Q&Agency: BGT Partners

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I talk to agencies small and large and get to hear (in their words) what differentiates them and the experiences they create. To help bring some of that information to you, I'm showcasing an ongoing series of interviews with small to midsize interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On May 10th, I spoke with David Clarke, co-founder and managing partner; Andrea Fishman, partner, VP of global strategy and head of BGT Chicago; and Michael Marsowicz, partner and VP of client services at BGT Partners.

 

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about BGT Partners?

David: We were founded in 1996 so we're celebrating our 15th anniversary this year. That makes us one of the oldest interactive agencies in the country. We have over 165 people in our main office in Miami and our newer office in Chicago. We’re a partnership that’s wholly owned by our 10 partners. Our focus is on experience design, digital marketing, strategy, and analytics. People hire us to solve business problems like increasing conversion, lowering abandonment, or increasing the number of people coming into the funnel. Strategy is where we start, but we take a project all the way through execution to advanced analytics.

Forrester: What is your elevator pitch?

Michael: BGT is a leading global interactive agency that focuses on making the complex simple. That might be through user experience by making a booking process simpler, or it might be with analytics by looking at data and culling out the most important information. We advance brands with advanced interactions.

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Q&Agency: ISITE Design

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I talk to agencies small and large and get to hear (in their words) what differentiates them and the experiences they create. To help bring some of that information to you, I'm showcasing an ongoing series of interviews with small to midsize interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On April 15th, I talked with Jeff Cram, chief strategy officer and co-founder of ISITE Design. Edited excerpts from that conversation follow.

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about ISITE Design?

Jeff: ISITE Design is a digital agency founded in 1997 in Portland, Oregon. We’ve grown to 55 employees and opened up additional offices in Boston and Los Angeles. We’re fortunate to work with fantastic organizations like Zipcar, Jive Software, Genzyme, and MIT, to name a few. We operate at the exciting intersection of digital strategy, experience design, marketing technology, and measurement. We also just broke ground on a new 18,000-square-foot headquarters in Portland that will be the creative hub for the next chapter of our growth.

Forrester: What is your elevator pitch?

Jeff: We are a digital agency that helps companies rethink how business gets done online. Our mission is to teach organizations how to thrive in a digital age, and we take that seriously. We feel that digital has reached escape velocity from marketing and that organizations need a new type of partner that can help connect smart digital execution to business operations and growth.

Forrester: What are the three key things that differentiate you from your competitors?

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Why Surveys Aren't The Best Tool For Designing Experiences

While most design researchers and practioners would agree that surveys aren't the best tool for designing experiences, I'm still suprised that we get pushback on the value of other (primarily qualitative) research methods from customer experience professionals and of course their business colleagues. While many of these people will argue to the grave that surveys are "better" than qualitative research methods because they mitigate risk by being both quantifiable and statistically significant, they don't realize that when designing experiences, surveys introduce "risk" well before a survey is analyzed. How? Well, surveys:

  • Limit responses. Most surveys (whether they're open-ended or offer restricted responses) ask users for their reaction or input to a specific question or situation. If you're asking for something that's relatively black and white, that's a perfect technique. But if you're asking people to explain why they did (or didn't do) something or about the nuances of how they did something, or if you want to see how their context influences their behavior, then surveys are difficult to craft because you essentially have to know the answers before you ask the question. And if you don't know all of the right answers, then you're introducing risk by guessing what they may be.
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Creating Effective Mobile Experiences: The Workshop

My colleague, Kerry Bodine recently posted about the lack of big brands with mobile apps available in the Apple App Store and offered several suggestions for how brands can create end-to-end value for their customers by supporting them through their mobile devices. Forrester VP Julie Ask takes this concept even farther in her research outlining how various industries can create mobile value propositions to support existing channels, extend other channels, or create unique mobile experiences. But of course creating the right mobile service is just part of the battle. Customer experience professionals are tasked to ensure that those experiences are useful, usable, and enjoyable. How do we do that? 

  • Invest in understanding how your customers behave with their mobile devices. Surveys and focus groups aren't sufficient when trying to design an experience. While they might let you prioritize features or fixes, they don't get you an actual understanding of how your customers use their mobile devices, when and where they use them, and how you might offer value through the device. This doesn't need to be really expensive. The design team at britishairways.com (ba.com) occasionally visits its frequent-flier lounge with mock-ups and prototypes and tests design concepts with its most valuable customers.
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Q&Agency: UEgroup

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I talk to agencies small and large and get to hear (in their words) what differentiates them and the experiences they create. To help bring some of that information to you, I'm showcasing an ongoing series of interviews with small to midsize interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On March 16th, I talked with Tony Fernandes, the CEO and chief instigator at UEgroup and StudioUE. Edited excerpts from that conversation follow.

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about your agencies? Why the two names?

Tony: UEgroup is focused on the research-to-design phase, and StudioUE is focused on the design-to-development phase of delivering digital experiences. The separation came about because I conducted research with potential clients and realized that companies wanted to work with firms that could specialize in specific areas. The two brands cater to two audiences and live in separate office space to engender the separate focus our clients are looking for. We have some customers that are very research-oriented customers and others that are much more production-oriented customers. We’re taking our own advice and using a customer-centric approach to the way our brand is being presented.

