How Contra Became a Top-Level Agency Despite Challenges5 min read

Contra is a London-based digital agency.

It started two decades ago when the digital landscape was in its infancy. The industry was called ‘new media’ back then.

In the early days, things weren’t as easy as they are today. There weren’t any reliable off-the-shelf CMS, and the challenges were many. Contra paved its way through difficult times and consequentially became a highly technical and self-starter agency.

Contra was developing websites even before people knew what they were. The agency had conviction in Google and believed that it’ll change the way business was done.

Today, after 22 years of delivering top-notch services, Contra is easily one of the leading digital agencies.

Contra’s Niche

Contra handles projects primarily for B2B and education sectors. They have a long history of working for these industries.

What are some of Contra’s proud achievements as an agency?

Contra started out at a time when the designers and web developers didn’t even know how to make things nice to look and easy to operate.

From that point on till today, Contra is proud of the many awards that it has achieved and the positive changes that it has made.

Contra’s Greatest Challenges and How It Overcame Them

Over 22 years of its existence, Contra has faced and overcome several challenges.

The start itself was a little turbulent as Contra was conceived at the time when the dot com bubble burst.

From thereon, there were several internal and external challenges for the agency.

For instance, in the early days, they worked with designers and developers who weren’t much aware of the necessities required to make beautiful and easy-to-use websites.

The agency overcame the challenge by managing the designers and developers.

Another internal challenge for the agency was automation and data collection.

“We want to use the tools to gather data and then build out a creative strategy that fits, using the tools to automate things like lead capture and nurturing.”

As of now, the agency uses Hubspot to handle its marketing, strategy, and automation needs.

Besides the internal challenges, the company battled several external challenges as well, like Brexit, the Pandemic, and the recent Ukraine-Russia war. It persevered through these challenges and continues even after 22 years.

Want Cloudways to feature your agency as well?

Join our Agency Partnership Program and take your agency to the next level. Our partners enjoy several benefits such as co-marketing opportunities, growth bonuses, onboarding discounts, and much more!

What’s Contra’s Recipe for Success, and What Are the Three Strategies That Reaped The Best Results for the Agency?

According to Contra, there are three key points necessary to succeed as an agency:

  1. Be on the client’s side – clients want solutions to their challenges and a partner that will help them get there. They don’t want someone who is only in it for themselves. A short-term ‘win’ at the expense of a client will harm the agency. Long-term relationships are best for business.
  2. Be prepared to change – We have kept adapting and innovating. This is a fast-paced industry, and we have regularly changed our offerings to match where things are going. This has meant we haven’t painted ourselves into a corner with tech choices.
  3. Be kind – we are a happy agency with a good work/life balance. We are friendly with clients and suppliers.

The Most Challenging Project for Their Agency and Their Learnings

Contra has worked on so many projects that it’s hard for them to pinpoint just one challenging project. But there are some that they highlighted.

The first one was when the agency had to build its own CMS in 2000, which included the WYSIWYG editor. It was especially difficult to create it in that era.

Then, when the pandemic hit the world, Contra built a virtual event system for one of the big four consultancy firms. It had multiple live sessions, polls, chat, blogs, etc.

This was in node, react, and .net core. It had to handle thousands of (very important) delegates, all logging in at the same moment from around the world and interacting all day.

The system worked amazingly well. Even post-pandemic, that organization has a hybrid work model thanks to this system designed by Contra.

The Software Tools/Apps They Use at Their Agency

Contra uses some top-level tools and apps to have an effective workflow at the agency.

For marketing automation, it uses Hubspot. Contra is also a partner of Hubspot.

For UX testing, the agency’s top choice is the optimal workshop suite. Contra uses slickplan for visual site maps and Adobe XD for designs.

Regarding development, they use VS code as the main IDE and Azure dev ops as the automated build and deployment pipeline system.

Contra uses Productive as the studio management system.

How Has Cloudways Contributed to Contra’s Growth? What Features Do They Find the Most Helpful for Their Business?

Contra is a satisfied Cloudways client. Here’s how their workflow and performance get better with us:

“By removing the need to manage servers, you have freed up resources and improved stability, security, and performance. At the same time, we can get right into the server and work with you to resolve issues, which means issues are quicker to resolve.”

What Will Contra Advise People Considering Starting a New Agency?

Contra certainly has some advice for those interested in starting a new digital agency. According to them, here’s what the newcomers must do:

  1. You need to be on the client’s side.
  2. Understand the technology to deliver the best results. For example, to get the best results, understand JS, not just react or jquery, SQL, not just orms.
    In terms of marketing, understand how search, GTM, and GA work. That way, you get the best data, and thus, you can formulate great strategies.
  3. Don’t micromanage. Sometimes, you also need to learn when to get out of the way and let your team do the work – don’t be a blocker!

Customer Review at

“Great performance for the price, and plenty of control”

Sean P [SMB Owner]

Raza Aslam Lakhani

I’m a digital content producer at Cloudways. I’m also a hodophile- always ready to explore new places and cultures.

Other than that, I play guitar and love to indulge myself in deep, meaningful conversations. Always looking for opportunities to learn new things.


Get Our Newsletter
Be the first to get the latest updates and tutorials.

Thankyou for Subscribing Us!

Get more stuff like this

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Leave a Reply

I accept the Privacy Policy

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This