see all

Jillian Owens

Find me on:

Recent Posts

posted by Jillian Owens Jan 26,2017 @ 11:57AM

Marketing & Roller Derby

As I approach the end of my second year here at Riggs, my brain keeps folding itself around the idea of challenges.

The path from my former career in nonprofit arts management to marketing wasn't an obvious (or a linear) one. As a digital marketer, my workday is filled with creative problem solving, analysis, testing, strategy building and a good bit of blogging. As anyone who’s had to suffer through my geeking out over the latest Google or Facebook algorithm change can attest, I love what I do. The constant flux and frantic need to stay ahead of digital trends is exciting, and I like to think I’m making the internet a less horrible, more helpful place, while helping our clients accomplish their goals.

Talking about a few of my favorite things for AMA Columbia

My first several months at Riggs were amazing and overwhelming. I knew how to build followings on blogs and on social media—heck, that’s why I was there. But any ad agency vernacular beyond what I’d seen on Mad Men was beyond me. Gaining mastery of the constantly changing world of digital marketing was no small feat. Unless I wanted to go back to the pen-hoarding nonprofit sector, I had to learn fast.

It reminded me of the time I thought I should start playing roller derby. After being ousted by one team for being pretty terrible at the sport, I joined another where, for a long time, I sucked just as badly. I remember one practice where I finally snapped. I threw my helmet and skulked off into the hallway to loathe myself in private. My coach followed me and tried to cheer me up with platitudes like, “You’re getting better!” and “Don’t get discouraged!”

With my forehead still pressed against the cool cinderblock wall, I turned to face him slowly and said, “Do you have any idea how mentally exhausting it is to constantly try your best at something you’re horrible at?”

My derby name was Thrill Kill Jill. Not kidding.

Eventually, I got better. I was never amazing, and I’m far better at marketing than I’ll ever be at blocking large muscular women on the flat track. But that experience with all of its struggles and humiliations shaped me.

Challenges are exciting and intimidating. Whether you’re tasked with creating a digital strategy for a client that will foster engagement or learning how to bake bread for the first time, there’s a fear of failure that you have to get over in order to produce truly awesome and creative work. Safe choices are tempting, but big risks can yield big results.

utKmiqg (1).png
Just a lil inspiration.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that when I started a hobby I was lousy at (roller derby), I was embracing failure in my everyday life and conditioning myself to be unafraid of it. That’s one of the reasons I began teaching myself how to sew, even though I failed spectacularly at it in the beginning. That’s why I enjoy tackling difficult recipes and love the challenge of morphing a potential kitchen disaster into something workable.

Looks like a doughsaster right?

 But that doughspolsion yielded the best loaf of bread I've ever made.

Creative problem solvers learn this skill through failure, repetition and a certain fearlessness. That's what I strive for.  That's what (at least in my mind) separates the remarkable marketers from the mehketers.

That's what I want to be. 

posted by Jillian Owens Jul 06,2016 @ 04:33PM

Interacting Out: Channeling the Power of Experience in Social Media

Even the most antisocial introvert requires some sort of interaction in their daily lives. We have to interact with the cashier at Publix, otherwise we don’t get to gnaw shamelessly on a wedge of gouda later that evening. We interact with coworkers, family members, acquaintances and friends. If you stopped to count every time you connected with another human in some way, no matter how miniscule, you’d probably be surprised at how high that number was.

We recently launched an interactive campaign that challenged fans to declutter a room in their homes and share their successes. By gamifying a tedious chore, we increased engagement and donations for our client, Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina.


But what percentage of these people do you truly interact with in a meaningful way that you remember for a long time afterwards? It’s probably not that huge of a number (unless you’re just one of those delightful/delighted people that find joy in every connection in which case I envy you and want to know your secret or what meds you’re taking).

All interactions are not created equal in real life, so why would you treat all of your social media interactions as though they were of equal value? The conversation you have with the guy at the deli probably isn’t as meaningful as a heart-to-heart with your best friend.

