A Manchester-based digital marketing firm has said it has seen a sharp rise in customers amid the pandemic as companies are harnessing the power of the web to stay ahead of the competition.
Digital Next, the Sharp Project-based agency founded by brothers Mark and Justin Blackhurst more than a decade ago, said the uptick has come from a rise in online start-ups during the initial lockdown in addition to established companies scaling their digital marketing.
The agency, which employs 50 staff, has reported more than a 100 per cent rise in customers in the past six months and has won clients – including Wirex, Hormann, Lake District Hotels and Essilor – during the period.
The company said it has “ramped up” its services across web design, content marketing, PPC and SEO which it says is critical for brands vying to succeed during the Covid-19 crisis.
The founders said digital transformation is “crucial” for businesses if they want to survive the pandemic and, as Greater Manchester continues with its ambition to become one of the top five digital cities in Europe, many firms are lagging behind in their tech capabilities.
Chief executive Justin Blackhurst said: “We are in the throes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and this pandemic has shown those companies that have invested in digital and tech innovation have been the ones that have continued trading and reaching out to new customers through their online offering.
“But we’ve also seen companies with strong revenues that have largely relied on footfall struggle in recent months because they didn’t utilise the internet and during lockdown were not able to draw in clients from their online activity immediately.
“We’re helping companies to grow their revenues to seven figure numbers by helping them with their digital capabilities.”
“It’s time for those firms that haven’t dovetailed their business during this uncertain time to start now or risk being a thing of the past,” warned Justin.
His point was echoed by COO Mark Blackhurst, who said the pandemic, along with Brexit, has “sparked what can only be described as a ‘digital revolution’ and companies have pivoted into needing digital as their way of accessing new clients as well as looking after current customers where traditional methods of trading are no longer working”.
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“Utilising digital tools and innovating is going to be fundamental to the recovering economy and we want to help companies to take the next steps into digital and achieve their ambitions,” he said.
Mark said that an online presence doesn’t automatically mean customers will find a business on Google.
“For that to happen a business needs to optimise its site. Social media will only go so far but SEO is the key to getting those top rankings on search engines.”
Ahead of a second UK lockdown, he said they are “helping local businesses across the UK adopt to new ways of working and they are coming to us because they want the right digital approach in a competitive marketplace”.
“We can provide value and impact and give them the confidence and capabilities to grow.”