Grady Britton’s Newest Team Member on What Brands Need to Know About Digital Media in 2018
Stephen Mollett, Grady Britton’s newest team member, knows that a good story is rarely a linear path from beginning to end. How else does a Russian language major from Kentucky end up working as a Digital Media Specialist at a creative agency in Portland?
For Stephen, all it took to get here was a cross-country road trip – learning firsthand what he didn’t want to do for a living, discovering his true skills and passions and starting a successful freelance business.
“I went into sales and soon realized that by arming myself with data I was able to increase my close rate,” he says. “Now, I’m in a role that allows me to utilize data in every facet and, in turn, help an entire agency lead with data driven strategies.”
That job? Advising Grady Britton’s clients on all things digital – from social media to search engine marketing to website performance and everything in between.
Why Stephen’s Job Is More Important Than Ever
On any given day, Stephen analyzes metrics across dozens of platforms and analytics tools to craft compelling stories from data points to help our clients stand out from their competition. His primary tool is Google Analytics, which provides critical information about website performance, as well as audience behavior and demographics.
“It helps us know not only what pages to push further, but who’s actually coming to the site.”
In today’s complex media environment, these insights are more important than ever. About nine out of ten consumers research a product online before they buy. Many consumers, especially younger ones, can be characterized as “omnishoppers” who shop across multiple online and offline channels. For members of this group, a brand’s web presence plays a pivotal role in swaying purchasing decisions—even for in-store purchases.
“Brick and mortar isn’t the end-all, be-all, it once was,” says Stephen. “A brand needs to optimize its website and digital presence for educated consumers. No one makes impulse buys on big purchases any more.” Consumers are spending time researching. Not just individual products, but brands themselves – where a company comes from and what it stands for is just as important.
Stephen’s assertions are backed up by both recent trends and his own experience in the field. Like all of Grady Britton’s departments, our Digital Media Team emphasizes research: data helps inform every element of our work.
“Digital data allows us to understand and rank competition in a particular industry or space,” Stephen explains. “We can show clients what their competitors are doing right, and shed light on creative opportunities.”
He’s quick to point out that data isn’t all about opportunities. Clients need to know where digital marketing efforts are falling short, too, which then becomes a new opportunity.
Creative services are certainly an art and a science, and we can’t rely on data for every decision. However, the ability to use real-time audience insights to hone and justify our work—from overall strategy down to design nuances — supercharges what we do and provides powerful results.
“Clients have an easier time making big decisions when you have concrete data to support your strategy,” Stephen says.
…and Why Stephen’s Job Is More Challenging Than Ever
Sure, data drives decisions, but which data? In his role at the agency, Stephen is tasked with the challenge of combing through A Song of Ice and Fire-sized collection of audience behavioral information and presenting key facts and patterns in a way that anyone could understand.
“It’s up to us to take these big data points and condense them into a digestible story,” he says.
If that sounds overwhelming, it’s because—for most people—it is. There are thousands of ways to measure audience reach and engagement. Digital trends wax and wane with the emergence of new apps and services. Facebook, Google and other major platforms continually tweak their algorithms and capabilities. What’s “cool” changes as quickly as what’s effective.
“What I love about digital media is that it’s constantly changing,” Stephen says. “And you have to be 100% committed at all times. You can pour your heart and soul into something, and have every data point to back you up, but you have to be in it—you have to be a user and consumer. It’s critical that we stay educated abreast of what’s going on right now.”
But, not everyone who works in digital media has Stephen’s data analytics chops. He credits his ability to manage it all to “constantly striving for continued education,” as well as “focusing on storytelling versus mile-long spreadsheets.”
Although he doesn’t just solve problems. “You also need to be a problem creator,” he says. “You have to want to break things in order to improve them. It’s about disruption. The same goes for looking at new technology before it really takes off. Being an early adopter can make or break a brand’s campaign.”
With all this in mind, we asked Stephen to share a few quick tips for brands seeking to improve their digital media presences. Here’s what he shared:
Stephen’s 4 Digital Media Tips
1. Before you do anything else, optimize your website.
“The number one priority is having a relevant site with content that’s educational and tells a compelling story. It needs to load quickly and it needs to be aesthetically pleasing.”
2. Use your story to inform your audience—and let your audience inform your story.
“Content is king – be it on your blog or on your social. Get relevant content out there, across all channels you’re active on, and see how your audience digests that information – see if it resonates. You may think you know who your audience is, but remember to check your assumptions about who’s actually participating.”
3. Be patient.
“After investing in digital media, some organizations assume they’ll see improved performance right off the bat, but it takes time – unlike paid search. You don’t want to throw up a million-dollar home on gravel and hope for the best. Lay down big anchor points. Don’t expect a 100% increase in conversions immediately.”
4. SEO isn’t dead.
“A big misconception is that search engine optimization doesn’t matter. While SEO has certainly changed, the truth is that it’s still the foundation of any site – even if it may have lost some of its luster along the way. Most people use Google to research brands and products, and you have to know what it takes to show up.”
Interested in your brand’s digital performance? Grady Britton’s Digital Team can perform an audit of your brand and deliver a detailed, objective report of your online presence and opportunities for improvement. Give us a call to learn more!