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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Using Standards to Align Talent and Employers

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In our rapidly changing world, one of the biggest challenges to continued economic growth is the skills gap, which is the difference between the skills employers are looking for, and the skills available among job-seekers. For individuals, the skills gap limits upward mobility and wage growth. For companies, it limits the ability to hire the teams needed to pursue commercial opportunities.

So what’s stopping the skills gap from being quickly solved? A core obstacle is that individuals don’t know what skills to learn given the lack of clear and consistent guidelines from employers and industries as a whole. When organizations are unsure about the skills they need, they often rely on pedigree (e.g., university degrees) or experience (e.g., previous job titles) in place of specifically stated competencies that drive new, digital functions.

This construct perpetuates the skills gap on both sides of the market. Employers constrain their own talent pipelines, as they only consider a fraction of candidates with skills that match their hiring needs. On the other hand, job-seekers underinvest in new skills, as they lack clear guidance on what qualifications are required to access new roles.

The skills gap continues to grow as more automation in the workplace intensifies the need for new skills across teams. A 2017 McKinsey Global Institute report cites that “in about 60 percent of occupations, at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated.” To stay employable, individuals need to embrace a mindset of lifelong learning that enables them to upgrade their skills, and move into roles that support and complement new technologies.

These new patterns of learning need to be coupled with additional entry points to careers and objective skill requirements that facilitate workforce mobility. Similarly, the McKinsey report predicts that “8 to 9 percent of 2030 labor demand will be in new types of occupations that have not existed before.” Thus, we must ensure workers possess not only the tactical skills but also have mobility mechanisms in place to transition into these new jobs.

For mobility to scale, job-seekers need employers in a given field to align on a set of requirements that once met, provide access to employment opportunities. One example of this alignment has emerged from General Assembly’s Marketing Standards Board, a group of leaders across the consumer, technology, media, and academic sectors who are defining career paths and critical skills in marketing.

For the past year, the group has worked to provide transparency into the marketing profession. The Board started by creating a three-level framework that defines career paths in marketing. In tandem with these efforts, the board launched the Certified Marketer Level 1 (CM1) assessment, which aligns with the foundational level of the framework. The CM1 is recognized as a standard by a growing number of companies who use it to benchmark the skill levels of their teams. Benchmarking has also proven useful for employers who wish to define and diagnose critical skills across their organizations.

The CM1 is also being used as a standard in the hiring process. General Assembly brought together a group of over 30 companies, including Calvin Klein, L’Oreal, Pinterest, Priceline, and others to recognize the skills tested on the CM1 as a common set of requirements used in recruiting. Each company in this group agreed to interview high scorers on the assessment regardless of candidates’ background. This system of skills-based selection provides new career pathways for individuals who may otherwise be overlooked in a system dependent on pedigree and experience. Among job-seekers, we received tremendous interest in taking the CM1 as an entryway to guaranteed first-round interviews with these companies. Approximately 4000 individuals registered to take the CM1 in just a few weeks, and the top 10% of test-takers qualified for a guaranteed interview.

We were delighted but not surprised to see that top scorers came from diverse backgrounds — from college seniors entering the workforce, to career-switchers looking to get their foot in the door, to experienced marketers looking for a new challenge. Likewise, our previous research in The State of Skills: Digital Marketing 2018 report revealed that strong digital marketing talent can be found outside the marketing function, and from fields such as sales and technology. Moreover, this group of top scorers confirmed that experience doesn’t necessarily predict skills. Rather, giving all registrants the chance to demonstrate their skills using a clear set of skill requirements on the CM1 assessment can create access to new job opportunities.

As a result, our employer partners were able to expand the top of their recruiting funnels, and attract more qualified candidates. These employers are helping to address the skills gap in the industry by using a skills-based approach that increases the overall supply of qualified candidates considered for marketing jobs.

