In most cases, this means who will do it.
What skills will you need?
Digital marketing is incredibly varied and demands a broad skillset. The likelihood is that you won’t have anyone with the perfect blend of skills within your team.
Historically, IT people were given the responsibility for anything related to a website. Please help consign this practice to the history books as IT people tend to be obsessed with technology and simply do not have the marketing skills that are needed to manage successful digital campaigns. Remember that it is called digital marketing for a reason and you should be turning to a marketeer rather than a techie.
The challenge is to find a marketeer who is comfortable with technical issues as they must work closely with your web team. As well as being technically competent, they will need creativity to develop and execute content-led marketing strategies. This requires a deep understanding of your target audience and their needs.
Ideally, you want your digital marketeer to be experienced with using Google Analytics to be able to analyse the performance of your digital marketing and demonstrate its efficacy. They will also need the ability to communicate performance to a non-digital audience and will often need to be able to convert digital sceptics.
How do you find these skills?
There is no doubt that digital marketing skills are fairly unique and it can be very difficult to find individuals who can truly deliver, so how can you build a digital marketing team?
Broadly speaking, you have two options: recruit in-house resource or outsource to an agency:
Having full time resource at your business is an attractive proposition – the digital marketeer(s) will be at the coalface of your organisation / industry and it should be a more cost effective solution, assuming that it is a full time role.
There are, however, challenges with attracting and retaining high calibre individuals. Without existing in-house expertise in digital marketing, it can be very difficult to know when you have found the right candidate and it is very hard to assess the quality of their work.
Not only can recruitment be very expensive and time consuming, you are constantly running the risk of losing your digital team if there is no real scope of career progression. It is also much more difficult to quickly scale up / down the team if you have fluctuating demand.
Outsourcing your digital marketing activity answers many of the logistical challenges outlined above but developing a successful working relationship will require resource and you should expect to invest time in managing the agency.
There are many advantages to outsourcing to experts. You will avoid the headaches of recruitment / retention, you will have access to a team of specialists, you benefit from the team’s exposure to other projects / clients, and it will be more cost effective if it is not (yet) a full time role.
In a world where everyone claims to be an expert and can guarantee you spectacular results, selecting the right partner is a daunting task. Unfortunately, most of these promises are empty and the lack of barriers to entry has led to a reasonably unethical industry, plagued with snake oil salesmen.
Personal recommendation is arguably the best way to find an agency and you should always meet up with potential partners as human chemistry is very important. Write a digital marketing brief so that all parties have a clear understanding of your objectives and ask potential agencies to outline how they would propose to meet these objectives.
A good rule of thumb when assessing agency proposals is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Look for relevant experience and understand the agency’s work rather than be lured by grand promises.
The best client / agency relationships are those where the agency acts as an extension of your business. Keep them informed of all your marketing activities and don’t let the agency work in a silo.
The hybrid model
A final model to consider, where budget allows, is the hybrid model where you build an in-house team but call upon external consultants for particular expertise. This can offer you the best of both worlds, but naturally requires additional investment.
Whether you choose to build your own in-house team or outsource to an agency, do not be afraid of change. Digital marketing remains a relatively new discipline and it is evolving at a startling rate. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow, so you should constantly review your activities, measure their success and innovate if necessary.
Joe Friedlein, founder of www.browsermedia.co.uk
Browser Media was born as an SEO agency but always practised a PR-led approach to search engine marketing. It has now embraced the ‘inbound marketing’ philosophy and services include online strategy, SEO, online PR, social media, PPC and analytics/CRO.