The Ideal Digital Marketing Team

In this rapidly evolving industry of ours, we strive hard to deliver top quality services to our clients. And the key to quality services is having the right team.

Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what an ideal digital marketing team would look like. I’ve dropped the question in a couple of communities I’m a member of, and received a wide variety of responses.

Using these responses and my own insights, below I’ve outlined what I believe would make an ideal agency-side digital marketing team. I’ve described the various roles that are required, but these roles below do not necessarily translate in to FTEs – several roles can easily be combined in one person:

The SEO Technician

This person thinks in HTTP status codes and can cite all allowed parameters in a robots.txt file from memory. The SEO technician understands Information Retrieval and can visualise how a search engine bot crawls through a website.

SEO audits flow from their fingertips, and esoteric search engine wisdom peppered with Panda anecdotes is their idea of watercooler chat. This person is your on-site optimisation resource.

The Linkbuilder

Links make the web, and the linkbuilder knows like no other how to get links. This person is a relationship builder and has a black book of webmaster contacts as thick as a King James bible.

They know how to find the right guest post opportunity, the right ear to whisper in to for a ‘sponsored’ link on a major news site, and what a perfectly crafted link request email looks like. In fact, they sent out such emails several dozen times a day – on a slow day.

The Content Strategist

This person takes a client’s value proposition and USPs and translates them in to ideas and outlines for content.

A blend of a classic marketing brain and a digital native, the content strategist knows exactly what makes an online audience tick and can find the right angle for even the dullest of companies to appear sexy online.

The Copywriter

This is the grunt of the digital marketing team, the person in the trenches churning out the copy that makes it all work. No illusions of grandeur here, the copywriter knows that they’re low in the pecking order. They also know that without them the whole house of cards would come tumbling down.

This person takes the outlines from the content strategist and the guest post requests from the linkbuilder, and works their lyrical magic to deliver content that captures audiences.

Good copywriters are few and far between, so don’t for one second think this is the lowest-paid job in the team. If it is in your team, you’re doing it wrong.

The Conversion Optimiser

This person could be called many things. The Tester, the CRO, the UX specialist – whatever label you want to slap on it. What it boils down to is that this person turns websites in to money printing machines.

Another one of those hybrid minds, the Conversion Optimiser is both technically proficient, lyrically lenient, and graphically gifted. Using varied methodologies, including A/B split- and multivariate-testing, this person can wring every last drop of conversion rate from a website.

More than that, this person understands the needs and desires of an online audience, and knows what it takes to satisfy.

The Social Media Manager

Facebook is their home turf. Twitter is their idea of fun. They have more Tumblrs than you can imagine. And they Instagram every snack and shiny object in their lives.

This is the Social Media Manager, and they build communities. They manage your clients’ social media accounts, and they flit between personalities quicker than you can type.

Whatever character a client wants to adopt when it speaks with its customers online, your Social Media Manager effortlessly finds the right tone of voice for those tweets, Facebook posts, and blog comments.

The PPC Specialist

‘Earned Media’? ‘Inbound mar-…’ *coughvomitcough* ? GTFO. Paid advertising is where it’s at, and the PPC specialist knows this like no other.

Google AdWords, Microsoft Adcenter, Facebook Advertising – where there’s a pay-per-click model in sight, the PPC specialist moves like Jagger.

From creating positive ROI feedback loops from click to conversion, to building the perfect Facebook customer segment for maximum impact, the PPC specialist is your paid advertising master.

The Email Marketer

This person has been there, done it, and has all the t-shirts you’ll ever need. The Email Marketer is the classicist of digital marketing. It’s the oldest online marketing discipline around, and this person knows how to make it sing.

From crafting the perfect headline to building powerful subscriber segments to send personalised offers to, the Email Marketer puts the lie to the naysayers that have declared their discipline dead. Email marketing works, bitches, and this person proves it every single day.

Whether it contains 400 or 400,000 email addresses, the Email Marketer will transform your subscriber list in to a free-for-all fundraiser.