General Assembly’s mission has always been to provide transparent pathways to transformational careers. We’re thankful to the Marketing Standards Board and to the companies that have partnered with us to make strides in this direction. Together, we’re working to increase the transparency and openness of the workforce, broaden talent pools, and create more entry points for aspiring marketers around the world.

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GA’s Credentials team’s mission is to help people get recognized by employers for what they can do, no matter where they come from. To learn more and get involved, get in touch with us at credentials@ga.co. To learn more about the Marketing Standards Board and the CM1 assessment, visit https://generalassemb.ly/marketing-standards-board.

Getting Started with Sublime Text 3: 25 Tips, Tricks, and Shortcuts

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Sublime Text 3 (ST3) is the latest version of one of the most commonly used plain text editors by web developers, coders, and programmers. It’s available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, and free to download and use.

Make the most of ST3 with the 25 tips and tricks in this ultimate guide for web developers. Learn about must-have packages, useful keyboard shortcuts, and more.

1. User Preference Settings

By default, ST3 uses hard-tabs that are 4 characters long. This can result in hard-to-read code, as large tabular indents push your work to the right. I recommend all developers add this to their user settings (Sublime Text 3 => Preferences => Settings – User):

  {
    "draw_white_space": "all",
    "rulers": [80],
    "tab_size": 2,
    "translate_tabs_to_spaces": true
  }

This setting converts hard-tabs to spaces, makes indents only two characters long, puts a ruler at the 80 character mark (to remind you to keep your code concise), and adds white space markers. Here is a complete list of preference options if you wish to continue customizing your ST3 environment.
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A Beginner’s Guide to REACT

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If you’ve ever used HTML and CSS to build webpages from scratch, you know that it takes a lot of time and effort to make them look nice. Each page is handcrafted using these common front-end languages. However, if you hop on to a site like Facebook, users generate new content on the fly. There certainly isn’t a dedicated team of developers ready to update the page any time a person shares a photo or comments on a post. Instead, millions of users have the ability to post updates instantaneously.

This first became possible through tools like server-side rendering, older front-end frameworks like Backbone and AngularJS (i.e., versions 1.x), or jQuery. However, when it comes to large-scale websites and applications, these options present a couple of issues:

  • Their cumbersome code is hard for developers to maintain.
  • They aren’t always optimized for speed, which is especially problematic for users viewing on mobile devices.

Enter React, an increasingly popular front-end JavaScript library that enables developers to build fast, scalable webpages and user interfaces that can quickly adapt to continually changing data.

Why Developers Use React

According to the 2018 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, React is the framework most developers say they want to work with if they don’t already. There are plenty of reasons for this, but here are just a few:

  • Speed: React is fast! As more and more people visit webpages on a wide range of devices, fast performance is increasingly critical.
  • Reusable components: You can break down common elements (e.g., forms, buttons, or layouts) into a component, which you can reuse as you build out your app’s functionality, rather than code each new piece from scratch.
  • Easy collaboration: Independent components allow larger dev teams to split work without stepping on one another’s toes. For example, if you were working on a real estate listings site, you could have dedicated developers working on individual views of property listings, while another group tackles the view of all available listings and another works on the ratings system.
  • Highly scalable: Developers often prefer React for large-scale application because of the reusability and independence of the components.

A Brief History of React

A developer at Facebook created React in 2011 to help solve some particularly hard challenges with rebuilding the site’s advertising products, but the team quickly realized it could be useful in more areas. They first tested React’s capabilities on Facebook’s newsfeed to facilitate liking and commenting functions, as well as on Instagram’s website, then implemented it on a wider scale.

In 2013, React was released as an open-source framework so that other coders could take advantage of its speed and power to build out and optimize their own web and mobile applications. Devs at companies that use React love its ability to solve complex challenges, improve speed, and organize code in a way that’s easier for large teams to manage.

