A specialist digital marketing agency has been crowned European champion on its fifth anniversary.

Middlesbrough-based Mabo Media was named best small PPC agency in the European Search Awards, held in the Czech Republic capital of Prague.

It’s Mabo’s third award this year as the fast-growing company marks five years in business and gears up for major growth.

Lee Mableson launched Mabo Media in May 2013, operating as a freelancer from his Guisborough home.

Now he heads up a 25-strong team based in Boho Five at the heart of Middlesbrough’s thriving digital cluster.

The firm’s current recruitment drive is expected to take employee numbers to 30 by the end of June and up to 40 later this year.

Mabo is a pay-per-click specialist – already the largest in the North-East – and now works with more than 300 clients up and down the country, offering a no-strings, contract-free approach to paid search management services.

The company is recognised by Google as one of the UK’s Premier Partners, as well as being one of the first recruits to Bing’s partner programme, and has been shortlisted for no less than 11 awards in 2018 – winning Best Digital Business at the FSB North East awards and Sales Team of the Year at the Biddable Media Awards.

But Mableson says the European gong is the “icing on the cake” after a whirlwind start to the year.

“There’s no bigger award we could win in our search sector right now,” he said. “It really is a significant achievement, a watershed moment for the company and the icing on the cake as we gear up for major growth.

“We’re very proud Teessiders and we want to fly the flag for Middlesbrough and Teesside.

“We’re in what was a traditional industrial area, now we have the fastest-growing digital cluster in the country. We want to shout about that and contribute towards giving Teesside something to shout about.”

Mableson is celebrating his firm’s latest award by elevating four senior employees to director level, with Rob Jackson (operations), James Lees (marketing), Dean Yates (technology) and Craig Griffiths (sales) all being promoted.

Managing director Mableson, who had previously been the only listed director, said: “All four who have been made directors had been made heads of departments last year, and this only reflects their contribution to the company.

“We have some significant growth plans. We expect to grow quite rapidly over the next two-to-three years, and people needed to be assigned responsibilities to take us forward and prepare us for a big push. We’re putting more fuel on the fire.”

Mabo, which works with high-profile brands including Montane, Lifestyle Fitness and Totes, has enjoyed remarkable success in its first five years – a 97.5% retention rate throughout 2017 speaks for itself.

“In digital marketing that kind of retention rate is almost unheard of, especially considering we don’t ask our clients to sign any contracts,” added Mableson.

“It’s glowing testament to our team which is delivering our services so well. If we see a weakness of inefficiency within the business we’ll tackle it immediately. Efficiency is absolutely key in what we do and what we deliver, both in terms of our own businesses but also in the work we do for our clients.”

Mabo has already taken on more office space at Boho Five, with staff now spread across two floors, and the firm has plans to expand even more this year.

Turnover has doubled year-on-year since the company was formed and 2018-19 is set for a record £1.4m, while Mableson has ambitions of growing his team to 100 over the next three years.

“I’ve seen a lot of firms struggle to cope with growth, especially in the digital sector, but it’s been very much a controlled growth for us – sensible and manageable,” added Mableson.

“We’re big believers in promoting from within and giving current members of staff more responsibility, knowing they’re capable of doing the job with them already having already established themselves within the business, and this is proven with the recent promotions of Stephen Cumberworth to senior PPC account manager and Matthew Soakell to senior PPC trainer.

“The PPC side of the business will continue to give us the growth we’ve seen over the last five years, and now we have key people in position to make sure that continues.

“We’re about delivering a return on investment for clients. We’re in a performance market, our clients need to generate income online, it’s as simple as that, and it’s all data driven.

“People know us as a good, specialist PPC management for the SME market, which is our core business.”

Find out more about Media Media at mabo.co.uk.