An Interview with Founder Bridie Gallagher of Glass Digital


Meet Bridie of Glass Digital

Bridie Gallagher is Managing Director of Glass Digital, a Newcastle-based digital marketing agency specialising in search engine optimisation, paid search optimisation, and performance marketing.  Established in 2014 as a small team of five digital marketing specialists, Glass Digital is now home to over 30 full-time staff, as well as over 50 clients. Bridie lives in Northumberland with her fiancé and 12-year-old daughter.

1.Can you explain to us how the idea for your business came to you and how the whole process kicked off?

I’d spent more than 10 years working in client relations within the financial services sector and was ready for a new challenge when the opportunity arose to set up a digital marketing company in Newcastle. 

The idea for the company began when we first saw a gap in the market for a new type of SEO agency in the North East. The team I went into business with had spotted a lack of clarity in the industry so we took a fresh approach by founding a digital marketing agency with a culture of transparency, where clients would know exactly how their money was being spent.

Glass Digital was first incorporated back in early 2014, when there were just three of us working in a tiny office. It had no windows and was pretty grim! Fast forward seven years, and we’re now a 31-strong company, and have branched out into other forms of digital marketing, including pay-per-click and affiliate marketing. We also have a lovely office space in Ouseburn, Newcastle’s vibrant creative quarter. 

2.What were the biggest challenges you faced when bringing the idea to market?

There’s a common perception of the SEO sector as being opaque and secretive, with lots of companies hiding their techniques and methodology from their clients. We realised that a lot of brands were paying digital marketing agencies for their services but didn’t always know where their money was really going. 

Glass Digital was born out of the idea that it doesn’t have to be this way. Instead, we wanted to offer a transparent, flexible approach to digital marketing that kept clients in the loop at every step of the way.

3.Where do you think good ideas come from and what inspires you?

The best ideas usually come from a collaborative group of individuals that can make decisions as a unit. Thinking about our own board of directors and senior management, I think this is one of the reasons why we’ve been able to achieve such fantastic results. It empowers every member of the team who is responsible for a particular department, but also means that we all buy into the shared vision and are passionate about getting the company to where we want it to be.

There are so many people that inspire me! Professionally, I’m inspired by my brilliant colleagues on a daily basis: their knowledge and passion for their work is unparalleled. As a mother to my 12-year-old daughter, I’m also very impressed by people who balance a successful career with a busy family life, from my own hard-working parents and family members, to friends that are also working parents. 

Another constant source of inspiration is my fiancé, who is Managing Director of a management recruitment firm. He is highly motivated, experienced, and usually my “go to” confidante whenever I need a second opinion on anything business-related.

4.What are your company’s values and why are these things important to the business?

I think our commitment to having a transparent approach is really at the heart of our business, and it influences the way we work at every level of the company. Our mission statement is to always be upfront about our strategies with our clients, providing real-time activity updates, straightforward advice, and honest reporting.  

To facilitate this, clients receive regular KPI reports, and they can communicate directly with the staff who are delivering their campaigns via TeamWork (our project management platform), rather than just a Client Relationship Manager at the end of a phone. So, they can always see exactly how their money is being spent. Not only does this allow us to build great relationships with clients, but it also allows for a collaborative approach to working, which we’ve found to be very effective.

I think the success of our transparency principle is borne out by our high client retention rate — it shows that we get the results we promise. I think it all boils down to being open and honest, and providing excellent communication from the beginning of every campaign.  

We’re very open about the fact that certain areas of digital marketing, such as SEO, have to be a long-term investment. Sometimes it takes trial and error to get the results you truly want and, as digital marketing is evolving all of the time, the goal posts are constantly moving. The results with SEO are never going to be immediate, and we always ensure our clients understand this, so they know what they’re getting into. 

5.What is next for your brand?

Due to the impact of the COVID pandemic, both businesses and individuals have had to adapt.  As people’s interest in online shopping keeps growing and the decline of the high street continues, companies need to be taking their digital marketing seriously. And we’re seeing more and more business owners taking steps to remain competitive in the ecommerce space.

Of course, that means this is a good time for us to be working in our sector and being able to call some of the best experts in their fields our employees is a major plus.

Looking into the future, our long-term goal is to build upon the successful team and reputation we already have here at Glass Digital. As part of this, we would like to increase our staff numbers so we can take on bigger projects, and we’re even considering expanding our service offering. The possibilities really are endless, and I’m confident that we’re well-equipped to achieve all of our goals. 

I think we set Glass Digital up at just the right time and, when you consider how much we’ve achieved in just a few years, the future certainly looks promising.  While we are still a relatively young company, I’m extremely proud of what we’ve been able to achieve so far, and I’m incredibly excited for the future. 

6.What one piece of advice would you have for someone just starting out on their business journey or currently going through a setback?

For those who are thinking of starting their own agency, my advice would be to avoid overpromising in an attempt to secure clients. Yes, big client wins are important, but promising the moon will only work in the short term. Instead, be realistic and honest: it may take a while to build up a client base, but you’ll be laying the groundwork for long-term client retention and great feedback. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth recommendations from happy clients, either.  

In our experience, clients also appreciate honesty and clarity, which is what helps us to stand out in an industry that’s notorious for shrouding its techniques in secrecy. So, it’s important to communicate honestly, both during the pitching stage and throughout your partnership. This might mean losing out on business or saying “no” to clients who have certain expectations or ideas from time to time, which I know can be difficult. But it’s ultimately worthwhile when you start seeing results.

7.What resources and tools do you use to remain productive or up-to-date on industry trends etc?

TeamWork is one of the best and most important tools we use here at Glass Digital. It’s a project management tool, which allows everyone at the company to see what’s happening with every campaign. And, we use it to communicate among ourselves, as well as with our clients.

We’re able to structure all of our clients’ campaigns in a way that shows every task that’s being worked on, which keeps the whole process completely transparent. It also means people can pick up tasks if someone else is on holiday or off sick, and any new members of the team can catch up with everything that’s happened before they joined the company. This would all be a lot more difficult if we stuck to sending private emails.

Many agencies will also give their clients one point of contact, which means balls can be dropped due to the heavy workload. Through TeamWork, our clients can speak to everyone who’s working on their campaign, as well as our Client Relations Managers. With so many eyes on each project, everything flows much more easily, and messages from our clients never go unanswered.

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