Blog Header Image for 18th May 2023 - Google Digital Garage Training Day in York

18th May 2023 - Google Digital Garage Training Day in York

One great thing about living and working in York is that the city of York Council has an initiative to assist small to medium businesses, especially in the digital arena. Last week, as part of this, they teamed up with Google to provide a digital skills training day in the heart of the city

Craig pickles stood in front of the google logoYork Council have worked with Google for a few months now, offering youtube based online training on topics such as social media marketing and google maps. The last of these training sessions was a big deal. A full days training hosted by the Council and presented by the Goggle Training team. I was lucky enough to secure a place to attend this full-day training last week.

The training day took place in the stunning Hospitium, a truly beautiful venue in the centre of the museum gardens.

The day was broken down into 4 training sessions:

  1. Get started with Google Analytics
  2. Social Media Stories & use social media to reach your goals
  3. Get started with digital Advertising
  4. Engage customers with newsletters & reach new audiences with YouTube

Breakfast at the Google Garage Digital Event in York Networking with Vladimir Manik from My Tool ExpertWe all met in the morning at the venue where coffee and pastries were offered and a chance to network before the sessions started.

I can't write enough about how beautiful the venue was, but today was not about the venue, it was about learning from Google themselves.

After breakfast, we all went upstairs to the first session and the introduction to the day, presented by Louise Saw from York City Council. 

Session 1 - Get Started with Google Analytics 

In all honestly, the first session was the one I was most interested in, like most people in tech, I've upgraded or at least taken a look at Google Analytics 4 and found it to be somewhat bewildering compared to the previous offering, so I was hoping to take away something from this session to help me understand the differences. 

Google Garage York Session 1 - Understanding Google Analytics 4

The presentation was by Kirstie Kavanagh from Google and while it was intended to be a basic introduction to using google analytics to measure data from a range of platforms, it discussed the differences between the previous universal analytics and the new GA4. 

Essentially, the old system focussed on just the website and specific criteria, such as views and traffic, and didn't have the correct data or tools to be able to follow the whole journey from first contact to action and finally to the user coming back at a later date. 

Kirstie introduced the concept of how every user interaction would be broken down into 4 distinct categories: Reach, Engage, Activate and Nurture. This was badged "The REAN Framework"

Reach - Where are my users coming from, how are they finding me?
Engage - How are users interacting with the site
Activate - How are users spending money on the site &
Nurture - Are visitors returning to my site? 

It was explained that the new thinking for Google Analytics 4 was based around these 4 factors (albeit, sometimes they had different names) but essentially you can harness the data to understand the funnel that this framework represents. It means that I can now look at the new system with at least an understanding of what they are trying to achieve, which should be easier to get my head around. Fingers crossed🤞

Session 2 - Social Media Stories & Use Social Media to Reach Your Goals

The second session was by Glenn White, another member of Google's excellent training team and focussed on using social media, and in particular using "stories" to promote your business. 

Glenn White presenting session 2 of the google garage day

Glenn highlighted the benefits of using stories and how you can use imagery, sound and movement to produce great, eye-catching stories which many of the social media networks are now adopting. 

As a relatively new phenomenon in digital marketing, stories are something I personally haven't really taken advantage of but Glenn pressed that this really is the way forward and with tools such as Canva, creating them couldn't be easier. Another interesting talk on a subject I needed to know more about. 

After the second session, we all went down to lunch which was a splendid buffet of sandwiches, nibbles and cakes. And the best onion bhajis that I've tasted in a long time, I may have had more than my fair share! I sadly can't remember the name of the company tasked with producing the food and drink throughout the day but they did a great job! 

Session 3 - Get Started with Digital Advertising

Digital advertising and Pay Per Click is the least interesting subject of the day for me. As a technical SEO specialist, I prefer to put my skills more towards organic search and let other specialists concentrate on spending those advertising budgets but I am always happy to learn of any new advancements in digital advertising.

Google Garage - Session 3 Presented by Glenn

This session was again presented by Glenn and introduced how creating user stories could help you make the most effective use of your advertising money. By understanding your audience better, you could direct your spending to the most appropriate for you, whether that be Pay Per Click (PPC) or Display Advertising where you create graphical banners for various platforms. 

Glenn explained how to best find the correct keywords, including the tools that Google offers for free to help you do this. This was a great talk for people who don't understand the difference in advertising mediums or have previously dabbled and wasted money. 

Session 4 - Engage Customers with Newsletters & Reach New Audiences with YouTube

The last session of the day was presented by Kirstie and one I was looking forward to seeing 😊

Google Garage Session 4 with Kirstie presenting Email Marketing

I have worked in Email Marketing for over 20 years and it's one of my favourite of the digital services. I believe that a good well-planned, targeted campaign can bring the biggest return if you are willing to put the work in, and this was re-iterated by Kirstie within this session. She discussed "catchy titles" and the importance of having a goal for each email which was spot on in my opinion!

I didn't learn anything new but I think judging by the questions asked by the audience during the presentation, it offered a lot of food for thought. 

The second part of this session was a very quick overview of how to utilise YoutTube to promote your business. Kirstie highlighted the different types of videos as well as a four-step process to create compelling content, and finally brought the whole thing full circle by explaining how to use analytics to understand your market. 

the last session was followed by a quick thank you and goodbye from Louise who had started the whole day off. 

Workshops

Throughout the day there were a number of small workshops where people could discuss in small groups about issues with their sites and digital services. I didn't take advantage of these, opting to attend all the sessions instead, but I heard from people who had gone that it was a tremendous help. It's not often you get to have hands-on mentoring directly from Google so I am glad that people were able to take advantage of that. 

A Great and Informative Day!

I have been to many of these types of sessions in and around the UK, but I have to say that York is the perfect place for them, it's such a beautiful city with equally beautiful venues, it's easy to get to and of course, the Northern friendliness and hospitality knows no bounds. 

I've worked in the crux of digital marketing all my professional life, but I still came away from the day having learned things which I will incorporate in my future work, especially around Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and social media stories.

Anybody who came to this day knowing little about digital promotion would have come away with a spinning head full of things to master and that's a great thing! And on that note, I have worked in this industry for more years than I care to imagine, building sites and managing social media and email marketing for the likes of Santander, Alton Towers and Machine Mart as well as hundreds of others. So if anybody was interested in actually implementing any of what you've heard about at the sessions today and don't know where to start, I can help... I'd love to hear from you! :) 

Lastly, I would like to say a big thank you to the Google team, both the speakers were fantastic at what they do and have bounds of energy, confidence and enthusiasm and Louise and her team did an astounding job putting all this together. 

I'm very much looking forward to the next one!  

If you find this article interesting, could you please do me a favour by sharing it or commenting below, I would love to hear your and other peoples' thoughts on this subject. Thank you

Date: 22 May 2023
Author: Craig Pickles (YorkshireTechy)