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6 Challenges for Female Business Leaders

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The business world is no longer just a man’s world. According to 2017 data from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), over 11 million U.S. firms are currently owned and operated by women, contributing over 1.7 trillion dollars to the U.S. economy.

Though these numbers speak volumes to the power and determination of the female spirit, they do not tell the whole story. Women-owned firms are still the minority, and women continue to face unequal pay, sexism, and gender barriers in the workplace. From finding professional mentors to achieving work/life balance, overcoming these obstacles can seem daunting — especially in technical and chief executive roles where the representation of women is far lower than men.

As a woman entrepreneur, business leader, and the CEO and founder of the travel company Acanela Expeditions, I am incredibly passionate about female empowerment in the business arena. Throughout my journey, I have faced several roadblocks throughout my career and have worked hard to develop successful strategies to transform these hurdles into opportunities.

Below, I want to share six common challenges women business leaders face. Hopefully, you will find these tips useful for overcoming each, and feel more empowered to take charge of and thrive in your career.

1.
Challenge: Most of the people in the room are men.
Opportunity: As a woman, I stand out but I’m also more likely to be remembered.

One of the uncomfortable realities of being a women entrepreneur is walking into a business meeting and realizing that you’re one of the few women (if not the only woman) in the room. The pressure of being the only one can be overwhelming. In fact, studies show that individuals who are “onlies” (e.g. the only woman, the only LGBTQ person, the only person of color, etc.) are subject to a higher percentage of bias and discrimination from members of the majority group, whether intentional or not. No wonder it’s so tempting for us to step back and try to blend in with the crowd!

While the temptation to stick out less is strong, most successful female leaders agree that staying true to yourself and playing to your strengths are key to rising above preconceived notions of how women should appear and act at work.

Instead of conforming to the widely held belief of what a leader looks like or should be, I have discovered that it is important to have confidence in myself and the skill sets that brought me to where I am today. “Sticking out” can actually be a positive attribute, giving you the chance to spotlight the unique skills and outlook you bring to the table. So instead of shrinking back, step forward and make a lasting impression by being both seen and heard.

2.
CHALLENGEIt’s hard to build a support network in a “boys club” world.
Opportunity: Seek both men and women as connections and mentors who will help you along your career journey.

It’s no secret that a lack of mentors and advisors can stunt one’s professional growth. After all, in the business world, it’s not always what you know, but who you know.

Yet, a 2017 study by the NAWBO states that over 48% of women in business report finding it difficult to build a healthy support network in male-dominated fields. Despite this challenge, women have an amazing opportunity to collaborate and build strong support networks.

For example, women-oriented networking groups and events, such as the American Express OPEN CEO Bootcamp and the International Association of Women, are indicative of a growing number of networks and professional spaces that focus on supporting and elevating women professionals. Consider becoming involved with networking groups, professional associations, and other organizations that feature and promote successful women leaders. This gives you the opportunity to not only learn from the experiences of seasoned professionals, but also enables you to make and build connections with potential mentors who can offer support and advice later in your career.

It’s important to note that professional support and mentorship for women does not have to come exclusively from women. On the contrary, I have found incredible value in seeking counsel from men who have shared their connections, advice, expertise, and support — all of which helped catapult me into my current role as CEO.

3.
Challenge: It’s increasingly difficult to balance work with my personal life.
Opportunity: Create a healthy work-life blend.

As a female business executive, I have been asked the question time and time again, “Can women really have it all? There are several flaws inherent to this question (not least of which is the fact that my husband and male coworkers never get asked this).

The truth is that both men and women business leaders are challenged with balancing their career and personal life. However, I’ve found that changing the terminology from “work-life balance” to “work-life blend” helped me ease the juggling act of work and family time. Running your own business takes significant time and effort. However, it can also allow more flexibility and control over your schedule.

As the head of Acanela Expeditions, my work bleeds into my personal life and vice versa. Rather than being a separate part of my life, work is a genuine and integral part of it. This doesn’t mean that I’m simply “on” and working all the time. Instead, I’ve intentionally set strategic, as well as realistic career and personal goals that work together to create a healthy lifestyle for me and my family.

4.
Challenge: I lack access to funding.
Opportunity: Identify funding sources that target women-led fundraising initiatives.

According to a Forbes article published in December 2017, female entrepreneurs receive less than 3% of venture capital funds. Though that number is skewed due to the lack of women in business and corporate leadership positions, studies consistently show women founders as less likely to win adequate funding.

