Soap Media Shortlisted for Three Prolific North Awards

We’re thrilled to tell you that we’ve recently been shortlisted as finalists for a total of three Prolific North awards, and the big ceremony is booked for the 9th of May 2024!

However, we literally couldn’t wait for that date to roll around before shouting out our fantastic team for all of their hard work that’s made us worthy of this position.

They’ve produced some amazing work, and we’re so proud to have had that validated by earning three award shortlistings from such an esteemed body; a huge victory in itself. Here’s a whistle-stop tour of what we’re competing for, and all of the wonderful work that these nominations are built upon.


TL;DR: We’ve been shortlisted as finalists for not one, but three Prolific North awards: Web/Product Development Agency of the Year, Integrated Agency of the Year, and Digital Agency of the Year!

Web/Product Development Agency of the Year

This award nomination is the culmination of a transformative journey that we began in 2023. We’re so proud to have a web development team that’s at the very forefront of innovation and impact, and that’s fully committed to nurturing talent! Our team is seven-strong and has a huge amount of experience (our longest-standing developer has been with us for 12 years!).

Did you know that over 90% of websites are inaccessible to disabled users? Well, our dev team found out and weren’t too happy about it, so they’ve made UX and accessibility a real priority of theirs. Our bespoke WordPress CMS, SUDS, has been an invaluable part of their journey to upscale accessibility, but the award nomination actually acknowledges more than that. The judges were looking out for strong evidence of innovation and great practice when picking their finalists. Here’s what made us stand out:

  1. Optimising team structure. Each developer’s role was revised to be more suited to their strengths, and a reassessed strategic approach was unveiled that improves efficiency, removes blockers swiftly and offers more time for strategic discussion.
  2. Improved security. We use Docker as part of our server architecture, which works to drastically minimise the impact of any errors on the host system. Our devs also reviewed all of their end-to-end documentation and processes to ensure that they’re as watertight as possible.
  3. Enhanced accessibility and UX. This was driven by members of our team who have various certifications in these disciplines. The resulting changes offer deeper data science-backed value when planning customer journeys, and brought about new UX workshops, surveys, methodologies and accessibility testing that leverages heat mapping, A/B testing, analytics investigations and more.
  4. The continual development of SUDS, our custom WordPress CMS. This was first born as a way of rapidly creating websites without compromising on customisation, and is also a way of giving partners on smaller budgets a tailored solution. However, over time we’ve added the Gutenberg editor to escalate user-friendliness, and we also now offer bespoke training to give our partners greater autonomy. It’s now a real multi-purpose solution!
  5. Better SEO via an extensively-improved SEO checklist. This aims to keep up to date with all of Google’s latest algorithms and core principles like EEAT (experience, expertise, authority and trustworthiness).

As a result of all of this work, our development team have been able to:

  • Implement a custom JIRA integration to report upon “first time right”, a KPI that was previously thought of as being ‘unreportable’.
  • Design Growth Lending a new website that gave them a clear visual edge over their competitors whilst retaining simplicity for ease of use and efficiency.
  • Deliver Manchester Foundation Trust Charity (MFTC) a vibrant website redesign that brought their two sites into one, and put accessibility at the very heart of its design (an essential helping hand for their impaired users).
  • Step up our long-standing partnership with the Centre of Excellence (CoE). The cutting-edge technology that our developers have progressively incorporated into this site ultimately helped CoE towards 114,215 purchases in 2023, and have enabled them to serve 1.5 million more users in over 128 additional countries.

Integrated Agency of the Year

2023 was a busy year for us, and this award nomination shows that another project of ours from last year has now achieved fruition. Our departments have worked to leave the world of cookie-based tracking behind and really become thought leaders as we go into a cookieless future. After we rose to all of the unprecedented challenges brought about by the pandemic, we were determined to continue to adapt and thrive in the face of each and every new twist and turn, so we’re delighted to receive a finalist shoutout that confirms we’ve done so. Among other things, this Prolific North nomination celebrates:

  1. Our uniquely-close relationship with Google and our adoption of a user-focused approach.
  2. Our newly-implemented and fully-optimised business hierarchy, designed to better tackle market changes.
  3. Our creation of a brand-new data science department to enhance strategies and deepen insights (both internally and for our partners).
  4. Our continuing success as a completely decentralised, fully-remote agency.

As a result of the various steps that we’ve taken, we’ve been able to:

  • Migrate our partner Hollywood Bowl from UA3 to GA4, building them a reporting framework that processed millions of pounds on a monthly basis. Hollywood Bowl was so impressed that they subsequently opened a data science retainer with us.
  • Debut at position 28 on Prolific North’s Top 50 Integrated Agencies list and surpass over 275,000 businesses worldwide to earn a spot on the Clutch 1000 list.
  • Achieve multiple months of record-breaking PPC conversions for Ideal4Finance, leveraging insights from a custom Python script that reduced a complex keyword analysis that could have taken days to just an hour.
  • Create a tangential strategy for CoE that grew organic sessions by nearly 20%, year-on-year clicks by nearly 50%, and first-page keywords by over 80%.
  • Forge a partnership with LRQA Nettitude’s UK, EU and US divisions, where we utilised ClickCase, Loqate and custom CSS to identify and block spam IP addresses that their competitors were using to flood them with spam enquiries. Nettitude went on to hit their annual sales target in Q3 of 2023, all via high-quality enquiries.

Digital Agency of the Year

Last, but not least, we’ve been shortlisted for Digital Agency of the Year: the ultimate acknowledgement of our adapting to significant industry changes like the arrival of GA4. You’ll have probably noticed by now that we resolved in 2023 to transform the way that we did business, and we set ourselves the goal of being at the forefront of the digital landscape. This nomination encapsulates both the web/product development and integrated work that we’ve already told you about, as well as so much more that’s been going on within Soap. We’ve made a concerted effort to collect feedback from both our team members and our partners, with a view to making sure that we’re taking actionable steps to address real-life concerns. The last year or so has seen us:

  • Increasing our privacy measures.
  • Reducing access to user data.
  • Embracing AI in the right way.
  • Improving internal communication.
  • Improving external communication.
  • Committing to social impact.
  • Supporting charities with pro bono work and 40% discounts on marketing rates.
  • Evolving sick pay and having free counselling for employees and their families.

We’ve also begun a meritocracy model in our business so that our team members can request up to four reviews a year. This unique system allows them to quite literally ‘pitch for a promotion’! Our CEO has often been overheard saying that “there is no glass ceiling at Soap”, and a PPC manager becoming our Data Science Manager and our Head of Paid Media becoming Marketing Director is really a testament to the truth of this statement. At this point, we also can’t resist mentioning that our Operations Director was recently shortlisted for Campaign’s Inspiring Women award. Although she didn’t come home with the top prize, she was very close and would have thoroughly deserved it.

What we’re trying to get across is that our team members are going from strength to strength, and the culture at our agency has never been better. We’d love to win Digital Agency of the Year, but if we’re already the digital agency of choice for our brilliant partners and team members, then we can’t think of a better reason to celebrate right now!

Very soon, on the 9th May, we’ll be breaking out our very best suits and dresses and heading off to the Prolific North Awards with a lot of pride in our entries and our team. It would be great to come home with at least one trophy (although we’ll happily accept all three!), but we know that our team are winners regardless. Watch this space!

Written by
Jack Oddy
Jack Oddy

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