Halfway Milestone – The Inbound Marketing Internship

‘Change is the only Constant in Life’ – Heraclitus

Don’t we all know this? Don’t we see it all around us? And yet, are not many of us afraid of change? The reason I reflect on change as the opening to this blog is because ‘change’ is such a visible constant in the Digital Industry. As an example – Google, Facebook, and Twitter are constantly in the news for evolving their algorithms. Such changes require Digital Marketers to persistently keep themselves updated.

To be successful in this industry, I strongly recommend following knowledge-leaders in this field by subscribing to their blogs and following them on twitter or other platforms. Some of the people/organizations we follow include Neil PatelNoah KaganMarketing LandHubSpot Academy, and Moz to name a few. And I thought the school was done – who was I kidding?

Introduction

With that opening discourse, let me move back to reflecting on the Internship Program at ElementIQ Internet Marketing. In my first blog post, I wrote about my background and the reasons for choosing an Inbound Marketing Agency for an Internship. In the second post, I shared some of my major contributions. Now, 2 months have passed since I joined the program and with that, I am halfway through this journey.

If you are reading this blog, chances are that you are flirting with the idea of choosing digital marketing as a career or you are an agency/company contemplating incorporating an Internship program yourself. Given that is true, I believe there are two things that you are most interested in knowing:

  1. What the Internship program entails?
  2. What is the company like?

With those two questions in mind, I intend to first reflect briefly on the program in a personal context so that you get a glimpse of the training and assignments. Second, I will share my observations and opinions about the company in an organizational context.

The following is the blog-post-architecture:

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Personal Context

Citations – The First Project

  • The Project

The first major project assigned to me was to understand and master the skill of citation building. Citations (as I had mentioned in my earlier post) in the context of SEO, are having your business information listed on various online directories like the Yellow Pages. This is a task that requires one to be tedious and meticulous and, by all means, is not very thought provoking. However, the exercise has made me gain new perspectives on the online world and taught me invaluable lessons in project management.

  • Why Citations?

As mundane as the task of citation building may sound, it has been thoughtfully chosen as a key focus area of the Internship. This is because building citations gives you hands-on-experience in helping businesses rank in local search. This ties in with the lessons you learn in search engine optimization (SEO) and gives you greater familiarity with the Google search algorithms. These insights will be very useful when you get down to creating digital marketing strategies.

The Training

  • Cross-Job-Training

There are many roles within a digital marketing team – Web Developers, Social Media Managers, Content Marketers, SEO specialists, Data Scientists etc. There is a good chance that you may be more inclined towards one domain as compared to another. However, there is a remarkable connection between the various functions and hence, collaboration has become very important. To foster more effective collaboration, one is trained in all departments and functions.

  • What Are You Good For?

Once you reach the mid-point of the Internship, you would have completed many of the planned training sessions. Moving forward, one gets to choose his/her area of interest for more specialized training. Personally, I am finding this choice a tad-bit-hard as the desire is to specialize in everything.

The Start-Up Advantage – Opportunity To Take Initiatives

  • Contribute To The Core

As organizations grow, roles and responsibilities get better defined. But, when a company is still in the stage of infancy to childhood, there are tremendous opportunities to take initiative. Systems and strategy are continually evolving and working in a start-up can give you the opportunity to contribute to the very core of an organization.

  • The Spirit Of Intrapreneurship

Most entrepreneurs start with identifying pain-points and creating solutions around the same. Successful and efficient solutions can become long-lasting businesses. Similar to this approach, I identified certain pain-points when it came to the ease of accessing information. This led me to take the initiative of creating a better system for management of information. The fact that many start-ups allow for an individual to flex his/her entrepreneurial muscles without assuming the risk of owning one’s own business has led to great job satisfaction for me.

Organizational Context

  • History & Evolution

I take great interest in the history and evolution of an organization. LocalTrifecta was founded in 2010 as an Internet Marketing agency with the focus on helping small-to-medium size businesses. The focus remained the same, but the scope and quality of service kept increasing as the company moved from being a general SEO agency to becoming an Inbound marketing agency. Interestingly, Sam had a background in communications and finance and the world of Internet marketing was all new to him. Yet, with relentless reading, he learned a new language. Today, he corresponds fluently with web developers & designers, SEO specialists, content marketers, and social media marketers. This is an inspiring trait that has remarkably influenced the learning culture of the organization.

