HELLO, WE ARE 4 ROADS

BESPOKE.

Do you need a digital solution that an off-the-shelf product just can’t provide? We’ve created everything from bespoke health platforms to autonomous production line systems.

We also create bespoke products to integrate systems that run on disparate technologies.

ENTERPRISE.

Whether it’s a global solution or a small WordPress site, we can catapult your brand to the next level. In fact, we’re even a Sitecore Certified Solution Partner for Implementation.

COMMUNITY.

Are you looking to build better customer relationships through an online community?

We’re experts in strategy, implementation, and integration – as well as being the longest standing global partner of Telligent Community.

WE ARE EXPERTS IN BRINGING YOUR AUDIENCE CLOSER

We have over 20 years experience in developing engagement solutions.

Delivering the best digital experience to your audiences is everything. Whether that’s customers, prospects, partners or employees, businesses today must simplify, modernise and automate their engagement solutions to help drive deeper loyalty, enhance business performance, accelerate processes, and position them above the competition. To find out how your organisation can bring your audience closer, we are offering a thirty-minute complimentary digital consultation with our experts in engagement solutions.

A SMALL TEAM WITH BIG IDEAS

"The combination of their extensive knowledge and their experience with a diverse client base has been invaluable, supporting everything from development on small and
large projects, to consulting on our roadmap and strategy. 4 Roads have been responsive, timely and always willing to go the extra mile, we cannot recommend them enough."

Magnus-Andreas Sølvberg Aase, AFS Intercultural Programs

Online communities

CONSULTATION

If you are implementing yourself, our strategic advice will set you on the road to long-term success.

Our consultation service will help you:

  • Understand your community
  • Identify the opportunities

We can then offer strategic direction before and during implementation to:

  • Provide a clear community focus
  • Ensure community engagement
  • Safeguard innovation
  • Help promote your community socially
  • Help monetise your community
  • Futureproof your community’s development

IMPLEMENTATION

Implementation is our core offering. If you’d like us to implement a community solution on your behalf we can take full responsibility for the project.

Alternatively, we’re happy to augment an internal team, offering our experience to enrich your own capabilities as we implement in partnership.

Our implementation process relies on:

  • Agile project methodologies
  • Regular client interaction
  • Driving high-quality results quickly and efficiently
  • Focusing on accelerating time to market
  • Ensuring clients stay within budget

INTEGRATIONS

We’ve been Telligent partners since 2004 and Sitecore Certified Solution Partners since 2016, so we know a thing or two about adding community features to Sitecore websites.

If you run – or are about to implement – a Sitecore-powered site, we can help you add forums, blogs, wikis, chat, gamification elements and so much more…

Read more about our work with Telligent and Sitecore

Bespoke solutions

INTEGRATIONS

Our expert developers can create a wholly new system to ensure different technology solutions work together intuitively.

SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT

Whether you’re starting with a blank sheet of paper, or planning to make use of existing software as you introduce a new application or technology, we have the development knowledge and experience to create new solutions to help transform your business.

WE ARE EXPERTS IN BRINGING YOUR AUDIENCE CLOSER

We have over 20 years experience in developing engagement solutions.

Delivering the best digital experience to your audiences is everything. Whether that’s customers, prospects, partners or employees, businesses today must simplify, modernise and automate their engagement solutions to help drive deeper loyalty, enhance business performance, accelerate processes, and position them above the competition. To find out how your organisation can bring your audience closer, we are offering a thirty-minute complimentary digital consultation with our experts in engagement solutions.

Software Implementations

SITECORE

As a Sitecore Certified Solution Partner, we’re can create a truly responsive website.  Combining a CMS with analytics and automation features for enhanced engagement and personalisation, will turn your website into a lead generation and optimisation engine.

We can also help you manage the transition to using the Sitecore Experience Platform.

