Columnist Garrett Mehrguth takes a look at the players who should make up every digital marketing team, as well as two roles that may be missing from your current organizational structure.
In 2017, digital marketing is no longer an afterthought. Digital is a critical part of almost every company’s marketing strategy regardless of industry. The question businesses are now struggling with is: Which roles (or what people) do I need on my team to be successful?
In this piece, we are going to outline the roles needed within a digital marketing team, as well as two roles your team is probably missing and why you need them.
Role 1: VP of Marketing
The VP of Marketing is the coach. This is an essential role that (depending on the size of your team and expertise) an owner could take on or that you can hire. This person is responsible for managing budgets and communicating the value of the marketing team’s efforts to management.
Some of the most successful marketing teams have a founder or a VP of Marketing who takes on a brand evangelist role as well.
To help get the juices flowing, I have outlined some of the core tasks a VP of Marketing can tackle:
- Set weekly marketing quotas and KPIs (here at Directive, my employer, we believe in weekly sprints and tight feedback loops).
- Communicate the success of the marketing team to management.
- Function as a brand evangelist (what this looks like depends on the industry):
- Create blog content.
- Speak at events.
- Write for other blogs.
- Go on podcasts.
- Answer Quora questions.
- Engage on industry forums.
- Be active on Twitter.
- Create blog content.
- Empower agencies.
- Manage budget.
Role 2: Marketing manager
I see this role as one of the most often abused and underutilized roles on the marketing team.
Traditionally, a marketing manager is the “Can you do XYZ for me this week?” person. The VP, agency, executive or other marketing team member will say, “We should launch a weekly email that’s segmented to each persona we target.” Then, someone asks the marketing manager, “Hey, can you do that?”
Next thing you know, your marketing manager has 25 different tasks on their plate — none of which they are able to do properly — and results suffer. In short, anything that distracts the marketing manager from advancing the primary marketing strategy can be put on hold or delegated to a new hire.
Instead, I suggest marketing managers should be leveraged in a specific way that fits with the overall strategy. Anything outside of this strategy can be put on hold, or a new role needs to be hired.
High-growth marketing teams have focus and roles with specialized individuals for each goal. These individuals should not be isolated, but they should be competent, focused and have ample time to properly execute their key objectives.
If you really want to focus your efforts, I’d argue this role can be entirely rethought or ditched altogether. Doing more doesn’t mean you’re making more.
Role 3: Pay-per-click specialist
The paid search role is often outsourced to agencies, but I see more and more companies take this role in-house. This person is your ROI time-traveler. While some content and SEO campaigns can take months to drive revenue, oftentimes with paid search and other advertising channels, there is a much shorter timeline to ROI.
When we hire a pay-per-click (PPC) specialist, we look for individuals with a strong financial background who understand return on ad spend and how businesses operate on a cash basis.
Here’s a sample checklist our PPC team uses on a daily basis:
- Ask consultant if client is making money or getting quality leads each week.
- Review spend and make sure it’s on budget.
- Check all keywords’ CPC (cost per click).
- Check for conversions and optimize keywords and landing page.
- Review Quality Scores.
- Review impression shares and average positions.
- Mine search query reports for new opportunities.
- Add new keywords.
- Add negative keywords.
- Check ad copy performance and adjust.
- Pause losing ads.
- Write new ad copy.
- Check extensions performance.
- Make bid adjustments.
- Fix key issues.
- Analyze landing page results from radical split tests.
- Launch a new campaign or test.
- Write weekly PPC update and add to “Weekly” folder.
Role 4: CRO-focused designer
The value of your brand, software, company or product is often judged by the quality of your creative. We’ve found that not only is this true, but also that the performance of your advertising and overall efforts is greatly influenced by your design.
While many people value design, I would argue that too few teams focus on communicating the value of conversion rate optimization (CRO) to their designers. Design is no longer about how something looks so much as what action your design encourages.
To help your design teams leverage CRO in their projects, here is our approach. We have each designer create multiple variants of each landing page. Ideally, each variant is extreme. True conversion rate optimization goes beyond simply changing button colors, and instead involves analyzing the entire layout of a page and on-boarding process.
Here are some of the tools we use to help inform our decisions and empower designers:
And, as a daily task list, here are ways you can make sure that your creative team is focused on improving overall conversions, not just aesthetics:
- Design radical split tests for landing pages.
- Test new display ads.
- Build interactive content.
- Try innovative social ads.
- Design better hero images.
- Redesign featured images.
- Add quality creative to blog posts.
- Rethink form process, and improve with better design or creative.