  • The Forward March

Things are constantly changing in the digital marketing industry as I said at the very beginning of the post. Old ways constantly become redundant making it necessary to get new knowledge. Since its inception, the company has grown to learn the best practices in the industry and has recently started offering a much more comprehensive partnership to clients. We understand that many moving parts have to come together to make a digital strategy successful. Hence, we are choosing to become a full-service digital marketing agency in the near future, incorporating many of the philosophies of Inbound Marketing.

  • Structured for Success

To be successful in this industry, I cannot emphasize enough on adopting a lean and flexible organizational structure. Adaptability to change is a key success factor and with all things digital being so inter-linked, collaboration and teamwork have become more important than ever before. At LocalTrifecta, we all work together in one big room. Not only that, but we also practice cross-job-training. Knowing each other’s strengths, weaknesses, the scope of work and major challenges significantly promotes greater effectiveness and efficiency.

Discipline & Accountability

  • Rules and Regulations

Let me give you a little inside scoop of the work culture at our place. In an office vibrant with jeans and t-shirts, music and humor, X-Box and Jenga – we are just here to have a good time – or are we? Here, there is no concept of micro-management or a long list of formal rules and regulations. Liberal as it may be though, everyone is expected to take interest and follow through with what is expected of them.

  • I Owe Me

Working with a limited number of people on a variety of clients means there are always things to do. With each member assuming a range of responsibilities, work discipline has to be intrinsic to your nature to be successful in this role. You are your own person here, and you owe yourself accountability.

  • Organize To Multi-Task

The learning curve is steep, especially in the first month. But as you transition from learning to contributing – be prepared to Multi-task. Apart from focusing on the main projects that are assigned to me, I am also involved with a number of other deliverables. Recently, I have spent a considerable time in optimizing blog posts and creating digital presentations. Things can get confusing after a while. To ease through the process, I recommend maintaining notes and using organizational tools like to-do lists.

The Highs And Lows Of An Internet Marketing Agency

  • Instant Versus Delayed Gratification

At LocalTrifecta, we build and manage the online reputation for our clients. The World Wide Web is a very intricate mesh where the cause and effect of actions may not be immediately visible. This makes client interactions especially interesting. We offer our services without the obligation of a long-term contract. Hence, every month we present monthly reports to our clients. Often times, however, the results of site-page improvements, blogs, citations etc take time to reflect positive impacts. Clients, for obvious reasons, want to see results. And when the results are not immediately apparent, it can get difficult to justify investments.

  • The X-Agency Mess

Another low of the Internet marketing world are unreal results that certain agencies claim to offer. We serve a few clients now who had previously hired agencies that promised top results on search pages in the first month for example. In doing so, they engaged in manipulative tactics to produce inorganic results. Doing so overwhelmed the clients initially, but in the long run, it had a severe negative impact to their online reputation. Think of it as being in an illegal business – it can be very rewarding at first but extremely damaging in time. Cleaning up the mess created by someone else is a huge challenge and not a very fun one to deal with.

  • Partner To A Success Story

Before joining LocalTrifecta, I had met most of the individuals working here. I had asked them to describe the company mission statement. The unanimous response was – adding value to clients, everyday. Being partner to a client’s success story is the biggest high of the Internet marketing agency, one that makes all challenges feel like minor obstacles.

Closing Thoughts

Based on demand and supply, CareerBuilder partnered with Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI) to compile a list of the best jobs for 2015. Marketing executive featured at the top of the list in an article published on Business Insider. For a career in marketing, it is imperative that you get experience in digital media and there is no better experience than agency experience.

The Internship program at LocalTrifecta is a wonderful opportunity to get training and hands-on-experience in digital marketing for SME’s. It is also a great opportunity to work with young professionals who are passionate and talented in the trade. If you are considering this as a viable option, I encourage you to research further by reading other blogs and networking with industry professionals.

Week 1—My Inbound Marketing Agency Internship

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My name is Preeya Grewal and I’m the new Inbound marketing intern at ElementIQ Internet Marketing. Since I graduated from university in 2012, I have coveted a marketing agency position and I’m overjoyed that ElementIQ hired me as an intern! My goal for the next 4 months is to soak in as much information as possible and provide a valuable contribution to this great team. My first week has consisted mostly of learning and observation and I’d like to share some of the things that I found most interesting in my first 5 days here.

HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certification

This is the Inbound Marketing software platform that ElementIQ uses. HubSpot offers a free inbound marketing certification course and my colleague Ramesh suggested I take the course prior to my interview. At 11 courses and approximately 15 hours of preparation time—this was a daunting prospect for me. As I began delving into the course, however, I found the content itself to be fascinating and easy to digest. I couldn’t be more grateful that I was introduced to the course because the content is invaluable and extremely useful for anyone starting a career in this line of work. You’re given 3 chances per month to take the test and when you pass, you can display your new Inbound Marketing certification on LinkedIn, on your resume or just use it for bragging rights!

Having taken the course before starting my internship has definitely been helpful in understanding key philosophies, best practices and terminology. The first few days at a new job are already enough of a shock to the system, so having even a bit of familiarity with the material has made a world of a difference to me. You can find the course here.

Seating Arrangement

ElementIQ has an open office seating arrangement­—this is a first for me. The disruption of the traditional office set-up and its rising popularity—specifically for new tech companies has intrigued me. I always wondered what it would be like to work in this sort of space compared to a cubical or office. I’ve questioned whether this kind of set-up could potentially disrupt workflow or concentration given the potential of simultaneous conversations going on at any given time.

Are you a reliable self-starter looking to kickstart your digital marketing career?

After a week in an open office setting, I have to say that I enjoy it. This set-up has been conducive in getting to know my colleagues better, getting familiar to the technical terminology, and easing into the company culture. I asked some of my new colleagues how they like this set-up and from their answers, I’ve gathered that it allows for better teamwork and collaboration and helps everyone get to know one other better. One of the biggest benefits of this setup for this office has to be that it promotes information sharing which is important and necessary to the ElementIQ team. I’ll delve more into this in the next section.Marketing_agency_office_seating

Information Sharing

Information sharing is imperative to this team. More so, in fact, than any team I’ve worked with in the past. It’s a necessary part of the job and integral for servicing each client efficiently. Each team member specializes in 1 or 2 specific channels of Inbound Marketing and depending what each client’s needs are, usually 2 or more team members are responsible for servicing any given client. There are a number of applications used in this office to enable inter-office communications and information sharing.

  • Slack is a real-time messaging app with one-on-one messaging, private groups, and group chats organized by topic, among other things. All conversations are archived and there is a search function. This team uses Slack for general updates on clients and for keeping in the loop about office news and activities.
  • Basecamp is used to keep track of specific project updates. It includes features like to-do lists, assigning activities to various collaborators, document sharing and information management.
  • Highrise is used to house client communication, tasks and notes. When a team member has any sort of communication with a client, they send that information to Highrise where the rest of the team can access it if need be.
  • Google Drive store files through secure cloud storage and file backup for photos, videos, files and more. Here, the team can share folders that contain important files about specific clients so everyone can have access to these files at all times.

Staying In The Loop

The first week of a new job is usually intimidating for new hires and it’s no different for me. Considering how much I need to learn, I do feel pressure to get up to speed and be able to not only comprehend the conversations going on around me but to actually engage in said conversations at some point! I’m feeling optimistic that I’ll get there, not only because of how fascinating I find the content but because of the graciousness and patience I’ve experienced from the team in my first week.

Part of this learning process will involve a lot of self-study, along with all the learning I’m doing at work. The marketing and technology landscape is constantly changing and although I already try my best to stay informed, I know I‘ll be altering my personal media diet to help myself stay in the loop. Ramesh has recommended some informative marketing blogs for me to start reading—Marketing Land, HubSpot, Moz Top 10, Unbounce—to name a few and I’ve been listening to marketing podcasts on my way to and from work to facilitate my learning.

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Learning Can Be Fun!

Since I have never directly worked with most Inbound Marketing channels, I have spent the first week reading about, receiving lessons in and researching different facets of Inbound Marketing. The nuances of all the Inbound Marketing channels and how they fit together to provide a successful marketing strategy is extremely interesting and I’m fortunate that I get to learn from experts who are passionate about what they do. While I am taking in a substantial amount of information, not the least of it is dry. The more I take in, the more eager I am to continue learning and to eventually apply this to my work and this makes me excited about my next 4 months here at ElementIQ!