Practice Makes Perfect: A Crash Course in Adaptive Learning & Application
In this mentorship program study, an adaptive approach to gaining a deeper knowledge of technical SEO and refining Account Management skills was conducted over a 3-month period. We hypothesized that the mentee will be better able to translate knowledge from the GAIQ to real-world applications in order to gain a stronger understanding on how to become an elite Account Manager.
By taking each week in-stride and adapting the program curriculum to align with real-world issues, the mentee was able to confidently advance her technical SEO knowledge and strengthen her Account Management skills.
In the long run, we expect that the knowledge and exercises shared will continue to help the mentee and mentor both grow professionally and personally. After completing the study, we could certainly accept the above hypothesis based on the mentee’s confidence, new practices, and recognition from other team members.
Building a skillset in Account Management is a major pillar in maintaining professional success at a digital agency and beyond. Additionally, obtaining a strategic understanding of digital channels beyond your individual purview has helped digital marketers continue to grow their professional portfolio. By being able to speak intelligently across a variety of digital channels and appealing to the human-side of clients, an experienced Account Manager would be setting themselves up for success.
Building rapport and being genuine with business partners helps us show a sophisticated level of performance that speaks well beyond campaign results. Ask any seasoned vet in the digital marketing industry and they would agree that it is not always about the results garnered. The client-vendor relationship is nearly as equally important!
The objective of this study is to develop a stronger strategic understanding of SEO and to refine the analytical skillset to better navigate Google Analytics with the end goal of becoming a better Account Manager. By becoming better armed with the ability to efficiently navigate Google Analytics and to draw inferences from the data, the mentee will be able to better address client questions and analyze campaign performance autonomously.
Meanwhile, to further capitalize on our time together, the mentor will educate the mentee on developing consistent management practices and addressing client pain-points as they come to light, all while isolating tactics to better build client rapport.
With previous experience with the GAIQ certification, the mentee possesses a high baseline knowledge of Google Analytics coming into this program. By taking a hands-on and solution-driven approach to reporting, we can adapt the curriculum to better translate the learnings from the GAIQ to real-world applications. Furthermore, by committing to a weekly schedule of analysis and feedback between the mentor and mentee, we will ensure that personal growth is achieved.
Materials and Methods
To test the hypothesis that a hands-on approach to relationship management and understanding SEO will result in the mentee becoming a stronger Account Manager, the mentor provided learning resources, consulting with direct client issues, and helped keep the mentee sharp with periodic pop-quizzes. By approaching the learning process in an adaptive manner, we were able to take a practical and impactful approach to professional growth for the mentee.
To begin, the mentee was able to exemplify pre-existing knowledge of Google Analytics by completing the GAIQ Exam to become Google Analytics certified. The inclusion of this test in the study provides us with a measured starting point for the mentorship curriculum.
Additionally, there were three educational pieces of reading geared around SEO, which would also act as a basal knowledge set of which we would structure the ongoing curriculum around. All of these above elements were included as a means to best estimate initial understanding of SEO and to pinpoint topics of interest for the mentee so we could tailor the curriculum to the mentee’s needs.
Another key element in the success of the program was the chronological journaling both the mentor and mentee took part in as well as the experience documentation that the mentee kept a log of throughout the program. The purpose of the documentation regiment was so that we can better measure growth and how well the mentor-mentee team was able to address issues that have come up during the program while working towards confirming the proposed hypothesis. By being able to reflect on the application of the program retroactively, the duo was able to better adapt the program curriculum to address the best areas of opportunity.
To confirm the hypothesis that the mentee will develop into a stronger Account Manager by building a stronger understanding of SEO and refining her communication tactics, periodic exercises and quizzes were conducted to continue to test understanding of course materials.
Since growth in becoming a stronger Account Manager is not readily measured, the mentor and mentee pinpointed the area of rapport building as an area of focus to refine the mentee’s client communication style. With that focus in mind, an exercise on open-ended questions was conducted between the mentor and mentee to help provide a better understanding of the impact of well-thought conversation points to gain trust and enable easier client-vendor communication.
