Like many graduates, I left university with little idea of what career path I wanted to take. I studied English Literature purely out of enjoyment, as I had little desire to be a teacher or an academic. As my final year came to a close, I ended up falling into business with my dad – setting up a small, artisan bakery in South East London. We worked together for two years before the opportunity to sell the business came up.
I was then faced with the same problem of picking a career path. After more than a few desperate job searches, I started leaning towards digital marketing. As an industry, its combination of creativity and data-insight, as well as its rapid growth really appealed to me. I had a read through Moz’s “Beginner’s Guide to SEO” and the world of natural search opened up. What interested me the most was its relevance. I use search engines every day – from googling a restaurant, to buying a Christmas gift – I could see how SEO affects my day-to-day life. I then knew I wanted an internship opportunity to strengthen my CV. Someone suggested iCrossing, so I got in touch.
I landed a month’s work experience within the SEO team, learning the fundamentals of natural search with on the job training from iCrossing’s analysts. At first, I was worried I’d either just be making coffee for the office, or working 16 hour days and falling asleep on the tube. Instead, I was in an environment where I felt I was both learning and being a benefit to the team. I was kept busy with real tasks, from client outreach work, to attending team meetings and training sessions. I increasingly became aware that an agency environment, especially a progressive and evolving agency, was where I wanted to be.
Earlier this year at one of our company meetings Rachel Collier, our Chief Talent Officer, announced the opportunity for someone from iCrossing to work with an organisation called Development Squared.
Development Squared work to link skilled workers from the UK with Swazi businesses facing challenges that more well established UK workers could help with.
Participants work within the business for a whole week to help them develop specific skills they need such as finance, marketing, people and project management.
Swaziland is found just between South Africa and Mozambique. I have to confess that before iCrossing offered me to opportunity to go out and work with a business out here, I really didn’t know much about the country.
With all these twinkling TV ads around, you might be confused into thinking it was Christmas!
The battle for the best 30 second commercial is now more talked about than the race for the #1 spot in the singles chart, and sometimes their soundtrack actually becomes part of it.
As you can see from the huge volume of penguin related items currently available to buy from John Lewis (a whopping 155), this content isn’t ‘just’ for Christmas – it’s shoppable, and it’s just one of many attempts by businesses to use content as a way to tap into the festive buying frenzy.
There are many different ways to successfully connect the content you produce directly to the shopping basket.
And anything you can do to shorten the user journey and take away the number of clicks it takes from someone to get from content to the store is generally a good thing.
Few retailer websites now exist without some form of content – whether it’s interviews with celebrities, sending bloggers on exciting days out, or giving social fans a sneak peek behind the scenes of their businesses. Being seen as contextually relevant to the lives of their customers is almost as important as developing the right products.
The increasingly blurry lines between PR and SEO are a hotly discussed topic. As Google moves to discredit the ‘old ways’ of link building – namely, guest posting and directory links – in favour of editorial, natural link-building efforts, it is becoming increasingly pertinent that SEOs possess the skills from both a technical and journalistic point of view.
At iCrossing, we pride our SEO team on being comprised of both. Below are three quick and simple ways, inspired by our outreach specialists, which can greatly improve the relationship between SEOs and influencers. While to some these may be really obvious points, it’s surprising how often they’re overlooked in the industry.
1. Be clear, right from the start: Most influencers, particularly those with a strong following, simply don’t have time (or, in some cases, interest) to read the hundreds of emails they receive- so get the point, and be upfront with what you’re expecting them to do and what you’ll be doing in return. This way both sides are clear straight from the off, and the chances of anything going wrong mid-campaign are minimised.
We live in a digital world, where technology is prevalent in our everyday lives, social networking is an obsession, screens have become our surroundings and wearable tech is the future. We are more connected than ever so why do we arguably feel more isolated? The problem? Our online distractions drive us to desire the physical. Labour work was once the fruitful art of our ancestors and now the skill of making has become a rarity within the noise of the networked age. This was the recurring theme of the latest TEDx conference held at the Brighton Dome, which iCrossing sponsored.
The 4th annual event was titled ‘Many Hands’; exploring ideas around community, connectivity and convergence in the modern age. The one-day conference showcased a collection of live speakers from around the world with different backgrounds, perspectives and disciplines. Each had their own story to tell – from digital pioneers, to traditional woodworkers all relating to the profound shift of reconnecting with ourselves.
What do iCrossing and Usain Bolt have in common? They are both official Guinness World Records title holders. Yes, that’s right a team of eight of our staff now hold the record for ‘Longest span of a bridge made with interlocking plastic bricks in three minutes’.
