by: Thomas Young
Business leaders cannot go it alone when executing a winning digital marketing strategy. There are too many skill sets that must come together to make this work and anyone that tells you that he or she has all the skills to get it right will most likely fail. In companies of all sizes, developing a successful strategic digital marketing team is one of the greatest challenges and it also is a critical reason many websites fail.
Marketing Versus Technology Versus Design
Three very distinct disciplines must come together to get results from digital marketing. Take a look at the graphic below. Can these skill sets be any more different? Marketing is concerned with business growth and sales. Technology teams need to make technology work. Designers are creative and artistic. They are interested in colors, graphics, photos and how things look. Many website problems happen because these three skill sets can’t come together to get results. In the center is project management, the key to bringing these three disciplines together and completing the project.
Three unique disciplines must work together in strategic digital marketing.
The differences in these three areas can lead to all sorts of conflicts in strategic digital marketing work. These three skill sets must be managed by a strong project manager and project lead. In many cases, the project lead is the CEO or business leader!
Many business leaders have been extremely frustrated by this process and in many cases it is the principle reason so many websites are delayed or get poor results. The solutions are to have an excellent project manager on your team, understand the many hats people wear in making a website successful and provide the right leadership and direction in each area.
The Many Hats People Wear in Digital Marketing
There are eight different job functions found in successful digital marketing teams:
- Internet marketing director/manager
- Internet project manager/coordinator
- Internet marketing specialist
- Website research specialist
- Content writer for the web
- Photography and other media
- Graphic designer
- Technology professional
The titles of these job functions may change, but the skill sets and responsibilities do not. Here are brief job descriptions and a brief summary of their responsibilities:
Internet Marketing Director/Manager – This person is responsible for the overall direction and strategy behind the organization’s strategic digital marketing efforts. He or she reports to upper management and may be part of the company’s senior marketing or management team. The director sets the strategy and prepares a budget for the website. This person should have final say on website marketing and the site’s development process. It is important not to make website marketing a democratic process and to provide this director the span of control needed to make decisions quickly and in accordance with an approved budget and strategic plan. The director is also responsible for coordinating all offline marketing activities with online marketing efforts.
Internet Project Manager/Coordinator – This staff member reports to the director and is responsible for coordination of all activities and communications from the web team, handling schedules, action plans, development timeframes, meeting coordination and all aspects of bringing the process of strategic digital marketing into a cohesive plan. Project managers see that things get done and this work can make or break your website results and ROI.
Internet Marketing Specialist – This person is responsible for driving traffic to the website through all sources, including search engines, pay-per-click, e-mail marketing, affiliates, ads, link exchanges, offline marketing and all other functions that drive traffic to the site.
Website Research Specialist – Gathering feedback from users, web stats and analyzing that data, online surveys, reporting findings and suggestions to the strategic digital marketing team are key tasks of this position. This person should stay on top of web trends and changing technologies that can impact gathering data and function as the lead on strategic digital marketing research programs. The website research specialist should report on a regular basis to the strategic digital marketing team and work closely with the design and development teams to ensure the site is usable and generating conversions. In some cases, this position may be combined with the Internet Marketing Specialist.
Content Writer for the Web – Writing content for your website and e-mail campaigns is the key task of this position. This person must know how to write for the web with content that is scannable and can tell a story with 50 percent fewer words than would normally be used. The person in this role must be able to write scripts for online videos and podcasts. He or she should be able to interview key people in the organization and write effective copy for the web. This is one of the most active positions on the website team and a key part of online marketing success.
Photography and Other Media – This position may actually be a team of people and they are responsible for photos, video, web cams, interactive tours, slide shows, podcasts and all other media presentations of content on the website.
Graphic Designer – This person is tasked with designing the graphic and artistic elements of a website including the logo, navigation systems designs, content placement, photo placement and all other graphic elements on the website.
Technology Professional – The technology position is responsible for the structure of the website and how it operates. This includes the technology platform, hosting, CMS, e-commerce, html, site coding, how updates are made, and all key technology functions. Obviously, the technology person is critical to the website, but should not lead the process. This staff member should take direction and follow the strategy.
External Versus Internal
More than likely, the people at the top of this list are internal to your company. This includes the Internet marketing director and project manager. The marketing and research specialists may also be internal, but will likely need some outside help. Content writers, photographers, videographers, graphic designers and web technology specialists are usually external contractors.
All of these tasks can be handled internally or outsourced, based on the available talent and expected results. Some of these tasks are best outsourced because of the level of expertise needed to run a successful program. This is especially true in the area of search engine marketing. It is also a good idea to outsource tasks where the organization can benefit from the combined experience of a variety people.
Where to Find Resources
The Internet is an excellent resource for digital marketing help and there are dozens of excellent websites where you can find help. Most of this work can be done remotely and it is best to find external resources that will respond in a timely manner and are able to connect with your website’s strategic vision. Those with a proven track record are your best bet. Set up a phone call and ask for three references. Don’t worry if they have specific knowledge in your industry, because that can actually be a hindrance and keep you in a box. Start with a small project and gradually add on work as you see the results.
These are the key staff functions required to run an effective digital marketing program. People will often combine these tasks, which can lead to poor results. The key challenge is to ensure that the right people are handling tasks based on their level of expertise and skills in that area. A common mistake in strategic digital marketing is to delegate tasks to individuals who do not have the proper experience, because it is considered a web-related program. The most common example of this is having a technical person responsible for the design of a website or the marketing of the site.
These eight areas are very distinct from one another and should not be merged without careful analysis and a clear division of roles and tasks. Your website and digital marketing efforts are valuable marketing resources and will need attention each month from this team of specialists.
- Determine who the digital marketing lead is, and give that lead authority to make decisions on strategic digital marketing projects. Avoid strategic digital marketing by committee.
- Assign a project manager for the entire process to manage the action items.
- Determine internal versus external resources and team members.
- Find external resources and partners to supplement and enhance the digital marketing team, both internally and externally to your company.
Thomas Young is the CEO and founder of Intuitive Websites. He is an author, speaker and digital marketing consultant. Order Tom’s book “Winning the Website War” to get more digital marketing insights.