Alternatively, as the SEO-understanding element of the curriculum is more readily measured, a pop-quiz on Technical SEO was conducted in class and documented by the mentor. As the duo walked through the questions and their answers, the mentor adapted the curriculum and utilized the time to further elaborate on any topics that needed to be expanded upon.
In order to focus the mentorship program on building the mentee’s knowledge in advanced SEO, the mentee took the GAIQ exam in the very beginning of the mentorship program to ensure her existing knowledge on the fundamentals of Google Analytics is fresh on her mind. She passed the exam and is Google Analytics certified through August 2018.
To further the mentee’s existing knowledge on advanced SEO, the mentor provided 3 resources including The Beginner’s Guide to SEO, Technical SEO 101, and Backlinko guide for the mentee to familiarize herself with the most common SEO terms and concepts. The mentee achieved the goal of reading through all 3 resources during the mentorship program and used this exposure to pinpoint topics of conversation for the program curriculum.
The mentorship program was structured by a series of outlined courses to help both the mentor and mentee stay on track of the objective in each meeting. The mentor and mentee both took time to input journal entries after each class to summarize their experience and takeaways. This, along with the Experience Log, were big players in helping the duo best quantify the growth achieved during the program.
To improve the mentee’s account management skills, the mentor provided AM best practices and tips with an emphasis in how to speak more fluidly and build better rapport. The mentee implemented the suggestions provided by the mentor and documented every instance throughout the program on the results of removing scripts in client meetings and asking open-ended questions.
By tracking the experience of putting practice into play, both the mentor and mentee could best understand what happens when the program curriculum is put into action!
SEO Pop Quiz
To ensure the mentee has a good understanding of the advanced SEO terms and concepts covered in previous classes, the mentor created a pop quiz to test the mentee on her knowledge. The quiz was conducted in class and the results were documented by the mentor.
The exercise of question-answer between the mentor and mentee allowed for adaptation of the curriculum in real-time and ability to further elaborate on topics that needed to be expanded upon.
Results were documented below:
As part of being a great account manager is the ability to build rapport, the mentor has put together an exercise for the mentee to practice asking open-ended questions to encourage a full and meaningful response from clients. The mentor conducted the exercise during class and documented the mentee’s responses. In the end, this was a powerful exercise for the mentee. A stark realization of the impact of open-ended questions was developed and these practices were immediately put into play.
To advance the mentee’s ability to thoroughly analyze account performance for reporting purposes, the mentee completed the extensive Google Analytics platform training along with gaining hands-on experience in building out GA reports and dashboards. This real-world example of her improvement in analyzing data and formatting the report in a digestible manner was noticed by peers on the team and called out in an email by her team director!
At the start of the mentorship program, the mentee set goals to improve her ability to confidently navigate the GA platform and understand advanced technical SEO in order to become an overall better account manager. The course began by having the mentee study the GAIQ modules and taking the exam to bolster her existing knowledge on the subject.
The mentee read through all the training modules and passed the exam successfully. Upon completing the certification, the mentee began utilizing the reports she found the most useful in getting a holistic view on client businesses, specifically the Assisted Conversions report and Top Conversion Paths report. She has also been applying what she learned in class and building out GA dashboards in order to obtain cross-channel insights that might’ve been overlooked when reporting from the AdWords UI.
In addition to enhancing the mentee’s technical knowledge, the mentor assigned homework for the mentee to improve overall client communication by practicing only jotting down the data points and building rapport on client calls.
The mentee began implementing the new tactics right away and experienced some difficulties at first with the adjustment, however, the more practice she had the more confident she became. After a couple of weeks, she is now able to speak more fluidly without talking points written down and engage in more meaningful conversations with clients by asking open-ended questions.
The mentorship program was both educational and practical, the mentee found the course helpful in advancing her technical SEO knowledge and strengthening her account management skills. The mentor provided reading materials that the mentee found useful in building on her SEO fundamentals. The exercises held in class by the mentor were also found valuable in helping the mentee better build rapport with her clients once it was put into play.
This was particularly fulfilling as it was an area which the duo uncovered during the program that has room for improvement. The mentee is committed to working on improving her ability to ask open-ended questions while speaking more fluidly after the mentorship program ends, she understands that account management skills are not learned overnight but with consistent and persistent utilization, the practice will eventually become a second nature.