Digital Marketing Leaders is an interview series where we chat with digital marketers to get a glimpse into their careers and gain a unique insight into how they're building cutting edge customer experiences. In this edition of the series, we shine the light on Aoife McIlraith, a Global Search & Digital Marketing Consultant.
Introduce yourself - tell us a little about you
I’m Aoife McIlraith, a global search and international SEO consultant based in Dublin. I run an SME for International SEO, content discoverability and multilingual digital strategies and provide consultancy and training services.
Earlier this year I was named as one of the "Top 20 women making the biggest impact in Tech" by B2B Marketing Magazine in March 2019.
This year a lot of my work was with brands to define their digital assistant and voice search strategist for 2020 and beyond. I do travel a lot to customers and am a regular speaker at international conferences covering topics on international SEO, How to Go Global with Content and Multilingual Voice Search. International conferences including SEMRush Live Prague, DMEXCO Germany, Sirius Decisions London, Localization World Beijing and Tokyo and eConsultancy Singapore.
I am also a qualified programmer and developer so also spend a lot of time enabling effective communications and bridging the gap between global marketing teams and technology teams.
This year I also became a mentor for Enterprise Ireland and work with the accelerator program for start-ups
What is your marketing superpower, the most important skill that makes you a great marketer?
Everything I do is with a global view. I've been very privileged to work with some of the biggest global brands in the world and consult on their global marketing content strategies. Global marketing and internationalisation leads to complex website architecture and often very siloed marketing, localisation and technical teams. I would say one of my superpowers is being able to view a multi-market strategy, see the gaps and bring a global best practice approach for marketing requirements, localization requirements technical requirements and help global brands execute.
I am a Global SME (subject matter expert) on international SEO, multilingual content strategies and voice search. International SEO is complex if we think about what it takes to get SEO correct in one language, then you take a global brands website with possibly hundreds of thousands of pages, add 24, 46 sometimes 100 plus languages. I always say “my world is beyond Google”, Baidu in China, Yandex in Russia, Naver in South Korea, Yahoo in Japan and let’s not forget Bing for US and Europe. Brands expect to be able to duplicate a successful English SEO strategy, that drives conversations, into all their other markets and languages. However, they rarely have a defined SEO strategy for these markets and how they can reach their audiences organically. The other statement my teams have always hear me say in every meeting is “not all content is created equal” so let's not try to optimize everything, my strategy is always to surface the right content, to the right audience, in the right place, at the right time.
What new, modern tactic, tool, or aspect of marketing should marketers pay more attention to?
Voice search. I have been advocating and working on voice search now for three years and speak at international conferences on the topic. Marketers need to look at voice search now and see it as a new channel and the potential to have a 1:1 direct connect with their customers. Right now there is one result on a voice search, you ask a question you get an answer; now called #0
The biggest mistake I see with voice search right now is that brands are trying to optimize their existing web content and repurpose it to create a voice strategy and drive results. This approach does not work; voice search needs its own content strategy. How people type a query and how they ask a question can be very different, even though they're looking for the same answer. An example you may type in “Weather in Cork” in Google or your weather app but you might your digital assistant “Do I need an umbrella today?”. Different search queries looking for the same outcome; do you need to need to pick up that umbrella as you walk out the door.
Right now as there is only one result, and it's organic, whoever gets that #0 result first wins the race. Google and Amazon are already testing paid on their digital assistants so we're going to see in a shift in 2020 from current organic only to a mix of organic and paid.
The adoption of digital assistance is one of the fastest adoptions of personal technology in history. Latest stats are saying 1 in 10 people will have a digital assistant in Ireland in 2020. That's not a statistic any marketer should ignore.
The ability to have a personalised, one to one communication channel with your customer, that is the holy grail of marketing! Voice search can provide that opportunity, why would you not include it in your marketing strategy.
What aspects of basic marketing have marketers neglected in recent years?
As crazy as this seems, brand. We have been given so many new channels, so many new marketing trends, platforms and shiny new toys that we all have to work on. I see marketer teams run off their feet, producing extensive amounts of marketing materials and content across crazy amounts of platforms. When you take a step back and look at it all so much of what is created has nothing to do with the brand or have any real strategic value to the brand. We need to get back to marketing our brands and not creating marketing content because non-marketing stakeholders have been advised: “that’s what marketing should be doing”. If it is not supporting brand awareness, activities and or sales funnel acquisition then why are you asking marketing to do it?
How do you encourage creative thinking from your team and company?
I encourage teams to just think for themselves first, be creative with idea’s and potential campaigns and then I like to brainstorm all these ideas in whiteboard sessions with the team. I think most markets are creative people at their core and that’s what got them into marketing in the first place. Coming up with a creative campaign idea and being able to execute and implement can be miles apart. There can be a lot of barriers for a creative campaign so brainstorming the initial idea can drive teams to iterations of the original concept that get to an executable campaign.
What skills will marketers need in the future? How do you stay sharp?
With the proliferation of marketing tech and automation, I think it is critical for marketers to truly understand technology and basics architecture of site development and data structure and analytics. The combination of marketing and technical knowledge and understanding is one of the biggest gaps I have seen for many years.
I saw and felt this nearly a decade ago and I went back to college and did a post-grad in Web technologies and became a programmer.
I was so frustrated with developers who didn't understand what the marketing strategy and specific ask for features and functions, they would tell me it couldn't be done or would cost considerable budget so I went back and learned how to do it that now I can talk to both marketing and technology stakeholders and get correct scope of work in place.
What blog or learning resources would you recommend?
As a lot of my time is spent on SEO, which of course we know changes all the time, my go-to resources are www.moz.com www.searchengineland.com , www.semrush.com/blog and Webcertain for video content on global marketing. For the most up-to-date voice search data and insights, https://voicebot.ai/ is a great resource.
An amazing new conference, that is 100% free to attend, and just launched on 2nd December is a virtual summit called “Badass Summit”. It has brought together 28 business, marketing and lifestyle badass experts covering a wide range of topics to help digital professionals. I was asked to contribute to the summit and was very excited to be involved. The summit focuses on actionable insights rather than just experts speaking at you, so I'm equally excited to get insights for myself from other digital professionals that have contributed!
Would you like to be featured in our Irish Digital Leaders series? Get in touch with our team about why we should interview you about your career so far.