A digital marketer is someone responsible for using digital channels & platforms to generate leads, sell online and build brand awareness for a business. Employed or self-employed. True, however slightly light on detail and if we can only agree on one thing, the devil is always in the detail.
What you really need to know
Digital marketing is a service thus digital marketers are not created equal.
Some will be better at what they do than others etc.
Thinking otherwise is not a good idea and simply exhibits a lack of understanding on your behalf in what it entails to select a suitable digital partner and successfully market your business online.
Understanding what channels a digital marketer focuses on and what experience they have working in those channels is critical to identifying a suitable partner that best suits your digital marketing requirement(s).
Also often overlooked, you really do need to get along with them & they with you.
Yes, it really is a two-way street if the partnership is going to a successful one.
Digital marketers are not created equal.
They are not identical products so nothing is one-sized.
Establishing a professional relationship with the person/s best placed to help your business grow takes effort on your part.
Never assume anything and don’t over-simplify things you don’t understand.
Over simplification is a common mistake in getting it wrong.
Knowledge is not action but it will help you make better business decisions.
Digital Channels & Platforms
Some of the major digital platforms include Google, Bing, Amazon, Facebook, eBay, LinkedIn, Twitter, Apple, Instagram, Pinterest, BeeHiiv, Substack etc
Web Design & Development
Search Engine Optimisation
Get your business profile & most important website pages ranked highly for competitive topics in the non-ads sections of the major search engines at the local & national levels when people are searching for the products and/or services you offer. (search engine optimisation).
Whereas SEO is how you drive organic traffic to your website, PPC (Pay-Per-Click) as they relate to search engines are ads that you pay to appear at the top and bottom of each SERP (search engine results page) and across other websites if you so wish.. (ppc management)
Social Media Advertising
Social media advertising allow you to reach a wider audience beyond those who are simply following you. Social media advertising platforms are now so powerful that you can specify exactly who to display your ads to. You can create target audiences based on their demographics, interests, behaviours & more etc.
Social Media Marketing
Configure, monitor & manage your analytics accounts to facilitate improved test & measurement of your overall digital marketing effort SEO, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising & social media marketing). (analytics)
So if we’re all digital marketers – who does what?
I’ve met marketers who have no idea how to build & host a website, undertake SEO at the local & national levels or configure an analytics account, yet they’re still consultants opting to focus on channels such as social media marketing, paid ads management or email marketing etc. (see the devil is always in the detail).
Some even drill down into one digital channel and focus on a single specific aspect of that channel however to make that work they need a big online audience or be happy working alongside the in-house teams of large companies and/or agencies etc
Some who have been working in the field for a long time can undertake the role of full-stack digital marketer which essentially means they can help you with all your digital marketing requirements, whether that be in an advisory or a hands-on capacity . This latter capability works very well with SMEs & funded start-ups without an internal marketing department.
And for how long?
Some digital marketers have been practicing their trade in whatever digital channels they choose to focus on for over 10,000 hours and others a few 100 hours.
That’s hardly a level playing field in terms of experience & capabilities is it?
However, for the uninitiated digital marketers are created equal. Are they not? – Yes, I’m being cynical.
And while we’re on the subject of experience, ‘years’ isn’t a great barometer as to determining time spent getting good at something – hours is better but still not ideal.
Quote: ‘I’ve been at this for 10 years’..
10 hrs a week (52 weeks) over 10 years = 5200 hrs
5 hrs a day (221 days) over 10 years = 11050 hrs
Book link: Outliers by Malcolm-Gladwell
Pro-Tip: Optimising websites successfully in highly competitive sectors is a strong indication that the individual knows exactly what they’re doing – regardless of how many years they’ve been at it etc.
A digital marketer and the myriad of specialist titles that follow will essentially focus on the channel(s) piquing their interest as their main focus of expertise and over time accrue knowledge on others as & when clients seek out assistance.
This approach is sometimes referred to as T-shaped marketing and the practitioner a T-shaped marketer, where you’re super-skilled in one or two areas of digital consulting and over time acquire knowledge in other channels to the extent that you can execute on all channels with smaller business types and offer knowledgeable & valuable appreciation to larger businesses.
In my case, my first & foremost ‘T’ skill and the reason I got into digital support in the first place was SEO (search engine optimisation) quickly followed by web design & development (building bespoke company websites & ecommerce stores) that I studied part-time at my local college.
To determine the success of these efforts requires a practice of continuous test & measurement so configuring & managing the Google analytics platform became another string to my bow.
As to whether a digital marketer becomes a highly versatile all-rounder (great cost effective option for SMEs & funded start-ups) or a highly focused T-channel practitioner (ideally suited for larger businesses) or perhaps someone flexible & sufficiently skilled to handle either approach is entirely a matter of choice and putting in the hours to acquire the necessary skills and real world experience.
Where to work?
Whether a digital marketer chooses to join an agency, work in-house or go it alone as a solo consultant is entirely a matter of choice.
After all, experience is experience and not everybody is employable.
Are you a micro-business owner?
If you’re a growth-seeking micro-business* owner of a micro-enterprise (0-9 employees + T/O =<£2M) employing multiple digital marketing partners to address your individual digital channel needs or worse case scenario struggling at DIY, stop it now and whether agency or solo marketer, hire a single source provider capable of managing all digital channels for you on an all-inclusive monthly investment fee.
This is a right-sized approach for a business of this type and the optimum solution until such time growth dictates that it’s time to hand the digital marketing reins over to an experienced in-house manager to own the next stage of business growth.
*Micro-businesses have 0-9 employees. There were 5.3 million microbusinesses in the UK in 2021, accounting for 95% of all businesses.
Small business owner?
If you’ve migrated to small business status (10-50 employees + T/O =<£10M) and still seeking continued growth, you really need to be handing off the day to day management of your digital requirements to an in-house digital marketing manager before hiring anybody else.
This all-important middle management layer needs to have direct experience of the workload & skillsets required for successful digital marketing regardless whether the business is seeking to continue outsourcing the actual work to an agency or solo consultant, start building a team in-house or adopt a hybrid approach.
If you’re smart enough to do this, go one step further & seek external assistance to help you hire the right person to do this. This is probably the solo marketer or agency you’re most likely & hopefully working with right now. Just saying..
Businesses who cross the threshold of mid-sized business status (50-250 employees + T/O £10M-£50M) and seek continued growth will already be adopting the ‘full-service’ agency option or bringing in multiple experienced ‘self-employed’ solo marketers or agency-based specialists to address the different digital channels or employing subject matter experts in-house. Over time, as growth continues, they’re likely to be building entire teams around each channel discipline with strong middle management support who report directly to senior management.
Folks don’t know what they don’t know and tend to oversimplify subject matters outside their core competencies in an attempt to understand them.
This is not good practice with respect to digital.
There are no shortcuts.
Seek out a professional.