Suffolk Business Awards 2021: How award-winning marketing agency weathered pandemic storm

Eight people gathered around a laptop in a meeting toom

The GLO team offers a number of marketing services include SEO, social media, website design, email marketing and Google Ads management. - Credit: Simply C Photography

When it was founded in 2019, Ipswich-based digital marketing agency GLO – Generate Leads Online couldn’t have foreseen spending the majority of its first three years in the midst of a global pandemic. However, the company’s resilience and start-up spirit has seen it ride out the storm and continue growing despite the challenges brought about by Covid-19.

Like many businesses, one of the first moves GLO made when the UK went into lockdown was to transition its team to remote working. “By utilising online communication and project management tools, such as Slack, Zoom and Asana, we soon developed a very efficient way of working from home,” says John Parnell, founder and managing director of GLO. “This helped us cut costs and ensured the team was safe and capable of serving clients throughout the pandemic when they needed digital marketing the most.”

Demand for GLO’s services increased as many high-street businesses had no choice but to take their services online – and this also necessitated a recruitment drive for the agency. After bringing in two long-term employees on government-funded degree apprenticeship schemes, the company took advantage of the government’s Kickstart Scheme – which provides funding to employers to create jobs for young people on Universal Credit.

“We now have six employees who have come through the scheme – adding significant value to the company and our services,” says John. “In return, we take pride in helping give local young people the knowledge and experience they need to launch their digital careers, and in taking significant steps towards closing the digital skills gap in Suffolk.”

GLO works with clients to improve their performance across all online channels – putting data and client needs at the heart of its digital marketing strategies. Its services include SEO, social media marketing, website design, email marketing automation and Google Ads management.

ony Southgate, John Parnell, Kat Haladus, Beth Craig and Ian White (sponsor – Beckett Investment Management Group)

Left to right: Tony Southgate, John Parnell, Kat Haladus, Beth Craig and Ian White (sponsor – Beckett Investment Management Group) - Credit: Matthew Potter Photographer and Videographer

Most recently, the company launched its SEO web design service. “This was developed in response to an influx of new clients whose existing, under-optimised sites were a key aspect of their disappointing online performance,” says John. “After hearing their stories of countless page additions and endless SEO tune-ups, we set out to develop a comprehensive solution unlike any other – combining web design and SEO upfront.”  

Looking ahead, the company plans to launch an app development service, and it is also trialling an innovative ‘pay per lead’ offering. “Just like any other new business, pandemic era start-ups have a strong requirement for incoming sales and leads, but often aren’t in the position to take on the risks and costs of building their own website,” John explains. He says the ‘pay per lead’ service will work as an effective and financially viable solution to this issue.

It’s this sort of innovative thinking that saw GLO win the Start-Up Business of the Year award, sponsored by Beckett Investment Management Group, at the Suffolk Business Awards 2021 – which John describes as a “dream come true”.

The award was celebrated by the whole team with a cocktail-making night at Three Wise Monkeys in Ipswich. “As a relatively new employee, it’s really motivating to see GLO win this award,” says Emma Baker, content specialist at GLO. “It’s a reflection of everyone at GLO’s hard work, dedication and passion for what we do, and a hint at what else we can achieve going forwards.”

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Rebecca Martin, conversion rate optimisation specialist, adds: “It’s such an amazing achievement, and I feel very proud to be working for such a fast-growing business.” 

Speaking of fast growth, GLO has ambitions to quadruple its turnover in 2022 – unlocking a host of new digital marketing career opportunities in the process. “We’ll continue to take on apprentices and nurture them into some of the best digital marketing talent Suffolk has to offer,” says John.

The company has also been awarded a place in Archant’s Future 50 programme for 2022, which recognises the most exciting companies in the East of England. “I think I speak for the entire team when I say it’s an honour to have had the opportunity to join the Future 50 programme,” says John. “The extensive knowledge and support offered through this initiative are set to provide us with an unmatched opportunity for development – and we couldn’t be more excited to be taking part.” 

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