Last year was a great year here at ED, and we couldn’t have asked for a better way to round it off then to be visited by the fantastic EMBA students of Wesleyan College, Georgia. Arranged by International Study Programs, the leading organiser of educational business trips, we were honoured to be selected as one of the 8 companies that would play host to the business savvy students as part of their international tour.

Our objective was to highlight the importance of online marketing in 2013, and explain why it has become integral to the market strategy of SME’s all around the world. With interactive marketing spend nearing $77 million by 2016, we hoped that we could not only showcase the importance of digital marketing, but that our presentation would relate directly to many of these young entrepreneur’s own business endeavors. With the top bosses away for the week, it was up to Mark and I to wave the ED banner proudly for the rest of the company.

The day began bright and early, with a round of tea and coffee for our 25 guests. After making our brief introductions, and with the cold wintery morning air firmly shaken off, we launched straight into our specially prepared presentation.

The digitial marketing presentation

Informally presented to encourage open discussion, we kicked off the day’s proceedings by highlighting the state of the digital marketing industry in 2012, outlining many of the critical elements that SME’s have to keep in mind when employing a search strategy. Despite our presentation being heavily laden with stats (we love stats here at ED) we were impressed by the levels of engagement from the EMBA students, and it came as no great surprise for us to learn that many of them had already gained search marketing experience from their current roles. As we can often run away with ourselves when talking about the search marketing industry, we also felt it was important to shed some light on the background of the company. We were keen to put across that the foundations of ED and the personalities of the people who work here are integral to the success of our business. An ethos of hard work, passion and pride are the cornerstones of what makes our work great – and our company a great place to work!

After the presentation we retreated for a brief recess in our ‘top of the range’ cafeteria, and after another heavy dosage of coffee and tea, we set the students their task for the morning. Creating an excellent digital marketing strategy is an enduring process that is often drawn out over the course of 12 months. However sometimes you only need 2-3 good ideas (or 1 really good one) to make a massive impact. With this in mind, we asked the students to come up with marketing ideas that would help increase a websites’ online visibility. We created two fictional companies (one based in the travel industry and the other in the legal field), divided the students up into 4 groups and gave them each a company to represent. With 2 groups focused on a fictional travel company, and the other 2 groups with companies in legal fields, they then began to brainstorm unique ideas that could be used to increase both traffic, brand engagement, and revenue to their site.

Brainstorming SEO Ideas
Mark and I loved this part of the day as it allowed us to mingle amongst the groups, interact with the students on a 1-to-1 basis and get to know them a little better. Despite thoughts of sunny Dubai likely to be in their heads (it was the next stop on their tour), we were impressed time and time again by how thoroughly involved the students were in this process. No-one shied away from getting involved, and as such it didn’t take long for them to come up with a wide range of unique ideas that would have great real-world benefits. Their EMBA training had clearly given these students a creative mindset that was uniquely honed for business promotion.

Getting advise on search strategies
After a brief 20-minute brainstorm we retreated back to the office to share our ideas.  Finding seats for 25 people wasn’t easy, but after a quick scramble around we settled down to let each group present their final ideas. There were many great innovative strategies proposed, but here are some of the best!

Travel site:

  • Create videos and travel guides for each of the destinations, and share via Facebook, Twitter and Google+;
  • Encourage holidaymakers to post their own travel guides online, add the best ones to the website;
  • Run photography competitions to encourage holidaymakers to post photos from their travel destinations. Offer a prize for the best photograph, and advertise via Social Media channels;
  • Encourage holidaymakers to check-in at their holiday destinations and ‘tag’ the travel site in their posts. Pick a prize winner at random;
  • Affiliate with wedding planners, colleges, study programs and gap-year companies and to gain links from those sites.

Legal site:

  • Offer daily legal tips that can be shared via social media channels;
  • Post articles about law stories that are likely to get shared on social media sites. For example ‘The Top 10 Most Ridiculous Legal Claims Ever’, or ‘Laws You Didn’t Even Know Existed’;
  • Present spotlight videos that give advice on pursuing topical legal cases, for example injury law, tax law etc;
  • Write articles on trending news stories, explaining what the legal repercussions and courses of action can be. Be sure to include social media sharing functionality;
  • Come up with a catchy slogan, “One call, that’s all!”

Sharing SEO ideas

All of these ideas would be fantastic for any client based in law or travel. We believe that one of the best things you can do to encourage new visitors to your site is to have unique content that is easily shared. Interesting articles, infographics or videos can help you to stand out from your competitors, encourages other sites to link to you, and creates buzz about your content. What’s more, the EMBA students recognized that as a consumer, we want to feel important. People like to share their experiences and stories, particularly in travel and law, and taking full advantage of this is a great way of gaining fresh content and increasing customer interaction. We only hoped that the students would take these great ideas to their current jobs and put them to use!

With idea’s shared and e-mails exchanged, it was time to end our day with the EMBA students of Wesleyan College. It was our absolute pleasure to have them here, and we only wish they could have stayed a while longer. However with a tour around London awaiting them in the afternoon (plus a trip to sunny Dubai the next day) it was time to say goodbye. With hugs all around we bid farewell to our new American friends, but as per tradition at the ED office, not before leaving some messages for us on our blackboard. Thanks for visiting guys!

Saying farewell