“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”, so said John Wanamaker, an America merchant who pioneered the concept of the department store in the 19th century and printed the first-ever, copyrighted store advertisement.
Marketing is about connecting with an audience in the right place and at the right time, but traditional marketing does not reveal an accurate picture of returns on investment and throws up more questions than answers about its effectiveness? Am I reaching my target audiences in the right place and how do I know?
The World has Gone Digital
Today, connecting with an audience means meeting them online. The Digital 2019 report by Hootsuite and We are Social showed that the average internet user is online for an average of 6 hours and 42 minutes every day, which the same report shows equates to more than a quarter of one’s life. And according to the Pew Research Centre’s work of last year, ‘constant’ internet usage by adults increased by 5 percent in the previous three years.
Enter digital marketing – any form of marketing that exists online. The world is going digital at a terrific pace and digital transformation, which is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, is fundamentally changing how businesses and organisations operate and deliver value to customers and users. And as it does, the need for digital operatives and marketers grows.
Martyn Collins, from Wirral, has more than 20 years’ experience in the sector. Including roles as a sales and marketing director and as a managing director. An acknowledged expert on digital strategy, he is now Digital City Festival Director for Prolific North, an independently-owned publishing and events company based in Manchester.
He said: “What Wanamaker said about the problems of advertising spend has been solved by digital, because today we have attribution right down to the nth degree. Place an advert on different channels and you will know which one works. In the old days you could spend a load on billboards and newspaper ads and then hope the phone starts ringing.
“So digital has become the primary method to engage with prospective customers and audiences and the spend online is much bigger than in traditional media. Because there are digital breadcrumbs you can follow with each advert having a unique link, you can see a consumer’s journey from click to purchase. It means you can learn from that instantly and target your channel and platforms to reach your target audiences more effectively.”
Martyn says he has seen a great deal of change since he started out in 1998 working for a web development company because of the growth of online and its possibilities: “It was a different world even then, but I have worked on the agency side and on the brand/product side. Today, the easiest way to learn about digital marketing is online and free to access. All the major companies have a wealth of resources available.”
Do You Have Transferable Skills?
It’s exactly what Persia Shahkarami, from London, did when she found breaking into the world of journalism incredibly tough despite having a degree in that subject. She now works for an app and website developer for schools, which is used by more than 500 schools in the UK.
“When I left uni in 2011, I found it difficult to get a job. While I was working in retail for a couple of years, I thought marketing may be easier to break into and would still utilise my writing skills. So, I taught myself some essential skills using online training and landed a job working for a boutique women’s wear brand and that was my break.”
Since then Persia has continued to train hard to upgrade her digital skills, undergoing training, downloading guides. Fast forward a few years and at the age of 30, she is a success in inbound campaigns, lead generation and content marketing.
“I constantly update my knowledge. Digital marketing encompasses so much and so you become a jack of all trades. You need to be able to do everything and know how everything works from data, search optimisation, CRM, automation, because each helps to find your target and provide them with content that resonates.”
Unleash Your Creative Side
At 24 Lois Warrington, has been a digital and marketing manager for less than three years. She works for Sound City and Modern Sky Entertainment Ltd in Liverpool following a Digital Marketing Master’s degree at Liverpool John Moores University.
Lois said: “As part of my masters I did an internship for a record label that really gave me a flavour of the work, creating video content and strategy for artists.
“It’s fair to say that my university training has set me up well for my career, because every day I work to client briefs and use marketing tools like Mailchimp, and it really gave me transferable practical experience.”
Lois, who is also a talented singer songwriter and has personally experienced the positive power of the World Wide Web advises anyone thinking of a career in digital marketing to try it out before jumping in. She said: “My degree really helped to find out all areas of the job and to be aware of any new trend, but I’d advise to be proactive, create your own content – run your own blog, post your own video, just get going and do something that you can market. I love it because it allows me to combine my creativity with my interests.
And according to Persia: “If you like data and being creative, digital marketing is a really good job to have. Every day is different, so many different channels and skills to pick up and it can pay well too.”
Digital marketing is now only one part of what Martyn is responsible for in his job and he advises that to be a success you need to keep learning: “Things are constantly moving, and you need to stay on top of your knowledge. You mustn’t be afraid of numbers, marketing can be creative, but digital marketing is also very analytical and it’s about the science of it.”
And most importantly he believes it is here to stay: “Historically in times of trouble, businesses and organisations ditch marketing, but especially today we can see that those who invest in their offer emerge from troubled times more quickly. Without marketing you will not generate brand awareness of your product or service and your business will struggle to succeed, so it’s definitely here to stay.”