Our overall Sitecore offering includes:

  • Implementation
  • Training
  • Ongoing support

WEBSITE DESIGN 

Our design and development experts deliver solutions for both B2B and B2C clients. Here are a few of the ways we create stunning websites:

  • We use NET and PHP solutions
  • We develop on open source platforms – like Umbraco and WordPress
  • We also develop on closed source and bespoke platforms
  • Our coders are experienced with ASP, ASP.NET, PHP, HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript
  • Our sites incorporate SEO, social media, mobile and other tools

E-COMMERCE

We have a wealth of experience in creating e-commerce platforms that really deliver. We can help you with:

  • Conversion rate optimisation
  • User experience design
  • Creating bespoke features
  • Integrating your site with an e-comms solution

Contact us on  0808 189 2044 to discuss your digital requirements.

WHY WORK WITH 4-ROADS?

Successful Projects
Cups of Tea Consumed Annually
Community Users Worldwide
Years of Operation

What our customers say

Our latest thinking and insights

MemberWise Network

4 Roads Named as a Recognised Supplier to The MemberWise Network 

4 Roads are happy to announce that we are now named as a Recognised Supplier to the MemberWise Network after joining the MemberWise Community. 

MemberWise is an innovative network for membership professionals in the UK. The network provides a whole host of useful services to members ranging from access to their monthly newsletter, which provides latest news and views in the sector, to access to their exclusive online community, MemberWiseConnect, the leading online community for the association and membership sector, which enables us to benchmark current activity and participate in industry related discussions.  

We are excited to have become a supplier in the MemberWise Recognised Supplier Programme, which is delivered to the MemberWise Network via the dedicated Supplier DirectoryBeing a Recognised Supplier provides us with visibility to over 20,000 horizon-searching membership organisations/associations and the opportunity to engage with the 5,000+ membership organisation/association members.  

We have already started to make the most of our membership – we had the pleasure to attend the Digital Excellence 2018 Conference, where industry-leading experts offered insights into membership organisations and community engagement. Participating in conferences not only keeps us up to date with industry news and technology advancements etc, but also creates great opportunities to meet others in the digital sector, plus gives 4 Roads a chance to connect with membership organisations directly. James Browne, Client Services Director at 4 Roads reflects on some of the interesting and also alarming findings from the conference which can be found in his blog post.

Being a member of the network provides 4 Roads with a chance to share our content and experiences via the MemberWise blog. The collaborative project provides innovative membership organisation and association-specific articles from membership and association professionals, influencers, thought-leaders and solution providers. It is a great place to pick up handy tips to improve member recruitment, retention, value, engagement and growth – so watch out for our guest blogs coming soon!  

Having a vast amount of experience on community strategy, development and implementation, in the membership organisation industry (such as our more recent work with the British Medical Association and Nordic Semiconductor) we are very excited to begin sharing our own ideas and experiences in this community of professionals and to meeting many other members in the future.  

For more information on how we build bespoke community platforms for associations and organisations, and to receive your free appraisal, click here.

Digital Excellence

The 2018 MemberWise Digital Excellence Conference

This year, as MemberWise Network members, 4 Roads attended Digital Excellence, the digitally-focused membership conference from the MemberWise network.

James Browne, Business Development Director at 4 Roads attended the conference and here he shares his takeaways in this blog post.

4 Roads attended the 2018 MemberWise Digital Excellence Conference 

The Digital Excellence Conference is the UK’s largest membership focused national conference for membership organisations and associations.

During the day multiple sessions were delivered by many different membership and association professionals and experts who covered critical industry topics. Having attended, 4 Roads were able to realise real value from our MemberWise Network membership.

During the Welcome and introduction by Richard Gott, Memberwise Network Chair, the Digital Excellence report was shared.

This report is developed off the back of a survey of 350 managers and directors within the sector and is used to give a helpful insight into the direction the membership and association sector is taking with regards to their digital investments.

It was quite alarming to hear that 25% of organisations are very likely to replace their Customer Relationship Management systems in order to achieve a level of functionality that gets them to a point where this meeting members’ expectations.

This will mainly benefit Microsoft Dynamics partners who hold the largest share of the CRM/AMS sector with a market share of 23%.