The Web Analyst

For most people a 500-column pivot table is a nightmare. For the Web Analyst, it’s a wet dream come true. Custom reports for breakfast, event tracking at lunch, attribution modelling for dinner, with the occasional statistical anomaly as a snack – the Web Analyst eats data at every opportunity.

This person is your data junkie, the one who makes sense of all those rows and columns of numbers and metrics. A good web analyst goes beyond the data and gives you actionable insights to improve your digital strategies. They can tell you what works and what doesn’t – though they may not necessarily know why.

The Graphic Designer

Stuff has to look pretty. It has to have pizazz. It needs to sparkle and shine. That’s where the Graphic Designer comes in.

Is your email newsletter too boring? Is your landing page lacking that special feeling? Is your checkout process a dull off-the-shelf affair? The Graphic Designer will polish those turds and make them look like truffles.

Often derided as Steve Jobs-worshipping, crayon-wielding poseurs, good graphic designers nonetheless add immense value to your team. Nothing beats that moment when the client’s eyes widen and they go all ‘ooh, shiny!’

The Front-End Coder

Someone has to build those landing pages, complete with all the necessary A/B split-testing code. Someone has to craft the HTML for that email campaign to ensure it works in all major email clients. Someone has to implement that onclick JavaScript code to record the event in web analytics.

That person is your Front-End Coder, and they make it all happen. There are as many coders as there are fake eyelashes at a Lady Gaga concert, but never make the mistake of thinking them expendable. They know things.

Front-End Coders are your front-line troops, and you need motivated and well-equipped soldiers to win battles.

The Chief

With all that talent – and the associated egos – you need someone to make sure the train stays on its rails. You need a leader, a person who knows exactly how to keep the troops motivated and pointing in the right direction.

That’s your Chief, and they go by a variety of names: Digital Directors, Managing Directors, Head Honchos, Chief Operating Officers, or whatever other job title they deemed worthy enough.

Chiefs come in all shapes and sizes, from the quiet hands-off puppeteer to the larger-than-life leading-from-the-front general. But they all have one thing in common: they inspire and empower your team to be the best it can be.

What does your perfect digital marketing team look like? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

About Barry Adams

Barry Adams is one of the chief editors of State of Digital and is an award-winning SEO consultant delivering specialised technical SEO services to clients worldwide.

13 thoughts on “The Ideal Digital Marketing Team

  1. We got that Shizzle on the go. I agree with the Paul about the PR skills. A great PR who deeply understands digital, like Lexi Mills or James Crawford is an awesomely good asset.

    1. Yeah I suppose that role should be added. I sort of had that function between the linkbuilder, copywriter, and content strategist… But yes as this is a roles-oriented blog post it should have been included.

  2. This post could not have come at a better time barry, i have been thinking about this a lot and trying to find some good opinions… some great quotes to be taken from this too lol

  3.  @twitter-127599633:disqus @google-2715bb89e1aba361b9cc8c702c7c157b:disqus In lots of ways I think Barry *has* covered off PR in terms of PR skillsets as they apply to SEO – between copywriting, social media and link-building – and if you have a good chief with a good sense of the reputation issues, you’ve probably got most of it licked?

  4. Id be a carefull in trying to recruit some one with high end dev and server skills as a “technician” – your likely to get a response involving “engineering” language.

  5. Your description of copywriter is so wrong headed I don’t even know where to start. If a company’s number one job is to make a great product (or great services), it’s second job is to persuade people to buy them. Hence, there is no more critical partner in that effort than the copywriter – a talented persuader that wields the language artfully in ways that both engage and motivate their fellow humans. Companies are foolish to treat them like grunts or mere fillers of blank holes in the design of the site. If they do their job well, the value of a copywriter’s efforts can be unimaginably huge. It’s an absolutely critical hire.

    Also, by the by, not a fan of the word “churn” as it pertains to copy. It implies that the copy is being spit out and unconsidered – a recipe for crap.

    1. In hindsight I have to agree with you, I’m doing the copywriter role a disservice. In fact the content strategist & copywriter role should be merged and given prominence in the team – it all really does pivot around the quality of content that is being produced.

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