No company today can afford to skimp on digital marketing, which is not only taking over from traditional marketing but massively surpassing its reach.

However, digital marketing is a rapidly evolving field – one that includes many roles that just a few years ago, didn’t exist.

The challenge for businesses

Increasing specialisation in different aspects of digital marketing poses a challenge for businesses.

What skills does your marketing department need to stay competitive? And what should you look for when recruiting digital marketing staff, given that many digital marketing fields are too new for candidates to boast lengthy experience?

A better understanding of what key digital marketing roles entail may help you decide what skills your business requires, and whether recruiting staff or outsourcing to a digital marketing agency is the better option.

It’s worth noting that in digital marketing, role titles and descriptions are still highly fluid.

Digital marketing manager

A digital marketing manager has ultimate responsibility for a company’s digital marketing campaigns. Accordingly, this individual should have a good grasp of all key digital marketing platforms and tools, along with plenty of hands-on experience and proven ability in executing successful web (organic and paid), social and email marketing campaigns.

A digital marketing manager must be able to track and interpret campaign results, so in-depth web analytics skills are important. This person must also be able to motivate and coordinate other team members’ efforts – good communication and leadership skills are needed.

Digital campaign manager

In larger companies or in digital agencies, multiple digital campaign managers may manage subsets of campaigns and their own teams. They then report to a head of marketing, or digital marketing manager.

Digital marketing strategist

The role of digital marketing strategist may be filled by a digital marketing manager and/ or campaign managers, or it may be maintained as a separate role.

Like a marketing manager, a digital marketing strategist is something of a jack-of-all-trades, with a good understanding of the range of digital marketing specialisations. This individual is responsible for planning a company’s digital marketing strategy and approach, based on its industry, budget, goals and resources.

For example, this involves deciding which marketing channels and social media platforms to leverage, constantly monitoring performance and adapting campaigns based on the results.

Web developers

The basis of any good digital marketing strategy is a well designed, fully responsive website, so talented back-end and front-end web developers play a crucial role.

Back-end developers focus more on hard coding, while front-end developers concentrate on site design and user experience (UX).

The best sites result from tight collaboration between the two functions, along with rigorous technical skills and knowledge of the latest best practices for web design and development.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) specialist

SEO specialists have in-depth knowledge of the algorithms used by search engines to rank content in search results. Their key responsibility is to make sure that your company is easy to find online and that its online content achieves high rankings in the main search engines.

SEO specialists should be experts at performing keyword research, writing optimised content and solving any SEO-related issues on your website.

Pay-per-click (PPC) specialist

An example of pay-per-click advertising – where you pay each time a potential customer clicks an advert – is Google AdWords.

A PPC specialist creates and manages your advertising campaigns. This person needs a good understanding of the types of adverts and keywords that will be the most effective.

A PPC specialist must also be able to write effective copy for adverts, manage your PPC budget on a day to day basis, and continually adjust bids for keywords based on their performance.

Social media specialist/ manager

A social media specialist or manager takes care of all of your social media marketing. Individuals in this role create social media content plans and campaigns, which they then manage via your company’s social media streams.

A social media specialist must have a good understanding of paid advertising on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and know how best to incorporate this type of advertising into your overall campaigns.

Content manager

The content for your website, primarily web copy and blogs, needs to be relevant and highly engaging. This is where the content manager comes in.

Content managers plan, schedule and oversee your content, ensuring it satisfies user intent, addresses your target market(s) and is informative, accurate and interesting.

They also ensure that content incorporates properly researched keywords, is optimised for search engines, includes relevant links and references and includes appropriate calls to action (CTAs) that will lead to conversions.

Email marketing manager

Email marketing managers are in charge of all your email campaigns, most often using newsletters to promote new products or services, events, specials and news.

They conceptualise and implement email campaigns based on your company’s latest offerings and tailor these campaigns for specific audiences.

They’re usually also responsible for managing and growing your company’s email databases and for creating custom lists to allow targeting of specific groups.

Digital marketing analyst

A digital marketing analyst compiles and analyses data from your company’s digital marketing campaigns in order to measure their success.

This role also involves ensuring that relevant data is properly collected for reporting purposes, and that the results of analysis are available for use in updating and improving existing marketing strategies.

Hire or outsource digital marketing specialists?

With the importance of digital marketing continuing to grow and the skills of digital marketers becoming more specialised, businesses can’t afford to fall behind. Even small and start-up companies must have access to core digital marketing skills.

It can be expensive and time-consuming to recruit suitable staff to cover all the different roles associated with effective digital marketing.

Also, there’s a serious skill shortage – digital marketers are in extremely high demand, and few possess the level of know-how and experience that’s really needed.

For these reasons, we believe it makes sense for all but very large corporations to retain a digital marketing agency rather than trying to acquire all the digital marketing skills they need in-house.

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