HELLO, WE ARE 4 ROADS

BESPOKE.

We work with businesses looking for tailored solutions not possible from ‘off-the-shelf’ platforms and services. From health and wellbeing solutions, to autonomous production line photography, we can help organisations overcome the challenges of a demanding IT strategy through the delivery of bespoke software applications, integrated services and web solutions.

ENTERPRISE.

At 4 Roads, we provide award-winning digital technology services. Whether you’re looking for a global Sitecore implementation or a small Word Press site, we’ve got the technical skills and knowledge to work with enterprise or open-source web platforms, guaranteed to catapult your brand to the next level.

COMMUNITY.

We’re leading experts in online community strategy and implementation, and the longest standing global partner for Telligent. We work with a global client base, helping them to build better relationships, raise brand awareness and maximise profitability. We’ve been around since social went digital, and we’ve proved our technical prowess on some high profile projects.

TECHNICAL INNOVATORS AND DESIGNERS

We’re a team of innovators and technical experts who work with industry leading technologies to provide tailored digital experiences for the workplace, out-of-home, in-store or online. Our passion is understanding cutting edge technology and helping brands utilise this to build better relationships, raise brand awareness and maximise profitability.

Over the 10 years of our work, we’ve remained small and proud of it. This enables us to provide a personable, responsive and adaptable client experience. We’re for organisations not interested in generic stock experiences that come with one man bands, but equally not wanting to deal with layers of account management and the overheads that come with larger agencies.

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

STRATEGY

Online communities often establish themselves to satisfy a specific requirement, but once established there is a world of possibilities awaiting exploration. By understanding the community and identifying the most suitable opportunities, 4 Roads provide strategic direction, enabling the online community to continue to develop with focus and clarity.

Strategic recommendations might include; ways to promote an online community – growing its reach beyond its existing network, how best to monetize a community through social commerce and sponsorship revenue streams, or perhaps even the adoption of gamification techniques to help keep users engaged. We will help your online community innovate and benefit from the very latest social technologies.

IMPLEMENTATION

Experts in online community implementation, the 4 Roads team are all technical specialists. Development and implementation services are at the core of the 4 Roads offering. More often than not, 4 Roads take full responsibility for complete implementations, but are equally happy to augment an internal team, offering the benefit of a wealth of experience and enriching internal capabilities along the way.

Our agile project methodology drives high quality results quickly and efficiently, with a focus on accelerating time to market and helping our clients stay within budget constraints. We engage in a client focused and results driven manner. We want our clients to know what they are paying for and we interact regularly to help ensure that expectations are clearly defined, met and preferably, exceeded.

INTEGRATING TELLIGENT AND SITECORE

Using Sitecore Connector, you can add on social community features to your Sitecore website such as forums, blogs, wikis, chat, gamification and more. It offers a complete social suite to enrich digital experiences. 4 Roads have been Telligent partners since its conception in 2004, and Sitecore Certified Solution Partners since 2016. This strength in partnership allows us to take a holistic view of enriching your Sitecore investment, exceeding your customers’ expectations and improving the customer experience.

Read more about our work with Telligent

Bespoke technology

DEVELOPMENT

By applying our vast knowledge and experience in Bespoke Development Solutions, we can deliver creative solutions to transform businesses.

Our team of developers are conversant with a wide range of technologies and platforms, making us an ideal choice for organisations that wish to leverage as much of their existing software as possible when introducing new applications.

INTEGRATION

4 Roads has years of experience with integrating systems on disparate technologies. These types of systems often present various complexities with regard to conflicting protocols. Our expert developers are capable of architecting systems which circumvent the majority of these issues by using a mixture of techniques and intuition gained from industry experience.

Enterprise Websites

CMS

4 Roads execute .NET and PHP solutions on open and closed source platforms and are certified Sitecore partners. We also have the ability to develop open source platforms such as Umbraco and WordPress.

