How to Hire a Digital Marketing Head
Are you among the ones complaining that you just can’t find the right candidate to head your digital marketing team?
Or do you sometimes doubt if you’ve been guiding your digital marketing well?
In both cases, it will help you immensely if you took a step back and thought about what you expect your digital marketing head to do. Perhaps your business degree and your expertise in marketing do not overlap with the skills and KRAs used to understand digital marketing. And that’s completely okay.
In this blog, we intend to get you thinking about how you’ve been approaching your search for a digital marketing head.
Founders, businessmen, CMOs, and Brand Custodians are gradually realizing how crucial digital marketing is for greater reach and awareness of their brands. Even if you are not one of these, you might be passionate about how to contribute to your brand communication — telling as many people as you can reach about what your brand offers and how it can benefit them.
Digital marketing helps immensely in this process of making your brand known globally — even if you’re local.
If you have the right people in your digital team, you’ll enjoy the power of compounding on your marketing efforts.
There are different aspects to tackling the question of how to find a digital marketing head that’s the right fit for you.
Let’s first figure out who your digital marketing head should be.
Who Are Digital Marketing Heads?Put simply, digital marketing heads are the ones who take charge of your marketing online. They ensure that your online brand communication is consistent with your overall marketing communication and efforts and is also well adapted to the digital landscape.
Let us assume you’ve been making shoes for quite some time now and you’ve always had a solid customer base. Your branding has always had a certain personality.
If you have a digital marketing head that understands your brand strategy, s/he would prepare and implement an advertising and content strategy in the digital arena that’s in sync with your offline efforts.
At the same time, s/he would ensure that your online content doesn’t end up looking like a soft copy of the print ad you publish in a newspaper or magazine. And this requires an immense amount of understanding of the potential of digital platforms.
You’d say that all this sounds very commonsensical. Why write an entire blog about this?
The answer is: most business leaders end up giving the wrong brief to their HR heads and recruitment consultants.
Don’t believe us? We’ve dug out some concrete examples to explain why digital marketing head is a rare species, since leaders don’t have a clear vision of what this species looks like, and looking for one is an extremely disorganized affair.
Let’s turn to 2 actual examples of briefs circulating around.
Job Description Example 1: Confused about online assets management, event management, and journalist!
Such an ad or vacancy notice is very mixed. Even if the seekers of such a person find their candidate, the relationship is not likely to stay long and strong. Let’s break it down:
This message says the person would be in charge of:
- Social media marketing
- Account management
- Event management
- Content Writing
- Article Writing
Things like article writing, which are predominantly journalistic are not what a digital marketing team member — forget about the digital head — should be doing. This message is looking for a marketer, event manager and a writer all in one!
The message says “fresher or grad with 2 years experience”. It’s interesting to note that the message is inviting graduates from any discipline to apply.
A graduate of any subject can be an eligible candidate. There are a lot of self-taught people out there. But if you’re expecting a Chemistry graduate to know how to write articles as well as do events and handle your social media account, you probably don’t know what your digital marketing team should be doing!
While anybody could have a “flair for writing” and an “interest in startups”, it’s a little too much to expect both from a graduate or a fresher.
How are we so sure? The person who has written this brief doesn’t get the difference between articles and online writing like blogs.
If you’ve been expecting your digital person to do events, do online writing and continue with offline formats like articles, you’re looking for nothing other than a miracle.
Job Description Example 2: Confusing Metrics with Means
This job is for an opening in a B2B company.
This company has heard of elements like “content” and “SEM” but can’t seem to put them in an organized way. For example, “user growth” is very vague. Moreover, you don’t directly “leverage digital content”: you first create some! Or, you leverage your potential to tap into the content resources you already have.
Similarly, previous experience with “The Internet (Content, E-commerce)” sounds too vague.
“Drive organic and inorganic growth” sounds like this company evaluates organic and inorganic reach through the same lens.
“Maintain strong marketing communication with the customers of the company” also sounds something non-digital. We don’t mean to say that the same person can’t do both online and offline stuff together. We only point out that the way it’s worded is not clear.
If the point means engaging with users or followers online consistently, then it makes more sense. But then, not all who engage with you on social media are your customers. Digital marketing is not about talking only to your customers. The very idea of digital marketing is predicated on the fact that you’ve got to be present when and where the customer wants to talk to you.
This company’s digital marketing vision is limited because it’s applying traditional marketing psychology to digital. You don’t go online to talk only to your customers. You go online to talk to anyone and everyone. You build a community in which everyone would love to talk to you.
This company is also hedging around identifying how many years to put in as a required experience.
For example, analytics is thrown here in the mix of soft skills like the ability to work in teams or being analytical and creative.
The writers of this ad do not seem to have clarity regarding what counts as a skill. For instance, CPM is not a skill, it is a metric that is clearly visible in the analytics once you start running your ad campaigns on social media platforms like Facebook.
( Below we talk about how the wrong briefs are given to HR & how they cannot interpret the briefs correctly. )
Most B2B companies forget that there are creative ways to generate enthusiasm about the tech or services that they offer. This company too expects its digital marketing head to work with its existing customers as and when required. There’s no vision of how to help everybody else understand the importance of what they offer.