As an entrepreneur, this challenge creates an opportunity for you to engage in education and support networks dedicated to helping women-led businesses. Organizations like the Female Founders Alliance, Astia, and Golden Seeds offer coaching workshops to guide early-stage entrepreneurs through the fundraising process and help connect them to potential donors.

5.
Challenge: I constantly encounter the stereotype that “women are more emotional and less decisive than men.”
Opportunity: Women bring diverse physical, mental, and emotional experiences to the conversation.

You’ve probably heard the common stereotype that women are “emotional thinkers” and, therefore, less competent business leaders than men. While some women may think differently than men as a result of their personal and professional experiences, I haven’t found it to be a flaw in business. If anything, it’s an advantage.

In today’s hypercompetitive marketplace, gender diversity is good business. Women bring unique perspectives, ideas, and experiences to the table that enrich conversations and lead to better company decisions. It often takes great boldness to make our voices heard, but it is essential, for we have a lot of important opinions and ideas to share with the world.

Harmful stereotypes argue that women are less decisive than men and thus have a difficult time making tough business decisions. However, while I tend to be a more relationally-oriented decision maker, I’ve discovered this characteristic to be helpful in advancing my company. I’d also argue that my relationships with colleagues have enhanced not just my leadership abilities, but also the overall health of my company.

Listening to and involving team members in important conversations has enabled me to make more logical, reasonable, and healthier decisions that steer the company forward. Ultimately, respecting my employees and their opinions has helped me become a more well-rounded and successful business leader.

6.
Challenge: Expectations are often set lower for women.
Opportunity: Then shouldn’t it be easier to exceed them?

Earning the same level of respect and recognition as male colleagues can be a difficult and frustrating experience for women. Senior-level roles in businesses remain dominated by men, and internal biases are alive and well in the workplace.

While this reality has frustrated me greatly, I’ve realized that it has also given me the motivation to not only reach those expectations, but to also surpass them. Don’t be discouraged by low opinions and stereotypes. As we continue to surprise and exceed expectations, we break through one glass ceiling at a time.

Overall, the truth is: Yes, women continue to face unfair gender biases in the workplace. However, when viewed from an empowered perspective, these obstacles can serve to strengthen and elevate women leaders in diverse spaces. Meeting these challenges head on presents an incredible opportunity to make a positive impact on your situation and those of future generations. We live in a unique time in history, one in which we have the power and opportunity to band together to break down longstanding barriers, and realize our biggest dreams and career aspirations.  

***

Acanela Expeditions is a US-based travel agency that specializes in experiences, people and culture. Kylie Chenn founded Acanela Expeditions in 2015 after spending a semester in Europe. While abroad, she met incredibly talented individuals, or artisans, with stories that deserve to be shared. She created Acanela Expeditions to provide others with the opportunity to meet and learn from these artisans personally. Acanela Expeditions has nearly 100 tours worldwide and continues to explore unique countries to add to their offered locations. For more information, visit www.acanela.com.

***

By investing in opportunity, General Assembly helps people all over the world leverage technology to achieve their career goals. Our See Her Excel scholarship reflects our commitment to champion gender diversity and inclusion at all levels, and elevate women in software engineering and data science so they can thrive in the world’s fastest growing industries. Learn more about how GA supports women in tech at ga.co/she.

Announcing Our New Course for Software Engineers

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Allow us to reintroduce ourselves.

We’re excited to announce that our flagship program just got a full upgrade for 2019: Web Development Immersive (WDI) is now Software Engineering Immersive.

Keeping our programs tightly linked to market demand is at the core of General Assembly’s mission. It’s part of our commitment to ensuring our graduates can secure great jobs and build meaningful careers using their new skills.

To keep ahead of rapidly changing industry needs, we do our research, working closely with employers, practitioners, and students to make impactful updates that help grads launch new careers. We dive into questions including:

  • What roles are employers looking to hire?
  • What types of jobs do our graduates get, and with what titles?
  • What are broader trends across the industry?
  • And, most importantly, how can we synthesize all of this to ensure our students have the most relevant, in-demand skills they need to succeed?

Since 2012, more than 8000 adults have taken WDI — a rigorous full-time, three-month program with dedicated job support. More recently, we’ve invested in expanding our offering in a few significant ways, leading us to shift our emphasis to software engineering.

