Digital Innovation Digital Publishing
6 mins read

Using data to enrich editorial content: Insights from Mapp Digital’s Emily Maitland

How do you effectively use data to enrich editorial content? What can branded content learn from luxury magazines? These are all questions that Emily Maitland has the answers to.

After taking an interest in brand management during university, Emily went on to pursue a career in marketing, diving into data to help inform and shape projects for clients. “Editorial and data go hand in hand,” she says. “By using social listening tools and proprietary data, we can stay ahead of the curve.”

What made you want to work in publishing?

I don’t think I have ever considered that I worked in publishing, and have always had a marketing-first mindset. While I loved studying for my degree, I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to do full-time. When I started working as a Student Brand Manager, I realised that it was everything I really enjoyed and it made sense to pursue this further: using creativity in a practical way, understanding what made people tick, seeing direct results from your actions. The more I learned, the more I wanted to be a part of that world. I think this is something that I have grown into – every role I’ve taken has offered a totally different perspective of the industry and the opportunity for me to develop my passions and skills further.

Chart your career from the start to where you are now.

It’s been quite an interesting journey and not one I ever thought I would take when I left school. I studied Fine Art and History of Art at Goldsmiths, and while I was there, I took up a part time student brand management job at an agency. I managed a lot of really cool student events for brands like Wrigleys to help launch products to the often hard-to-reach student market. Soon enough I was managing multiple campaigns and knew marketing was what I wanted to do when I finished my studies. After graduating I completed a marketing internship at a charity before landing my first permanent job in a small agency specialising in promotions and events. I joined River in 2016 and was lucky enough to have worked on some really exciting projects and pitches across the agency’s retail and membership clients. My favourite projects were launching brand new digital channels for our clients, including influencer campaigns, paid social and podcasts. I loved seeing how data can help tell a story and shape the content for each of those projects, while being able to precisely report on the success of the campaign.

Recently, I joined the account team at Mapp Digital, where I specialise in working with a number of retail clients on their digital strategies across CRM. I’ve loved getting to grips with the technical aspect of the role and using data to help shape strategies.

During your time at the River Group, you discovered your passion for data. How do you effectively combine data with strategic thinking when making content for clients?

Editorial and data go hand in hand – obviously the creative team lead the editorial strategy, but we no longer have to rely on just our gut instinct any more. We have a wealth of tools at our disposal to really understand the appetite for content, and listen to what people are talking about on a completely unprecedented level. Using social listening tools and proprietary data, we can stay ahead of the curve.

It also really demonstrates the content’s value not only for the customer, but the brand. We are far more accountable for our content’s performance today and we can easily attribute ROI to our touchpoints along the customer journey, presenting robust content strategies supported by data. Things have come a long way since annual reader surveys and the data and insights we have at River allowed us to be far more agile and responsive to our customers’ needs.

For those looking to move into data within the publishing industry, where is the best place to start?

My advice would be to get stuck in and ask as many questions as possible. Get access to as many channels as you can and look at the data yourself. What are the trends? What stories can you tell from this? What does this mean for your client?

It’s important to learn what good looks like for your particular brand, so get some good benchmarks and KPIs in place, monitor this over time and you will start to build a really valuable narrative.

I started out by managing our titles’ reader surveys and was lucky enough to have a manager that let me get completely lost in the data and come out with actionable insights that I was excited to share with the wider team and client. Just get hold of what you can, see where the trail leads you and you’ll most likely find something that no-one else has.

You founded River’s first ever Staff Council – can you explain what this is and why you wanted to set it up?

The idea for the Staff Council came about by working alongside a host of incredibly talented junior colleagues who had brilliant ideas but didn’t quite know how to go about putting these ideas into action or getting their voices heard. The Staff Council was a formal way for these colleagues to collaborate with their peers to present and implement their ideas. I think it’s easy to forget how scary it is to put forward an idea when you’re just starting out, so the Council was there to support that. Also, I had noticed that when working on a single account or brand, you can become quite siloed, so another aim was to bring the agency together across accounts and disciplines, be that sharing case studies or over a drink in the pub.

What advice would you give to those starting off in their career in publishing?

I would recommend really throwing yourself into your role – always offer to take on more projects, ask questions and don’t be afraid to get stuck in, no task should be too big or small. Say yes to as much as you can and try to work with as many people in your business as possible. You’ll learn so much and really figure out what it is that you would like to do and at what you excel in.

It’s important to learn as much as possible – this industry is always evolving and you have to be at the forefront. I was lucky enough that River sponsored my CIM Diploma in Strategic Marketing, which gave me a great understanding of the theory, but I would wholeheartedly recommend a holistic approach to development; read books, go to talks, follow as many brands as you can, mix with your peers in other agencies, and when you learn something that really excites you, share it!

What’s on your radar?

I’m really excited about taking my client’s digital strategies to the next level using Mapp’s technology. We can create a truly cohesive omnichannel brand experience by harnessing and joining up a whole host of proprietary data. I’m blown away by the level of personalisation we can achieve and it’s propelling our clients’ content to the front of the pack. We can use data to predict what our clients’ customers are going to do there, and serve them the right content at the right time – it’s incredible and I’m excited to see where it goes!

What magazine would you stockpile?

I am definitely biased with this one, but the Dare Specials are completely unmatched. We’re no longer seeing younger audiences, myself included, reading magazines habitually, so there needs to be something about the magazine that makes it feel special/ a treat for the reader, and I think that’s something that branded content can learn from luxury mags.

Jess Browne-Swinburne
PPA Staff Writer

This What’s on your Radar interview is republished here with kind permission of the PPA.