We design, build and optimize digital experiences.

Subtext is a digital customer experience agency located in Portland, Oregon. We exist to help our clients build stronger relationships with their customers through beautiful and useful digital interactions at every touchpoint.

 
Undisclosed
 
$150 - $199 / hr
 
10 - 49
 Founded
2011
Show all +
Portland, OR
headquarters
  • 2222 NE Oregon St. Suite 211
    Portland, OR 97232
    United States

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Gerber

Clark Public Utilities

Outrigger Hotels and Resorts

Reviews

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UX and Marketing for Gerber Gear

"Subtext is really disciplined at knowing what they need to own and execute really well."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
2013 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Subtext Digital helped formalize databases in the client's CRM, then provided strategic digital guidance by creating landing pages, email marketing campaigns, and social media messaging.

The Reviewer
 
200-500 employees
 
Portland, Oregon
Andrew Gritzbaugh
Director of Marketing, Gerber
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The client's 2015 holiday email campaign doubled sales from the previous year. Project management, professionalism, and level of focus have made Subtext a reliable partner for over three years. They are consistently recommended to others in the industry.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

Gerber Gear is the category leader in personal knives, multi-tools, and equipment. We service all channels of trade. Mass retailers like Amazon and Walmart offer our products. We also sell to direct with the government and supporting retailers like Cabela’s, as well as independent specialty retailers. We’re a global brand and a leader in the space.

I am the director of marketing communications and I oversee all aspects of the brand.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Subtext Digital?

Gerber didn’t have any email marketing activity when I came to this company. Our first interaction with Subtext Digital was related to CRM development and email marketing.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Initially, we needed them to help us formalize and create segmented databases inside of our new CRM platform, Salesforce. Subtext Digital guided overall strategy, built email marketing templates, and helped orchestrate campaigns related to business objectives like dealer signups and consumer engagements. They created a half dozen landing pages that were AB tested for user experience and optimized for our site. That was a successful campaign that we followed up with large development projects. They’ve led user experience and site development projects, from header navigation to site mapping, to landing pages and category campaign pages. They helped us introduce a marquis product 2 years ago called the Gator Premium, which was a new premium knife that had a targeted audience. They led the development of the landing page, the email marketing campaign, and guided some of the communication aspects through social media.

How did you come to work with Subtext Digital?

We had an RFP out for landing pages and had responses from a couple of different agencies. Subtext delivered the best comprehensive story from a user experience perspective, which we view as a high priority in website development. There’s a lot of people that can create a website in HTML. However, having a strong sense of user experience—understanding how the consumer engages with the brand through all touchpoints—is something that gets lost. Subtext can not only tell a great story about the importance of UX, but they also deliver on their promise.

How much have you invested with Subtext Digital?

Our total engagement for the entire relationship has been $500,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with them in early 2013 and we continue to work with them.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?

We saw a very substantial conversion rate in our holiday campaign a year ago. That was probably the project that had the biggest single ROI. They quoted us at 90% to 95% increase in sales on the direct commerce site for the holiday season. Because we had no email marketing sales before this initiative, we doubled our holiday period sales in 2015.

How did Subtext Digital perform from a project management standpoint?

Project management is a strength for them. They’ve had some transition over the years where we had a few different project managers. However, they seemed to maintain the same level of professionalism. They use Basecamp to manage the projects and are highly responsive.

What did you find most impressive about Subtext Digital?

A lot of agency partners are quick to submit input on the overall brand campaign and messaging strategy. That input is usually invited but oftentimes creates a few too many heads working on one of many problems. Subtext is really disciplined at knowing what they need to own and execute really well, which has been user experience and website development. I would commend them on their ability to maintain focus and execute on their area of responsibility.

What tips or recommendations could you share that might increase the likelihood of success with Subtext Digital?

I would suggest that while they’re exceptional at user experience, email marketing, and CRM development, actual brand campaign creation is probably not a strength. Not that they’re not capable or good at it. For us, we’ve been more successful when we let them work in their space and not engage them too much too soon with the overall campaign planning.