What’s New

  1. We added a deep computer science focus.

In the simplest terms, we’re arming our students with the theory behind how computers and applications work. We’ve added 30 hours of in-class and online instruction in computer science concepts. This new content equips students with the ability to describe the “why” behind what they’re doing as they create algorithms, data structures, and design patterns — skills already fundamental to the learning experience in WDI. The ability to understand and demonstrate the “why” is critical for succeeding in technical interviews, and our hands-on approach gets them ready through mock interview questions and challenges.

  1. Spotlight on high-demand languages and frameworks.

As the skills and tools that drive web development evolve, companies have gone from wanting static webpages to needing sophisticated web applications that respond to client needs in real time. Knowing HTML, CSS, and basic JavaScript is no longer enough; roles now require a full suite of engineering skills in order to create complex, scalable web applications. Over the years, we’ve made countless upgrades to our curriculum, integrating high-demand languages and frameworks like Ruby on Rails, Python, Django, React, Angular, and Ember.

  1. Free foundational prep course.

We know our courses are tough; it’s what makes them so effective at landing people jobs. However, we also believe that, with the right preparation, dedication, and support, anyone can make it. To help ensure that students are ready to hit the ground running on day one of class, we’re offering totally free training that covers the foundational elements of software engineering.

  1. $0 upfront tuition options.

We want students to be able to focus on what really matters: their education. To create more pathways into our classrooms, we’ve launched payment opportunities like our Catalyst program. This income share agreement empowers students to take our courses at no upfront cost and only begin paying back their tuition once they have secured a job. Learn more about our flexible financing options here.  

  1. Real-world development workflows.

To ensure our grads enter the workplace ready to perform, we now go beyond full-stack training by replicating real-world engineering scenarios. Our enhanced emphasis on version control, writing specifications, the product development life cycle, design patterns, code refactoring, unit tests, and managing dependencies rounds out the essential competencies for today’s software engineers.

What Hasn’t Changed

Our proven approach to developing industry-relevant curriculum remains the same: we partner with top employers and practitioners in the field to ensure our offerings are tailored to meet today’s needs. And, as with all Immersive course participants, SEI students receive dedicated support from expert career coaches from their first day of class to their first day on the job. Diving deep into personal brand building, technical interview prep, exclusive networking events, portfolio development, job search roadmaps, and more, we’re there at every step of the job hunt with guidance to keep grads motivated and accountable.

Read all about SEI, its new components, and frequently asked questions about the program here. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with us at admissions@ga.co.

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Master Your Content Marketing Strategy With the Content Honeycomb

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Content marketing encompasses the creation and distribution of content that aims to help a specific target customer progress through their journey toward a business conversion.

For your brand’s content to be noteworthy, it has to provide value to the user. The Content Honeycomb is General Assembly’s framework — modeled after information architecture pioneer Peter Morville’s widely used User Experience Honeycomb — for helping you generate, evaluate, and push content marketing strategies that make your brand stand out. It’s one of many valuable tools you can use to plan, organize, and optimize your marketing efforts.

The Content Honeycomb posits that high-value content possesses certain key characteristics. Some (or all) of it should be participatory, entertaining, helpful, educational, meaningful, and/or unique.

If you look at any content success story, it probably ticks the box for at least two or three of these characteristics. You should aim to do the same.

The Content Honeycomb is a great tool for evaluating content, whether it’s created in-house or by an outside agency. As you review each piece of content, ask which boxes it ticks off. If it’s helpful, can you also make it entertaining? If it’s educational, can it also be participatory? In this regard, the framework is extremely valuable in helping to articulate what’s missing from any given content campaign.

Digital Marketing Campaign Essentials
Boost your skills and launch campaigns that drive real impact with this exclusive guide.

Download the Paper

High-Value Content Breakdown

Marketers with a deep understanding of content strategy are more in tune with how their customers feel, what they say, and what they hear. They listen and tailor their efforts according to what their audience really wants — and these efforts translate into results.

What makes for a strong content strategy? Specific characteristics, like “participatory” and “meaningful,” lie at the core of the Content Honeycomb, and crafting material that embodies those terms requires thoughtfulness and detail. Let’s break down each Honeycomb component and explore how you can begin putting it to work.

Meaningful

Meaningful content connects with an audience on a deeper emotional, intellectual, or philosophical level. This content isn’t just about being warm and fuzzy — it’s a business differentiator.

To create meaningful content:

  • Start conversations on social media about resonant topics.
  • Conduct interviews with thought leaders that reveal insights that can improve readers’ lives.
  • Showcase social impact stories that highlight your brand’s commitment to bettering communities and advancing worthy causes.
  • Share stories of people who have been positively impacted by your brand.