Today, React is one of the most popular ways to build pages or update old ones, with hundreds of top companies — including Instagram, Netflix, Dropbox, The New York Times, and many more — leveraging it for their websites. Now’s a great time to learn the framework, as there’s not enough talent to meet employer demand: According to the 2018 HackerRank Developer Skills Report, 33% of employers need developers who can use React — yet only 19% of developers say they have these skills.

Many new website features that seem simple to a user — like a notification system or infinite scrolling to view new custom content — can take months for a team to implement, so developers are there to continually develop, debug, and optimize. In fact, React has become so popular that the dedicated role of “React developer” as emerged for talent that works exclusively in the framework to modernize code and build new functionality. Whether you want to focus solely on React or use it to differentiate yourself from other front-end or software engineers, it’s a valuable skill to add to your toolkit!

How React Is Used to Build Webpages

Developers leverage React to create seamless user interactions. For example, when you search Netflix for a show you want to watch, you might see the results list narrow down with each letter you enter into the search field. These changes are immediate and you see a consistent user interface, which makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. But there’s a lot going on behind the scenes.

When you search for a movie (i.e., input data), your input goes to Netflix, and Netflix quickly returns matching results. This is because data for each category, movie, and show is loaded into a React component (you can think of this as a template or blueprint) that can be reused and updated based on the data.

The framework is based on the concept of components, both for viewing different data and for coding efficiency. Rather than reloading a whole webpage when a user interacts with it, the only components that change are those that need to be updated based on what the user wants to see or do on the page. Developers can also reuse components that have similar functionality throughout a site, saving them extra, repetitive work.

React is “agnostic” to other tools in your front end, which means developers can use it in tandem with other powerful front-end JavaScript frameworks and libraries like jQuery. Since React only handles how data is presented, developers often pair it with numerous back-end (i.e., data-handling) frameworks, such as Ruby on Rails, Express, Django, Drupal, and others.

React at General Assembly

In GA’s React Development course, you’ll learn not just how to create React apps, but how and why they work. You’ll use React to build a scalable, maintainable web application from scratch, and learn how to host it on Heroku to share with the world. You’ll also dive into APIs, JSX, React Router, and more. If you already know coding basics but need to double down on your JavaScript know-how, start with our part-time JavaScript Development course, on campus or online. Or, get started with a free livestream!

If you’re looking to launch a career in coding and are just beginning your journey, our full-time Software Engineering Immersive (SEI) course, on campus or remote, will take you from motivated beginner to job-ready in three months. In SEI, you’ll learn to create well-designed, high-impact webpages using both front- and back-end languages and frameworks, including React.

Ask a Question About Our Coding Programs

Meet Our Expert

Karolin Rafalski is a Web Development Immersive Remote instructor, which means you can take the course with her from nearly anywhere in the world that has internet. Karolin is a career-changer who spent over 10 years teaching at various colleges and took the Web Development Immersive course on the NYC campus in 2016. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, hiking, spending time with her cats and reading.

“React is one of the most in-demand front-end frameworks. Not only can it help you build faster and more robust websites — it’ll also make you a better developer.”

Karolin Rafalski, Software Engineeering Immersive Remote Instructor

Reach Your Marketing KPIs With the Scale & Efficiency Metrics Framework

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Marketers spend a lot of time sharing and defending the results of campaigns and activities. Stakeholders and leaders constantly ask: “What results did this drive?” “Where can we cut our budget?” “What can we optimize?”

To answer these questions, marketers must navigate metrics from vastly different sources that span tools, dashboards, and even authors (a custom report an agency composes may vary dramatically from the tables a chief marketing officer pulls). Each source will emphasize different data and calculations — impressions, engagement rate, click-through rate, return on investment, and more. Misunderstanding or misinterpreting numbers at any stage can have a severe impact on your business.

That’s where the Scale and Efficiency Metrics Framework — one of many tools you can use to plan and optimize marketing campaigns — comes in. There are two types of metrics typically used by marketers: scale metrics, which indicate sums or volumes (e.g., number of website visitors), and efficiency metrics, which indicate rates or ratios (e.g., return on investment). Knowing the value of each type of metric helps you think about how to scale and optimize your marketing activities.

