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The Drum Network's Q&A: Selesti discusses the need for agencies to expand digitally

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Ollie Blackmore is founder of Selesti

The Drum Network speaks to Ollie Blackmore, founder of digital marketing and SEO agency, Selesti, about the journey from starting the business in his spare room in 2005 to acquiring rival search companies years later.

Tell us how Selesti came into existence?

Having worked in-house and agency side on design, development, ICT and project management for years, I had an overwhelming desire to venture out on my own to work with growing companies across a range of disciplines. It felt like a natural progression to set something up on my own.

I started out in my spare room, working all hours while I built up a client base and reputation. It was an incredible experience going from just me to working with a fantastic team of 20 plus talented and brilliant Selestians.

How has the agency changed over the years?

We saw a real opportunity to expand our digital marketing solutions and acquired OMG Search from Optimise in 2012. This has allowed us to strengthen the services we can provide to both web build and search marketing clients. Having a team of gifted developers, our technical SEO has produced some fantastic results. Likewise, we’re able to apply data-led CRO & UX strategies to web builds to increase sales and goal conversions.

We’ve also been able to start investing time in building our own SaaS tools, which are a brilliant way to try new tech and solve a real problem.

Digital is no longer a differentiator for agencies. How do you aim to set yourselves apart from other digital agencies?

We pride ourselves on the team we have here. We have an energetic workplace culture; encouraging entrepreneurial spirit, agile thinking, creative freedom, constructive feedback, healthy work/life balance, continual improvement programs and most of all, having fun. All of that makes for a happier workforce and better results for our clients. It also means we retain the best team members, with more than half the team having worked at Selesti for over 7 years.

Our value proposition is ‘Supercharged Digital’. Innovation and Supercharged days (like mini hack days) allow us to work on brand new ideas, tech and processes all the time. That means proven, better results for our clients. We also invest a fortune in the best production tools money can buy, giving us a huge competitive advantage for clients we work for, achieving phenomenal results on a budget using evidence based data.

Being Recommended Agency Register recommended is also important, as are the countless awards we’ve been finalists for, and won – all based from testimonials our clients have given us. We like winning awards.

Finally, we also commit tremendous amounts of time, resource and energy into training the team and learning new skills. For example, four members of our digital marketing each hold multiple Google Adwords certifications, and this earns us the prestigious Premier Google Partner status.

Where would you like to see Selesti in 3 years’ time?

Expanding our London office and growing accounts and services from there. We’d also like to be in a position to acquire a number of specialist firms, with a view strengthening our offering even further. We’ll also keep producing even more smart SaaS tools/apps and fun projects in collaboration with other like-minded companies.

What do you predict for the future of agency life?

The economic climate continues to throw curve-balls, but it also poses an exciting opportunity for agencies to rise to the challenge. Agencies will need to work smarter to differentiate from the many thousands of competitors that join the market every year. The market is going to become even more saturated and dilute the value that can be achieved. Automation tools will also play a big part in this, tools are becoming more standardised meaning better integration and faster results are expected.

We need to avoid digital becoming a bloated commodity and work more closely with in-house teams and collaborate so value can still be derived from specialists like us.

Selesti is based in Norwich, with a London office, working with clients such as The Big Issue Foundation, NHS Smokefree and Hitachi Europe.

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