Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): We’ve all heard about it, but, as Carrie puts it, “SEO had never been that sexy.” That’s until Rise at Seven came along, of course. We’ve been lucky enough to interview Carrie Rose, Co-Founder of search-first creative agency Rise at Seven, SEO expert and one of Campaign magazine’s Media Week 30 under 30s, to hear about how she’s revolutionising the SEO space with her dynamic, creative and boundary-pushing approach. From fashion giants like Missguided and PrettyLittleThing, to entertainment favourites like Playstation and Odeon, it’s fair to say Carrie’s one of the most in-demand names in the industry right now – and one that you’ll be sure to hear far more about in 2021.
Hi Carrie! First of all, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself, your professional background and Rise at Seven?
My name is Carrie, 27 year old CEO and Co-Founder of one of the fastest growing agencies in the country right now – Rise at Seven. I’ve worked in search for 7 years, starting at Stickyeyes agency and then going on to progress at Branded3 in Leeds. I’ve always worked in the Digital PR and content marketing side of SEO and built myself up to Senior Campaign Strategist, working on large accounts and winning awards for my work.
My passion was always to make SEO more creative than it has ever been, push boundaries and understand how creative can work for search and driving tangible results. It was also a huge gap in the market. SEO had never been that sexy, and creative agencies didn’t understand SEO. Someone needed to blur that gap.
I launched Rise at Seven in June 2019, partnering with co-founder Stephen Kenwright, who was then growth director at Branded3. I applied to go on the BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ TV show, created a business plan and knew exactly the agency I wanted to launch. I made it through to the final 30 but was told my business plan was too perfect. So instead of giving 50% of my business to Lord Sugar, a private investor offered me some cash leading me to go launch on my own and taking Stephen Kenwright with me.
We built the website in my front room, had one small client which we freelanced for and in the space of 3 weeks we got invited to pitch to Missguided. Yes, Missguided on week 3! Insane I know. Building our personal brand over the years meant that when we launched, people wanted to hear what we had to say, what made us different. And it worked! We walked into Missguided’s office and won the global account UK and US on the spot without a deck. Our creative approach to search was something they hadn’t seen before and signed us up there and then. Our work got people talking, our case studies went viral on social – all of a sudden we disrupted the SEO industry and 65 clients contacted us to work with Rise at Seven. We did no outbound sales; all clients came to us.
We went big on our marketing, tweeting our success, sharing behind the scenes of our campaigns and took a transparent approach building our business in public. This drove 200 people to apply for a job here – Rise at Seven was in demand.
To date, we have 59 staff across 3 cities. Sheffield, London and soon to be US! We work with disruptive brands that want to be global from PrettyLittleThing, Made.com, House of Fraser, Game, Playstation, Cath Kidston, Odeon and more. We work across the UK, EU and US markets and we’re growing at a rapid pace. Since covid hit, we’ve tripled in size and it isn’t slowing down. This is just the start…
Wow, thanks Carrie! So, with so many fantastic achievements to your name, are there any moments in your career so far that you are particularly proud of?
My most proud moment was winning the Missguided account. I’ve worked in search for 7 years and getting a fashion brand was actually very hard to get. I’ve never had fashion experience, so thought that would hold me back. However, we had to prove that we could deliver results for any client. I needed a case study Missguided would love!
So a week before the pitch, I ran a campaign for Rise at Seven around Love Island. We were a 3 week old agency with little to no brand, but I wanted to prove I could do anything. The campaign landed me on BBC World News, LadBible, Hello! magazine, Daily Mail and more. This drove 2000 people to our website and gave me a case study there and then.
All we needed to prove was our determination and drive and it worked. We won them!
You mentioned co-founding your super successful agency Rise at Seven with Stephen. Do you think collaboration is an important ingredient of success?
Absolutely. I don’t think everyone needs to start a business with a business partner. But anyone wanting to run a fast-growing, global business – I’d highly recommend [it]. I think that’s what makes us win every time. Myself and Stephen have this amazing connection where we have the ability to sell anything. Whether that’s our services, us as people, our dream or our advice. I build the hype and sell the dream and Stephen brings them back to earth and makes it a reality. I am the visionary and he is the integrator and that is why we are super successful as a partnership. We are completely the opposite people – he can do the things I can’t and vice versa, and trust me, you’ll find you need a shoulder to lean on or something else with the answers a lot.
At Digital Women, we often get asked what the best way to stay on top of digital updates and new technologies is. How do you stay up to date and one step ahead of the crowd?
I follow industry leaders on social including Steven Bartlett who keeps me up to date on everything social, John Mueller who keeps me up to date on everything search, Campaign magazine and Famous Campaigns on things creative, and Digital PR Examples (@DigitalPREx) on Twitter for digital PR campaign inspiration. If you can unfollow Jane from down the street, or Ellie from school – do. Use your Twitter or Linkedin specifically to listen and consume content that makes you a better person. Whether that’s business, football, fashion or celebrity gossip – make sure you benefit positively from the people you follow and focus in on where you can gain knowledge too.
As an agency, you must have seen the impacts of the pandemic on such a wide range of businesses, particularly the need for them to pivot and adapt to meet the changing demands of their audiences. Are there any examples that spring to mind of brands who did this really well in 2020?
I actually don’t think many brands have pivoted too well – it took time and showed that big changes were needed business-wise to keep afloat. However, my favourite example is probably Airbnb. Despite being a global brand, these guys moved fast. They couldn’t operate bookings, travel was the biggest market hit – so instead they launched online experiences.
Keeping people well cultured, connecting with people across the world and entertained is what they stuck to.
On the topic of 2020, the last year has been a particularly tough one for SMBs and start-ups. What would your top tips be to these businesses moving into 2021?
Competition is high – focus on what makes you different. Being better isn’t enough right now, but being different sets you apart. If you can be both then you’re winning. But really zone in on what sets you apart and market the hell out of it.
Don’t expect the world to go back to normal any time soon. I’m a huge optimist, but plan for the worst and you’ll be covered.
Get sales right and the rest will follow.
Are there any big social media marketing trends or particular platforms that you think we should all be looking out for in 2021?
I think TikTok is genuinely underrated still to this day. I’ve seen startup brands turn into millionaires overnight on the platform, the reach and influence is insane and, done right, can have a huge impact.
I think in SEO so many people have limited themselves to Google search, when actually search lives everywhere on YouTube, Pinterest and even channels like Giphy. Driving traffic through Pinterest and YouTube is often ignored or seen as expensive. However, they are very high converting platforms and should be a big part of your search strategy for 2021 and forward.
User-generated content in marketing campaigns is huge right now – using customer reviews on websites, tweets on billboards, [etc]. People trust people and want to hear from your audience. Use them!
And finally, how can people find out more about you and Rise at Seven? We’re all looking forward to keeping up with everything you get up to in 2021!
Rise at Seven is everywhere right now. So here’s a menu:
If you want to keep up to date with campaigns, business growth, exciting client wins and more check out me at @CarrieRosePR or @RiseatSeven on Twitter or Instagram.
If you want to see behind the scenes of our campaigns and life at our HQ – check us out on Instagram or subscribe to our vlog which I run, sharing the life of Rise at Seven through my eyes. Search for The Sauce Rise at Seven and you’ll find us on YouTube.
If you want to follow our staff and see what it’s like to work here, check us out on Twitter or LinkedIn too!
You can also find us on TikTok for fun!