The premise of the framework is that all scale metrics fall into one of four buckets:

  • Cost measures how much is spent on a campaign, including agency or ad fees.
  • Reach measures the number of people contacted through impressions, visitors, video views, and so on.
  • Response determines whether or not audience members take the actions you want them to take through metrics like clicks, swipes, or completed views of a video.
  • Revenue measures the amount of money made, as in total revenue or lifetime customer value.

An efficiency metric is the ratio of two of those buckets (i.e., one bucket divided by another), and each one tells you something different. By breaking down reports into these buckets and metrics, it’ll be easier to compare how you did across different channels and prioritize which channels to invest in further.

You can use the Scale and Efficiency Metrics Framework to:

  1. Compare metrics across different channels.
  2. Understand the impact marketing efforts have on growth.
  3. Determine the cost and efficiency of growth.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of these metrics and how you can leverage them to optimize your marketing strategy.

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

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How to Use Scale and Efficiency Metrics Together

Armed with a clear metrics strategy, marketers can create and refine campaigns that focus on reaching a specific outcome and make smarter business decisions when allocating or requesting budget. Metrics are also powerful tools for persuading stakeholders to devote funds toward future marketing efforts.

As we mentioned previously, scale metrics measure volume. They are useful in understanding figures like how many people a campaign reached, how much money users spent on your product, or how much you spent on ads. They are also helpful in analyzing the success of a campaign, can be used to validate hypotheses, and are an effective way to measure growth over time.

At their core, efficiency metrics are numbers that indicate effectiveness. These metrics are always rates or ratios and are often expressed as a percentage.

5 Key Efficiency Metrics

Cost per Reach

Wondering how far your money stretches to reach your audience? Cost-per-reach metrics indicate the cost-effectiveness of a media channel or partner. They’re helpful in guiding how much money to invest in the various platforms on which your campaign runs.

The most common cost-per-reach ratio is cost per mille (CPM), or the cost per thousand impressions. This is a useful metric to have when planning the budget required to achieve a target reach. A social media marketer might use it to gauge the success of a Facebook ad in a brand awareness campaign.

The formula for calculating CPM is Cost ÷ Impressions x 1,000. For example, if you buy 50,000 impressions for $250, your CPM is $250 ÷ 50,000 x 1,000, or $5.

Response per Reach

Response-per-reach metrics help determine what percentage of audience members who could have taken a desired action actually did. For example, of all the people to whom you showed a banner ad, how many clicked on it?

Prevalent response-per-reach metrics include:

  • Engagement rate, which indicates the percentage of viewers who see an ad and interact with it in any way. It’s typically used for interactive media and social ads. The most common engagement rate formula is Interactions ÷ Impressions x 100. For example, if you had a social ad that generated 100 impressions, three likes, and five shares, your engagement rate would be 8 ÷ 100 x 100, or 8%. However, it’s important to note that there are multiple ways to look at engagement rate. Some marketers use reach or followers as the denominator in place of impressions.
  • Click-through rate (CTR), which is the percentage of people who were exposed to an ad and then clicked on it. The formula for calculating CTR is Clicks ÷ Impressions x 100. For example, if you ran a Facebook News Feed ad that generated 3,000 impressions and received 50 clicks, your CTR would be 50 ÷ 3,000 x 100, or 1.67%.
  • Conversion rate, which is the percentage of people who had the opportunity to complete an action you defined — and did.

This metric requires context to pinpoint the best version of the formula to use. To calculate the conversion rate for prospects who clicked on an ad, or what’s known as a post-click conversion rate, the formula would be Conversions ÷ Clicks x 100. To measure the percentage of site visitors who convert, regardless of traffic source, your visitor conversion rate would be Conversions ÷ Visitors x 100. Adjust the denominator based on the context that makes sense for your campaign.