Our talented team of User experience web designers and developers create sites which inspire, engage and deliver results. We are experts in delivering solutions for both B2B and B2C clients.

We’ve made it our art to deliver hard hitting strategies that surpass expectations – bringing SEO, social media, mobile and a host of other impactful tools into play.

E-COMMERCE

4 Roads have a wealth of experience in this area which includes conversion rate optimisation, user experience design, plus the creation of a number of bespoke features and developments. We are also able to integrate your website with most eCommerce systems.

Our development team boasts coders who are experienced in classic ASP, ASP.NET, PHP, HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript working across both bespoke and open-source platforms, guaranteed to catapult your web presences to the next level.

SITECORE

As a Sitecore Solution Partner with a dedicated team of certified developers and experienced marketing professionals, we craft innovative engagement strategies and deliver responsive websites that pack a punch.

By combining web content management, web analytics and marketing automation for enhanced customer engagement and personalisation, we can transform your Sitecore based website into a lead generation and optimisation engine. Plus, here at 4 Roads, we help organisations manage the transition into using the Sitecore Experience Platform. From implementation, to training to on-going support, we can help get your engagement strategy firing on all cylinders.

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

Sitecore User Group Recap

Following the success of the first Sitecore user group within the Midlands, back in September 2016, 4 Roads hosted another fantastic Sitecore user group at Malmaison Birmingham.

With an increase in attendees from the last and with people attending from roles within development, marketing, web services, customer service, project management, communications, to name just a few, the rooms were filled and it is clear that a community is starting to develop within the digital space in the Midlands, which is fantastic to see first hand.

To cater for such a broad range of interests and job roles of attendees, we aimed to provide information and learning which would appeal, and capture the attention of everyone, so we split the presentations into two categories: More technically focussed, and business/marketing.

There were four presentations on the evening, each presented by digital and Sitecore experts. You can watch them below:

  • The Value of UX and why you Cant Ignore It by Adam Dew, User Experience Consultant
  • Sitecore on Azure PaaS by Johannes Zijlstra (Sitecore)
  • What is Personalisation and Why Should I Care? by Paul Stephen, CEO, Sagittarius Marketing.
  • Continuous Delivery with AppVeyor by Steve McGill (Sitecore).

You can watch all presentations on the 4 Roads Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ2aAppm-C5f_BpW-UtMRGA

Food and drinks flowed throughout the night, and attendees were provided with lots of opportunity to network. All in all, it was great to see such a good bunch of people get together around a common interest and it was lovely to meet you all.

Planning is already underway for the next meetup, we are anticipating one event every quarter so keep your eyes peeled for that and if you haven’t already, register on the Sitecore user meetup group to be the first to hear when the next event will be held.

We are open to suggestions for topics for further events, so if you have any thoughts on this, please do get in contact. The atmosphere is friendly and casual, and we welcome you from all levels and areas of expertise. Whether you are using the Sitecore Experience Platform, considering it or otherwise – and regardless of job title – programmers, marketers, content authors, CMS users, community managers or if you are just interested in digital and experience, everyone is welcome.

See you next time!

Event: Future Proof Your Digital Strategy

Following the success of the first ever Sitecore User Group in the Midlands in September last year, we are very happy to announce that we will be hosting another Sitecore user group in March 2017.

Back within Birmingham city centre, we have chosen a brand new location, Malmaison, a first class hotel within the old Royal Mail building.

Space is limited, and it is FREE to attend.

This group will run at regular times thorough out the year and each event will cover different digital and marketing topics. Whether you are using the Sitecore Experience Platform, considering it or otherwise – and regardless of job title – programmers, marketers, content authors, CMS users, community managers or if you are just interested in digital and experience, everyone is welcome.