What was of particular interest to 4 Roads was the high expectations of website offerings. This year the strongest priority that was identified was an optimised online journey that saves time (88%) followed by an interactive and engaging experience (85%) a high-level of self-service options (80%) and then a personalised experience (78%).

Another interesting area that the report identified was the use of blogs has increased by nearly 20% in the last year and content sharing via social media channels has increased by 12%. What 4 Roads would have been interested to know is how user-generated content effects the overall content and communication mix.

We’re pleased to see that there is likely to be continued adoption of chatbots. What’s clear is personalised experiences is the holy grail for the membership and association sector but it’s not being realised by many organisations yet. At the moment only, a basic level of personalisation is being achieved including name and members grade.

What is clear is that if membership and association sector are going to get personalisation right, they will need a good and effective content management system (CMS). WordPress is the most widely used across the sector (23%) and 4 Roads has direct experience of using it on several projects. Other CMS which 4 Roads have expertise in are Umbraco (8%) and Sitecore (5%).

The next conference is on 2 May 2019, so if you haven’t already, save the date!

You can read more about how we work with membership organisations, plus get your free appraisal or check out our latest case studies.

online community

What Actually Is An Online Community?

What actually is an Online Community?And why most of your colleagues don’t care (right now)

If you did a straw poll in your workplace, social channels or even amongst your family and peers asking what an “online community” was, you’d likely get a mixed bag of answers.

For some, the concept would be familiar, but the best way to define it might be tricky.

For others, the misconception might be that it’s social media under another name.

In yet another group, the term might have been heard of but with no understanding of what it is.

The last group might look at you blankly and have no idea, period.

For any of these groups (and there are others), the online community can be a relatively new concept to varying degrees and presents a knowledge gap challenge you need to fill.

Hooray! We’re “doing Online Community”

In the professional space, it’s not unusual for a company to approve an online community project without a deep understanding of what it is, what it can do and what the goals are.

Perhaps one or two senior stakeholders are on board, a member of the team is tasked with making it happen and some research is done into viable platforms and outlandish goals are set (“We want a million members by next Thursday!”).

Typically, from its very inception, the online community project is treated as a parallel operation to the main company’s “business as usual”.

Because no time has been taken to discuss the online community with the wider team, without realising it, a potential division has been subtly seeded from day one.

Many organisations fail to realise the fundamental value of community is not just an externally facing one to the customers or members, but to the team itself.

The Online Community crossword answer: it goes across not up

Whilst online community as an entity has some legacy, it’s still a fairly recent arrival on the scene as far as many departments and organisations are concerned. Most people are familiar with the traditional company departments such as Legal, Marketing, HR, Operations, Design and so forth. Social Media is one of the most recent additions to that group which people have a good grasp of but what of online community?

The secret of an online community that often gets missed is that it is most effectively used on a horizontal vector. An online community can plug into the heart of your organisation and add value everywhere through knowledge management, relationship building, shared objectives and connecting team members directly to each other and the members. It can solve problems, enhance customer service and drive product innovation if required.

When we misunderstand its value, it runs the danger of becoming a silo that the rest of the organisation lose interest in and the chances of success diminish over time.

The first step is involvement (so few do this effectively)

A colleague and I once gave a client presentation to a large, well-known energy company. Standing in the main training room, we presented to 30+ of the most senior stakeholders from across all departments. They had been invited to come and learn what an online community actually was.

Some of the audience knew what the online community project was about, some had heard but were suspicious that it was time and money well spent, and some were fairly ambivalent to the entire concept.

We started with an explanation of online community and shared some examples of successful communities to get the ball rolling. Initially, the room was quiet. We stopped and invited questions. And that’s when things came to life.

For the people in the room, they didn’t just want to listen to us, they wanted to be heard. They asked some tough questions around ROI and investment and why they should be doing this. Ultimately they were interested in what the online community could do for them personally, their departments and the wider company.

