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Please describe your job, Sophie! What does a search marketing manager do?
I am responsible for creating and delivering the search marketing strategy for Clarks.
Ultimately this means ensuring we have good visibility for the Clarks brand in search engine results, using the most commercially efficient methods.
We engage with an agency to help us deliver our PPC strategy, ensuring we deliver highly profitable campaigns. I run our SEO team in-house which is made up of a copywriter, an SEO executive and a search data analyst.
Additionally, my team and I analyse search insights and communicate these to the wider business.
Through doing this, the business is now able to make decisions based on data, to determine seasonal product mixes and to ensure the timings and content of marketing campaigns are relevant to our customers.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
I sit within the UK marketing team, in a sub team called ‘performance marketing’ which includes all digital marketing channels. I report into the digital marketing manager.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
You need to be analytical, to review data and make well-informed decisions.
You need to have the ability to be agile, to react to changes both within and outside of the business. We often need to change tack off the back of a Monday trade meeting or when new industry opportunities arise.
Strong communication skills are also needed as we have to work with a number of teams. We need to have the ability to communicate to them effectively so that they understand the nature of our work, and the benefits of doing things a certain way.
Tell us about a typical working day…
It can be totally varied!
Usually – get in, make a coffee and check the results from the previous day. Report anything notable back to the wider team.
Catch up with the trading team to see if anything is changing on the website that will need to be reflected in our activity. Re-prioritise my team’s work if necessary.
Catch up on emails and industry news. Check focus keyword rankings and advise site team if further optimisation needs to take place.
Have calls with our agencies to catch up on current performance and longer term projects.
Continue pulling search insight for global teams to feed into their plans.
Go and speak to IT dev and try to make them improve our site some more!
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
I love working in the digital team. We’re a relatively new area of the business, and one that is constantly evolving, so we really have the opportunity to be the experts.
Senior managers who have worked in retail for decades often come to us asking for advice. It’s nice knowing that you are valuable to the future of a company.
It’s also great working for such an established brand as we are exposed to cutting edge products and new Betas.
I like having measurable results – it means that we can really see the impact that our improvements have made. Usually successes are down to the work of multiple people, so it’s great celebrating positive results as a team.
On the flip side, particularly with SEO, your success can depend on a lot of people collaborating. So when this doesn’t all come together it can be frustrating.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
My main goal is to make all marketing activity more commercially efficient.
Historically PPC, Content, SEO, Social media, site merchandising etc. have been seen as mutually exclusive disciplines – they’re not. Each aid and give momentum to each other.
Huge efficiencies can be made if you have the cohesion and collaboration between different marketing channels. You need the right strategy in place to achieve this, along with good tools that can aid this cohesion.
In delivering this strategy, our key KPI is ROI, both at a channel level and looking holistically at all marketing activity.
Looking at this figure helps us to make smart decisions as to when, where and how we invest marketing budget. If we work towards optimising this figure, we should be creating profit in the most efficient way.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
- Kenshoo: PPC bid management platform .
- Pi Datametrics: Content performance and SEO platform. Its insights into keyword CPC and volume data also enable us to run an effective blended search strategy between PPC and SEO.
- Hitwise: Keyword research and competitor analysis tool. This enables us to pull key trends insights for the business, and benchmark ourselves in the footwear industry.
- Coremetrics: Site analytics tool .
- And of course, Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, Google Trends etc.
How did you get started in the digital industry, and where might you go from here?
Although I’ve worked in marketing teams previously, my digital career really started at Clarks. I began in the email marketing team, then worked in the acquisition marketing team (responsible for display and affiliates), before moving into search.
Ultimately I would like an all-encompassing strategic marketing role to utilise the knowledge I have gained from having hands-on experience with different channels.
Which brands do you think are doing digital well?
In terms of a great customer experience through the aid of digital: Amazon and John Lewis. The ease and flexibility of order fulfilment from these two retailers rarely fails and if it does it is quickly rectified.
From a digital marketing perspective:
- Top Shop
- Ted Baker
All have done some very clever and engaging marketing campaigns both brand-led and involving user-generated content.
It feels like they are testing new ideas and using of all the tools in their tool box.
Do you have any advice for people who want to work in ecommerce?
Try and obtain experience across multiple, varied roles in an ecommerce team. Make connections with people in other teams to gain a more in-depth knowledge of the whole business.
Having an understanding of the full customer journey will be beneficial in the world of omni-channel.
Being confident in your own ability is key to achieving better efficiencies across different disciplines. As a brand-side digital marketer I have to make sure that I can keep up with the specialists working for our agencies.
This is important both to manage them effectively and it also means you can do more of the ‘fun stuff’ yourself. It’s more rewarding to get stuck into campaigns, rather than briefing in and administering external work.
Be proactive and take it upon yourself to keep informed and up-to-date on the latest search trends and updates.
There’s so much information out there with webinars, articles, social posts, courses and conferences. The more you know, the more successful you’ll be.
With an industry that evolves as fast as search, it’s crucial to be engaged – I’ve found Twitter is an especially good platform for this.
Don’t be afraid to let people know about your successes.
In my experience, the more aware people are of your achievements, the more freedom and opportunity you’ll be given. Especially in legacy businesses, it’s important to do some positive PR for digital activity.