How To Avoid Burnout & Thrive In Marketing with Emily Hughes & Kage Spatz

Marketing Strategy Series by

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Emily Hughes Marketing Expert

It’s ok to combine mission and business, in fact sometimes mission contributes significantly to business goals.

As a part of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with my fellow marketing pros at the top of their game to give entrepreneurs and marketers an inside look at proven strategies you might also be able to leverage to grow your business. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Emily Hughes.

Growth specialist and business strategist Emily Hughes is currently Head of Marketing at Mobilize, where she oversees digital marketing, brand and design, public relations, advertising, events, and more. Prior to this, Emily worked at brands like goop, Food & WineTravel + Leisure, and co-founded a prominent digital marketing agency. She is a two-time graduate of Villanova University.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting and what lesson you learned from that?

In one of my first jobs, I told my boss that I knew how to run Facebook ads — except I didn’t. I quickly did tons of research and played around with the platform, teaching myself the ins and outs so I could legitimately position myself as the company expert. I learned two lessons: first, don’t lie, especially when it comes to spending company money! Second, I was reassured by the knowledge that I can likely teach myself something in a crunch.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

Set reasonable goals and firm boundaries, and set them early. Don’t expect someone else to set them for you! When you join a company (or a project, if you’re a freelancer), make it clear when you are and are not available. If working hours are 9am-6pm, stick to that. Work hard during those hours, but don’t answer (or send!) emails outside of them. With goals, set expectations about what a reasonable workload looks like, and make it clear that by adding something to your list, you need to sacrifice something else. Get comfortable saying no!

Great advice. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. As you know Google and other search engines constantly update their search algorithms. Today, do you believe that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is still an important part of any long-term marketing plan?

SEO is absolutely still an important part of any long-term marketing plan. I specialize in e-commerce, media, and B2B tech, and in all three industries, organic search should make up a significant portion of your traffic. SEO requires a significant, time-intensive investment, especially at the beginning, but it pays off in dividends forever. It brings in new, high-intent site visitors, which tend to convert and return at higher rates, making them valuable no matter what your business goals look like.

Can you share some basic Search Engine Optimization tips you have for less experienced marketers?

Do your keyword research. No need to keyword stuff, but create quality content around the target keywords you want to rank for.

Optimize page titles and meta descriptions. These small changes make all the difference in search results and click-throughs.

Optimize page content, and don’t neglect images! Use appropriate H1 and H2 tags. Format the most important text in lists, bullet points, or bold fonts. As for images, alt tags and file names play a big part in driving organic search traffic to your site.

Build links back to your site. Make sure the sites you place links on have high domain authority scores and are credible sources for the topic at hand. Focus on quality over quantity!

Invest in an SEO tool to help you build and execute a strategy. At the very least, leverage Google Search Console, but also consider purchasing a license to Moz or SEM Rush.

What “3 Non-Intuitive Marketing Strategies” have been most effective for you in your industry?

  1. It’s ok to combine mission and business, in fact, sometimes mission contributes significantly to business goals. I’ve worked at a few companies with a mission attached. At Mobilize, being clear about our values helps weed out prospective clients who are not the right fit for us. It also helps us hire mission-driven employees and partners who will be motivated by the social change they’re generating through their work. At FEED, a former client, every product purchased equaled a number of meals donated to communities battling hunger. This mission was a major differentiator for the brand and brought in buyers eager to put their money to good use.
  2. Don’t write off less shiny marketing channels. There seems to be a new tool, ad platform, or social media network every other week, and many companies get too focused on “the next big thing.” In reality, some old school marketing channels — like email or direct mail — remain uniquely impactful and should not be replaced by these shinier tools.
  3. Stay true to you. Most markets are heavily saturated these days, which often leads brands to try to appeal to everyone. By doing so, they sacrifice authenticity and expertise. Instead, companies need to find their niche audience and dedicate themselves to it. This can often put brand and performance at odds, but a strong marketer will be able to find compromises to balance the two.

If you were only allowed to run paid ads on 1 platform (in your industry) over the next 12 months, what would it be and why?

This question is tough! If your company’s goal is brand awareness and significant traffic at a low cost (i.e. a media brand), I would stick with Facebook, which is tough to beat on cost per click and overall reach. If your company’s goal is quality over quantity, and bringing in high-intent visitors (i.e. B2B), I would stick with Google AdWords; you’ll pay more per click, but those clicks will be more likely to turn into a lead or purchase.

One more question! You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

We expect to see 5 million supporters take 10 million actions on Mobilize by the end of the year. These actions will support organizations who fight for women’s equality, better health care, action on climate change, greater voter turnout, LGBTQ+ rights, stronger public education, workers’ protections, and more. It’s incredibly rewarding to use my marketing talents to advance these missions and create positive change each day.

Thank you so much for sharing so much value with us!

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