Cost per Response

Marketers can pinpoint which channel or tactic is most cost-efficient in driving results with cost-per-response metrics. Typically, these metrics are measured as a ratio of cost per (X), or CP(X), with X indicating an action.

Here are a few examples of how they may be calculated across different contexts:

  • Search: cost per click
  • eCommerce: cost per order
  • Apps: cost per install or cost per download
  • B2B: cost per lead
  • Video: cost per completed view

To calculate any of these metrics, divide total ad spend by number of X, where X equals leads, clicks, orders, or whatever you are tracking. For example, if you spent $10,000 to acquire 200 leads, your cost per lead is 10,000 ÷ 200 or $50.

Be mindful of quality when focusing on CP(X) metrics. For instance, if you’re comparing cost per click across multiple platforms, one may clearly outperform the other. But, when you dig deeper, you may see that the lower performer actually drove more high-quality leads.

Revenue per Response

Cost-per-response performance metrics help determine which tactics and campaigns are most cost-effective — but their uses are limited on their own. If you don’t know how much those “responses” are worth in terms of revenue, you won’t know how much expense is too much.

This is where revenue-per-response metrics come in.

If a Facebook campaign runs at a $30 cost per download (CPD) and a search campaign runs at a $50 CPD, your instinct might be to stop spending on search and move that budget to Facebook. However, you won’t really know whether or not you need to stop spending unless you know how much an app download is worth to your business. If a download results in $51 of revenue (a $1 profit per download), it may still be worth running search ads to reach a wider audience than you could on Facebook alone.

In other words, you won’t always want to go with the lowest “cost per” available, as scale comes into play.

One common revenue-per-response metric is average order value (AOV) — the average size of a purchase on a website or app. For retail and eCommerce businesses, average order value will be a key metric.

The formula is Revenue ÷ Number of Orders. So, if you made $10,000 from 50 orders, your AOV would be 10,000 ÷ 50, or $200.

Return on Investment

Ah, the holy grail of marketing: The ability to say exactly how much incremental revenue was generated by the marketing campaign! You’ll often hear ROI tossed around in discussions surrounding the overall efficacy of a marketing strategy and the bottom line.

The formula for return on investment (ROI) is expressed as a percentage and calculated as (Revenue – Cost) ÷ Cost x 100. For instance, if you generated $200 in revenue from a Facebook ad and you spent $125 on it, then your ROI would be (200 – 125) ÷ 125 x 100, or 60%.

Sometimes, return on ad spend (ROAS) is used instead of ROI. ROAS does not subtract the cost from the numerator. The formula here is simply Revenue ÷ Cost x 100.

Applying the Scale and Efficiency Metrics Framework

Now that you’ve grasped the basic principles behind this framework, it’s time to apply them to a marketing campaign.

Let’s say your plan involves Facebook and YouTube campaigns driven by your in-house team, plus a programmatic display campaign implemented by an outside agency. For each of those channels, you want to determine:

  • What you spent.
  • How many people you reached.
  • What kind of response you got from that reach.
  • Whether there was a direct revenue outcome.

The metrics outlined in this framework help you answer those questions for each channel. Once you’ve calculated and compared the results, you may discover that your cost per acquisition is much lower on Facebook than on other channels. Based on this information, you may want to investigate why this campaign is performing so much better than other channels. (Is it the creative? The targeting? Or were the viewers on Facebook also exposed to other channels?) This can help you make optimization decisions that will improve your overall ROI.

More Ways to Organize and Optimize Your Marketing Strategy

The Scale and Efficiency Metrics Framework 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 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 assess your marketers’ skills, identifying growth opportunities, and closing your skills gaps.

Leveraging the Paid, Owned, and Earned Media Framework

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Whether they’re working on a paid social media campaign, crafting copy for a website, or landing coverage in a magazine or blog, many marketing managers share one goal: to raise brand awareness. However, with multiple team members creating countless content assets across several digital channels, processes can get hectic — and inefficient — quickly.