I can publish a post on my food review app’s blog that highlights how local restaurants partner with community gardens to incorporate fresh, organic ingredients into their menus.

Educational

Each day, customers search the internet to learn about their interests. They want to go behind the scenes, find out what’s new, and get inspired. Educational content informs an audience about topics that are relevant to a company’s goods, services, or values.

To create educational content:

  • Craft tutorials and how-tos on skills related to your product.
  • Publish slide decks, white papers, or blog posts with helpful information on current trends.
  • Conduct webinars or live “ask me anything” (AMA) broadcasts to share insights from your business’s thought leaders.
  • Condense useful facts into shareable infographics.

I will partner with a chef to produce a cooking tutorial video and host it on my app.

Helpful

Helpful content is just that — it makes things easier for customers, whether it’s a tax calculator and guide to use throughout the season, or simply an FAQ series related to a product.

To create helpful content:

  • Build apps and tools that solve problems for your customers.
  • Share resources and toolkits that assist people in using your product or service to its full potential.
  • Publish white papers that provide insight into your readers’ lives and provide actionable advice.
  • Address common questions with FAQs.

I will create a “traveling foodie’s dictionary” that translates common terms found on regional menus.

Participatory

Participatory content aims to make customers part of a brand story. It inspires people to act, whether they’re engaging in a webinar’s open-chat forum or contributing to a community LinkedIn Group.

To create participatory content:

  • Leverage tools like live video to host a forum in which customers can interact with or add to the content as you’re creating it. Create live, offline experiences that customers can take part in.
  • Run contests and competitions that invite users to create and share original content.
  • Use quizzes and polls to invite people to find out more about themselves — and your brand.

We’ll run a virtual “scavenger hunt” in which users can “find” ingredients at restaurants they review in exchange for points that can be redeemed for dining discounts.

Entertaining

There’s an old adage that suggests people remember how you make them feel more than they remember what you say or do. This also applies in the world of marketing and is the best way to approach creating entertaining content. Marketers can humanize their brands through content that resonates with strong emotions to develop deeper connections with their audiences.

To create entertaining content:

  • Share entertaining photos, videos, or even animated GIFs that connect your brand personality, key messaging, and target audience.
  • When it works, consider bringing humor into the equation.
  • Engage in brand storytelling, experimenting across media formats — videos, slideshares, podcasts, articles, etc.
  • Leverage influencers to create and share original branded content.

I will tweet out trending GIFs that pair well with quotes from user reviews.

Unique

Today’s consumers are met with a constant deluge of new content, from their email inboxes to their social media feeds. Your content not only needs to be fresh and different — it also has to stand out. Effective campaigns are often based on a deep understanding of a specific customer and what matters to them. They break through the clutter of dull “brand speak” and talk to customers in a way that’s relatable — and unique.

To create unique content:

  • Look for content your customers are already generating that’s related to your brand, and play off of it.
  • Offer experiences — either online or in person — that cannot be had anywhere else.
  • Start with the problem your product solves. Reference the work of other leaders in the field or create content in partnership with them to provide original, cross-industry perspectives on your customer’s core needs.

I will compile and share neighborhood-specific restaurant guides by aggregating reviews that users have written on my app.

A strong content strategy should extend consistently across all marketing functions, as every platform and channel is an opportunity to galvanize your audiences and introduce them to your brand. To use content to its full potential across paid, owned, and earned media, engage in ongoing, cross-team brainstorming and keep the Content Honeycomb in mind. By following this framework, your content will make strides in driving profit and elevating the profile of your brand.

More Tools to Hone Your Marketing Tactics

The Content Honeycomb is just one of many tools you can use to organize goals, prioritize approaches, create effective campaigns, determine which data to focus on, and more. In our free, exclusive paper, Campaign Essentials, dive into three more valuable frameworks commonly used in General Assembly’s digital marketing programs. Each framework serves a different purpose in focusing, planning, executing, and optimizing your marketing campaigns.

Dive into the tactics that drive successful marketing campaigns through our part-time 10-week or 1-week accelerated Digital Marketing course, on our global campuses or online. Learn practical skills in short-form workshops and bootcamps, connect with others in the field at our exclusive campus events, or get an overview of the field in a free livestream. For teams, strengthen your marketing operations by assess your marketers’ skills, identifying growth opportunities, and closing your skills gaps.

