Sharing the Wisdom feat. Laura Devonald

Meet Laura, Head of Digital at Webmart, with a decade-long journey in digital marketing. Starting as a Sales Exec, she discovered her passion for digital and grew into roles like Sales and Marketing Manager and Agency Manager. Read on for Laura’s 5 lessons, including being the exception in digital marketing, setting realistic goals, and acknowledging digital’s environmental impact.

Jess @ ADLIB: Could you please introduce yourself as well as your background?

Hello, I’m Laura, Head of Digital at Webmart, an integrated marketing agency where sustainability truly matters.

My journey in digital marketing began over a decade ago, quite serendipitously. Returning from my stint abroad as a holiday rep, I needed a job for the summer. Landing a position as a Sales Exec for a pay monthly website company, I discovered my passion for digital marketing.

Rather than following the conventional sales approach, I found success by building relationships within the local business community. This led to my promotion to Sales and Marketing Manager, where I enjoyed managing my first small team.

As I sought new experiences, a partner Digital Marketing agency clocked I might be on the lookout and offered me a role as an Account Manager. It was during this period that I discovered my true love in digital – shifting my focus from meeting sales targets and constant travel to nurturing relationships with clients. This shift allowed my strategic skills to flourish, leveraging my knowledge in psychology, design, and digital to make a significant impact on a businesses bottom line.

Eight years later, I had climbed the ranks to become the Agency Manager. I was offered the incredible opportunity of being part of a management buyout but realised that company ownership wasn’t my primary motivation. The joy of managing an exceptional team and serving clients fueled my enthusiasm more than profit and loss sheets.

This realisation led me to Webmart, historically a print marketing agency aspiring to build a digital marketing department. Joining the team, I played a crucial role in shaping the agency’s digital direction. Now, after 1.5 years, we stand at an incredible juncture – delivering integrated marketing solutions to some of the most remarkable brands. At Webmart, we prioritise sustainability, utilising both digital and print marketing carbon calculators to ensure our clients comprehend and minimise their environmental impact.

Jess @ ADLIB: In an attempt to capture some of the Wisdom you’ve gained as a professional so far, what are 5 “stand-out things” you’ve learned that you’d like to pass on to your peers as well as the future generation of talent within your sector?

  1. Be the exception: Don’t be the one tarnishing the reputation of digital marketers (according to a recent study I read, we’re as distrusted as Estate Agent are (sorry Estate Agents!)). Overpromising and suggesting you have all the answers will only lead to short term relationships. Digital marketing involves testing, measuring, and adapting strategies. No one has the winning formula.
  2. Target realistic goals: Set achievable targets based on real data. For example, look to understand the search volume and potential keyword position of a keyword, that will help you work out the potential impact on traffic and revenue. Be transparent about factors beyond your control, such as algorithms, user behaviour and competition. Clear, realistic goals align everyone on the team and ensure clients understand the definition of success.
  3. Keep strategy simple: While strategy may seem complex, it ultimately revolves around people. Take the time to deeply understand the business you’re working with, its customers, industry, and competitors. Then, put yourself in the customer’s shoes to comprehend their needs, questions, and online behaviour.
  4. Support team growth: Managing a digital team requires fostering growth. Clearly outline progression paths for team members, providing guidance on advancing from one role to the next. Regularly engage in honest feedback sessions to help team members progress and avoid losing valuable talent. Equally, accept there will be some who simply want to excel in their existing role – don’t forget to support, and reward that too.
  5. Acknowledge digital’s environmental impact: Having spent years solely focused on digital, my bias was strong, and part of that was believing that print was terrible for the environment. Digital has a massive impact too, despite its intangible nature. From device manufacturing to data server emissions, the carbon footprint is substantial. Acknowledge, measure, and actively seek ways to reduce or offset this impact.