4.0
Overall Score Like all agency relationships, there are occasional hiccups. But overall, they treat clients like partners. They will go above and beyond to make sure the work is successful and not just delivered to scope.
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    I think they’re very successful in this area and are very ambitious. If they missed a deadline, it was usually a result of us changing scope mid-project and them agreeing to take that on.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They’re not the least expensive in the business but you are paying a premium for the quality of work.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    There was next to zero feedback required on the 2015 campaign. The initial concepts they pushed forward didn’t require iterations, which saved us time and energy.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I routinely recommend them to peers in the industry.

WordPress Development for Washington Utilities Company

"Subtext Digital’s goal is to create a product that works the best for the client and the client’s customers."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
2014 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Subtext Digital audited a 600-page public utilities website, then designed and built a new site using WordPress. They are now working on a second intranet project with the client.

The Reviewer
 
200-500 employees
 
Vancouver, Washington
Erica Erland
Manager, Clark Public Utilities
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The functionality and aesthetics of the new site are constantly praised by customers. Subtext's team was nimble, responsive, and had a high level of expertise. The client highlights the flexibility of their team, which allowed for a more productive environment.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the corporate communications manager of Clark Public Utilities. It is a public electric utility with 195,000 meters for Clark County in southwest Washington. We also provide water to a portion of our customers who are in unincorporated areas.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Subtext Digital?

Our public website had not been updated in over a decade, so we needed to rebuild it. We were looking for technical expertise and support as well as content strategy and strategic planning.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We started with a limited scope where Subtext Digital audited our website. It had 600 pages of content. They looked at it from a cultural communications standpoint as well as the functionality. Then, they provided design comps and proposed content organization for the entire site. Subtext Digital rebuilt the website in WordPress. While they didn’t produce most of the copy on the website, they connected us with 2 copywriters that helped execute content based on Subtext Digital’s brand plan for the website. Subtext also helped streamline the process of communication. They collaborated with our internal IS department and some of our other contractors that work on our work management system internally. They are now working on our intranet project.

How did you come to work with Subtext Digital?

Subtext came highly recommended by a lot of my colleagues in the field. When I met with them in person, I found out that we had worked together in previous positions I had held. That inspired a level of confidence because I understood their expertise and credibility, having seen it firsthand. We liked the flexibility with which they approached the project.

How much have you invested with Subtext Digital?

We’ve spent between $200,000 to $300,000 over the course of our relationship with Subtext Digital.

What is the status of this engagement?

We began working together in the spring of 2014 and launched the website in April 2015. We continue to work with them.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?

They scoped smaller pieces of the project and were a very nimble team, which allowed us to accomplish a lot with our budget. We get great feedback from our customers. They say that it’s aesthetically pleasing and very user-friendly. The content is based on user stories, which is more engaging than the previous site. Subtext Digital had proposed and implemented tools that didn’t exist before. Now, our customers are able to report outages online and view an outage map with more detailed information.

How did Subtext Digital perform from a project management standpoint?

They’ve met my high expectations by being responsive, patient, and willing to help on every level. We used Basecamp in the beginning but are now using a platform called Teamwork, which works very well. They recommended the employees who needed to be involved in the project so information can be shared freely among each other.  We also have weekly calls.

What did you find most impressive about Subtext Digital?

One of the things I was most impressed with Subtext Digital was that they took the time to understand our brand. In the tech space, sometimes there’s a push to look a certain way. But as a utility company, our customers need us to be steady and credible. Subtext Digital’s goal is to create a product that works the best for the client and the client’s customers and I feel like that’s exactly what we received.

Whenever you work with a new agency, it’s important to have the right people on the right team. I feel like we’re in a good place now. Subtext Digital was very sensitive to use the right people to move the project forward efficiently. I don’t feel like this is something they can improve now, but I think they’re always looking for ways to make the relationship more efficient.

 

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    I continue to be impressed and pleased with the product they produced.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    We’ve started a second project with them.

Marketing for Sustainable Seafood Startup

"The Subtext team is very good at taking a crazy idea and turning it into something that makes sense."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Apr. 2015 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Subtext Digital performed an audit to optimize the client's e-commerce-driven site. They then set up an email marketing plan, an engagement campaign, and helped with content strategy.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 employees
 
Portland, Oregon
Marketing, Fishpeople Seafood
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Click through and engagement rates on the website have increased. Subtext's project management and development skills distinguish them from other digital agencies, though design expertise is an area for growth.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

We are a startup sustainable seafood company, selling retail and online products. I was the director of marketing and communications.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Subtext Digital?

