London marketer Natalie Crane was recently appointed to an exciting digital role at Habitat and is also an elected member of our CIM Greater London Region Board. In this interview, Natalie shares her career story and insights on digital marketing for the Habitat brand, which celebrates its 50th birthday this year.
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Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m the Digital Marketing Manager at Habitat, and also, a member of the CIM’s Greater London Region. When I’m not working I enjoy dancing (I’m a qualified dance instructor), going to gym and travelling.
What made you choose a career in marketing?
The variety it offers. No two days are the same. Marketing tactics are continually changing and developing as well as the way consumers like to shop.
Why did you decide to become a CIM member?
I wanted to make sure I had a professional qualification on my CV. It’s definitely helped with my career progression. It also provides me with confidence to be the best I can be at my job.
You have both the CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing and CAM Digital Marketing Diploma – why did you decide to do both?
I soon realised that digital was becoming a more important part of the marketing mix and wanted to ensure that I was up-to-date with this area of marketing. I found I had a real passion for digital marketing and hence this is the direction I have followed in my career.
Tell us about your career journey leading to your current job at Habitat
I worked as the Marketing Manager for Hamilton Fraser Insurance for 6 ½ years. During this time I saw the business and marketing change a lot. It evolved into a business with much more of a digital marketing focus.
I’ve always had a passion for retail and wanted to move into this sector. I was lucky enough that my experience in digital marketing led me to the job at Habitat.
What does your current role involve?
I’m responsible for driving qualified traffic to the Habitat website using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Paid Search, Email marketing, Affiliate Marketing and social media marketing.
When Habitat was bought out by the Home Retail Group in 2011 the main focus was to use short term digital tactics such as paid search to drive immediate traffic to the website and generate revenue. Therefore until now there has been little investment in longer term strategies such as SEO.
My main challenge is to ensure that the Habitat website becomes more visible in the Search Engine Results Pages for generic homeware terms.
What do Habitat customers particularly value about the brand?
The fact that it is innovative design at an affordable price.
We are a British brand.
We design our products in-house.
How do you ensure Habitat’s digital communications look as good as its products given its 50-year reputation for iconic design?
We have recently carried out some branding work with the agency Portas. This ensures our imagery and tone of voice is current and on trend, designed to appeal to our target market of predominantly females between the ages of 25-35 in the London area.
As part of the campaign we have selected very cool, trendy websites to place display advertising on such as DeZine.
Can you share any details of campaigns that have worked particularly well?
It’s a little early to say as I have just started working at Habitat, but here are some campaigns we are currently doing.
As part of our brand campaign we are introducing an Instagram competition asking customers to share pictures of their products in their homes with the hashtag #ourHabitat
We’re looking to invite customer reviews through Trustpilot to improve our online reputation. Once we have star ratings we are happy with, these will be used in our Pay Per Click (PPC) ad copy and on our website to improve conversion.
We’ll also add videos about our products to YouTube and our website to assist in SEO and conversion rate optimisation.
What difference has becoming a member of the Greater London Region Board made to you?
As part of my role I have been lucky enough to present to University students studying marketing about the benefits of studying for a CIM qualification. It feels good to be able to help others out on their career path.
You’ve worked in different market sectors – which marketing skills do you think are the most transferable?
I think nearly all marketing skills are transferable. Once you have the knowledge of marketing strategy and tactics it’s a case of learning about your product and audience and deciding which tactics suit them. The principles of marketing are the same although different tactics will work better with different audiences. I think one of the benefits of working in a role such as marketing is the variety it can bring.
What career advice would you give to other marketers?
Marketing practices are continually evolving, particularly in digital marketing; therefore my advice would be to go to as many seminars and workshops as possible, keep up to speed through industry magazines and social media.
I think the CIM is great way to provide you with a support network and keep you up-to-date with the latest trends in marketing.
Since 1964 Habitat has made outstanding design accessible to all. Times have changed, but the vision remains the same: remarkable design that is enduring, inventive and affordable.
Habitat has three flagship central London stores in Tottenham Court Road, King’s Road and Finchley Road, a transactional website and 20 Mini Habitat stores within Homebase branches nationwide. A large selection of Habitat product is now also available in Homebase and Argos stores nationwide.
Habitat’s Managing Director, Clare Askem, has been with the brand since 2011 when it was acquired by Home Retail Group and the Habitat in-house design and buying team has been under the guidance of Polly Dickens since 2012. Habitat also launched Platform, an innovative design initiative and gallery space housed in the King’s Road store in 2012 that now hosts a calendar of design exhibitions throughout the year.
Habitat celebrates its 50th birthday in 2014.