An effective marketing operation requires that everyone on the team takes a holistic view of how media tactics work together. Media tactics fall into three main buckets:

  1. Paid: Media that a marketer pays for, such as display advertising, pay per click (PPC), paid influencers, and retargeting.
  2. Owned: Media from owned properties such as websites, mobile apps, email, and social media platforms.
  3. Earned: Shares or mentions outside of owned channels, such as blog links, news articles, and customer testimonials (negative reviews included).

Most organizations leverage media in all three categories, and each channel often correlates with the responsibilities of different roles and teams. Some channels, like social media, influencer marketing, and content, may intersect with all three buckets.

When team members are aligned on the interplay between paid, earned, and owned media, they can work to tell a cohesive, consistent story across multiple channels. At the same time, they can optimize their contributions independently by thinking about how their work impacts the rest of the organization.

Juggling so many channels and developing a strategy that includes owned, paid, and earned media can be daunting. It requires organization — and that’s where the Paid, Owned, and Earned Media Framework, one of many tools you can use to organize your marketing efforts, comes in.

This framework provides a roadmap for considering media options and choosing which tactics to pursue. Leverage it to:

  1. Understand and assess the value of different channels for your brand.
  2. Organize how you utilize these channels.
  3. Evaluate how different channels amplify one another.
  4. Get a better understanding of your colleagues’ roles.
  5. Align teams across media tactics to create a converged campaign.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the three types of media.

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

Download the Paper

Paid Media

Paid media today include both traditional and new types:

  • Banner, video, social, and native advertising
  • Paid search
  • Paid influencers
  • Affiliates
  • TV
  • Print
  • Out-of-home

Thanks to the data at the heart of new media, the conversation goes beyond reach to include engagement and relevance. Paid media are often the most expensive digital marketing tactics, but they offer more immediate and predictable reach to a target audience.

Paid campaigns are usually classified in one of two ways:

  1. A brand campaign prioritizes reach. The goal is to share your message with a target audience, raising brand awareness and intent to purchase.
  2. A direct response campaign is meant to drive an action. These typically offer a promotion and a clear call to action (CTA) to try to incentivize the user to complete a conversion.

Thanks to the evolution of creative formats, both goals can be achieved in a single ad that catches a user’s attention, educates them about a product, and drives them through a conversion. For example, Facebook’s carousel format, when used with its Lead Generation objective, allows users to enter their email address directly into an ad unit. This lets a marketer combine both brand awareness and direct response into a single ad.

Owned Media

Owned media channels are those that are fully under a brand’s control. They can be designed, updated, and shared at the company’s discretion.

Websites are arguably the most important owned assets, as a major goal of nearly all other digital marketing channels is to drive traffic to company websites where visitors can then convert. Other key properties include mobile apps, eCommerce sites, content, email lists, direct mail, SMS/messaging lists, and branded social channels.

A company’s physical locations and hosted events are also owned channels, as businesses have control over what happens there.

Owned media channels give you the opportunity to educate and entertain your customers, as well as create a seamless customer experience. For many individuals like email marketing managers, brand managers, and SEO specialists, optimizing owned media channels is a full-time job.

Earned Media

Earned media come from sources outside of your organization, often in the form of word-of-mouth recommendations. Studies show that people find recommendations from people they know to be more trustworthy than content coming directly from brands, and no amount of paid advertising can make up for a lack of valuable earned media.

Common sources of earned media include social media and content marketing shares, unpaid influencers, public relations, reviews, and testimonials. This type of marketing can be very effective but tends to require a longer-term effort than paid and owned media.

It’s also important to note that earned media are the least in our control. We can put effort into driving press coverage or influencer shoutouts, but we can rarely dictate what people say about our brand.

