Apprentice Hannah helps her employer increase online sales by £190,000 in her first year

Spiral Colour is a leading provider of wide format and digital printing services to clients ranging from graphic design consultancies and marketing agencies to large organisations like the NHS, BBC and Media City.

A fast track apprenticeship success story

Hannah Lee joined Spiral Colour as a Digital and Social Media Apprentice, after graduating with a degree in English Literature. According to Spiral Colour’s Sales and Digital Marketing Manager, Jamie Brelsford, Hannah has played an important role in revitalising the company’s presence across all digital and social media platforms.

Jamie confirmed that since Hannah started her Apprenticeship in November 2013, Spiral Colour has seen a huge upturn in the success of its web traffic and online sales which he directly attributes to her Apprenticeship training.

The fruits of her work have resulted in:

  • 20 x increase in visits to website
  • 25% increase in time spent on the website per visit
  • 3 x increase in spend per visit
  • Over 300% increase in online sales revenue

This ultimately has resulted in online sales increasing from £60,000 in 2013 to £250,000 in 2014.

The benefits of developing inhouse digital and social media expertise

As a digital marketing specialist with over a decade’s experience, Jamie Brelsford understands the importance of high-quality, relevant and topical content.
“Research shows that web users want interesting and useful content they can find within seconds of landing on a site. If they go away thinking they’ve wasted their time, they won’t bother returning,” he says.

A training partner with digital marketing credentials

Brelsford had originally tried using an external agency to provide content but the experience hadn’t been entirely satisfactory. He decided to bring the work in-house by recruiting a digital marketing assistant.

“Having all our digital marketing activities under one roof now, particularly content creation, has been a massive success for us. We have also found that it is much more productive having our sales and marketing teams working together as ONE integrated team.”

Brelsford had a very clear idea of the ‘type’ of person he wanted to recruit. After being introduced to Hannah he knew he’d found the ideal candidate.

“Hannah met all our criteria. She was a graduate with writing ability and a flair for words who was interested in a career in digital marketing. Her youth and lack of experience actually worked in her favour as it meant she was free from entrenched attitudes and ‘bad’ working practices.

“Instead, Hannah had enthusiasm, was keen to learn and would bring fresh ideas to the company.”

Having met the ideal candidate, Brelsford now had to decide on the most appropriate and cost effective training method. After considering training Hannah himself, which would have been too time consuming – Jamie set about finding an alternative solution that would allow Hannah to learn on the job.

The Apprentice Academy offered everything we believed necessary in a training partner. They’re well ahead of the game as far as digital marketing and social media is concerned and have a reassuringly good track record of success.”

Brelsford believes that the apprenticeship approach is particularly effective in a digital marketing setting.

Can university graduates do apprenticeships?

Yes they can – the only difference is that graduates do not attract government funding to pay for the qualifications. Despite Hannah having achieved a level 6 qualification at university she did not have the practical experience she needed to ensure success in a digital and marketing role.

Through the Apprenticeship route Hannah received regular one to one coaching in the workplace and she attended interactive digital workshops every month at The Apprentice Academy.

Brelsford commented, “The Apprenticeship has allowed Hannah to combine the benefits of on-the-job practical experience with more theoretical education that’s still very much centred on real-world conditions and expectations. It was interesting to see how Hannah would come back from a session at The Apprentice Academy and almost invariably find ways of using her new skills and approaches in the workplace.

“Overall, the content and quality of the Apprenticeship training programme provided by The Apprentice Academy is excellent and always absolutely up to date especially where digital marketing matters are concerned.”

Developing confidence is key

 Brelsford believes that while Hannah was relatively productive from day one, there was an obvious increase in the quality and consistency of her work a few weeks into the Apprenticeship.

“The Apprentice Academy spends a lot of time helping apprentices become more self-assured. Having the confidence to try is essential if an apprentice is to feel comfortable putting their new ideas and skills into practice.

“As a productive and integrated team member. Hannah always has an ear and an eye open for the latest news, developments or gossip, which is a useful for someone whose job entails writing regular, topical updates.

“During her time with us she has developed a deep understanding of our industry, customers, goals and objectives.

“Hannah’s success now means she has been asked to manage and implement the digital marketing for the other companies in the Allmand-Smith Group. I am confident she’ll bring the same intelligence and energy to the new projects and will be a great success.”