Role 5: SEO specialist
Understanding your audience, analyzing trends and positioning your business where it’s most competitive are foundational to exceptional marketing teams and SEO. A search engine optimization specialist not only can help you better rank your website, but he or she can also help you discover new opportunities.
Keyword research in its purest form is simply audience research. It’s data based on how users are discovering what you offer. It can tell you which companies are currently competing and how many users are searching, and it can even help empower your product and feature development by highlighting the various needs of your audience.
This type of data is critical not only to lead gen/sales, but also to all other departments, and it should be properly distributed.
As someone who started off in SEO, I believe a great search engine optimization specialist does exceptional technical SEO, content and link building. They also can be an exceptional resource for understanding your audience and communicating industry/audience trends.
Here’s a sample of the types of tasks your SEO or agency executes:
- Building new links
- Creating and strategizing new content
- Promotion of content
- Detailed keyword research
- Finding new opportunities within search engine results pages
- Understanding and communicating audience trends
- Auditing changes made by development for possible SEO downside
- Analyzing analytics and reports
Role 6: Developer
An exceptional developer is the secret weapon for marketing success. The quality of your website’s digital experience has a direct impact on your bottom line.
Ideally, with a quality developer, you can go from ideation to execution on any digital campaign in weeks, not years.
Unfortunately, at many firms, the developers don’t have this freedom. We work with many B2B SaaS (software as a service) firms. A very consistent issue we see is that their developers do both product development and “website changes.”
If you’re investing significant resources in digital, I highly recommend you have a dedicated person for bringing your digital marketing campaigns to life. Here’s an example of what they can be doing to impact your bottom line:
- Creating interactive content
- Working with designers to launch new core pages around services, features, benefits, industries or solutions
- Fixing site speed issues
- Finding bugs that hurt conversion rate
- Analyzing usability across devices
- Reviewing user recordings and improving functionality
The two roles you probably haven’t thought about
We’ve discussed the core roles that you need either in-house or via an agency to be successful in your search marketing efforts. Let’s now run through two roles that you probably haven’t thought about that can definitely give you a competitive edge.
Role 7: VA as data scientist
The best content is often based on data. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have time to scrape sites, organize information, and then manually gather data.
This is where virtual assistants (VAs) come in. While VAs often can be thought of as difficult to manage, I’d argue that maybe you’re just doing it wrong. We have had tremendous success using VAs as “data scientists” to gather data, build metrics and manage contacts.
They are directly tied into the other role you might not have thought about for your marketing team: the account-based content marketer. Without VAs, creating this type of content becomes time-consuming and incredibly costly. Here are some of the ways VAs can help you with content marketing and link building:
- Scrape lists (we use Import.io).
- Manually build data from software tools (SEMrush, Moz and Ahrefs are examples in martech).
- Gather contact data at accounts you’re building data on.
- Reach out to accounts to promote content.
- Build links with more manual tactics, such as the skyscraper technique.
Role 8: Account-based content marketer
As a B2B marketer, I believe this might be the most critical role. It’s often neglected or overthought. In fact, here at Directive, we had completely overthought this role.
The account-based content marketer crafts content around specific accounts that fit your ideal customer profile. They (or the VA) then promote this content to relevant audiences, as well as directly to the contacts at the account you are targeting.
For example, we are building a piece on “Comparing the Organic Traffic Value of Series C Funded Software Firms.” Not coincidentally, we have a strong portfolio of series C funded firms and would like more clients in the B2B software space.
It’s the account-based content marketer’s role to not only craft this piece, but also promote it directly to the marketing departments at these series C funded firms. And, because time is of the essence, we leverage a virtual assistant to build this data and gather this contact information, keeping us lean and financially feasible.
Here are some sample topics we’re developing, to get your own mind running:
- Auditing the link profile of over 100 B2B SaaS firms: winners and losers
- Benchmark study of B2B site speed across 1,000 sites
- Average content publishing frequency for B2B + recommendations
- Average domain authority of acquired SaaS companies
- Ranking the organic traffic cost of the Fortune 500
As you can see, the content topics are hyper-focused and based on our target audience. Here are examples of some of the things your account-based content marketer can be doing:
- Choose which audience you want to target.
- Identify their greatest needs and interests.
- Make sure you can promote content to them.
- Select content theme.
- Have VA gather data about your audience.
- Create content that ties into the solution you provide to your audience.
- Have VA get contact info for entire marketing department of your audience.
- Publish content.
- Promote content individually to each member of your audience’s marketing department and cc: business development.
- Set up meetings.
- Close deals.
Now that we’ve broken down the roles needed for digital success in 2017, take a hard look at what you have internally and what you might need to outsource to an agency.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.