Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?
We set out to release the most highly optimized site possible. We worked with Gauge Interactive for this goal and came up with a great result. Since our launch, traffic has gone up dramatically, in every sense of the word. Sales and revenue have followed it, even though there was an initial lag, which since caught up. We've been able to implement a good combination of Magento plug-in elements and extensions in order to create a nice site for our customers. We continue to optimize content and manage the technical SEO.
Since our website launch, we've tracked a 40% growth in traffic each year. I haven't looked at the figures from day-one until today, but the increase has been steady for two and a half years. It's tough to tell where traffic comes from, especially since our social media presence is very strong, but a 40% increase cannot be accounted for by social media alone. We attribute a lot of the success to the website itself.
How did Gauge Interactive perform from a project management standpoint?
We came out of scope a little bit, but that was largely our doing. One of the things that I've enjoyed the most about working with Gauge Interactive was the relationship I've been able to develop with their project management team. I have to work with them closely, given that I'm a project manager for our e-commerce work. They have been my main point of contact, and I maintain a few hours of communication with Gauge Interactive each week, either through Skype, Basecamp, over the phone, or in person. My project manager has always been available to me for extra Magento operations. I largely taught myself to use that software, having Gauge Interactive as subject-matter experts in this field.
We share the software used internally by my company with Gauge Interactive. We work within the Optimizely platform, partnering on all of the A/B testing for the site. Our local project management software is Basecamp, but Gauge Interactive uses something else internally. They've always managed our projects through Basecamp.
What distinguishes Gauge Interactive from other providers?
Gauge Interactive has set up operations by employing an expert in every field. If we wanted to work on product listing ads or ad words campaigns, they could provide a highly-qualified person in that arena. They have great graphic designers on-staff, as well as social media experts, copywriters, email campaign managers, and great project managers. We like to manage as much as we can from our end, but wherever we fall short or for whatever task where we don't want to dedicate a lot of bandwidth, Gauge Interactive will offer someone whom I would consider to be a professional in their area.
Ad Words is a great example for me. Although I've overseen our Ad Words and product listing ads campaigns, and took part in the decision-making, Gauge Interactive managed and optimized them for me. It was easy for me to give this piece over, feeling confident with the person handling it. If I also wanted to give my email marketing work over to Gauge Interactive, I would feel confident in doing so. From a business perspective, Gauge Interactive can pick up any weak links, as needed. They can customize packages based on what's best for the customer, as opposed to other agencies which have an all-or-nothing mentality.
Is there anything Gauge Interactive could have improved or done differently?
We keep Gauge Interactive on a retainer and have a statement of work. Sometimes, when the potential for a new project came up, we wondered if it fell within the retainer or not. I think that Gauge Interactive should more accurately define their retainer agreement. This would require 2 teams collaborating together, deciding what each item actually means. For me, the biggest challenge has been that anything falling outside parameters of the retainer agreement will become an à la carte piece. There was a little uncertainty in this area, with some projects landing on borderline parameters which neither of our teams knew how to define. The tighter those statements of work can be defined, the more Gauge Interactive could improve.
Tense moments have been minimal, but they've usually been over negotiations on the qualities of a retainer. It's part of being an agency, especially when treating each customer uniquely, like Gauge Interactive does. Every customer of theirs has a unique statement of work. It's nice, but it requires putting many words on a page, which everyone then has to agree on.
I've talked to many potential clients which vetted Gauge Interactive through me, always advising them to have a good understanding of what the post-project expectations are, right from the beginning. We didn't define our relationship with Gauge Interactive during the project, making us not know where we stood once the new platform was launched. We hadn't even considered having a development partner on retainer at that point.