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Sharpening the focus: Xigen directors discuss their evolving roles

Mark Fitzsimmons and James Pruden of Xigen.

When full-service creative digital agency Xigen appointed three new directors at the end of June, the agency’s founder and managing director Mark Fitzsimmons and studio director James Pruden were given the opportunity to realign their own roles within the business. The Drum Network recently caught up with both to discuss their immediate plans, the continuing popularity of the one-stop-shop agency model and the current marketing priorities of large clients.

What are your immediate priorities in your new roles?

Mark Fitzsimmons (MF): “We plan to step back from most forms of day-to-day account management and start to focus more on sourcing new business leads. This will include being more proactive in nurturing new business leads from our website and building stronger relationships with those at a senior level at our client’s businesses.

“We also intend to focus more time on monitoring client service levels – making sure we are delivering the right amount of time to enable us to continue to provide high quality work for clients. And we will spend time evaluating our business structure, to make sure it’s the best it can be for the needs of our clients and staff.”

Where do you see the major opportunities for Xigen at the moment?

MF: “The biggest opportunity for us is in driving organic growth from existing clients. We will be even more proactive in evaluating client’s websites and alerting them to new opportunities to help drive conversion rates, time on page, revenue, etc.

“Also, we intend to focus on communicating our one-stop-shop ecommerce offering to small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). We’ll highlight how we can handle everything from inception, web design and development, to hosting.”

The industry seems to constantly flux between full-service agencies and specialist agencies. Why does Xigen back the one-stop-shop model?

MF: “Today, clients want solutions to the challenges they face. If you can’t provide that solution they will source someone who can. As experts in digital design and ecommerce, it makes sense for us to offer a full-service approach, from strategy to execution, in these areas rather than a solution to one part of the puzzle. This ensures we can deliver high quality work, quickly and cost effectively in all aspects of the design and ecommerce process, to our clients.”

What threat does the trend towards in-housing digital marketing expertise pose to the UK agency scene?

James Pruden (JP): “In-housing is not a threat. It just depends on their budget, objectives and needs as to whether a brand outsources or brings digital marketing in-house. There’s benefits to doing both, but often with an agency you get access to a large number of experts who will deliver a high quality, speedy service at a competitive price. Bringing digital marketing expertise in-house can be costly with staff overheads, and access to a smaller pool of digital marketing talent.”

Xigen works with a number of large organisations, including Thomson Reuters, Epson, Unicef, Audi and Sage – generally speaking what are large clients’ marketing priorities at the moment?

JP: “We have found that clients want to understand and make best use of marketing automation technology to ensure their digital spend goes further. With our clients we are restructuring existing customer retention and acquisition campaigns using marketing automation technology to make the best use of the plethora of metrics that are now available.

“Clients also want to work smart within the new GDPR regulations and make sure they are delivering standout creative online activity within these regulations, by which I mean creative that generates strong conversions and revenue. This is something we are advising and delivering on for our clients.”

Are clients becoming better or worse at managing their agency relationships? What makes a good client from an agency perspective?

JP: “We don’t think there’s any big changes in the client agency relationship. What we have noticed in recent years is that clients want work faster, while at the same time their expectations have risen, particularly around the usability and responsiveness of digital work.

“However, particularly in digital marketing and ecommerce, there’s been an increase in variables to consider, such as a plethora of browsers and different types of artwork – basically there’s a lot more that can go wrong. For those digital agencies who want to prosper it’s vital that they structure themselves in such a way that enables them to deliver high quality, responsive mistake free work quickly.

“It’s important to point out that trust is vital for a good client agency relationship. When appointing high quality experts in their field, clients must trust them to get on and deliver an outstanding job. Without trust the quality of work will likely suffer along with the relationship.”

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