The campaign was a success! The client saw a 42% increase in engagement on Facebook & Twitter, and a whopping 270% engagment increase on Instagram (compared to passive content).


A new study by Content Marketing Institute reveals that creators of interactive content experiences are shaping the future of digital marketing. And that’s a great thing for our clients and their customers.

In the past, a lot of digital content has been passive. Think of display ads, blog posts, pop up ads, video ads, etc. Like an in-person one-sided conversation, it can be a turnoff. Brands spend at lot of their resources talking at their audience, rather than fostering valuable and memorable experiences for them that lead to brand recognition, loyalty, and ultimately conversions. 

There is a glut of digital content out there and customers are getting fed up with it. They don’t want your content unless it’s helpful, entertaining or both.

Facebook’s recent announcement that it would continue making changes to the news feed ranking to favor updates from people rather than pages has put the importance of referral traffic at an all time high. One of the best ways to do this is by tapping into that part of human nature that wants to interact. We’re kinesthetic. We want to do.

What types of content are interactive though? Quizzes, surveys, calculators, contests, infographics with embedded interactive features (like the CMI one you just clicked on earlier), as well as games are all great examples of how brands can educate and engage with their audience in a meaningful way.

Stats don’t lie.

A conversion study by Demand Metric shows how dramatically more effective interactive content is at educating an audience than passive content.

interactive-content-more-effective-than-passive-content_1.pngI was out for an evening with friends a few weeks ago. When a stranger discovered I was a marketer, he asked me what “the next big thing” is for digital marketing.

My answer?

Brands are going to have to learn how to connect with their customers in increasingly life-improving ways and help them have a little fun by adopting gamifaction strategies in order to remain competitive.

We have be creators of experiences, not just content.

posted by Jillian Owens Apr 27,2016 @ 08:30AM

Don't Underestimate Your Audience

My first foray into digital marketing began the day I started a little blog called ReFashionista. My blog features before-and-after images of different oddball/ugly thrift store duds I cut apart and re-stitch into fashionable frocks. It took off, and now I’m at the exact level of internet fame that makes my life weird sometimes.

I consider myself a mediocre sewist. My mad sartorial skills aren’t what make my blog popular. It was my blogging. I created content on a regular basis that was authentic and thoughtful, and each post was written with the assumption that my audience was smarter than me.

An insecurity complex can actually be a great asset for content marketers. I never tried to make my audience think I was more skilled than I was. I’m incredibly prone to self-deprecation. Blogging for your business shouldn’t be any different in that you should never underestimate the intelligence of your audience.


Hopefully your business has a blog. It definitely should. If well executed, it’ll help you business page’s SEO and establish you as a thought leader in your industry. But this only works if the content you’re putting out there is sincerely making the reader’s life better. And you need to be honest with yourself about that.

The problem I see with the prolific nature of the blogosphere is that sometimes we fall into the trap of pushing out whatever content we can, even when we know it’s lousy. We assume our audience will flock to our content simply because we’re putting it out there. We believe our audience isn’t as clever as us and can’t tell the difference between content that’s authentic vs. canned or original vs. repurposed.

Guess what? If you can tell the difference, so can they.

How many redundant, boring, over-simplified and borderline plagiarized blog posts have you read the first two sentences of, only to immediately bounce off the page to find an article that actually helped you in some way?

That’s the rub. How do you straddle the line between prolific and brilliant? Between frequent and worthwhile? When planning your blog calendar, make sure you’re giving yourself reasonably frequent deadlines. How many high quality blog posts can you or your team author per month? If the answer to this is four per month, don’t try for ten.

Always be looking for trends in the type of content your readers are engaging with, as well as the content they’re bouncing away from. This analysis will help you discover what they find valuable and can will guide your overall digital marketing strategy.

If you find your content useless, so will your audience. After all, they’re pretty smart.




By the numbers

youtube is 2nd largest search engine