As the discussion moved forward, we were able to identify ways in which value could be gained for every single person who had questions. We were also able to instal the message that without their support, the project could not hope to be the innovative digital change it could be.

The presentation ended on a high and afterwards many of the attendees were enthused to continue discussions about their needs with us directly. They also thanked us for explaining and involving them.

Summary

Community Management and online communities aren’t a traditional vertical. Take the time to explain to the whole team what a community is, what it can be, and how it can add value to an entire organisation.

By doing this, you’ll not only drive understanding, but you’ll also gain crucial buy-in and support to enable you to grow your community more effectively and give value across the organisation.

Meet our Interns!

Last month, 4 Roads was happy to welcome three new interns to the team! Bojan Crnkovic, Maroune Doumali and Jaime Edwards are all students at Coventry University – Bojan and Maroune study International Business and Jaime is studying Media and Communications.

Bojan and Maroune, who are studying an MBA, are joining our development teams as they broaden their business experience. Over the next four months, they will be involved in facilitating market research of some innovative projects, plus evaluating the implications of potential bespoke products created by 4 Roads developers; their market potential, and assessing the steps needed for launch.

Robert Nash, 4 Roads founder commented: “We are hoping that, if viable, these key products can be added to 4 Roads’ current bespoke software offering available to businesses going forward.”

Jaime on the other hand is an undergraduate student getting ready to graduate in 2019 who is primarily focusing on digital marketing and media creation across our social platforms.

Gina Narramore, Head of Marketing said: “Jaime has already made great impact on our digital marketing activity and has produced a number of video content pieces for 4 Roads that is being used, not only on our website, but on select social channels. Be on the lookout for these!”

We are extremely excited to add interns into our organisation. Each of them offers a wide range of skillsets in various areas of expertise. They will all be working on some interesting projects involving exciting products – stay tuned for a further update form our interns!

We are also very thankful to Coventry University for partnering students with us and we know that all three interns will produce work to be proud of. We also hope that our team will provide them with new skills and insights that they can then take to use in future employment.

Watch this short video of the intern’s experiences of working at 4 Roads so far…

Platform Selection

Communities For Membership Organisations Series: Platform Selection and Community Management

In our previous blog in this three part blog series for Membership Organisations from Darren Gough, Community Management Expert and Founder of Island23 Limited, we looked at the importance of getting your online community vision roadmap set first. Now we’re going to look at the issues of platform selection, and the importance of a community manager.

Generally, you’ll either have a cheap or free community bolt on that isn’t fit for purpose (or is gathering dust), or there’s been an investment in an enterprise solution which hasn’t been fully utilised, or you’re in the market for a solution and aren’t sure where to start.

Let’s look at each of those in turn.

The Bolt On

Many communities take this approach. They aren’t sure if it’s worth much investment so they Google something like “free + online community”, pick something that looks easy to set up and bolt it on.

It can often be defeated before it’s begun. Because it’s free/cheap it’s not really anyone’s priority and there’s a general lack of love or care. Often initial enthusiasm gives way to disinterest and the handful of members that did use it dwindle until a small core is passing the time nattering about last night’s dinner.

If it is being used, the platform often falls short of the features, design and customisation needed for your membership. It’s not the fault of the product – it was designed to be an entry-level, basic one-size-doesn’t-really-fit-anyone solution and it’s not cutting it.

The Expensive Enterprise

Less common, but not unheard of. Here, the organisation has either invested directly or indirectly (it came as part of a bigger company-wide technology solution) in a robust platform. It’s given more priority but in many ways, the features, raw power and potential are often lost because no one has really been taught to use it, or specifically tasked with making it work.

It sits like an abandoned behemoth that occasionally gets an influx of enthusiasm when time permits but generally is overwhelming for both staff and members alike.

The New Choice

Most common, this is where a membership organisation wants to invest but has no idea where to start. With 100s of options on the market, to cater for all budgets and needs, how on earth do you select the right one?

The pressure is on. No one wants to overspend unnecessarily, but the platform also has to be able to cope with growth and provide features and design solutions that reflect the needs of the organisation and, more importantly, the members.