Set Smart Marketing Objectives With the Objective-First Framework

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If you’ve ever watched Mad Men, the acclaimed TV drama about the 1960s heyday of Madison Avenue ad agencies, you have an inkling of how marketing worked before digital media and the internet.

Back then, businesses:

  • Identified their target markets and customer value propositions.
  • Crafted creative messages to inspire the audience to try their products.
  • Launched a campaign on TV, on radio, and in print, and…
  • Waited weeks or even months to find out whether or not it worked.

This approach reached potential customers at the top of the marketing funnel, at what’s known as the awareness stage. It was challenging for traditional marketers to target certain demographics and strategically serve different ads to specific audiences.

Today, however, marketers can reach people much further along in the funnel. Digital platforms like Google Analytics, Facebook, and SailThru provide detailed insight into consumer behavior at pivotal points such as the consideration and conversion stages, when people are ready to take action. There are also countless content formats that marketers can leverage across these platforms to influence behavior. The vast range of opportunities to reach and galvanize audiences makes for more effective marketing campaigns — but also more complexity for the people who plan them.

That’s where frameworks come in — tools that help marketers organize goals, prioritize approaches, create marketing plans, and more. Here we’ll tackle the Objective-First Framework, which will help you set laser-focused goals for any campaign. (For more frameworks to plan, optimize, and measure your marketing efforts, download our free guide, Campaign Essentials.)

To take advantage of all the tools and data available, marketers must be crystal clear on what they and their business are trying to accomplish, and why. Launching media plans across channels without truly understanding key objectives can lead to lackluster results that compromise the brand — and the bottom line.

Set yourself, your team, and your business up for success by establishing explicit marketing objectives and a well-defined path for achieving them.

The Objective-First Framework offers a streamlined approach to setting goals, drawing conclusions, and analyzing channels. It takes a lot of ambiguity out of crafting objectives and aligns stakeholders on what defines success. This powerful tool helps you:

  1.  Structure marketing efforts.
  2. Share plans and results.
  3. Use marketing resources wisely.
  4. Discern what data is and isn’t important.
  5. Establish a common goal and ensure that all stakeholders are aligned.

The Objective-First Framework can be implemented at any level of your marketing organization — individuals can use it to keep their own goals on track, and teams can use it to pursue big-picture targets. The framework helps you outline goals and hypothesize, execute, and measure results, which means a quicker path to success.

How to Build a Strong, SMART Marketing Objective

As the name of this framework implies, choosing your objective is the most essential step in planning a marketing strategy and campaigns across any channel. A strong marketing objective will answer two critical questions:

  1. What perception or behavior do you want to change in your customers?
  2. What will changing this perception or behavior do for your business?

To set up an objective, first consider the following questions:

  • What do I or my team specifically want to achieve?
  • Why is this goal important to achieve?
  • By when do I need to achieve this goal?
  • What defines success?

Once you answer these questions, you can determine whether or not your objective is SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Just like the acronym suggests, a SMART objective is well thought out and crafted with consideration. It keeps you focused on the path to reaching your goal and helps you avoid logistical or strategic pitfalls.

Here’s a breakdown of the qualities that define SMART objectives.

Specific

A good objective should be as specific as possible; this will help you to measure your progress toward reaching it. If your objective can be interpreted in several different ways, it may not be specific enough.

Let’s say you wanted to recruit users for a food review app. Your objective might be, “Attract 200 new users this month.” However, without stating that you want those users to be active contributors to your community, your team might offer a one-time sign-up reward. This may get 200 new users, but they will likely be bargain-hunters who won’t contribute to the community… or return to the app. Make this objective more specific by defining the behaviors users need to take in the app before they can be counted toward your goal.

Measurable

Could stakeholders disagree on whether or not your objective was achieved? If so, it’s not sufficiently measurable. To make success as unambiguous as possible, think of hard numbers or objectives with “yes or no” answers that remove guesswork from analysis. For example, if your objective is, “Attract 200 new users who will write at least two food reviews in their first month using the app,” you’ve defined a clear “yes” or “no” question with a quantifiable, measurable answer.

People across your organization should also be aligned on the tool(s) you’ll use as a source of measurement — for example, the profit and loss report, a client survey, or sales reports. This establishes a shared vocabulary and ensures that everyone is on the same page (literally) when looking at metrics.

