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Media Interview with Graham Charlton, editor of Econsultancy

Graham Charlton

[My handwriting] is rubbish and always has been. I should have been a doctor. Online publishing is perfect for me.

Who is Econsultancy’s target audience?

Broadly speaking, anyone with an interest in digital marketing and ecommerce. We are a subscription business though, and we want to convert a good proportion of blog visitors into paying customers. For this, digital marketing professionals, and those looking to learn more about digital and ecommerce, are our target audience.

What makes you different from the other outlets in your sector?

We have a keen focus on providing insight into what works and what doesn’t in marketing and ecommerce, rather than the kind of news or opinion you can find on many, many sites.

We’re less interested in, for instance, a new Facebook update as news, but rather what it means for marketers and how they can benefit from it.

This kind of practical, evergreen content is more likely to be useful to our audience, and has a longer shelf life than news.

Are there any instances of particularly bad customer service the website has covered/heard about?

Lots! I don’t want to pick any out (you can find them on the blog anyway) but many companies have a lot to learn in this area. One common problem is slow response time via email and social media – many companies have yet to adapt to customers’ preferences for customer service channels and force them to endure the pain of call queues.

Describe a typical day at work: What are your editorial responsibilities at Econsultancy?

I have a team of three dedicated writers, while others in the company, from the research team for instance, will chip in with posts. I’m responsible for all the articles published on the blog, with help from deputy editor David Moth.

I’ll generally spend a few hours in the morning editing and preparing posts for publication, and dealing with the daily email deluge. This, in theory, leaves me time later in the day to write my own posts, research reports, and to plan content for the coming weeks.

Analytics plays a big part, too. While ultimately it’s about producing the best articles we can, there’s a lot you can learn from analysing what works well, best times to publish, and so on. If we are spending time writing useful articles, we need to ensure they do as well as they can.

What interests you most about your job?

This is a great industry to work in. It’s constantly evolving and there’s a lot out there to keep on top of.  For example, when I started at Econsultancy, Twitter didn’t exist, MySpace was reckoned to be the next big thing, and there was no such thing as an iPhone. Things change very quickly.

I have a great team and work for a company which values what we do.

Where have you worked previously and what skills have you carried forward to this job?

I have a history degree, have previously worked in customer services, and am also a qualified teacher – this job is much less hassle though. I think you gain something useful from most jobs you do.

How can PRs be useful to you and how should they get in touch?

PRs can be useful, and there are a few who get what we do and know how to approach us. The key for them is that they understand how we work and the kinds of things we are likely to be interested in. Also, how we like to be contacted. In general, we prefer email as we can deal with it when we have time, while phone calls can be a big interruption when you’re trying to write.

I have very little time for PRs who just fire out emails without any attempt to understand our site and what we are looking for. You’d be amazed how many emails we receive that have absolutely nothing to do with digital marketing, then there’s the goddawful sales talk (market leading solutions, leveraging the power of this or that). Those emails will just be ignored.

With all the work you do online, how is your handwriting holding up these days?

It’s rubbish and always has been. I should have been a doctor. Online publishing is perfect for me.

A picture was recently tweeted of the content team ‘adorning hilarious hats’ – does this make for a better working environment? What if the hat is a really tight one?!

Though we are professional when we need to be, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and I think this environment makes for a happier team.

We sometimes wear silly hats, mess about on Vine, and a lifesize Nic Cage cutout watches us while we work. The beauty is that we can stick this on Twitter and call it ‘social media engagement’ if anyone asks…

People should enjoy their jobs.

So, Greg got his holiday…and you played a major part in that – what do you think Greg should do for the Econsultancy team in return to say thank you?!

It seems Greg is a pretty good guy, and donated the holiday to charity, so I have a lot of respect for him – I’d be tempted by a few days in Vegas. We don’t ask for thanks, we were just having a bit of fun.

Graham can be found tweeting @gcharlton.