September 14, 2017, by Words on Words
The t-rex-perience my English degree gave me to enter the lost world of digital marketing
Why the dinosaur puns? Those prehistoric creatures helped to train my English academic skills into digital marketing abilities, through a placement which the University of Nottingham’s School of English arranged. This is the story of how a bewildered English student became a digital marketing executive at a leading agency.
It’s a fact that many people find hard to accept – not all English students want to be teachers. Shocking, I know. I realised this quite early on. However, I did know that I enjoyed writing andwanted to involve myself with technology and business. Digital marketing fuses all of these things, but this was not something I was aware of, until I attended a talk set up by the University’s careers department.
I was fresh into second year and decided that I should probably use the careers service at least once this year, and I attended a talk where many marketers were attending. I had no clue what the industry meant, or what ‘digital marketing’ even was – but that was the point of this talk.
Here, I met digital marketing agency Impression who introduced me to search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) advertising. SEO involves helping websites rank higher on Google and perform better as a website, while PPC involves creating campaigns that drive traffic to websites. I could discuss these in a lot of detail, but for a better understanding, Google gives you the lowdown in a free course over at their Digital Garage.
I later applied for an English placement with Impression a year after that talk, and later received a graduate role, so definitely check out those opportunities in your inbox!
How does an English degree help with digital marketing?
To discuss this I shall mention two projects I was working on, and learning from, during my placement, and later continued in my graduate role with Impression. One centred around engaging kids with a dino drawing competition inspired by the Dinosaurs of China exhibit, and another was a tool created to compare cities – the north and south war continues even outside of uni.
English encourages you to research, learn, adapt, write, change your methods and then write some more. These base level skills allow you to learn just about anything with ease and efficiency.
In an agency setting, you’re going to be working on a lot of varied clients hour after hour. Taking these two examples, switching your brain from dinosaurs to housing prices can be difficult. Apart from the fact that throughout my degree I would be reading 19th-century fiction then learning which part of the brain is responsible for certain linguistic features. The variety of English means your brain is primed for multitasking in a fast paced digital environment.
Every essay you’re writing is a good ¾ research, and by the end of your second year, you will be a pro at Googling, scanning text and understanding if something is going to be valuable to you or not. Those skills are hard to teach quickly, but they are invaluable to client work. In my role, a lot of time is spent researching publications or businesses that would be interested in the piece of content I am creating. You may also be doing keyword research to understand the mind of customers and make sure your content is satisfying their Googling curiosity.
Discussing how kids can get involved with my dinosaurs campaign meant talking to schools, local publications, bloggers, craft and art websites and a load of kids magazines. Getting as many kids involved was the goal, and spreading the word about the competition was the way to achieve this.
As an English student, your mastery of the pen (or keyboard) is going to be integral to roles in digital marketing. Emails are essential to all office roles today, and you do not want to be spelling things wrong, ever. SEO positions also involve a lot of writing for blogs, website pages and press releases. Writing is a big portion of my job and my short attention span is satisfied by writing for different clients and projects every couple of hours.
For example, some bloggers and websites are open to having guest posts on their site, so you may have to emulate the style of a client to write about t-rexes or why Nottingham is far cheaper (and better) than London.
Don’t be afraid of numbers
Spreadsheets and numbers are unheard of for English students. I went to a careers event by the Uni employability service (they are the secret to employment), and they showed me basic tips and tricks for maths, going over percentages and basic formulas.
Specifically, with the ‘Is The Grass Greener’, city comparison project I was working on, I had to manipulate a lot of data using Google Sheets formulas to help the tool even work. This was not where I thought my English degree would lead me, but it was something different and challenging that my academic resilience helped with.
Concerning SEO, spreadsheets are used all the time to analyse ranking positions, keyword traffic and what percentage of this traffic your website is gathering. This allows you to feedback to clients all the positive impact your words are having on their business.
- Use the careers and employability service. I wish I had used them more, but when I did use them I learnt a lot and it stopped me from caving to expectations and signing up for my PGCE course.
- Apply for the internships/placements sent to your email – it might even lead to a graduate role.
- English students have unique abilities in being well rounded, so a lot of jobs are easily accessible.
- Never underestimate how much roar-some writing abilities are valued in digital marketing.
For any questions feel free to tweet me @DriscollDigital or head over to the careers and employability service.