On the Convince and Convert blog, Paul Roetzer shared his perspective on what the future of online marketing looks like.
He presents the “hybrid marketer”– a multidisciplinary marketing strategist–as the key to marketing success online in the future. He says:
Forward-thinking organizations seek hybrid professionals who are highly proficient writers, analytical and tech savvy, with a strong grasp on business, IT and human behavior. These next-generation professionals excel in the emerging core-marketing disciplines of mobile, analytics, social, web, search and content. They envision on a strategic level, building fully integrated campaigns, and they have the capabilities to execute on the tactical level, conducting activities that drive real business results.
Why the hybrid marketer will add more value
Roetzer’s analysis of the skills needed in online marketing today is spot on. Online marketing presents huge opportunities, but online channels have their own set of challenges. Here are just a few of the factors that make the hybrid marketer increasingly valuable:
- Speed: The best practices of last summer may not apply today. Online marketing pros have to be plugged in to the latest trends and tools, but also need to be able to evaluate why the trends are important and how the tools can contribute to the bottom line. By the time a new platform is fully evaluated and documented, you’ve lost the opportunity to be a trailblazer.
- Transparency: Online audiences demand humanity, responsiveness, authenticity and transparency from brands. To achieve this, business has to cultivate a voice and empower their online team to engage with people in real time, even dealing with difficult issues and negative feedback. Doing this well requires a deep understanding of the business, a sophisticated grasp of voice, and skills that range from customer care to PR.
- Leverage: Many businesses struggle with how to get visible online everywhere. Success comes from aligning resources to get the biggest reach with the minimum investment. For instance, if you have research to share, there are opportunities for SEO, social media, lead generation, email marketing and more. Being able to identify, orchestrate and execute on these opportunities is the key to rapidly growing your presence.
- Technology: And of course, online marketing is based on technology that changes daily. Understanding and embracing the importance of mobile optimization, browser compatibility, website architecture, and more requires a devotion to the inner technophile.
These trends in combination make the hybrid marketer critical to the business of the future. Quite frankly, business won’t be able to keep up with the changing online landscape without this kind of talent. So, whether you outsource it or add staff in-house, you have to know what kind of skills you’re looking for.
12 strengths to build into your online marketing team
Whether you’re hiring in-house staff or working with an agency, you’ll get better bang for your marketing investment with the right team. So what does this strategy-plus-implementation-equals-results marketing team look like? Here are some of the traits that will pay off:
- Strategic mind: Marketing investment should be tied to business goals, strategic priorities, and market opportunities. One of the biggest gifts a strategist can bring to your team is the ability to scan for opportunities and make decisions about which are worth pursuing, how and when, to make the maximum impact.
- Business savvy: Great marketers have always understood how marketing connects with the bottom line. Now, they have to get how marketing connects with operations, sales, customer service, strategic partnerships, PR, and more. Marketing has to know the business inside and out, so they can speak for the business across platforms.
- Digital immersion: Online has its own language, and your team has to speak it fluently. It’s not enough to apply marketing principles online. Your best team members will eat, sleep and breathe the digital world. This immersion means valuable experience, but it also speaks to passion for online engagement. That passion will come through in the voice of your brand.
- Creativity: Online marketing allows for you to build digital assets from the ground up. A creative spirit will drive innovation in your methods and your message, which is what makes an online marketing campaign into something groundbreaking, engaging or shareable.
- Implementation: Once the creative is done, it’s time to release it into the real world. Great online marketing campaigns can unfold over months, or can make a big splash overnight. Either situation requires extensive planning and solid execution. Your team needs a solid focus on implementation to make your creative concepts work.
- Curiosity: Not every online marketer needs to be a code junkie (although that’s not a bad skillset to have.) But an understanding of the language of web development or the new changes to Google’s algorithm help marketers work in greater alignment with more technical disciplines, which means better results all around. Curiosity about how things work sets the foundation for ongoing learning.
- Vision: The only way to achieve maximum potential is to be able to visualize it. A visionary team can see the potential in the company, the brand, the products and the marketing mix, and use that vision to aggressively exploit opportunities as they arise.
- Results focus: In order for your marketing investment to make sense, there have to be quantifiable results. But it’s not enough to set the standard from the outside and expect the team to meet it. The perfect team values results intrinsically, and therefore naturally builds measurement and ROI into everything they do.
- Skepticism: A team that questions assumptions, digs into the data and seeks proof before making a strategic decision holds our business to a higher standard and keeps us from wasting time and resources responding to someone’s gut instinct. Skepticism keeps sacred cows from interfering with smart strategy.
- Exceptional, prolific writing: Content marketing is the core of online marketing today. Blogging, social media, email marketing, web and more are based on presenting information, education, or entertainment in a way that engages readers. For a dynamic brand that drives sharing and engagement, no ordinary content will do. The content has to be focused, actionable, enjoyable, shareable and more.
- People-centered approach: Marketing is about connecting with the customer. Even with all the fancy technology and strategic planning, at it’s core, online marketing is very much about engagement, trust and relationships. Conversations around strategy should be connected with the audience. Each campaign should be considered in terms of how customers, prospects, clients, employees and other stakeholders will react and respond.
- Dedication to continuous improvement: An online marketer’s job is never done. You can set up an advertising campaign, but it still needs monitored and optimized. You can build a website but still need to watch traffic, clicks and conversions to see how the site is working and what might need tweaked. Consistent review and optimization of online marketing can mean stronger ROI and faster company growth, all while managing investment.
Bringing these strengths to your online marketing team
Whether you’re interviewing a new marketing manager or selecting an agency, the same skills are big value for your team. So how do you evaluate whether your new potential marketing resource is the right fit? The key is asking critical questions. Too often businesses focus on portfolios or client lists. Consider using completely new criteria to evaluate for the most critical strengths, and building questions to fit.
Here are five sample questions you can ask of either an employee or an agency to get a feel for fit:
- How do you determine what tactics and platforms go into an online marketing plan? (Evaluates: Strategic mind, business savvy, results focus, skepticism)
- Tell me about a campaign that got great results. What was unique about it? How did you connect with the audience? (Evaluates: Creativity, results focus, people-centered approach)
- How have you used content marketing to support your marketing goals? (Evaluates: Exceptional writing, results focus)
- How do you use technology to make your life better? (Evaluates: Digital immersion, curiosity)
- When have you used data to identify opportunities to improve a campaign? (Evaluates: Results focus, skepticism, continuous improvement)
You may not find all of the traits in a single team member or even a single agency. Your company can still get great results by building a “portfolio” of resources–team members, agencies, processes, goals, tools, plans –that represent the various strengths. Over time, you’ll build a competitive advantage around truly remarkable talent that’s aligned with your business.