We’ll be providing a range of food and drinks, great company, and a selection of expert speakers on all things digital. The line-up of presentations in no particular order is:

  • The Value of UX and why you Cant Ignore It by Adam Dew, User Experience Consultant.
  • Sitecore on Azure PaaS by Johannes Zijlstra (Sitecore).
  • What is Personalisation and Why Should I Care? by Paul Stephen, CEO, Sagittarius Marketing.
  • Continuous Delivery with AppVeyor by Steve McGill (Sitecore).

If this sounds like it is of interest to you, register over on meetup.com to attend. Remember to share with your friends and colleagues!

 

We really look forward to seeing you!

The Benefits of Online Social Communities over Other Forms of Social Networks

If I asked whether your business was active on social media, you’d probably answer quite quickly with a “yes!” If I asked whether you were seeing the results expected from your investment, I am not too convinced you’d confidently answer another “yes.” For many brands, their social media efforts are not providing the results in which they were hoping and many are realising that social media just isn’t the place to build valuable and long lasting relationships with their audiences.

If you manage any type of Facebook business page you are all too aware of the diminishing reach of your posts. Research from Forrester states that social media posts only reach 2% of their audience on social networks and of those is only shared or liked by 0.2%. This could partly be attributed to the reality that Social networks, such as Facebook and LinkedIn are predominantly relationship-driven, which means we go there to connect with our friends and peers. What’s more, the average Facebook user only likes an average of 10 business pages and even when a consumer actually clicks the ‘like’ button, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have a desire to engage. The harsh truth is, social media messages are not only not reaching their intended audiences, but those audiences are not engaging with them either.

As organic reach on social networks plummets, brands are searching for alternative means to accommodate their customer engagement requirements, in ways that social networks alone cannot accommodate. For marketers to make this happen, they need to take an inward look and bring engagement home. For this reason, many organisations are creating online communities or social networks of their own.

Online communities in this sense, take social networks a step further in that they are purpose-driven. Savvy organisations are acknowledging that audiences connected by the need to solve a business use case problem, (communities such as a self-help customer support community, voice of the customer, ask the expert etc.), rather than their offline social connections, offer a richer opportunity to increase and enhance engagement with their audiences – engagement increasingly eliminated by the lack of organic social reach.

Branded communities are not a new concept; some of the first communities started in the form of forums, even before the creation of blogs. In fact, Forrester’s Nate Elliott predicted that as social media matures, branded communities would make a comeback.

Here are more top reasons to invest in an online community, rather than rely on external social networks for building and maintaining relationships with your audiences:

  • Unrivaled Returns engaged community members generate word of mouth, provide authentic content and real-life insights. A social community will strengthen your brand messages, increase customer loyalty, reduce marketing costs and drive sales.
  • Empower Your Customersenabling customers to spread the word about your brand can have great effect on awareness, trial and sales. People trust personal recommendations over all other forms of advertising. Engaged and loyal consumers recommending your brand to a wider audience will create an even bigger customer base.
  • Own Your Insights – the best way to get accurate insights about your brand is to ask your audience directly. Maintaining an ongoing dialogue with your audience will ensure your brand stays front of mind.  What’s more, rather than generating insights from third parties an online social community allows you to gain insights from thousands of people in real life – unlike data from social media, you own it and can use it in a way which benefits you.
  • Unlock The Full Potential Of Your CRM – by adding a social element to your CRM you can join the dots between the real people that are your customers and data streams – engaging and activating existing customers form a powerful marketing force.

That is not to say that I advocate brands not investing in their social network presence. Facebook and LinkedIn are extremely worthwhile ‘pay-to-play’ networks for targeted and personalised reach. However, they are no longer reliable as the sole networks for organic conversations, or as a complete solution for supporting customer questions. Both social media and online branded communities should be in your toolbox if you’re trying to engage with your audience, whether that is your customers, fans, partners, or prospects. To assess whether social media or an online community is right to achieve your business objectives, see the 4 Roads social media and online community guide.

Bringing engagement home to a fully owned community makes complete sense in a customer-centered strategy. What steps are you taking to enhance your customer relationships online?

