Taking the Plunge into Digital Marketing

Forget Mad Men: Here’s the new office setup

By Sharon MacLean, Troy Media

EDMONTON, ALTA. —  You’ve finally decided to take the plunge.

It’s time to update your company marketing using digital strategies and tactics. Where do you begin?

Even the job titles are confusing. What’s a content manager, anyway? Does that person also refresh your website built five years ago? Does the IT techy handle social media? Who looks after the website once it’s created and hosted among the other 876 million websites in cyberspace?

You’re not even sure if a website contributes to your sales funnel, anyway.

I’ve spoken with five business executives this week alone who are frustrated with knowing how to invest in modern marketing, let alone understand why they’re doing it.

It becomes a vicious cycle. Most don’t know what to expect from digital marketing. Business owners know it’s a good thing to post comments, pictures and video somewhere and so relegate that role to people without much experience. Once hired, those assigned to the task don’t have experience showing results.

“The truth must be told,” replied veteran communicator and published author Les Brost in reply to my prospecting email. “There are more social marketers, networking specialists and web designers than there are store clerks imaginable!”

Les is right. By 2020 there will be nearly one and a half million open jobs in the tech sector (in the U.S. alone). Those skills are 20 of the top 25 most sought-after skills by employers on LinkedIn, and all 10 of the fastest growing keywords in job listings are tech related.

Here’s more confusion: employers are lumping in new roles for marketing with IT engineers, web designers, and technicians. Home-office workers posting 140 characters to social media sites, who don’t have any experience at all in marketing, also call themselves social media marketers. These posting services are sometimes called content farms and they often are located in the Philippines and India. There’s also heavy recruitment going on now in Canada and the U.S. for the same role – no experience required.

This cycle of confusion will cost you in nonperforming websites, budget overruns, and lost sales.

Whether you’re a business owner who needs to upgrade your website or hire a social media manager to market what you’ve already built, keep on reading. As ever, when it comes to marketing for small business, solopreneurs must do for themselves; larger businesses hire digital marketing managers who contract freelancers; bigger business have full-scaled operations.

Here’s a list of job descriptions drawn from Skills Crunch with my editorial comments thrown in for good measure.

Digital marketing manager: This role is intended to understand customers, the stories they tell, and determine how to find them online. Instead of magazine ads and radio commercials, digital marketing managers advertise on new media platforms like social networks, email, blogs, assemble newsletters, establish editorial calendars, and measure their success with hard data.

The digital manager gets the ball rolling by helping to define personas, create/curate content, understand email marketing, SEO and web analytics, branding and storytelling, and A/B testing. Of course, each of these categories has specialists who deliver best practices in each category. An email marketer, for example, knows about automated systems, writes copy for better opening rates, and manages event campaigns.

Content Creator: We used to call them writers, editors, photographers, videographers and graphic designers. The difference is that the new breed also knows the technical tools used in the digital world.

Content makes the search engines go ’round. Even if you have dedicated blogger and ebook writers, that material still needs to be adapted to each social network. This includes positioning content in under 140 characters, creating images to accompany posts, creating variations of posts for each piece of content.

Content creators and social media coordinators are like reporters; they need to have their eyes and ears open to what’s changing on social networks and in the industry. A successful content creator will be able to find new opportunities for the company by keeping a pulse on the industry.

Graphics Designer, Photographer, Videographer, Podcaster: Some content creators are able to use the tools that create banners, flyers and infographics. Others are able to whip out their phones to capture images, video, and podcasts to publish on websites and across channels. It’s important to know when professional services are needed.

Subject Matter Expert: Thego-to personin their respective field. They have in-depth knowledge and access to information about the business, including products, billing issues, customer data, or industry trends. They might not be actively monitoring social media, but there will be times they’ll need to get involved in social conversations.

Choose a title: Funnel Marketing Manager or Social Media Manager: Funnel marketing expands the reach of your content, attracts visitors to your website, generates leads, and nurtures them to become customers.

They need to share content that generates leads, and run new campaigns to find the best ways to do lead generation via social media. This person also engages one-on-one with potential customers who are considering your product or service, or simply need your help. Social media is particularly effective as a lead nurturing tool because prospects use multiple media (not just email) to consume information and social channels allow you to engage in a timelier manner.

In order to do all of this effectively, social media managers need to have a strong understanding of sales and marketing which leads to moving prospects to the next stage in the process. Social media managers also often specialize in a single platform such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and the increasingly popular Instagram. Working in each of these platforms requires deep learning and skill development.

Database manager: I believe the database manager is a key ingredient in the whole enchilada. A good database is the only real estate you own when it comes to managing your existing customers and attracting new ones. Other platforms can disappear and take names of your prospects with them. This person can also help tag photos and keep your files backed up. Databases can be managed by a virtual assistant using a good automated marketing system, in an excel spread sheet, in the sales department, or by IT.

This person may also come with research and analytics skills but don’t count on it. Additional training here in Google Analytics, for example, will be useful, as well.

These next positions are for the people who build your website and are more IT-related. Don’t let the number of positions scare you off; they typically are managed by the website builder you hire.

Front-end designer: Front-end designers can do a lot of different jobs, from seeing designs through from prototyping to implementing to focusing on coding up existing designs.

The main responsibilities of a front-end designer are to transform mock-ups into web pages, create and optimize graphics for the web.

Information architects create site maps and user flows, define data flows/delivery, and research concept and usability testing. They spend time with web analytics, organize information, and translate user behaviour into site structures. Think about a WordPress expert in this category, too.

Ask your website developer, who handles DevOps responsibilities, to bridge between developer, quality, and technology teams. This role helps them understand each other’s tasks and situations so that they can work together to get the best results.

By the way, what experience has your website team in developing ecommerce with proper security certificates in place?

UX Designer: A relatively recent addition to the website scene, user experience designers spend more time testing copy, design and work flow to discover visitor habits and improve traction to the site. It cost extra but the additional effort translates to a more productive website, especially when it comes to ecommerce.

Mobile Developer: It’s become increasingly important for websites to be turned into apps. You want a mobile developer to optimize code for mobile, take designs from prototype to code, and test and analyze code for mobile.

Security Specialist: It goes without saying how important security is in tech nowadays.

Taking long steps into the digital space may sound daunting to business leaders who have only ever worked within traditional marketing. With that said, understanding the most common mistakes made when going digital, and how to avoid them, will help you tremendously during the planning stage. Remember, you want to produce the highest quality content and reach the widest possible audience – don’t let easily avoidable misunderstandings of the job function cost you money and time.

Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.


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