E-Commerce PPC Manager shares insights on digital roles with

Mark Dalton is the PPC Manager within the E-commerce team at 123Print. He talks about the opportunities for digital roles in the traditional printing sector and what past experience and study led him to his current role.

What does your role in the digital team at 123Print entail?

Within our digital team I manage the paid advertising campaigns (Google ads, Bing ads etc.) this can be on the search or display networks.  It’s my responsibility to capture and direct relevant traffic to our website in order to generate direct sales and brand awareness. I am responsible for the paid budgets and ensuring that we stay within an outlined spend whilst maintaining campaigns with a positive return on investment.


Describe a typical day at 123 Print for you.

A typical day for me at 123Print would see me evaluating the previous day, week, and month’s campaigns against the previous year’s performance.  This includes updating keyword lists to keep generating relevant traffic, updating bids to maximise performance in the ad auctions. Researching competitor campaigns to compare against our own and looking for potential “wins” against our competitors.  Generating negative keywords to ensure that the people that land on our site are potential customers and don’t bounce away. And finally creating new ad copy in line with our manager’s weekly Ecommerce Marketing Calendar.


How did you come to start your role in the industry?

123Print is one of a number of brands that our parent company, CCA Occasions, owns.  I started my role after I was offered the job through a recruitment agency by auditing all the brand accounts across each platform – this was quite a task to start with as the number of products and campaigns that existed was extensive – a trial by fire you could say.  It took me a while to get my head around all the brands.


Did you see many further opportunities for less traditional job roles in the print industry?

Personally I find the printing industry very interesting – especially now.  It is steeped in traditional techniques and skilled craftsmanship, but now in the digital age new techniques and opportunities seem to arise daily.  I find it fun seeing how these new techniques with digital equipment can complement the older technique and not replace them – be that business cards with microchips, spot-UV, foil, embossing etc. 

As a digital marketer it’s exciting to identify a new product and then see that go through the development stage and then finally get to market and see it perform well.  The less traditional roles are not to dissimilar to the traditional ones – you still need the sales person – the Ecommerce Team, you still need the designers but now it’s Photoshop and Illustrator rather than pencil and paper – and you still need to machine operators though its more point and click than twist and pull these days. 

How has what you learnt at university, as well as additional experience, helped you in your attaining and working in your role at 123 Print?

At university I did a BSc in Software Engineering. However my University course isn’t really in line with my role in our Ecommerce team – I have learnt the skills within my role under my own steam since leaving University.  What I would say though is that University taught me a number of key skills that I have been able to transfer to other lines of work – not just digital.  I always used to think that you went to University and came our trained ready for a job – but I realised your training only really starts when you have the job.

University, however, taught me how to work as part of a team, how to organise larger projects into smaller tasks the work more efficiently.  Working as part of a team is very important to me and I think this was the most valuable thing that University taught me.


Are there any key skills that you need in your position?

There are a number of skills that are important to my role but what I would say is the most important is the willingness to learn.  As soon as you think you know it all – you know nothing. 

IT skills are fundamental to my role, on a daily basis I use Word, Excel, Photoshop, AdWords, AdWords Editor, a number of Admin systems for each brand.  I would like to know more with regards to web development – but as I said learning is important and HTML and PHP is a work in progress for me.

An attention to detail is also very important – you need to micromanage each campaign to ensure that they are performing – and that doesn’t just mean generating direct sales.  Are the campaigns generating sample requests, email capture, is there a “attributed revenue” – all very important to a successful Ecommerce business.

The most important key skills is being able to work as a team.  Each person in our team has a specific role that compliments each other’s, however we continually give people ideas, test theories to try and improve our performance as a team.  The stronger your team – the stronger your business.


What’s the best aspect of your job?

There are two aspects I enjoy the most – working as a team – we have pretty good banter and I think that’s important.  You spend a lot of time sat next to the people you work with so if it’s fun it helps- a lot.

The second is seeing something perform well, I am a numbers nerd so I like seeing a new product/brand campaign etc. perform well.  Measuring this is something I find exciting – but as I said I am a numbers nerd.


What have been the biggest challenges to get to your position today?

The biggest challenge I have had professionally was when I ran my own Digital Agency generating live leads though online campaigns.  We worked with a number of leading companies with in the Financial and Renewable energy industries.  Everything appeared to be going well but following a number of government policy changes the renewable energy market fell in on itself and forced a number of companies out of business – with bills unpaid.  This shook my faith in the digital market – as I felt that any control was taken out of my hands.

However, you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and crack on.


What would you advise a university student who is looking towards a role in digital?

The advice I’d give to a University student or anyone with an interest in Ecommerce would be to read up on anything you can to do with digital – there are countless forums, blogs, seminars and books with people offering their unique insight into digital marketing.  Some of that advice is good – some is bad – but there more information you have the more of an informed decision you can make.

Also, don’t be scared to offer your own opinion – often a fresh set of eyes can offer a bigger insight into a problem. Once you have read – have a play.  Get the programs or platforms you are interested in and have a play around, try new things – test.  An extra 0.2% conversion rate could be an extra £200k to your company – or an extra £500 a month to your run from your bedroom shop.

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