As technology evolves, the ways in which marketers can target and influence people change too. Digital marketing revolves around reaching people via the internet - from search engines to our favourite websites and social media platforms.
We met up with Laura Tyley, a digital marketing apprentice, to find out more about her job and why she chose an apprenticeship over university to get there.
Name: Laura Tyley
Company: The Present Finder
Industry: Online Retail (Gift Company)
What is your job? Digital Marketing Apprentice
How long have you been training for this job? 4 months
Apprenticeship: Business & Admin level 3 apprenticeship (but training in digital marketing on the job)
A-Levels: Biology, Psychology, Photography, Philosophy & Ethics
GCSEs: Maths, Science English, History, Business, Citizenship, RE
Interests: Horse riding, photography and anything to do with marketing.
What was your very first job?
My first ever job was cleaning peoples horse tack at our stables; I was probably 8 years old. I then moved on to washing up and waitressing jobs. I’ve worked from a young age, I think this was a big reason I decided on an apprenticeship instead of university.
What did you want to do when you were at school?
I kept changing my mind at school. I was creative but couldn’t draw, that’s why I loved photography. I initially wanted to be an equine physiotherapist, but then decided I wanted a career in PR or marketing, which would be good for me because I really liked the sound of it once I started doing some research!
What made you want to train for your current job?
Once I started looking into marketing, I knew that it was something I wanted to do. Before my apprenticeship, I started working for a marketing agency, aged 17, which did marketing for other companies. I didn’t get any training in this job and didn’t feel it had much potential for me so made the difficult decision to hand in my notice. The very next day I saw the advert for a digital marketing apprenticeship. I nearly didn’t apply because I thought the wage would be to low but, at £4 per hour, it was higher than I expected. I applied and here I am. Opting for an apprenticeship was the best decision I could have made, and my wage increased too after a couple of months.
How did you get there?
Having some experience in marketing really helped because, even though I didn’t know very much and I hadn’t worked in the industry very long, I knew more than most of the other applicants. I think having A-levels was also useful as it showed I had a good work ethic.
Why did you choose a digital marketing apprenticeship over university?
I never really wanted to go to university, which surprised many people. I put a lot of pressure on myself during sixth form to do well and I didn’t enjoy my studies; I knew more stressful exams weren’t for me. I also love a challenge. Being pressured towards university by school made me think that, actually, I’d rather prove them wrong. I am determined and ambitious and I wanted to show that experience could mean as much as or more than a degree in my industry. I feel that some people choose university to defer making decisions about what they want to do. I didn’t need this as I had already made up my mind to work in marketing.
What is a typical day at work / training like?
The first thing I do each morning is check my emails to see if any bloggers have contacted me who are interested in working with the company and reviewing some of our products (The Present Finder sells a range of gifts online). I will then check the company’s Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest accounts to see what activity occurred overnight and reply to any messages. I work on the company’s weekly email campaign and use lots of graphic design and Photoshop for this, which I enjoy. This campaign goes out to over 60,000 people, so it needs to be perfect. Other regular tasks include taking images of new products that have come in to stock and writing posts on The Present Finder’s blog, taking a look at Google Analytics and looking at how we can improve our SEO(Search Engine Optimisation), designing homepage graphics for the website and trying and come up with ideas to find new customers and retain our current ones. It’s great fun because a small change can make a huge impact in the number of visitors we get to our site.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I really enjoy the freedom to think outside the box. When you come up with a marketing idea that your competitors haven’t tried yet, it's a great feeling. I love being creative and nearly everything you do in marketing is measurable, so when I design an email campaign that gets a better response than other emails, that's a great feeling.
What is the most challenging thing about your job?
The most challenging part of my job is performing competitor analysis. It’s easy to see that a competitor has more Facebook followers or is ranked higher on Google than The Present Finder but it can be really hard to work out how and why they are getting more traffic. It can make your brain ache!
If you want to get into marketing, start by researching it. Marketing has it’s own terms and vocabulary and if you want to get into it, you need to know what you are talking about. Google is a massive part of marketing, so make sure you know about analytics and SEO techniques. Show employers your enthusiasm for marketing by making your own blog or starting up your own online business and learning how to promote it. You will probably have to do this for free to begin with, but you will gain valuable experience and be able to measure how your project grows, which is a brilliant thing to show in a job interview.
What advice do you have for people who are trying to decide between university or an apprenticeship?
I always think you should go with your gut instinct. If you need to go to university for your career (e.g. if you want to be a doctor or a teacher) you must go, but if it’s not essential to your career or you don’t know what you want to do, have a look at apprenticeships and gap year placements. Apprenticeships are not just about construction, so many more industries are offering them now. You could find your perfect job!
Where would you like to be in 5 years?
I’d like to be a marketing manager at a growing company with a small team working alongside me. I want to compete my horse on the weekend and have my own apartment. Oh and a dog, I’d like a dog I could take to work with me!
If you love all things online and Laura's story has inspired you, check out our advertising, marketing and public relations career zone or find out how you could become a social media manager.