5 Basics For Customer Community Success

A customer community is the perfect platform for organisations to build real and meaningful relationships with not only customers but prospects too. It is these relationships, which foster engagement, loyalty and lead someone from curiosity to advocacy.

From high-tech to higher education, online communities have a strong use case in most verticals, so long as the strategy is driven by the businesses’ objectives and audience needs and aligns with existing businesses processes and systems. This blog post will outline 5 basic principles for creating a solid foundation for the long-term success of your customer community.

1. Cross-functional buy in

Any customer centric project should spread through the veins of the business – it is difficult to grow an online community unless you have the support and backing of all departments within your organisation. Having others involved from the planning stages will ensure your peers see the value of the community, not only to them, and their roles within the organisation, but to all other departments and roles, as well.

Obtaining cross-functional buy in will also ensure you have the overheads, resources and scaling required to meet the objectives on your customer community roadmap.

You will need to have conversations with every area of the organisation; get them interested in you customer community initiative by connecting the dots between the customer community and their own departmental goals. For instance speak to marketing, product development, sales and find out what their goals and needs are. How can the community help them achieve these goals? Then ask yourself, how does this fit into the overall business strategy?

Additionally, the driving force behind the success of any customer community is executive buy-in. The people at the top must fully understand the goals of the online community and the benefits it will bring the business. If buy-in doesn’t come from the top down, any effort you make won’t be seen as a priority, you possibly won’t be supported in these efforts and ultimately, the community will not be a success.

2. Exclusive content

By building an online community, you actively create a network of online supporters and friends via the targeted distribution of valuable content.

Online communities are content incubators, content plays a huge role in growing and sustaining community health. Not only this, a customer community, complemented by push and pull across relevant social media channels, remains one of the richest assets an organisation can invest in and the most sustainable approach to marketing on the web. So how do you do it?

In the launch stages, your organisation will probably provide the majority of the content in your customer community. This content should be drawn directly from the needs, wants and pain points of your community. Content creation should be led by its value to the users of your community, and not about you or your brand.

Additionally, to grow, sustain and leverage a robust customer community, the community must develop trust, a sense of belonging and social equity – content can, and should, help enable these community objectives. Content should also enable peers to connect with each other more than they do with you. Establish what type of content is going to strengthen relationships within your community, align it with the goals of your members and do not neglect to signal to an outsider what the community is all about.

Remember, an online community is an organic machine for content and if it is nurtured, over time, members will eventually come to both view and add content – creating many storytelling opportunities via their interactions and behaviours.

3. Authentic participation from the organisation

Customer communities are there to facilitate open communication between organisations and its customers. It doesn’t matter how much engagement there is within your customer community between members, or how well it has been adopted, if your organisation is not actively participating within the community – it will not be delivering value – and if members aren’t seeing that value, they are likely to leave.

Participation from your organisation allows you to make better-informed decisions about how to best meet member needs. However, to truly harness the power of your external audiences participation for the organisation within the customer community has got to be both open and authentic.

It is this authentic participation which helps customers get the most out of your products or services – you can quickly resolve their problems, listen to their thoughts and ideas and even give them a voice in deciding the future direction of the company.

This leads me nicely to my next point.

4. Product feedback

People love to share their ideas. Customer communities are ideal for customers to tell you exactly what they want and of any issues they are having. These interactions are a goldmine of product enhancement ideas for your product development team.

For many businesses, the cost of customer research such as surveys, market research etc. is expensive and time consuming. A customer community creates a direct and on-going feedback loop from your customers and prospects, back to the organisation. It allows R&D teams to more easily test features products within the market, make adjustments earlier in the development process and create more helpful products.

For example a customer community would be the ideal place for the R&D team to circulate new product ideas, gather feedback and adjust the idea accordingly.

