The other week I was called a digital marketing purist. This was as a result of my recommending that we run a survey in a phased manner on our organic channels to test engagement first. The idea being that we could then see which of our followers are the most engaged, and our greatest advocates, before running any targeted posts. We could also better judge how much we'd need to spend to hit our desired amount and possibly target specific groups that were under represented in the final result.

This isn't the first time I've been referred to as a purist though, and hopefully it wasn't meant as a criticism or that I'm out of touch! What I think the person meant was that what I'm actually doing is ensuring that our all marketing is 'clean'. This is especially important to me as digital marketing can be quite a muddy environment on which to advertise. I'm sure we've all struggled in the past to get full transparency from suppliers and agencies on how something is actually performing. Clarity of impact is very important if we are to learn from, and refine, our strategies going forward.

Sometimes, getting a true measure of success can be difficult, and this is even true of campaigns we're running purely in house (i.e. without any agency support). How accurate are the statistics we're being fed by Google Analytics - and similar - anyway? In revamping our social media reporting I began thinking that some numbers are so huge (tens of thousands) that they are almost meaningless. What really matters is hard conversions which can be directly tracked back to marketing activity.

This 'clean' way of doing things means improving the user experience and having more accountability, so consumers aren’t irritated and our brand doesn’t fear fraud or misplacement. Now that I work for a brand with a very good reputation the last thing we want is for any advertising to appear on sites which are inappropriate, or not in keeping with our values. 

One way in which I haven't been so 'pure' is in the launch of our new events calendar. The cleanest approach to this would be to write a full brief for our preferred solution and then get our developers to build it all in-house. This would mean that everything existed purely in our CMS and we would have full ownership of every element - a long road I've been down before! But in researching various plug-in solutions that are available (to help scope out some features) I found something which already fitted the bill of what we were after.

Tockify is a ready-built solution that took literally minutes to configure. So after signing up for their trial I ran some tests and was very impressed with how seamlessly it all integrated. This got me thinking that if something is already built that works then why try and replicate it? The small annual cost for a solution is literally nothing if you take into account the staff time in briefing, building and testing.
There's also our users to think about. In this case we were looking to colleagues to submit and tag up their own events. Again, if something is already about as user-friendly as it gets then why try to reinvent it?

In fact, we're all using plug-ins all over our sites already. No-one would attempt to build their own website analytics platform to avoid giving Google our data. It's just important to not go too crazy with this and slow your website down!

So, maybe I am a purist after all. There is a lot to be said for keeping things simple wherever possible to deliver quicker results (something I'm still eager to do as I try to impress my new employers) and clearly attribute and track what is working for us and what isn't. 
It seems that I inadvertently chose a great time to start a new job. Back in August I was nicely eased in to a longer journey by it being the school holidays. Then parking was easier as there were no students around. I also got to experience both campuses in the sun! Most importantly though it has allowed me to experience a full academic year from beginning to end as the new students were in town for the Freshers' Fair!

I thought rather than just sample the many food vans and free sweets on offer I'd make the effort to speak to the students first hand. This then became filming some impromptu interviews where I asked about them about their initial experiences. I was amused at how excited many of the international students were about being stood in the drizzle as opposed to being in Hawaii and Florida where they had travelled from!

But their enthusiasm was just so infectious it reminded me of my own feelings, when I turned up on my first day surrounded by animals and a pile of digital strategies to write.

These students were all extremely eloquent and clear on what they would find the most challenging. Again, this reminded me of my own mental list of digital marketing mistakes I'd bought with me to ensure I avoided:

1. Failing to set goals and objectives - Without goals, it's impossible to measure success or identify areas where campaigns need additional support or require a shift in strategy. It will also be difficult to justify future digital marketing investment if progress can't be demonstrated against a set of goals

2. An inconsistent and fragmented brand on social - Years of only minimal governance can result in a variety of social channels that range in quality and consistency of posts. The trick here is to audit, lead by example and provide all of the assets that are needed to succeed

3. Too much focus on organic social presence - With organic reach declining, managing an organic social media presence across multiple accounts can be very time-consuming. The best way to get  a lot of new eyeballs on our brand is with some smart targeting

4. Accidentally competing with ourselves - With a college, a charity and three animal hospitals to market this is a real danger. There needs to be some very careful bidding strategies in place on Google AdWords

5. No forwarding planning on reporting - Retrospective reporting is a dangerous trap to fall into. Deciding what questions need answering before undertaking any activity is essential

6. Too much doing, not enough analysing - Everyone wants to look busy but already I've spent more time revising our reporting structures than posting new content

7. Not being targeted – Even the most carefully calibrated campaigns will fall flat if they’re speaking to the wrong audience. In digital marketing, audience is everything

9. Not repurposing content - cutting content in lots of different ways can ensure we get the most engagement out of everything

9. Underestimating mobile - When working on a shiny new Mac it's easy to forget that the majority of the content is going to be viewed on a little screen.  Mobile must be a consideration in everything your brand does online

9. Not converting web traffic to leads - Whilst Google analytics is an essential tool I'm on a mission to try to cut generic reporting from  our monthly reports. This is because the statistics that matter are the hard leads and conversions from our CRM

10. Not being helpful - The death of any piece of content

Seeing the new students and visiting the hospitals has put my own job into perspective.  By keeping these major missteps front of mind it can save time, money, and stress, and help make our campaigns more fruitful in the long run. 
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