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5 min read

FounderMetrics: Olivia Mae Hanlon

FounderMetrics: Olivia Mae Hanlon

Table of Contents

FounderMetrics host Ifty Nasir dives into crucial metrics to empower founders like you with the insights to make powerful decisions.

Joining Ifty for episode four is Olivia Mae Hanlon, the revolutionary founder of Girls in Marketing, a thriving community and platform dedicated to empowering women in the marketing industry. 

This episode is a must for marketers!

Ifty’s chat with Olivia explores the capability and challenges of social listening tools and how Olivia has implemented these to measure Girls in Marketing's sensational success.

Check out our key takeaways from Ifty and Olivia’s chat below or listen to the podcast in full

Discovering marketing

So, I really love psychology and I love business as well. And I almost think of marketing as a mix of both psychology and business. But when I was in sixth form, in college, choosing my options for university, I wasn’t aware that marketing was really a discipline you could choose to study. 

So I chose psychology for my degree and it was actually whilst I was at university that I discovered content writing and blogging and that ultimately led me to marketing.

Once I got into marketing, I had such a passion for it from day one and decided to make a career of it! I still love psychology and I think marketing and psychology are very much interconnected. 

Smashing SEO

SEO is definitely such a minefield of data and I know just thinking about SEO is quite overwhelming for a lot of people! I definitely started on the less technical side of things – like the on-site, on-page keywords – and then started taking some online courses and building up to learning SEO. 

It was very much a transition for me and I like to encourage other people to think of it like a journey. Don't just think that one day you're going to wake up and understand SEO inside out. Instead, start with what you do know and what you can build on from there. I didn’t understand everything when I started out either and that’s okay! 

Making the leap without a safety net

So I like to self-identify as a calculated risk taker. I like to take risks, but not too many risks. And I always calculate the different outcomes that can occur when taking a risk.

So, for me, leaving my job meant there were a lot of risks: financial risks, the risk of Girls in Marketing not taking off, not making any money…

There were lots of different risks but, realistically, all of them are common risks you’re likely to face as a business owner. But I wanted to find a way to prevent those risks from the offset by anticipating them and developing solutions.

So, one of my solutions was to find a way to continue to make money and continue to progress in my career even though I wasn’t in a full-time role. At the time, I was freelancing in SEO and content. My goal was to continue my journey, to grow Girls in Marketing, and avoid hitting a slump all at the same time.

And, through the process, I found that the company was also kind of growing my skill sets, growing my connections and my network, and also teaching me different sides of the business. 

I learned so much from that freelance journey after I quit my full-time job. 

I learned so much through client-based interactions - things like how to deal with people, with briefs, with proposals etc. All of that led to what Girls in Marketing has become now.

Tracking engagement

I think data plays a huge part in any business. So, a big metric for me was data that illustrated the impact and traction of the community I was building. And even though we’re now a full-fledged business with a full-time team and an office, we’re still very much a startup assessing ourselves through startup-style metrics. 

So, at the beginning, when we were trying to measure our impact, it was initially through the comments and feedback we got from people who attended things.

Likes on our posts were helpful but we were primarily looking at the comments on our LinkedIn posts or Instagram posts, along with metrics like how many people were signing up for our email newsletter.

All of those numbers were helpful for measuring the early success of the business but for me personally, it was individual comments from people messaging and saying that they attended one of our webinars or learned something that impacted them and it helped them to land a job in marketing or get a promotion! 

The limitations of social listening tools

Initially, I used a number of different social listening tools to assess what people were saying publicly about Girls in Marketing.

In the beginning, I used Mention, which was a big thing for us because they offered a free plan that helped us measure our impact while keeping costs low. And that was a great way to find out what people were saying about our brand publicly. 

But the problem with Mention is that – especially when it comes to LinkedIn – it can’t track what people are saying on LinkedIn in a more private context. So, that’s one of the biggest issues I’ve encountered:

  1. How do we measure the impact of individuals talking about us on LinkedIn and other platforms?
  2. How do we keep track of those comments and learn from them?

It’s really hard to track those kinds of metrics but we do the best we can by actively seeking them out where possible. And, when we find them, we create an individual Google Drive folder for each new project we’re doing.

We screenshot messages and comments and collate those so we can assess the feedback for each project we do. Sometimes things do go under the radar; we don’t catch all the individual comments, but we aim to keep track of the majority of comments about each project. 

We also use a variety of project management tools to help us find more significant individual testimonials – especially those that talk about Girls in Marketing in a really nice, positive way.

We love using those testimonials to showcase the impact of what we’re doing and we put those in a separate Google Drive folder as well.  

We love using testimonials to showcase the impact of what we’re doing.

Connecting the dots between personal success and new business 

Honestly, it’s not something that I've ever really tracked.

I haven’t really assessed whether it brings new business but I do think that awards lend credibility, especially within the business world. I would say I’ve mostly assessed the impact of awards in terms of how they’ve added credibility to our organisation and to me as an individual. 

I guess I’ve mostly tracked the impact from more of a personal brand perspective. In practice, I’ve considered the extent to which being asked to speak on podcasts or at events has related to personal brand awareness and credibility.

We also haven’t won an award as Girls in Marketing before, but if we do in future, I think it would be interesting to assess the impact of that award on new business. 

Measuring credibility

I wouldn’t say there’s any particular measurable metric for credibility. For me, personally, I think I measure credibility though being able to go into a room of marketers and feel that people know and trust you and your brand. 

For example, we recently exhibited an event that was totally free; we did not pay for it because the event organisers just genuinely wanted us there. They wanted our brand there and they asked us to go do some really cool brand activation.

So we did just that the amount of people that came up to us and already knew who we are and what we do felt really amazing to me. 

I measure credibility by being able to walk into a room and feel that people know and trust you and your brand.

I don’t know if you can necessarily measure that through a quantifiable metric but the face-to-face impact was just incredible. Like, when people generally say, “I follow you on LinkedIn” or “I've bought a training course or a membership from you guys,” I think that’s where I find that credibility.

The same goes for moments when people compare us to other communities or other training courses and say, “I’ve joined your membership because I think it’s better.” 

Tune into FounderMetrics

You'll find Olivia's interview and others on your favourite podcast platform. And it's on YouTube too! Don't forget to like and subscribe to be the first to catch the latest episodes.

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