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Q&Agency: Acquity Group

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I talk to agencies small and large and get to hear (in their words) what differentiates them and the experiences they create. To help bring some of that information to you, I'm showcasing an ongoing series of interviews with small and medium-size interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On November 16th, I talked with Rick Nash, the VP of strategic marketing at Acquity Group. Edited excerps from that conversation follow.

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about Acquity Group?

Rick: Ah, that’s a long story. Our founders owned a company that rolled up into USWeb in Chicago. As many people know, USWeb saw explosive growth in the late 90s. It then merged with WhittmanHart and became marchFIRST. Before marchFIRST imploded during the dot-com boom, our founders left to found Acquity group. That was in 2001. It was the same four guys, along with a number of their colleagues from the dot-com era whom they had met along the way. I came from Sapient. Now we’ve grown to 450 people spread across nine offices including [those in] Irvine, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Scottsdale, Dallas, Kansas City, and Boise. We’re looking to expand into Asia, and we’ve begun that process with a Beijing office. We work with brands like AT&T, Motorola, McDonald’s, Best Buy, and General Motors. Our clients are big-name global brands, and we’re really proud of that.

Forrester: What is your elevator pitch?

Rick: Acquity group is an interdisciplinary digital consultancy. We create award-winning, multichannel, multidevice, multinational digital solutions for complex organizations. Our approach brings together strategy, creative, and technology to create differentiation and value in the digital space.

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Correction: Direct Partners

For the past few years, we've updated a report called, "Where To Find Help For Web Design Projects." It's a survey of interactive marketing agencies — one that can be fairly complicated to fill out. Hopefully, the report serves as one of the first stops for companies looking for agency help for online design projects because it seeks to compare some basic capabilities and focus areas of as many firms as are willing to fill it out.

Because it's difficult to fact-check every detail reported with every agency, sometimes the data by the time we publish the report is already out of date. And sometimes (hopefully less often), there are minor mistakes that everybody misses before the report gets published. This time, it was that the name of the agency Direct Partners was listed as Skip Reed — the name of the member of the executive management team who filled it out. So, if you're interested in an agency in the report called Skip Reed, you'll find it at DirectPartners.com. Sorry about the error!

Q&Agency: POP

Welcome to Q&Agency! Each week, I talk to agencies small and large and get to hear (in their words) what differentiates them and the experiences they create. To help bring some of that information to you, I'm showcasing an ongoing series of interviews with small to midsize interactive and design agencies. If you'd like to see your agency or an agency you work with here, let me know!

On November 1st, I talked with Laura Porto Stockwell, the VP of experience strategy at POP. Edited excerps from that conversation follow.

Forrester: Tell me a little bit about POP.

Laura: POP was founded in 1996 by our President, Bill Predmore. So, we’ll turn 15 this summer. Over the past 14 years, we’ve grown to more than 150 people, primarily in Seattle and an office in New York that services clients on the East Coast. We create innovative experiences for the Web, mobile devices, and digital platforms. Our clients include Target, Microsoft, EA, and Epson. Our primary services are experience strategy, design, Web development, mobile application development, and social media.

Forrester: What is your elevator pitch?

Laura: Informed ideas and flawless execution; that speaks to our two key strengths. We’re strategic thinkers, and we’re able to get things out the door. We pride ourselves on that.

Forrester: What are the three key things that differentiate POP from your competitors?

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Southwest Fares ONLY Available On Southwest.com

Many you have probably read that Forrester believes that online experiences of the future will be: customized by the end user, aggregated at the point of use, relevant to the device and to the moment, and social as a rule (CARS). We've been seeing a number of companies — Avis, eBay, USAA, Weather.com, and many others — developing experiences that demonstrate attributes of our CARS model today. And we expect to see more and more given trends in consumer behavior, technology development, and the number of potential competitive threats companies face.

All that said, yesterday, I saw a commercial that was decidedly un-CARS-like. One of the things several of us who are thinking about CARS have found is that the A (standing for aggregated) is really a critical attribute. Not only are consumers getting more savvy about the online research they do (using multiple sources), but also the availability of data is allowing them to comparison shop more than ever before and the number of competitors that enable this type of comparison shopping is growing too. What we think this means is that companies' Web sites are no longer going to be the only go-to places to experience their brand — instead, they're going to have to be creative about how their content (or product) is aggregated elsewhere. But I digress . . .

So this commercial from Southwest Airlines wants consumers to know that its fares are ONLY available on its site. In fact, Southwest is so jazzed up about it, it filmed a musical of sorts to convey this idea.

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Rosetta Acquires LEVEL Studios — Firms Interested In The Future Of Online Experience Take Note!

Earlier this week, Rosetta announced that it acquired LEVEL Studios, an agency I recently profiled in my Q&Agency series. This is an interesting acquisition that demonstrates once again how marketing is becoming a more experience-driven business. Rosetta, a large interactive agency (one of the top 10 in size according to AdAge) that focuses on personality-based marketing, is looking to expand its impact to connected devices to broaden its capabilities to deliver quality customer experiences. To do this, it turned to an agency that has already had success with this: LEVEL Studios. LEVEL’s technology capabilities have allowed it to design and deliver relevant experiences across a variety of devices. My first reaction was that this would make a really strong partnership for both clients and each of the agencies, respectively.

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