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Digital Marketing Skills for the future

Image: Harriet Bell.Emerald’s Marketing Director, Harriet Bell, recently chaired "Digital Marketing Skills for the Future: Delivering a great customer experience" on behalf of ALPSP (The Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers) in London.

The themes of the seminar included the transformation of digital marketing; the constantly changing needs and expectations of customers and users; the fact that customer journeys are no longer linear; expectations of a seamless service across various channels and devices; and audiences’ control of conversation via social media and mobile applications.

These themes throw up a number of questions for publishers:

  • Where can they make the most impact online and get the most from marketing budgets?

  • What skills do publishers digital marketing teams need to develop in order to engage meaningfully with audiences via social media?

Here's another challenge for publishers. Though it’s been a given for some time that publishing processes and approaches are digitally focused, that doesn’t mean that their marketing teams are set up to be fully digital. Are they ready for new developments in digital marketing? Do those teams have the right personnel and requisite digital marketing skills? Do they have a robust and future-proof data strategy? What about getting the ‘mix’ of digital communications channels right for a variety of audiences?

Then there’s the overriding challenge of User Experience. Are publishers giving their customers and communities the digital products they want and need? Are those products easy to use and accessible on all manner of devices? How important is a great user experience to a publisher’s brand?

It proved to be a fascinating seminar, with speakers including – among others – Sanphy Thomas (Executive Head of Marketing, SAGE Publishing), on "Shifting strategies: Students at the Heart of the Marketing"; Charles W Nixon (Chairman, Cambridge Marketing Colleges) on "Digital Strategy"; and Iain Craig (Director for Marketing & Publishing Analytics, Wiley) on "Giving value to your customer data"

And what of Emerald’s own take on these questions and challenges around digital marketing?

Well, we don’t have the answers, that’s for sure. But we have made great strides in recent years with regard to:

  • Content marketing (employing a team of dedicated content marketers focused on creating engaging, useful and fun content for our users and authors)
  • Getting the mix right with regard to which social channels use for which audiences (as we write, we learn of the death of Vine and keep abreast of the continuing rise of Snapchat and the reasons for its recent successes)

  • Creating PR and external communications that reflect Emerald’s brand as a publisher that brings research to life and nurtures fresh thinking.

Our ongoing digital transformation has seen us focus on understanding the behaviours of our customers and users, so we can develop content and products that meet their needs and deliver a great experience.  

We have made significant investments recruiting digitally focused teams and upgrading the technologies our global staff use day-to-day to make it easier for us to communicate and collaborate.

We have also begun the stimulating process of refurbishing – or reimagining – our office environment to reflect our digital and creative working culture and brand. It’s an exciting time to be working for Emerald!