Attainable

Choose an objective that you know can be achieved but is not guaranteed. This will keep you motivated and creative. If your objective is too easily attainable, there’s no challenge in it and it may not impact broader business objectives in a significant way. On the other hand, if your objective is completely unrealistic, you risk wasting resources, frustrating leaders and teammates, and possibly failing the business.

Realistic

Don’t set objectives that rely heavily on something that’s outside of your influence or lie dramatically beyond benchmark performance. If your plan requires technologies you don’t have (or don’t exist!), exceeds your budget, or leans on talent that isn’t available, your chances of succeeding will be greatly limited.

Time-Bound

Set target dates and key milestones to keep things on track. A realistic time frame provides a finish line to look forward to and creates a sense of urgency for accomplishing the goal. Milestones help organize and streamline key steps in a campaign and hold teams and stakeholders accountable for different components of the project.

Applying the Objective-First Framework to Your SMART Objective

Now that you’ve crafted a SMART objective, it’s time to work through the rest of the Objective-First Framework. In this section, we’ll outline each of the framework’s six steps and their role in driving a successful marketing campaign. We’ve identified the main goal of each step and provided a few key questions you can ask to guide your progress.

Set Objectives

Set a SMART objective that describes why you are running the campaign and what you hope to accomplish. Key questions to answer include: What customer behavior are you trying to change? What will that do for the business?

My objective is to attract 200 new engaged users to my food review app in the next 12 weeks. Engagement will be defined as a user posting two reviews in their first month using the app. This objective will increase engagement and community involvement on the app, creating a more attractive package for advertisers. This will boost the app’s revenue.

Define KPIs

Determine the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to evaluate the success of your campaign. KPIs are the metrics that you identify as most important for tracking performance against your stated objective. All KPIs are metrics, but not all metrics are KPIs. Consider: What are the top one to three metrics that address, “Did we reach our objective?”?

I’m going to track number of new users, how many reviews each new user posts on the app, and when they post them. My top metrics will be 1) number of new users — defined by creation of new accounts — between April 2 and June 25, and 2) number of reviews posted by users who joined between April 2 and June 25 within first month after app download.

Design Tactics

Determine how to reach your target customer by asking yourself: Where does your target customer spend time online? What devices, websites, and apps are they using? What motivates them?

I’m going to launch an Instagram ad campaign targeting users between 24–32 years old who are food enthusiasts and use similar food apps. My target customer spends a lot of time eating at restaurants, posting and looking at food photos on Instagram. They’re motivated by trying the trendiest new dishes around the city and showing off what they ate.

Execute Campaign

Put your tactics into action in the channels you believe will be most effective for your campaign, based on your research conducted in Step 3. Then, identify the resources and team members you need to execute this campaign.

The Instagram campaign will cost $250. I need the Creative team to choose three images and write copy for the Instagram post, plus create a landing page to compel visitors to download the app. I’ll also need the Partnerships team to create a tracking URL to which potential users will be directed.

Measure Outcomes

Measure and analyze your performance as it occurs. This will help gauge the health of your campaign along the way. A helpful question to ask is: What metrics tell you how you can improve performance?

In the first two weeks of the Instagram campaign, 5,000 people visited the URL and 250 of them downloaded the app. Fifty-five of those people published one review in their first week after downloading the app. The fact that 5,000 people clicked the link from our Instagram page but only 250 of them downloaded the app suggests that the content on the page to which users were directed wasn’t sufficiently compelling. I need to get more people who click on the Instagram ad to actually download the app.

Optimize Results

Use your results to inform iterations on the campaign that hopefully boost performance. It’s likely you’ll find variables you can alter in your campaign that may move the needle on your goals.

Because I suspect the issue is the landing page, I could create an alternate version of it with different images and copy, then perform an A/B test to compare download rates between the two pages.

More Strategies to Drive Winning Digital Marketing Campaigns

The Objective-First Framework is just one of many tools to help marketers organize goals, prioritize approaches, create effective campaigns, determine which data to focus on, and more. In our free, exclusive paper, Campaign Essentials, dive into three more valuable frameworks commonly used throughout General Assembly’s digital marketing programs.  Each framework serves a different purpose in focusing, planning, executing, and optimizing your marketing campaigns.

Dive into the tactics that drive successful marketing campaigns through our part-time 10-week or 1-week accelerated Digital Marketing course, on our global campuses or online. Learn practical skills in short-form workshops and bootcamps, connect with others in the field at our exclusive campus events, or get an overview of the field in a free livestream. For teams, strengthen your marketing operations by assessing your marketers’ skills, identifying growth opportunities, and closing your skills gaps.