The is one common element in all these scenarios that is vital to your success…

The Community Manager

Too many membership organisations completely underplay the need for this role. This isn’t a social media manager, it’s not a part-time “pop on when you get a sec” role and nor it is something that Bob from Marketing can do in and around his other duties.

The Community Manager is a trained, experienced professional who understands how successful communities that attract, retain and offer value to members continue to thrive and grow.

The Community Manager is the person who can build an effective vision roadmap (see blog 2), become a unifying presence to align internal stakeholders around the vision and evaluate and help platform selection.

Take time to recruit and onboard someone who is responsible for owning the online community and regularly reports back on successes and learnings that can improve and scale your efforts.

Community Manager Platform Selection Tips

If you are the person tasked with this heavyweight process, in any of the scenarios above it’s important you take your community vision document and evaluate what your member’s needs are. Make sure you:

1. Build a spec sheet of features you need

Vendors like to dazzle you with things they can do. Make sure you are clear on what you need.

2. Understand the budget range

Have some honest talks with the financial team / your boss about the scale of budget. It’s useful to understand what business case you might need to put together to get a bigger investment.

3. Align current membership numbers with reasonable online community use expectations

Many vendors charge per amount of members you have coming onto the platform in stepped ranges. Use the data you have to evaluate or make some educated predictions on what you might need.

4. Audit the gaps

If you do have a platform already, evaluate where it falls short and what it needs to do to work for your members.

5. Identify any specific requirements

Do your members have specific needs that you want to support? Customisation requirements should be set out at the start.

6. Consider the cost of implementation

Most vendors are selling you a yearly license to use their platform. They often work with trusted partners to design, customise and implement your solution. This is an additional cost to ensure you are both expecting, and have a budget for this. This can be done in-house if you have a robust enough team but it’s often easier to use the experts.

7. Make them pitch

Once you have narrowed it down to 3 or 4 vendors that match your requirements, have them pitch to you (in person where possible). This is a competitive space and they want the business. Make sure they are not only technologically capable, but their support team is both efficient and pleasant to deal with.

Summary

The recruitment of a full-time community manager is paramount to the success of your project. By driving the agreed vision roadmap through a frank and robust surmising of platform requirements, the expertise this person brings greatly increases your ability to select the right platform and give members something they want to engage with.

4 Roads have worked with a plethora of membership organisations and has been responsible for some of the largest community deployments across the globe, creating communities consisting of millions of members. Contact us to find out how an online community could help you get closer relationships with your members. 

Agency Business Awards

4 Roads A Finalist in The Drum’s Agency Business Awards 2018!

We’re delighted to announce that 4 Roads has been selected as a finalist in The Drum’s Agency Business Awards 2018, in the business development category.

The Agency Business Awards – which will be presented on the 27th November 2018 at The Drum awards ceremony in London, celebrates the very best run agencies by commending them for their innovative thinking, excellent service and development of business.

To be nominated for this award is an incredible honour; we are utterly proud that The Drum – a huge marketing force and industry renowned publication – has considered us and recognises our work in the industry. We have worked alongside some truly inspiring companies this year and conducting business has not only grown our capabilities but has also made it an absolute pleasure doing so.

This nomination represents the expansion our company has taken to ensure we are able to assist clients as best we can. We have been fortunate enough to employ incredible new talent that have propelled our business forward in new innovative ways. They have provided brand new perspectives on how to not only engage communities via digital technology, but also doing so using ground breaking innovative technology. We’ve been able to progress from developing and implementing community websites to being able to also generate bespoke software and conduct exciting projects with new technology for Intelligent Self-Service solutions.

We are extremely excited and thankful to be a part of The Drum finalists this year, we look forward to meeting some of the industries brightest talents at the ceremony in November and to continue to work with an array of inspirational companies in future projects.

To find out about some of our past work, you can check out our page on The Drum website or alternately view our news and insights and case studies.

CONTACT US

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