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Coffee Qs: Sasha Howells, Visualsoft

Coffee Qs: Sasha Howells, Visualsoft

PerformanceIN

In our latest Coffee Qs, Visualsoft's paid search analyst, Sasha Howells discusses the influence of artificial intelligence on search and how clients should stay on top of their competitors.

How long have you been working at VisualSoft?

Just over two and half years. It can be exhausting at times due to being a creative agency and all but it’s really enjoyable.

What’s your typical day-to-day like?

Every morning I start off with a strong black coffee which gets me through the day. I start reading emails and blogs to get my mind going then begin working on client accounts and briefs. I work as part of a team so we work together on others accounts and brainstorm ideas. We’ve also got meetings and visit clients as well. It’s pretty much the same day-to-day but you get to work with different clients doing different things which is fun.

What to do enjoy most about search?

What I really like about search is that it’s always evolving. When I first started, it was a lot more to do with shopping campaigns, now it’s a lot to do with the audience; it’s moved into what the future is like when searching a product, how people using it as well...it’s always evolving. What might be right last week, might be wrong this week. You’re always learning.

What do you think are some of the key trends happening right now in the search industry?

What I’ve started to notice quite a lot is artificial intelligence [AI], especially within search and how people use it, that’s become a key trend. The way people are searching is definitely changing. 

Last Spring, I wrote a blog post about AI and how more people were starting to use voice search like Alexa, Google Assistant etc. Now we’ve started to actually notice more people using it and when you notice people’s search terms when finding your ads, it’s quite interesting to see the changes from having a very specific thing to find on search using specific keywords to becoming more conversational between two people. You’re skimming the computer for help, rather than telling the computer “this is what I need”. That’s definitely something we’ve noticed as a trend.

And some of the key challenges?

One of the things which has now become more established is paid search. I think a key challenge is that everyone is becoming indulged with it, more businesses are going online etc; that’s the main challenge - how to do you stay on top of your competitors? It’s one thing I tell clients which they’re reluctant in doing. For example, mobile optimisation, where if you don’t go for mobile optimised sites then you will lose out on mobile users where for instance 75% of your customers are on mobile. If you don’t evolve, you get left behind. It’s about getting that across and becoming more aligned with your competitors.

What’s been your biggest career highlight so far?

There’s been a lot of good points. Travelling to see clients and going to Google events; it’s rewarding getting sent to these things to represent your company.

Some of the other highlights come from day-to-day things: for example, you might get a new client who’s never done anything with paid search before then watching them grow over the next few years, that’s also rewarding, knowing the work you’ve put into that account is actually paying off. 

Aside from the search world, do you have any other interest/hobbies?

I really like staying active. Someone can say to me “Sasha, let’s do jujitsu tomorrow?” and I would be like “yeah let’s totally do it”. I like to stay active, keep things fresh and change an interest or two. I like being outdoors as well, travelling seeing friends where I live. I like eating [is that an interest, I don’t know ha!].

Three words that best describe you?

Enthusiastic, competitive and honest.

What’s your favourite food spot?

Anywhere that does really good burgers, it could be a burger van or TGI Fridays, whichever one is prefered. I can’t pick one ha!

Lastly, what can we expect from Visualsoft in the next year or so?

There’s a lot of things happening right now. The company is growing and we’re starting to get more people in from different personalities which means lots of fresh ideas coming in which is good. With our team as well, especially becoming a Google partner, expectations for Q2 and generally a lot more things we can offer to clients.

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Mustafa Mirreh

Mustafa Mirreh

In addition to managing editorial on PerformanceIN, Mustafa reports on the latest day-to-day news updates from the world of digital marketing, while also doing social media promotion, live reporting of events, article features and interviewing key industry players and stakeholders.

Based in Bristol, Mustafa graduate with a marketing degree before delving into the world of music journalism through self-starting an online blog and collaborating with other publications. Now he has joined the PI team and has set his sights on succeeding in digital marketing.

Read more from Mustafa

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