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Lessons from My First Year at a Digital Agency

Let me start of by saying what a whirlwind the past 12 months have been. Where once I was a passionate college graduate eager for my chance to break in to digital marketing, I am now confident search professional constantly seeking ways to progress the industry and the great agency by which I am employed.

I am a firm believer that I could not have progressed to where I am today without going through a few ups and downs, learning along the way. Today I want to share with you some of the key lessons I have learned while working with some of the brightest minds in search over the past year. It is my intention to reveal some hardships and attempt to make a few good points to both seasoned marketers and rookies alike. I am going to present a few general themes and dive in to specific examples of how I discovered their importance.


Although many search marketers may think communication is a common sense issue, I have found that communication can be much more complicated than I had ever imagined. The key reason for the complicated nature of communication is people. You need to be able to communicate constantly with co-workers, bosses, clients, vendors, and even the general public as you are representing your business at all times.

The place where I first learned this lesson was through communicating with co-workers. It is very easy to be given a project and come up with your own interpretation of what needs to be done. It is important to realize that when you are given a project by somebody in house, those instructions most likely came from another source such as a client. Often in an agency setting, information flows through a tin can telephone of sorts, and as an individual, you are responsible for interpreting the message you receive and producing an output consistent with the message’s original intention.

Every client is different, and every client has a different set of expectations. Personally, I feel it is important to build a sense of trust and responsibility with your client. This is why communication is so important. If you are able to be honest about the work you can produce, when it will be accomplished, and the details that make up the work, then you are setting the base for an honest client relationship. I think we all know of a business that once told an agency or SEO to increase its rank and ended up coming back with a nearly irreparable amount of paid links in return.

To make what could be a very long story short, communication can set the basis for your relationships throughout your professional life. Communicate your every idea, action, concern, question, success, failure, and the list goes on.

Attention to Detail

One thing that frustrates me more than almost anything is wasting time. Not paying attention to detail when working in digital marketing can end up wasting a lot of time. There is no sense in sending documents back and forth with revisions because you were too lazy to run a spell check or check out your formatting before you send it off.

In a lot of ways, paying attention to detail can be closely related to communication. By having an in depth knowledge of every decision you make, you now have the knowledge to communicate in a more concise manner. Checking documents for spelling and grammar will force you to read over the content a second and third time, therefore the content will become more familiar. When you are making changes to local listings or PPC text ads, why would you not want to document and track everything you do?

Keeping records, tracking changes, and being diligent in your tactics can only result in a positive outcome, and this is something that can be very easy to skip over or ignore.

Be Proactive

When I entered into the world of digital marketing, I felt very strongly that I was there to learn. While that was most definitely the case, I had no idea the opportunity existed through being proactive and sharing ideas. In the agency world, a good idea can come from any level. Many of us have job descriptions and guidelines, and it is easy to feel confined within those regulations. I can guarantee you right now that nobody will be disappointed to hear your input on issues that may fall outside of your role. You never know when one of your ideas hits you may just have an opportunity to help build services and make a true impact on your work environment.

In Summary

I know that many of this information could already be in your head or may be a message you have had drilled into your head time and time again. The true purpose of this article for me is to give other marketers some insight into what I strive to craft into habit. It is very easy to get complacent when you sit in front of a computer from eight to 10 hours a day, so being able to constantly remind yourself what matters can really be important.

Now when I get to work every day, I have notes that blatantly say “communicate” and “pay attention to detail.” There are sure to be more in the future, and I have truly enjoyed sharing the lessons I have learned with the SEJ community.

Image Credit: Shutterstock / auremar

Category Careers
Jeff Bedford Analytics & Optimization Specialist at The New Group

Jeff Bedford is an Optimization & Analytics Specialist at The New Group, an integrated digital marketing agency in Portland, Oregon. ...

Lessons from My First Year at a Digital Agency

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