How to Plan a Converged Media Campaign

The most effective marketing strategies combine paid, owned, and earned media to create an impact that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Moreover, the combination that’s best for your brand will be one that’s uniquely tailored to your size, budget, resources, and existing reach.

When you’re planning a campaign, use the worksheets found in our free Campaign Essentials guide to ensure that all stakeholders and teams are aligned on how they’re contributing to the larger end goal(s). As you’ll see, many of these questions incorporate themes and strategies covered in earlier frameworks, and we encourage you to keep your SMART objectives and KPIs in mind.

More Tools to Master Your Marketing Operations

The Paid, Owned, and Earned Media framework 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 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 assess your marketers’ skills, identifying growth opportunities, and closing your skills gaps.

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.

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Essential Data Skills to Know

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In 2012, IBM revealed that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were being created per day — an enormous sum that humankind had never known before. Since then, the volume of the world’s data has not only continued to increase, but it’s arriving at a faster and faster pace.

However, data by itself doesn’t have much value. After all, a pile of numbers and data files is just that: a pile of numbers and data files. The real value of data comes from making sense of the abundance of information. That’s why businesses and organizations across countless industries are investing in forward-thinking data talent — to leverage its predictive power, craft smart business strategies, and drive informed decision-making.

The sharp and strategic people who do this job are data scientistsdata analystsmachine learning engineers, and business intelligence analysts — among other titles — and these professionals are in high demand. In 2018, the jobs platform Glassdoor ranked data scientist as the Best Job in America for the third year in a row, with a median salary of $110,000 and more than 4,500 available positions. Additionally, five other data- and analytics-related roles made the list of the top 50 jobs, ranked by number of openings in the field, salary, and overall job satisfaction.

Companies are quickly recognizing the vital need for data knowledge, impacting a vast array of industries including eCommerce, health care, finance, and sales — to name a few. In order to stay competitive and grow their businesses, leaders are investing in their future by strategically training and hiring talent to ensure proficiency in key skills.

Three of the most prevalent technologies transforming how we understand and use data are SQL, Python, and machine learning — and all are great entry points into the field. 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.

What You Can Do With Essential Data Skills

You can get started with SQLPython, and machine learning, three of the most useful data tools, without any formal background. However, each topic has a different set of fundamentals that you’ll need to understand as you progress in your learning. For example, Python will expose you to the world of object-oriented programming, while SQL will expose you to database design concepts. Machine learning will require a good understanding of data analysis.

Dipping your toes in this uncharted water may seem daunting — but it shouldn’t! There’s so much opportunity in the data field for growth, whether or not you’re seeking a full-time role. No matter your position or industry, this knowledge can take your hireability to the next level. Here are just some of the things you can do with data expertise:

  • Become a skilled problem-solver. Programming languages like SQL and Python teach you problem-solving skills that are applicable in many business scenarios you’ll encounter.
  • Be more cross-functional. Having key programming and data skills under your belt makes it easier to work with teams across your organization. Being able to speak the same language as software engineers, business intelligence analysts, and data professionals helps streamline requests, bring clarity to the workflow, and provide insight into technical action items.
  • Build the technology of the future. Data skills enable you to help build new, groundbreaking technologies, including web applications, machine learning models, chatbots, and much more.
  • Expand your career potential. Based on previous projections from the management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, IBM predicts that by 2020, the number of data science and analytics job listings will grow by nearly 364,000 to about 2.72 million.
  • Improve communication. Data professionals must communicate to non-technical audiences — including stakeholders across the company — in a compelling way to highlight business impact and opportunity. At the end of the day, those stakeholders have to act on and possibly make far-reaching decisions based on data findings.

Want to learn more? In our paper A Beginner’s Guide to SQL, Python, and Machine Learning, we break down these three essential technologies. The skills go beyond data to bring delight, efficiency, and innovation to countless industries. They empower people to drive businesses forward with a speed and precision previously unknown, and now’s a great time to dive in.

Download the paper to learn more.

Boost your business and career acumen with data.

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

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