This job is open to predominantly candidates with a technical background. Chances are that the candidate they end up appointing will be handling the technical aspects of the functioning of the software they offer.
Nothing new about this though. It’s absolutely normal for MBA students to be told that they’re being offered a managerial position but what they end up getting is a sales job.
Similarly, announcements of job openings look like they are looking for a digital marketing head, but they may end up becoming about social media posting or looking after operations of software.
Digital marketing heads help you extend your marketing strategy in general to the digital media after helping you articulate it.If your experience has been in traditional marketing, and you barely consume social media or search engine results from the point of view of content strategy, buyers’ journey, user journey, user experience, and design thinking, chances are that you’re going to ask your digital marketing head to run your poster ads online!
Or you’re going to ask your digital marketing head to give you report after report, analysis after analysis without being able to make sense of what the numbers mean and why you don’t see what you’d like to see in those numbers.
The Selection Process for Finding a Digital Marketing Head
01. Your Expectations
Your search begins the moment you think about hiring someone to relieve you of the all-consuming responsibility of staying informed about the dynamics of the digital ecosystem and adapting accordingly.
You next talk to your HR head or a recruitment consultant. They ask you about what kind of people you’d like to attract for this position. After going through your regular list of positive attributes like good communication skills or ability to work in teams or creativity, you stop!
Because that’s when you hit a dead end.
Digital marketing is not taught seriously at the major B-schools yet. So you don’t know what specialization you are looking at. You must have already hired an MBA in Marketing in your team. Chances are you yourself must be an MBA in Marketing.
But you know you’re already doing too much and you can’t be expected to cope with new digital challenges. So you decide to probe deeper into what kind of talent you want to attract for the position.
The first thing you want is 8–10 years of experience in digital!
Doesn’t sound far-fetched at all! Except that digital marketing in all the intensity it’s practiced today isn’t that old.
To add to the complexity, you want someone much younger. Because the impression you have is: youngsters “hang around” a lot on the Internet — so they must be knowing it in and out.
But being young and a consumer of the content doesn’t mean being experienced and a marketer!
You’re expecting a young wizard in marketing who understand trends and is hands-on.
You’ll end up meeting youngsters who are creative, full of energy, and have great ideas. But not quite experienced in branding and marketing strategy. So, eventually, you’ll be doing two different things not complementing each other: marketing and digital marketing.
02. Finding Candidates
Your HR or consultant will end up visiting several candidates’ profiles on LinkedIn. And they’ll not know how to understand their background or skills.
They may not know the difference between
- lead nurturing and lead generation
- content and copy
- articles and blogs
- sales funnel and sales pipeline
- organic and inorganic
- inbound and outbound
If the HR is not knowledgeable about how digital works, they can’t be expected to understand new KRAs and new roles. Your HR should first be trained to understand the parameters by which they can gauge the abilities of candidates.
03. Defining Your Organization First
Are you a sales-driven organization? Or a marketing-driven organization?
Your answer will determine what you should expect your digital marketing to do.
In sales-driven companies, digital heads use short-term tactics like lead generation and paid ads for promotions.
In marketing-driven companies, digital heads focus on buyer persona, content strategy, content building and optimization, search engine optimization, social media, brand building, etc. They follow best practices when it comes to developing digital assets from every angle on every platform.
Your organization type will decide several things:
- the complexity of the tasks you allot your digital heads
- the vision you share with them
- the scope for innovation you give them
After the Selection Process: Making the Best out of the Digital Marketing Head You Decide to Work with
Companies don’t have the serious infrastructure to learn and implement digital marketing to benefit yet. This means: you don’t get ideal candidates and when you do, you can’t let them explore further creative possibilities to contribute to your marketing strategy.
One way to fix the problem is to engage people who have learned digital marketing. While there are international influencers like Gary Vaynerchuk or Neil Patel who offer advice that your digital team/head can implement, there are consultants who are experienced in grooming teams for the digital setup.
Some consultants (like us at The Digital Fellow) offer masterclasses to help top-level executives unlearn obsolete methods and learn newer mindsets and methods required to cope with digital challenges.
After all, it’s one thing to advise and leave you with a digital marketing strategy and quite another to help you understand the nuances behind the logic and the variety of the methods.
Internationally successful companies practice digital marketing in depths most others can’t even imagine. They already have excellent digital marketing teams and very competent digital marketing heads to take their digital marketing strategy at a completely different level.
For example, Google has product philosophers and Amazon has search relevance engineers. These companies are light years ahead of the ones that don’t know what to do with digital marketing.
If you’ve been practicing digital marketing and going about building your digital team the way internationally successful companies do so, then you are probably on the right track. Our thoughts here about finding a digital marketing head that’s a right fit for you would only make you feel more confident about your idea of who you can trust to implement your vision of marketing in the digital space.
If the insights here have surprised you, you might still find them helpful.
And if you disagree, that’s even better. Do share your perspectives so that the community at large benefits from the diversity of ideas.