Brisbane Digital Spotlight – Julia Mackerras

Brisbane digital spotlight thumbnail image for Brand Marketing Manager, Julia Mackerras.

Brisbane Digital Spotlight thumbnail featuring Julia Mackerras.

Brisbane Digital Spotlight is a blog series that aims to shine light on the exceptional talent within the city’s digital community. With each post, I uncover a devoted individual within my network who I’ve recognised to be deeply engaged in the digital industry. Whether it be a Digital Marketer, a Developer, a Co-founder, a Project Manager, or even a Recruiter – my goal is to highlight the work these remarkable individuals do; day in, day out.

In this instalment of the Brisbane Digital Spotlight, I caught up with the digital marketing extraordinaire, Julia Mackerras. Julia’s not only the Digital Engagement Coordinator at QUT, but is also an all-round digital strategist, and a true believer in a good side hustle.

I was introduced to Julia through a mutual connection on LinkedIn and was immediately fascinated by her passion and experiences in the digital landscape. When she’s not adventuring throughout Europe, you’ll find Julia out at her favourite Brisbane cafe’s, or even strolling along the iconic river.

Keep reading on as I uncover more about Julia’s background in the digital space, some of her favourite digital experiences, and her digital marketing predictions for 2019.

Headshot of QUT Digital Marketing Specialist, Julia Mackerras.

Tell us a little about your background, how did you land in the digital space?

I decided I wanted to explore advertising/marketing as a career when I was applying for university, fresh out of high school. I found the idea of doing something a little bit creative, without being a full-blown creative, appealing.

In my undergraduate, I studied a Bachelor of Arts (Media Studies, Psychology) / Bachelor of Business Communications (Advertising) at UQ, and I did a couple of internships along the way, where the focus of my efforts was digital.

When I graduated in 2010, iPhone sales were really taking off, social media was gaining significant traction (According to TechCrunch, Facebook had 500 million users globally!), and most businesses did not have websites optimised for mobile or EDM’s that were mobile- friendly. I still remember Adam Penberthy, from Fresh Advertising, giving a guest lecture and showing a video on the social media revolution!

So, I fell into digital, rather than consciously choosing to pursue it; it was the shiny new thing and I was an eager graduate with an iPhone, iPad and a Facebook account!

Once I’d had a taste, I decided to upskill and enrolled in a Master of Business (Marketing) at QUT part-time, whilst working in industry full-time. I graduated in 2014.


What does your exciting role at QUT entail?

I am the Digital Engagement Coordinator for QUT Business School. When I started here in 2015, the Business School did not have an official presence on social media. They had identified this as an opportunity, with the need for a dedicated resource (me!).

Our target audience is primarily current students, alumni and industry, with prospective students a secondary audience, as they are largely catered for through the corporate QUT channels. I shaped the social media strategy and developed a content strategy to support our social media presence. I managed the development of two platforms – our Student Experiences blog to capture student UGC, and Insights, our thought-leadership hub for research outcomes, commentary on topical issues, profiles of high-achieving alumni etc.

Day to day, I manage our social media presence, deliver strategic digital campaigns for clients, and provide training and support for staff throughout QUT Business School.

Digital Marketing Specialist, Julia Mackerras networking in Brisbane.

Are there any emerging trends that are effective for driving deeper user engagement?

Not necessarily emerging, but I believe we are seeing the refinement of a few different trends and channels that are driving deeper engagement, such as:

  • ArtificIal intelligence and machine learning driving personalisation and automation –making messages more relevant.
  • Augmented reality and virtual reality becoming more affordable and accessible (check out this case study from Lightweave, who worked with Exceed Sports and Entertainment to develop ‘District’, an urban exploration race).
  • Instagram stories regularly releasing new features, allowing brands to share a different side of their personality.


What are some other notable brands you’ve seen who able to effectively engage their users?

You can’t talk about brand engagement in 2018 and not mention Nike’s Kaepernick campaign! This campaign, although divisive, generated a lot of engagement from Nike fans who supported the campaign. Although they may have lost some fans, those that remain are highly engaged.

A personal favourite for me is Lululemon. They pride themselves on focusing on human relationships – both online and in-store. They use social channels such as Instagram to build a community and drive engagement through stories, rather than simply driving sales through photos of latest products. They also engage their customers effectively in-store, with free yoga classes and a first-name basis approach at the fitting rooms.


What’s your favourite thing about working in digital?

It is so dynamic – and it draws on both creative and analytical thinking! There are always developments, updates, new platforms, new trends, new fads, new algorithms. You have to be curious and experimental because it is not a case of one tactic working for all. It requires creativity, to ensure content is interesting, engaging and relevant, but with a logical and data-driven mindset to understand analytics and draw meaningful insights – and most importantly, a strategic mindset to ensure you tie it all into your broader objectives!


What are your predictions for the digital marketing landscape in 2019?

Two things are top of mind: the evolution of content marketing and the growth of chatbots and digital assistant.

The 2017 Gartner Hype Cycle placed content marketing in the trough of disillusionment. Arguably, content marketing is not dead, but in an increasingly crowded market, it does need to evolve – and I think we will start to see that more in 2019.

I believe we will see significant uptake of chatbots in customer service interactions, along with marketing automation and increasing personalisation. With the impressive advancements of Google Assistant in 2018, I suspect we will start to see the implications this will have for marketing in 2019, such as increased voice searches and screenless interactions.


Finally, what are some of your favourite things to do around sunny Brisbane when not at work?

I love yoga and Pilates – Zama is a fantastic studio that I frequent! I also enjoy:

Digital Marketer, Julia Mackerras enjoying herself on holidays.


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About me: 

I’m a twenty-three year old Digital Marketing & Conversions Specialist based in Brisbane, Australia. With a passion for all things digital and tech, I aim to connect and learn from as many like-minded digital enthusiasts as possible. If you have a passion for emerging technologies and digital practices, I’d love to connect and hear your story.

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