The next in our series of meet the team articles, we speak to James Warmington-Smith, Head of Digital Marketing at Granite 5, to explore James’s insights on all things digital marketing.
TL; DR SEO and PPC expert, industry changes in SEO and big data, and trust is key in a successful business.
James started his career a world away from digital marketing with a degree in geology as he had a passion for rocks! And did a stint working on oil rigs as a geologist. From there, James moved into business development at BT, back in the day when businesses used payphones. We know! This was his first taste of client support that he would later go on to do a lot more of at Granite 5.
After 6 years of managing a large account, product development and launching a new network service at SITA, James’s passion for digital came calling when he branched out on his own to offer services including website builds, SEO, and PPC for affiliate marketing clients.
After honing his skills in digital marketing James was looking for a new challenge and found it in the shape of Granite 5. He joined the company back in 2013 and has never looked back. Initially joining as a Digital Marketing Manager, James then progressed to his current role of Head of Digital Marketing leading the team at Granite 5.
Granite 5 > What have been the most significant changes in the digital marketing industry during your career?
James > There have been several big changes that have really shaped the digital marketing industry during my career, including:
- The adaptation of SEO techniques. When I started in SEO black hat tactics were rife within the industry, however, Google has clamped down on these charlatans over time. The rules of SEO have changed so much over the last 15 or so years and SEO is now much more a mix of science and art. It’s a case of understanding the Google rules and using your experience to keep sites evolving and ranking highly.
- The number of digital marketing channels. Back when I started there was only really Google ads and organic as digital marketing channels. I know it was that long ago! Now there are hundreds of paid, social, video, and organic options. The whole digital marketing world has mushroomed, it is a challenge for marketers to keep up.
- Big data – The amount and granularity of data that is available to a digital marketeer nowadays can be overwhelming and it can make measurement more challenging. I have found the best way to tackle this is to set clear objectives of what you want and need to measure, to allow you to cut through the noise and measure the things that will have the biggest impact on your organisation.
Granite 5 > What is the project you are most proud of delivering?
James > There are so many! But I would say Brake and Service World for one. They have been with us for many years and are a great client to work with. We have transformed their whole digital footprint with a variety of tactics including PPC, inbound marketing, social management, and SEO to help them achieve their business goals. It’s so rewarding seeing the impact we have made on their business with year-on-year increases in revenue.
The Moller Institute is another client I’m incredibly proud of the work we have delivered. We have a great relationship with their Marketing Manager and team, which really allows us to be proactive in our digital support as we know where they are aiming to take the business.
Granite 5 > What insights can you share from working with an array of successful clients? What makes them successful?
James > For me trust is key. You must have trust in the relationship between a client and agency for it to work. The clients that are the most successful, are the ones that work with us the closest. We understand their business and what they are trying to achieve, and they trust us to be proactive and support them in the best way possible. In my experience having an open and honest relationship breeds success.
Granite 5 > What do you think makes Granite 5 unique?
James > Undoubtably the people, which is one of our company values. But unlike most companies you see who implement company values, they are often to tick a corporate box. With Granite 5 we really do live and breathe them and they are part of our culture.
One of the biggest things that struck me when joining Granite 5 was the caring and supportive team. Jill has done a great job at fostering that and choosing team members who are not only incredibly talented, but also a great fit and really support each other.
This supportive atmosphere permeates to how we treat and support our clients. We genuinely care about them and treat their work like it’s our own. That’s something special that I don’t think you get from most other agencies, and something I’m really proud of.
Granite 5 > Finally, in such a fast-paced industry, how do you stay up to date? Can you recommend any books, blogs, social accounts to support readers?
James > I use a tool called Feedly which allows me to link in content from a whole host of sources and view it in one place. This is a super handy tool and I would recommend it if you aren’t already using it.
Some of the top blogs I follow that are linked in my Feedly account are:
- Search engine journal
- Search engine news
- Google webmaster central
- Google ad central
- Moz.com – whiteboard Friday
Keep in touch with James by connecting with him on LinkedIn.