Digital Marketing Campaign Essentials

Boost your skills and launch campaigns that drive real impact with this exclusive guide.

Download the Paper

Digital Marketing 101: How the Loyalty Loop is Replacing the Marketing Funnel

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marketing funnel image

During the past few decades, the marketing funnel served as the primary model for how people learn about a product, decide to buy, and (hopefully) become loyal customers, helping spread the word to others.

Continue reading

SQL for Beginners

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Today we’re constantly bombarded with information about new apps, hot technologies, and the latest, greatest artificial intelligence system. While these technologies may serve very different purposes in our lives, many of them have one essential thing in common: They rely on data. More specifically, they use databases to capture, store, retrieve, and aggregate data.

This begs the question: How do we actually interact with databases to accomplish all of this? The answer: We use Structured Query Language, or SQL (pronounced “sequel” or “ess-que-el”).

Put simply, SQL is the language of data — it’s a programming language that allows us to efficiently create, alter, request, and aggregate data from databases. It gives us the ability to make connections between different pieces of information, even when we’re dealing with huge data sets.

Modern applications can use SQL to deliver valuable pieces of information that would otherwise be difficult for humans to keep track of independently. In fact, pretty much every app that stores any sort of information uses a database. This ubiquity means that developers use SQL to log, record, alter, and present data within the application, while analysts use SQL to interrogate that same data set in order to find deeper insights.

SQL at Work

A wide variety of roles can benefit from using SQL. Here are just a few:

  • Sales manager: A sales manager could use SQL to increase sales by comparing the performance of various lead-generation programs and doubling down on those that are working.
  • Marketing manager: A marketing manager responsible for understanding the efficacy of an ad campaign could use SQL to compare the increase in sales before and after running the ad.
  • Business manager: A business manager could leverage SQL to streamline processes by comparing the resources used by various departments in order to determine which are operating efficiently.

SQL in Everyday Life: Real-World Examples

We’re constantly interacting with data in our lives, which means that, behind the scenes, SQL is probably helping to deliver that information to us. Here are a few examples:

Extracting Data

At its most basic, SQL is about accessing data locked away in databases. Think about the last time you received a report about how your company or team is performing. This probably had some key metrics like sales figures, conversion rates, or profit margins based on data stored in a system like a customer relationship management (CRM) or eCommerce platform.

A developer or analyst, or maybe even you, used SQL in order to access the data needed to produce that report.

Web Applications

Think about the last time you looked up the name of a movie on IMDb, the Internet Movie Database. Perhaps you quickly noticed an actress in the cast list and thought something like, “I didn’t realize she was in that,” then clicked a link to read her bio.

As you were navigating through that site, SQL may have been responsible for returning the information you “requested” each time you clicked a link.

Synthesizing Data to Make Business Decisions

With SQL, you can combine and synthesize data from different sources, then use it to influence business choices.

For example, if you work at a real estate investment firm and are trying to find the next up-and-coming neighborhood, you could use SQL to combine city permit, business, and census data to identify areas that are undergoing a lot of construction, have high populations, and contain a relatively low number of businesses. This might present a great opportunity to purchase property in a soon-to-be thriving neighborhood!

Why You and Your Business Need to Understand Data Science

On a high level, data professionals collect, process, clean up, and verify the integrity of data. They apply engineering, modeling, and statistical skills to build end-to-end machine learning systems that uncover the ability to predict consumer behavior, identify customer segments, and much more. They constantly monitor the performance of those systems and make improvements wherever possible.

Looking at the field as a whole, there’s a wide array of tools available to help data experts perform tasks ranging from gathering their own data to transforming it into something that’s usable for their needs.

In our paper A Beginner’s Guide to SQL, Python, and Machine Learning, we break down these three prevalent technologies that are transforming how we understand and use data. The first two are programming languages used to gather, organize, and make sense of data. The last is a specific field in which data scientists and machine learning engineers, using Python and other technologies, enable computers to learn how to make predictions without needing to program every potential scenario.

These skills have surprising uses beyond data, bringing delight, efficiency, and innovation to countless industries. They empower people to drive businesses forward with a speed and precision previously unknown. Download the paper to learn more.

Boost your business and career with data.

Find out why SQL, Python, and machine learning are the top technologies to know.