Becoming a Guinness World Records title holder is a childhood dream for many – especially those of us who grew up watching Roy Castle and his Record Breakers programme back in the 80s. But for eight iCrossing staff, this dream has now come true.
What’s it really like to work in the world of digital marketing?
This series of blog posts will show the variation of roles we have at iCrossing and will give an insight into what happens on a daily basis including commuting journeys, social activities, lunch time food spots as well as the best and most challenging aspects of the job. This post introduces Chris from the product development team based in Brighton.
Before working at iCrossing I was completing my Computer Science degree at the University of Brighton. I had also worked part time during my final year doing software development for a building energy management systems company, which kept me on that final year after I worked a full time placement with them.
I approached iCrossing as I wanted to stay in Brighton, and while there are many web-development based jobs in Brighton, iCrossing are one of the more interesting, diverse and well-known.
How you get to work in the morning?
After completing our degrees, my partner and I decided to move to Peacehaven which is just down the coast road from Brighton.
Peacehaven is a much cheaper, albeit quieter, place to live , consisting mainly of dentists and the best Indian take away ever! I commute in to work using the bus which takes me roughly 30 minutes on a good day. I don’t actually mind taking the bus, it gives me time to listen to podcasts, read my Kindle, or just surf Reddit on my phone.
I bought a digital SLR camera about 7 years ago and have used it sporadically but rarely ventured away from auto mode. The confusing array of options have put me off learning how to use it properly coupled with the incredibly hard to understand photography jargon you’re faced with if you try to look something up. The fact is it’s not just point and shoot, photography is a really confusing topic with endless things to learn which can be very off putting for the novice photographer. As marketers we’re in constant need of compelling images to capture the imagination of our audience and while it’s easy to lean on phone cameras and Instagram filters the output from these usually doesn’t look great when you look at a larger version on desktop. My team completed a short photography course this week where we learnt about ISO, aperture and shutter speed. It’s really not that hard if explained in plain English and you can achieve some great results so I thought I’d share 3 top tips here.
We looked at ISO first which is the setting you adjust depending on the amount of light. My camera has 4 options: 200, 400, 800 and 1600 which can be selected via the menu (in the camera icon drop down for mine which is a Nikon). This will vary from camera to camera with the better ones having more options to choose from. Our teacher told us a handy phrase to remember ‘if the light is low, think ISO’. So if you’re taking pictures in a dark place you need to select a higher ISO, for bright light select the lowest. You should always use the lowest number you can get away with to keep images as crisp as possible. 200 for a sunny day outside, 1600 if you’re in a dark club. Try 400 for indoors but if it’s still too dark boost it up to 800. I’d always struggled taking photos indoors – too dark without a flash and I don’t usually like the look of photos taken with a flash. All I needed to do all along was increase the ISO setting. It’s no surprise that changing the ISO setting has an effect on other functions on your camera this is the type of information that used to make me phase out when I tried to learn anything so I won’t go into it but you can read more on the topic here if interested.
The recent expansion of Google’s Consumer Barometer holds many useful insights for digital marketers, from the online resources people use to make purchase decisions, to the differing smartphone activities enjoyed across different age ranges.
The overhaul has resulted in a much more intuitive user experience and a slightly more aesthetically pleasing UI but the main reason for the change is the inclusion of a much vaster pool of data, collected worldwide earlier this year.
The free tool provides a wealth of consumer information which can be manipulated in just a few clicks. A mere 7 clicks gave me a brightly coloured chart showing the gender split in device use in Romania. Although most of the charts themselves are frustratingly too big to screen grab, it takes just two more clicks and I’ve got the data in a handy CSV to use however I wish. Pro tip: For smaller charts, simply use CTRL and – to zoom out until everything fits on screen.
“We want to be human, not digital” – this was the opening line from Mel McVeigh, host at the Drum’s Joy of CX event at Bounce in central London last week. It’s a powerful statement and one that really should be at the heart of everything we as marketers do. Sadly, it isn’t.
But what is digital, if it isn’t about people? The answer is nothing. It is all too easy to get lost in the wilderness of digital data and to forget that what we are looking at is information about individuals, about people. That at the other end of screen, that ‘click’ or that ‘eyeball’ is actually a real live person. Just like you and me. So if you can’t humanise all the data you collect, if you can’t use it to produce work that is relevant to people and make it about people, then as our Head of Media, Sam Fenton Elstone quite rightly said – what’s the bloody point?
This was the premise for his Q&A session at the event with Group Digital Sales Director for Hearst, Stephen Edwards. Hearst is one of the largest diversified media companies on the planet, with brands including household names like Cosmo, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Men’s Health and many more. It also happens to be iCrossing’s parent company. The guys had a lot to chat about, but here are just three of the many salient points they chewed over.
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