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Social Media Portal interview about the iStrategy Conference site launch

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 03 May 2013

SMP Q&A with John Whitehurst, digital marketing manager about the website launch

Profiled interview with John Whitehurst, digital marketing manager about creating content for the new iStrategy blog and website

iStrategy Conference logoSocial Media Portal (SMP): What is your name and what do you do there at GDS International and iStrategy?

John Whitehurst (JW)
: I’m John Whitehurst, digital marketing manager. I look after the digital marketing, content and strategy for iStrategy.  On a group level I look after strategy, and digital marketing communications.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about GDS International (for those that don’t know), what is it and what does the company do?

JW: GDS International creates business opportunities for clients by offering world-class B2B events for senior executives in a range of industries including education, energy, financial, government, healthcare, HR, infrastructure, IT management, manufacturing, mining, pharmaceuticals, retail, security, supply chain, telecoms and utilities.

SMP: When did the iStrategy website first launch and why the need for a change?

JW: The website launched just over three years ago and we were so busy working on the event it really needed a re-fresh.  We decided last year to give the site a re-fresh to improve the customer journey, but we have exciting long terms plans for further development.

SMP: How long did the new site take to plan, design, develop and then launch?

JW: Planning took a couple of months and a similar time to design and develop.  It took quite a long time to get the content transfer right because we have a lot of blogs and white papers. So overall it took about six-months to finally launch.

SMP: Was this process managed in-house, or by an agency?

JW: Mixture of in-house and an agency in Bristol called We Are Beef.

SMP: What were the challenges in creating and delivering the site?

JW: Getting the planning right, future proofing and the detail.  A good website is always about the detail and it is difficult getting the detail right.

SMP: What are the benefits that the new site has brought?

JW: Reduced bounce rates by over 20%, improved conversion by 15% and improved the look and feel.
iStrategy Conference website image
SMP: How did you initially attract users to your site and blog, and how do you do it now?

JW: Our audience has always been developed from a mixture of marketing, social media, search, event activity and word-of-mouth.

SMP: How does this fit in with the digital marketing strategy you are undertaking for iStrategy – what does this involve?

JW: We are expanding our marketing strategy to be even more content focused, exciting and engaging for the audience.  So it is key, but you will see us liven up the brand.

SMP: How are you using social media in relation to the new site and the blog?

JW: We are using the main channels, creating unique content for each channel, talking and listening to customers even more.

SMP: What are you finding the most effective form/s of social media and why?

JW: Rather than saying which is the most effective, it is better to match the media to the customer journey and how it improves customer understanding.   

SMP: How do you find or create content, news and features for iStrategy website and blog?

JW: We have a mixture of content from key industry figures, sponsors and we write our own pieces.

SMP: How many people contribute to the iStrategy blog?

JW: Probably about 70 different people a year, our own team and we are just starting to have regular guest bloggers.

SMP: What is the contact process / steps for PRs and other people interested in letting you know about stories that are relevant for your blog?

JW: Email, call or event tweet us, we always want to find out more about what is going on in the industry.

SMP: What are the low moments of what you have been doing so far (regarding the new site and blog)?

JW: Someone forgot to put the fact we wanted the site to be optimised for mobiles into the brief.  Small error and a big mistake we are working on.

Photograph of John Whitehurst digital marketing manager at from iStrategySMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far (regarding the new site blog)?

JW: These are to come with the launch of our new CMO guides.

SMP: Is there anything else we should know, or is there anything that you’d like to share?

JW: Never forget the re-launch of a site is start of the project and not the end.

SMP: Best way to contact you and iStrategy website?

Twitter @istratbuzz

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What’s the favourite blog and/or website and why?

JW: A difficult question … but probably Inventory Magazine

SMP: What irritates you most on the web and why?

: People talking about the death of other mediums such as TV (media spend is growing) and criticising traditional media planning techniques, when they could not plan their way out of a wet paper bag.

SMP: What pleasantly surprises you on the web and why?

JW: Serendipity

SMP: How many mobile devices do you have and what’s your favourite one?

JW: Three…none of them actually.  

SMP: If you were on a desert island and only had one tweet left, what would it say and who’d you send it to?

JW: “I love you” to my wife and the dog ☺ 

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