Matt Day has been using In Front Digital to advocate for Core Web Vitals and more cutting-edge digital strategies
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Matt Day: I consider myself very lucky that my family and myself have all been Covid free and remain healthy. It has been tough not to see some of the people I love, i.e., family and friends, but luckily they are all ok. I have tried to keep as much normality for my children and me in our daily routines as possible.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded In Front Digital.
Matt Day: Well, I graduated from Birmingham University in 2004 and got my BEng in Computer Science and Software Engineering. From there, I took on a job as a web developer in a web agency. However, the experience I had was for only a junior position, and after 6 months, there was no role for me except a digital marketing position (eMarketing at the time). So I started to self-learn and took over the marketing manager role. I grew that team from myself to over 4 people before I left, and I also grew my clientele during that time, but I wanted to gain some greater experience and responsibility.
So I left and moved to a super affiliate agency, and we worked on several very intense campaigns that produced some amazing results. I learned a lot there, and somewhere between that and having children, I had to reassess my work/life balance. The commute and the salary were not where they needed to be, so I decided to go freelance. I had been working with some personal clients for a number of years on my own, so I decided to try it for a few months. It was a great decision in hindsight but a risky one at the time. I also took on various consultancy jobs in larger organizations and found that I picked up skills I didn’t acquire through agency work. This enabled me to become a better all-rounded marketer and also a people person.
During this time, I founded In Front Digital, and we have been running successfully since 2008.
How does In Front Digital innovate?
Matt Day: In a fast-paced environment like digital marketing, we have to constantly keep up to date with the latest developments in digital marketing, web development, and web technologies. At In Front Digital, we plan on regular training and research to keep up to date with this. We also have brainstorming sessions with the team, discuss new strategies, and hone our skillset that way.
By doing this, we can stay on top of the latest tech and challenges facing our clients and digital marketing. For instance, we advocated Core Web Vitals for our clients over a year ago and more cutting-edge digital strategies.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Matt Day: Initially, when the lockdown was announced in March 2020, we had a number of clients that scaled back their campaigns. They say that marketing is always the first to go in a crisis, and they are right 😊. However, we continued to work with all our clients, and slowly after about 6 months or so, more confidence returned, and many of the clients re-instated their previous campaign spends. Some have even grown as some verticals have had a lockdown boom.
As a company, we are always fair to our clients, and we each strive to help the other grow and flourish, and now hopefully, that loyalty will help us prosper.
Lately, we have had a surge in demand for our services, and this has been fantastic as more and more businesses realize that digital marketing and eCommerce are channels they just can’t ignore anymore.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Matt Day: The lessons we learned were to reassess and see if the legacy way of conducting business was right for us, i.e., having an office, the way we conduct client and staff meetings, etc. As a result of Covid, we decided to ensure our staff felt as comfortable as possible and introduced remote working. The way we do meetings has also changed, and we do a lot more online meetings now.
We have been very sensitive to clients’ situations and tried to help them by doing what we could (sometimes not even digital marketing).
The lessons from above have meant that as a company we are more agile to our clients, our staff feels more valued and actually, we are all more productive working from home. This push to help clients with ‘whatever we can’ has led to a good feeling amongst our client base and higher customer retention.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself, In Front Digital in the future?
Matt Day: I thrive on stress and pressure, and I am at my most productive during those times! It’s not something I’d like to be in all the time, but in bursts, it helps to focus the mind. I think stress and pressure come with being a business owner and the added responsibility that we have resting on us.
However, over the years, I’ve learned that focusing on business 24/7 is at the detriment of my personal life. So I’ve readjusted my work-life balance to spend more time with my family and children, and this, in turn, makes me happier and reduces my stress. This happiness and calmness rub off on the people I engage with, so it’s something I would strongly promote.
My job is to steer the company in the right direction at that point in time, and for that, I need a valuable team around me who can help and assist me in doing that. So my job, as much as I love working on marketing campaigns and strategy, is equally about motivating others to do their job well and for them to add additional value to the business.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Matt Day: We are in a competitive market. Based in Birmingham, there are a lot of web agencies and competitors who do similar services to what we do. However, our added value is that we focus on delivering results, are communicative, open and transparent with clients, and focus on our in-house proven approach to delivering results.
We plan to stay in the game by innovating our strategies and improving our processes so that we can remain effective at driving more visibility and sales to our client’s websites, ultimately resulting in beneficial long-term relationships that allow both parties to flourish.
Your final thoughts?
Matt Day: We are sad that COVID-19 has cost so many lives and has caused so much disruption in people’s lives. We hope that the mental and emotional toll is not overlooked in younger adults and children, and more awareness is brought to this.
I think that the added focus of businesses and commerce being conducted online is a change of habit from the past, and I can see more digital marketing investment across the board in the coming years as companies catch up to this.
From a business point of view, it has been a tough year, but we have adapted well, rolled with the punches, made savings, prioritized our team, and helped our clients to flourish and prosper.
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