Last year we worked with Contagious Communications to re-imagine and re-design their online business – a project that culminated in the launch of their collaborative research platform I/O. Last week, Contagious told us that YOY sales are up 82 per cent following the launch, so we thought now was a good time to share some details of our work.

The background

Contagious helps brands and advertising agencies understand and adapt to the ever-shifting landscape of marketing communications, consumer culture and technology. One of the major strands of this service before we worked with them was 'The Feed' - a paid-for website and weekly email configured for each client covering the most relevant innovative campaigns, technologies and trends.

An example of The Feed

Contagious asked Made by Many to do two things: optimise the existing service and develop entirely new value propositions around the online business. Contagious wanted to transform ‘The Feed’, from being perceived by their customers as a ‘great-to-have’ luxury - into an indispensable ‘absolutely-can’t-live-without’ tool to empower their teams.

Our approach

We interviewed Contagious subscribers from some of the world’s leading brands and advertising agencies in order to understand their needs and expectations, their behaviours, perceptions and especially the dynamic between team members who accessed Contagious services.

Sketches we used during initial customer research

Contagious’ content was already perceived as being of extremely high value, but it quickly became apparent that there was a problem with the way it propagated within the organisations subscribing to it. ‘The Feed’s’ value depended on being actionable by brands but we found that the material was too often consumed passively and privately, limiting its impact to drive team decisions directly.

Armed with these insights, we set about re-designing ‘The Feed’ so it would be more useful to front-line staff and would spread more readily within organisations. We saw an opportunity to ‘weaponise’ The Feed: to turn tailored content into a new service layer that made Contagious’ more useful. This took The Feed way beyond being a purely editorial proposition, and the new toolset was renamed ‘Contagious I/O’.

We designed key features and tools around three themes:

Subscribers can personalise the site by following specific brands or subjects and receive new content alerts.

Customers can collect and share the best Contagious content and use it to collaborate with colleagues.

Better search functionality to help customers to make the most of I/O as a research tool.

We also partnered with the talented folk at New Bamboo – with whom we have a long working relationship. New Bamboo not only built the front-end of I/O, but also re-engineered Contagious' content management system. To make the editorial experience more intuitive, we incorporated Sir Trevor - the open-source rich content editor Made by Many released last year with ITV. And the impact at Contagious has been fantastic. As Alex Jenkins, editor of Contagious I/O told us:

“The platform Made by Many designed has fundamentally improved the workflow of our editorial team. It allows them to create more visually engaging articles for our readers and saves them hours every week by automating a previously manual process.”

Simon Wylie, CEO of Contagious added some kind words about our process:

“Made by Many worked with Contagious to transform I/O, our insights and intelligence digital platform and the digital version of Contagious Magazine. What was truly inspiring was their ability to look at the business and the service strategically. This process, coupled with great communication and management enabled us to create a service which is now widely considered to be indispensable amongst brands and agencies across the globe. This year to date, sales are up over 80% for both and we could not be more delighted”

We're very proud of the impact of our work on Contagious’s business. They have seen an 82% increase growth in year-on-year sales for I/O, a product that they find easier than ever to sell because customers immediately identify its value.

“The collaboration and customisation features of I/O hone our ability to stay ahead of the competition; it’s our secret weapon in ensuring marketing excellence throughout Diageo.”

Dominic Redfearn, Global Head of Content, Diageo

Whilst this post has focused on I/O, we also helped Contagious to shape and define other aspects of their digital offering. We created a digital counterpart to the award winning print quarterly Contagious Magazine, that truly reflects and enhances the print experience online. And we re-designed, giving Contagious a new web presence to showcase their services and provide first-hand examples of how their work
benefits clients.

Contagious is an awesome company to work with: highly opinionated, forward-thinking and, as you would expect, exceptionally bright. Intimate, open collaboration with their team made this project possible. We worked seamlessly with them at every level of the company to understand their business objectives and balance these with what we learnt from customer insights. The result is an even more successful product that delivers against the business vision and delights customers.

Why not go and see if I/O can help your business/brand now?

Oh okay, one more gushing quote...

“Made by Many are a supremely talented bunch who not only coax you into asking ourselves the right questions, but aren't afraid to push you harder into finding the rights answers. The process was genuinely collaborative.”

Paul Kemp-Robertson / Co-founder & Editorial director, Contagious
Adam Morris

Adam Morris Head of Design

Through the use of visual and interaction design, I continually balance customer needs with business requirements. I believe in user-centred design, rapidly testing assumptions early and often to help bring new digital products to market.


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