Our business challenge was that we had a product that could be seen as a commodity—seafood—combined with customers who are not very educated about seafood at all. We had just created a new website with another agency based on an e-commerce platform. We loved the great creative strategy that they put into the website. But after it was built, we discovered that there were some functional elements that weren’t going to work for us in the long run. We needed help with optimizing the new website for brand and content. We wanted to improve our e-commerce and how we were telling our brand story. We wanted to present our brand to the world without making it so selling-heavy. 

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Subtext Digital helped us go through the site and understand where we needed to make some updates or changes. They did a thorough audit and gave us recommendations for how we could make it work better and be searchable while having a good place to put content. It was definitely a site optimization but it was even more than that—it made the website a lot more powerful.

After this initial engagement, we had a couple of projects with Subtext Digital. They set up our email marketing program, which didn’t really exist prior to their efforts. They helped us create a template for a monthly e-newsletter and set up an email welcome series for us. Whenever a customer orders on our website, they got a series of follow-up emails encouraging them to engage with our content or purchase again.

After that, they helped us with the “Fear no Fish” campaign. For this project, the Subtext team was engaged with us on a strategic and creative level. We developed a consumer engagement campaign about how to make good choices when purchasing seafood. Subtext Digital brainstormed with us to help develop the campaign strategy. Then, they built everything for us. It was a pretty fun project that we’re all pretty proud of.

Subtext Digital also helped us with our content strategy, which was another program that we didn’t have. They participated in a workshop with me to help brainstorm content and help develop the strategy out of that. After we built the strategy, they helped us execute certain components of that strategy. If we needed to get something built or needed to tweak our email program, then they helped us with all of that.                                              

How did you come to work with Subtext Digital?

I had worked with Subtext in my previous job so I knew the quality of their work firsthand. I made sure they were part of the field that we were looking at. I think we interviewed 3 or 4 agencies. I conducted the search together with one of our founders. When Subtext came in, they talked about their approach. They wanted to lead with empathy and really understand the consumer experience. From my past experience, that’s something that I knew to be true about them. Their presentation resonated with my co-founder. We ended up selecting them and have worked with them ever since.

How much have you invested with Subtext Digital?

We paid $50,000 to $100,000 for their services.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in April 2015. We have an ongoing contract where they help us with website maintenance and updates.  

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?

I don’t have a before and after with them because they’ve been with me since the very beginning. The number of complaints that we don’t get regarding our website and our digital content is remarkable. Subtext Digital helped us set up a strong framework for everything, and everything works.

We have a newsletter that has evolved over the year and a half we’ve been working together. They’ve helped us understand what works, what doesn’t, and how we can do it better. Our click-through and engagement rates on our email newsletter have improved. The welcome email series that they set up helps drive sales and clicks back to our website. Everything they’ve done has performed well, but I can’t say they’ve performed better than what we had before because there wasn’t anything.

When we started working together, we gave them very clear metrics that we wanted to hit by the end of the year. Those goals were primarily related to our e-commerce. After about 4 or 5 months into the partnership, our company strategy shifted away from e-commerce. Subtext was very flexible and adaptable since we were a startup company. Subtext Digital was definitely got hired to do one thing and then it turned into a completely different thing. They adjusted the strategy. They were great.

How did Subtext Digital perform from a project management standpoint?

They have an awesome project manager named Katie. She works with us most of the time. They use project management tools, which is a lifesaver. I really respect their project management and the tools that they use to do it successfully. Project management is an area where I think they excel.

What did you find most impressive about Subtext Digital?

It seems like digital agencies are either really good developers or really good designers. I haven't found an agency that excels in both areas. Subtext is extremely strong on the developing side, which is actually where I want their strength to be because I’ve got in-house designers and a style guide. They build things that work and are well thought through. I don’t have to worry about things breaking. They’re always willing to help whenever we need them. The Subtext team is very good at taking a crazy idea and turning it into something that makes sense to both the developer and the end user."

Are there any areas Subtext Digital could improve?

They’ve gone through a few different designers in the time that I’ve worked with them. I don’t know that they’ve found their sweet spot on the design side, but I was happy with their work in that respect.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer