Every year students from UCL School of Management’s MSc Business Analytics programme carry out a practical consulting or independent research-based project with business and support in finding a solution to a problem the company needs solving. They use the skills and knowledge they have developed on the programme to analyse the data and come up with solutions to help the organisation, better its business, change a process or just get more of a throughout understanding of its customers and target market.
Novi Digital and UCL SoM
Started in 2009, a bootstrap business with no investment, Novi Digital is now in its 11th year and employs a team of 12 having worked with over 300 businesses, nationally and internationally.
Novi Digital, a London and Lancaster based SEO and PPC agency, which uses automation, AI and machine learning, took on 7 UCL MSc Business Analytics students over summer, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and gained some interesting insights into what makes an effective Pay-per-Click campaign.
There was a need to adopt this year’s student projects during the pandemic. Beginning in April and finishing at the beginning of August, the student projects provided knowledge exchange and insight to the company. Often with these projects, it is the small nuggets of information that provide a breakthrough insight.
One student had said: “it’s the headline of every advert that determines the success of the click-through rate…What might be considered the more obvious words like; ‘property’ or ‘solicitor’ performed poorly compared to ‘save £300’ or ‘9.5 star rating’ which generated a better click-through-rate. During the project, we realised that USP and figures were seen as enablers.”
Aaron Crewe, Managing Director, Novi Digital, explained as his reason for collaborating with UCL:
“We want to know how we can improve. We find questions to real-world business issues”
How UCL SoM students supported through COVID-19
As primarily business to business (B2B) company, with some of their clients being business to consumer (B2C), initial COVID-19 restrictions made some services impossible and experienced loss of revenue in Q1 of 2020.
Very early on during the pandemic, Novi Digital did a risk rating across all sectors. This along with planning and the UCL SoM students’ insights meant Novi Digital was able to recover nearly all of the lost revenue and now ahead of where they were before the restrictions were implemented in April and May 2020.
Novi Digital have been working with students from UCL School of Management’s MSc Business Analytics for a number of years and have found collaborations with university generates insights that they would not necessarily have the time, capacity, resource or inclination to be able to ascertain themselves.
MSc Business Analytics student Maxim Mazurov said: “The MSc Business Analytics programme at UCL School of Management covers a wide range of topics from general business understanding to applied Machine Learning. Given that, I was actually able to identify the desirable field for practice during the final project and exercise the acquired knowledge at Novi Digital. I truly believe that this type of integration was helpful for my own development as well as contributed to the company’s ongoing tasks. Plus, I got my first programming intense project in my portfolio.”
Growing as a sustainable business
When we considered what a metric for success looks like, for Novi Digital this was more about ‘sustainability’ rather than turnover or revenue.
Aaron Crewe said: “The word sustainability means mentally, physically, and environmentally. As a business, this means ‘what is our retention rate of clients?’ and ‘what is our retention rate of employees?’. It is an eco-system. Bringing that into SEO and PPC - there isn’t one over-riding important thing. Everything in moderation and balance”.
Novi Digital utilise the outcomes of these student projects to improve their software, Captivise, a machine leading and AdWords PPC Automation Software.