Spies is a strong brand known by most and the largest tour operator in Denmark. In 2015, Spies set themselves a goal: they wanted to be #1 on Google!

After a quick assessment of their own competencies, it was clear that Spies needed an external partner to help them achieve their goal.

It was the start of a partnership between InboundCPH and Spies, based on mutual understanding and strong chemistry. We spoke to Rasmus Panduro, Head of Digital Operations at Spies, and looked back on our collaboration over the years, where openness and transparency have made the partnership the success it is today.


How did the collaboration start?

Even though it took extra work to get an overview of the competitive situation at Google 7 years ago, Rasmus could see that action was needed. Competitors were getting bigger and getting most of the visibility on Google. Rasmus found out that one of their competitors had worked with Henning Madsen, so why reinvent the wheel when you can see that something works. So Rasmus contacted Henning to see if a collaboration was possible. Fortunately, it was possible, as the collaboration with the competitor was only a start-up project, and therefore not in conflict with a collaboration within the same industry.

But for Rasmus and Spies, it's not just about finding the right skills - it's also very much about partnership:"The most important thing was whether there was a match. When we at Spies work together with someone, regardless of who it is, both parties must get something out of it. In addition, there must be chemistry and mutual understanding that you are working for the same cause” says Rasmus Panduro.

That's why the beginning of the cooperation was also a long talk about how it could work best. It was important, among other things, to draw up a plan for making the best possible use of both internal and external expertise. "We are not an easy customer. We have many demands on our partner. We sat with our own marketing department and copywriters, and a single dedicated SEO employee. So the need was really to figure out - how do we grow this together. Pretty quickly we figured out what we were good at, and what Henning was good at. That allowed us to put a team together and make a plan for how the collaboration would work best” says Rasmus Panduro.

What ultimately kick-started the collaboration and laid the foundations for a fantastic and multi-year partnership was the flexibility and understanding with which Spies was met: "Henning was exceptionally good at understanding our needs and tremendously good at understanding our situation and strengths, both business and organisational. What we had experienced with other agencies was that they had difficulty understanding us and realising how we work organisationally. But Henning wasn't prejudiced at all, and was more concerned with - what are you good at and how can we leverage that, as well as what are we missing to make the whole palette work."

How did the collaboration develop?

With chemistry and a good foundation in place, a pragmatic approach was needed. It was not the whole world that needed to be saved at once, but one (strategic) step at a time: what works now, and what needs to be worked on, in the long term. So a plan was laid out for which tasks would remain in-house with the company's own SEO staff, and how the strategic work would proceed in parallel. "Our SEO employee took care of the highly technical and operational part. Henning and I could take care of the strategic stuff. The team provided by InboundCPH was also able to deliver the part of the package which primarily consisted of quick wins."

Because the collaboration was focused from the start on good chemistry, an honest and open tone, it produced a partnership that was transperant and trust-based. It made it easy to use resources most wisely:"At one point we said to Henning "you don't need to do those reports, we're very good at that ourselves and we can do Google analytics ourselves. You have to tell us which tools we need and how to use them. But don't spend your resources on something we can do ourselves. That openness and transparency made the collaboration work"

With the strategic overview in place and visibility growing, Spies could slowly start to better equip their own staff with the right tools. The company had a plug and play solution that allowed them to optimise their internal resources. The tasks that Spies didn't have time for, such as keeping up to date with the latest Google updates, were taken care of by InboundCPH.

"What the collaboration has developed into is that we ourselves became stronger and stronger, and our own SEO employee gained more skills. In this way, we are slowly transforming ourselves to handle new things and get the right skills”.

From a Danish to a Nordic collaboration

Over the years, Spies has gone from being a Danish enterprise to being a Nordic organisation. This means that they have been able to pass on their learning.

This also means that InboundCPH is not only a partner in Denmark, but a partner for the entire Nordic organization. Expansion into new markets meant that cooperation and strategy had to be rethought in order for Spies to succeed: "What is very characteristic of InboundCPh was to say - if you are going to work with SEO in Sweden, then you also need to find some locals who have knowledge of the local market. Instead of just saying we'll take it and then risk it going wrong. We really appreciate the honesty and focus on what InboundCPH could and couldn't help with. What InboundCPH could solve then was keeping us up to date on Google updates, link building and site hygiene”.

Results from the collaboration

Together with InboundCPH, Spies had developed a commercial model where the driving force was not visibility and traffic per se, but commercial profit. The partnership with InboundCPH has allowed the company to strengthen their know-how around SEO and to draw on learnings that they would never have been able to do on their own before. In addition, they have an advisor who is ready to guide them on how to solve various issues.

In addition, simple objectives were set from the outset for what should be achieved through the collaboration: "We simply had to be the best in the travel industry in terms of visibility. That was our goal. We didn't have a time horizon, but we were aiming for within a year. The most important result is that we have achieved that visibility and we are now number 1 in 3 Scandinavian countries."

What is the most important aspect of our cooperation?

When you ask Rasmus what is most important in terms of cooperation, you get a thoughtful and insightful answer: "It's about trust, transparency, mutual understanding and respect. No one is the world champion here - we are world champions together. I have three mantras I work with. One it's prestigious - meaning we're all part of a process to make this work. The second is clarity (transparency), the third is offensive - and that fits InboundCPH and our collaboration really well. What InboundCPH has been really good at is understanding our issues and our challenges."


Want to hear more?

Do you need help with SEO or are you wondering if it makes sense for your business to work on SEO? Contact Henning Madsen and have a dialogue about your SEO project.

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