People also love to be rewarded and recognised for their efforts, therefore it is always important to note that this is just as important in your community as it is in the outside world. For this reason, it is always sensible to make members feel that their contributions count – gamification could be employed to reward feedback from customers.

5. Community guidelines

Community guidelines are a place for you to set the tone of your community and lay a foundation for what is acceptable and what is not. Members should be expected to follow a few basic guidelines to ensure that every user feels safe and comfortable engaging with others in the community.

It is advisable to get every new member to agree to these guidelines when they join your customer community as community guidelines also provide a reference for making moderation decisions. For instance, should you ever need to ban a member, or remove a comment, you’ll be able to refer the member to the pre-agreed community guidelines that they may have failed to follow.

Do you manage a customer community or have you launched a community? What would you add as being important for setting up for success?

Winning Tips For An Engaged Community

Building an engaged community that is sustainable, profitable and with purpose takes a lot of different elements to make happen. You simply need to consult those who have grown successful social communities and will be inundated with tips and ideas. However, one element that is often overlooked is probably the most fundamental to online community building: your audience. 

This blog post will delve into the crucial community element in a little more detail and show how by starting with your audience, you will be on track to see your community grow, flourish and thrive.

Think: individuality

First, let’s define exactly what an audience is:

An audience is a group of people who could be your customers, your employees, your prospects, your partners and so on. These are the people you want to attract into your online community – the ones you want, hope and need to be actively engaged in the community.   

To enable these things to happen, your planning has to start with them.

As a marketer, you may think of audiences in terms of segments and personas. Online communities allow you to take this one step closer. People are complex beings, and when first starting to build an online community, it is important to think of them as individuals. For instance, when people make choices about how to spend their time online, many considerations come into play. Some of them are fairly predictable, such as products, price and service, or brand sentiment, but others may be random or irrational.

So, to create a community space that attracts people that want to have dialogues with you, know you audience well, properly interact with them, and use the right language and tone.

To catch and sustain their attention, be open about what’s in it for them. If these things are done right, you are on the right path to building lasting relationships.

Think: motivations

The Internet is a huge place where everything is just one click away – you have to work harder than ever to sustain any level of interest from any audience. People choose to visit your site or community space over your competitors because they want to. So, in terms of online communities, being better than your competitors on the web means being aware of the things your audience is trying to achieve online. What are their motivations? The 4 Roads, Social Business Cookbook states that it is “being somewhere people feel they get satisfaction.”

When starting an online community project, you should always start with the audience motivations.

For a community, audience motivations break down into:

  • Purpose – completing a task
  • Interest – fulfilling a passion
  • Practice – meeting a need
  • Circumstance – sharing an emotion

You can build a community using any one of these motivations, however, the most successful online communities, in terms of engagement and sustainability include a mix of all four!

So, who is your audience and what are your audience motivations? Knowing exactly whom you want to talk to and the motivations they have will determine the type of communication requirements your online community has. It will also enable you to design a social community platform where the right sorts of conversations happen and one that builds the relationships your business needs with your audience.

Social Media In The Large Enterprise

As the technology implementation specialists behind the SimplySucceed community (the brainchild of both Simply Communicate and our consultancy partners, Shilbrook Associates), 4 Roads are are once again very proud to announce that we shall be attending another SMiLE London, on Monday 14th November.

Simply Communicate are the creators of the Smile event, which is now in its 8th year. Smile stands for Social Media in the Large Enterprise, and successfully brings together some of best and brightest from the internal communications community.

The 4 Roads team shall be available to speak to on stand 18, which is directly opposite the Lounge area.

With 8 leading-edge case studies, an exhibition dedicated to the latest apps and platforms, and the opportunity to network with 300 like-minded communicators, Smile London is the event for you.

SimplySucceed is a unique online program covers the main stages of implementing a successful ESN or customer-facing community. You can see our latest whitepaper in collaboration with our partners SimplySucceed on the Telligent website: Helping Your Online Community Succeed.

See you at Smile London!

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