Having started my career online more than 20 years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to learn and experience many different situations, companies, platforms and channels, helping me to have a broad understanding of how marketing works and refine my digital marketing skillset.
My work life started after university where I studied Political Science, with my first job being a web designer in 1999, working in-house for a travel agency in my home town in Sardinia, Italy. There we had a large amount of inbound tourism and the website was our main platform for selling holiday packages to tourists all over the world.
My main focus then was on the design of the pages of the website and creating material for print and online advertising.
With hindsight I can say that my biggest mistake was not looking at the massive opportunity that new search engines like Google were offering to get started in SEO when there was little to no competition, but being mostly interested in design.
Fast forward 2 years and I decided to move to London, where I got to start developing my digital marketing skills, working for one of the biggest tour operators in the world; Gulliver’s Travel. Although at that time my role and responsibilities were more focused on the development and management of the backend. Perhaps that was another time where I should have considered getting my teeth stuck into learning SEO, but once more I overlooked the opportunity.
However, it was not long after, that I started developing a keen interest in paid media. It was very early days when Google had just launched AdWords and managing campaigns was a very manual job, full of spreadsheets and time spent on changing bids. At that time there wasn’t any of today’s automation. But the hard work and long hours were rewarded with results that went above and beyond expectations.
It was after a few years, around late 2006, and after changing jobs (but still in Travel) that whilst still working client-side I had my first experience working and managing external search agencies. In fact we had two search agencies managing our accounts, as my boss’ theory was that to get the best of them, he had to make them compete against each other!
I can’t really say whether that was a successful experiment, and whether we got the best out of the two agencies, but it certainly gave me the chance to see more about the other side of digital marketing, the agency side.
Perhaps it was the glamour that agencies had around them back then, with big client lunches and industry parties, but I was really attracted to it and eventually made the move in 2007 when I joined Steak Digital. They were one of the hottest, independent, search agencies in London. Based right in Covent Garden and with a great client portfolio, including John Lewis and Virgin Holidays. The latter became my main client, as my experience in the industry was an advantage not to miss.
I must admit, the first impact of switching sides was pretty harsh. The pace, the intensity, the expectations were far greater than I had imagined, to the point that I thought I was not cut out for it. But with resilience, good mentorship and support from the team at Steak, I was able to rapidly adapt and start enjoying the new role and work my way through the fast paced environment. I must also say that working with a fun, and dynamic client like Virgin helped too.
In the years between 2008 and 2011, I worked for two more agencies in the UK, OMD International and iCrossing (which was based in Brighton, although my team sat in the London office). Whilst at OMD I had the pleasure of working on clients like PlayStation and Infiniti (the luxury vehicle division of Nissan), at iCrossing, once again, my client portfolio was full of travel brands, including Fairmont Hotels, Cheapflights, and Virgin Atlantic.
Until, in 2011 on the day of my birthday (in August) we moved to Sydney, Australia.
Here I joined a great company, AtomicSearch, it was small but fast rising. A company full of talent and opportunities led by its founder James Dixon.
I have to say that moving all the way from London, where I had worked for some of the largest companies, managed global accounts, being at the forefront of digital marketing, to Sydney working for a small company which I had never heard of before was a terrifying idea to start with. But it was James’ vision and passion for Atomic that convinced me.
And I wasn’t wrong. The choice to join James’ team and the opportunity to work very closely with him, and be mentored by him was one of the best choices I have ever made. It really helped me to close the circle and complete my experience of working for many years client-side and for innovative agencies in London.
With him at Atomic, I had the opportunity to see firsthand how a business in our industry should be run; putting both clients and the team first. Delivering above and beyond the expected.
It was an amazing 5 years I experienced at Atomic, but like all good things it came to an end in early 2016. That same year I joined iProspect Sydney as General Manager, but unfortunately it was not for long as Dentsu Aegis was going through big changes and honestly, I was probably not the best person to deal with internal politics and oodles of red tape that typically comes with this type of large agency organisation.
So after just 12 months I resigned. The idea of starting something of my own had been growing inside me for some time and the desire to put all those years of experience to a better use was very tempting now. All that led to the start of Search Tribe in 2017, my first company: a search and social media agency. But that is a new story altogether.
© 2020 Andrea Atzori. Sydney SEO Consultant and SEO Specialist