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The Study of Data Science Lags in Gender and Racial Representation

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data science gender race disparity

In the past few years, much attention has been drawn to the dearth of women and people of color in tech-related fields. A recent article in Forbes noted, “Women hold only about 26% of data jobs in the United States. There are a few reasons for the gender gap: a lack of STEM education for women early on in life, lack of mentorship for women in data science, and human resources rules and regulations not catching up to gender balance policies, to name a few.” Federal civil rights data further demonstrate that “black and Latino high school students are being shortchanged in their access to high-level math and science courses that could prepare them for college” and for careers in fields like data science.

As an education company offering tech-oriented courses at 20 campuses across the world, General Assembly is in a unique position to analyze the current crop of students looking to change the dynamics of the workplace.

Looking at GA data for our part-time programs (which typically reach students who already have jobs and are looking to expand their skill set as they pursue a promotion or a career shift), here’s what we found: While great strides have been made in fields like web development and user experience (UX) design, data science — a relatively newer concentration — still has a ways to go in terms of gender and racial equality.

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We Stand With the LGBTQ+ Community

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LGBTQ Work Protection Statement

Individuals thrive professionally and personally when they can live openly and without fear. The strength and security of our communities — and economy — depends on it.

At General Assembly, we’re in the business of empowering people to pursue work they love and careers that allow them to realize their passions. We’re also big believers that when people bring their whole selves to work — and all the identities, experiences, and ideas that make them unique — they’re more productive, engaged, and innovative.

Apparently, the Department of Justice doesn’t agree. On the heels of the president’s surprise ban on transgender service members in the military, on July 26 the Department of Justice issued a brief that states that Title VII — the law that protects workers from sex discrimination — does not extend to the LGBTQ+ community.

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Alumni Story: How a Communications Professional Pivoted to a Dream Career in Data Science

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Byron Allen

Byron Allen had outgrown his role. After years managing marketing communications and social media for various technology companies, he yearned to be more involved in the technology side of business. He tried breaking into coding and analytics at his workplace, but it was nearly impossible. “I had one foot in a new world and the other in the old world,” says Allen. “I felt like Sisyphus, and I realised the need to fully commit to transforming myself.”

Leaping headfirst, Allen took a year off from work to start his journey in data. He first enrolled in General Assembly Sydney’s part-time Data Analytics course, sinking his teeth into the skills needed to interpret large data sets and confidently make business decisions: ExcelSQL, and Tableau. As Allen worked on the course’s final project, he realised “there were aspects that would have greatly benefited from an understanding of machine learning and coding,” topics that are covered in-depth in data science, among others. “I could see the potential and wanted to be a part of that world,” he says.

So, he continued his upward professional journey with GA in the full-time Data Science Immersive course. With guidance from his instructor (who Allen describes as “one of, if not singularly, the most inspiring and intuitive teachers I’ve had the pleasure of learning from”), he and his classmates learned how to leverage data to create powerful predictive models. Elevating his data skills a step above, Allen got hands-on practice with skills like Unix, Git, Python, and machine learning. These practical tools empowered him to forecast market trends that help businesses find and seize new opportunities. “All of us learned from each other, filling each other’s weaknesses and allowing for us to improve our strengths,” says Allen.

Along with the curriculum, Allen also loved the employer meet-and-greet aspect of the GA Outcomes experience, which focuses entirely on career development and job placement for Immersive graduates. He says the program helped him talk in-depth about his work and become a more effective networker.

The hard work paid off. Allen landed a job as an associate consultant at Servian, an IT and data analytics consultancy in Sydney. He credits GA’s focus on “both the technical and communications skills involved in advanced analytics” as the reason that he’s able to succeed in his role, which requires these skills on a regular basis.

“My time at GA bred the confidence that is essential to facing challenges in my day-to-day work,” Allen says. “I tend to lean into problems more than I ever have.”

Ready to become a problem-solver? Join Allen and thousands of global alumni to build your path toward a more fulfilling career. From full-time career accelerators, to part-time evening courses, to short-form bootcamps, be empowered to achieve your goals at GA.

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What Makes for Great Product Design?

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User experience (UX) design separates a good product from a great product.

Harnessing skills like user research, wireframes, and prototyping, UX designers have a unique perspective when it comes to understanding the interactions between users, business goals, and visual and technology elements. For companies, their work fosters brand loyalty and repeat business. For consumers, it means frustration-free online experiences, intuitive mobile apps, efficient store layouts, and more.

Watch below, as design experts from The New York Times, PayPal, Zola, and other top companies share how they design simple, user-friendly, and beautiful products.

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