If you’re looking to take the first step towards owning your growth, here’s everything you need to know before hiring your first in-house digital marketer.

How to design a marketing team so that every function is covered

At their most basic, digital marketing teams can be divided into two categories: senior management and junior level employees. When hiring your first digital marketing employee, you’ll want them to have around 3-5 years of hands-on digital marketing experience. This allows them to hit the ground running and also arrive with ideas ready to implement.

As your team grows, your first hire is likely to become a manager, and so any managerial experience is beneficial but not essential as you’ll most likely have time to provide them with training in this area.

When hiring digitally-minded staff, look for someone with strong technical skills. There are tons of digital skills out there – social media analytics, search engine optimisation (SEO), email marketing, paid search – it’s important that each member of your team has a solid handle on those fundamentals as well as how they work together as part of an overall strategy.

Your first hire should also have business acumen. This is a difficult one to test, but previous experience in a senior role and evidence of taking commercial decisions in the past, will help.

Starting salaries in the UK for digital specialists are around £35k

There are no hard and fast rules about how much you should pay your new marketing employee. It depends on a range of factors, including what you need them to do, their background, experience and skills. But here’s some advice that might help you to plan for your first in-house marketing hire. The average benchmark salary for a junior-mid level digital marketing employee in the UK is £35,000 to £45,000 (as of November 2021).

Finding good digital marketers is extremely tough. This has been made even harder by the pandemic as companies direct budget into digital and realise they need to recruit more resource to make it work.

Likewise, the pandemic has made remote working the norm and so commuting distances are no longer an obstacle, allowing firms to widen the net of potential candidates.

Test their knowledge of the subject with an interview test

Before you hire your first digital marketing employee, you need to make sure they’re equipped to handle your business’s most important asset—itself. That’s why it’s essential to create a digital marketing skills test or interview tool. This will not only help you understand if they have experience (or potential) in digital marketing but if they’ll fit into your office environment. It can also make them more accountable for their skills.

There are many ways to create an interview tool; some candidates prefer project-based questions while others prefer multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank formats.

Our advice is to use scenarios and ask the candidate how they would tackle the problem you have presented. Make sure it is relevant to the role and not too obscure. For example, you could ask them to explain how they might take you from 500 leads per week to 2000 leads per week. What channels would they use? How would they measure the results? What budget would they require?

A good job description will pay dividends for months after their start date

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when hiring a new employee is not adequately explaining what you expect. Too often, potential employees think they know what a job entails—only to find out there’s a lot more to it than they were expecting.

Start by listing all of the tasks you’ll be wanting them to undertake. Then, score those tasks in order of importance to the overall strategy. With the tasks that rank high, make candidates aware that experience in this is essential. Likewise, for the lower priority tasks, experience in these areas is less important.

Basic equipment must include a laptop powerful enough for data processing

A marketing employee will first and foremost need a computer or laptop to work on. If they are creating content, they’ll need it to be powerful enough to edit photos and videos. Many modern laptops are available with graphics processors that help render video faster.

You may also want to invest in design software for them so they can create landing pages, ads, etc., which you can use for your own website, social media advertising campaigns, etc. Google offers free tools, but there’s plenty of other options available that might suit your specific needs better, such as the Adobe Creative Suite.

Hybrid roles are common for digital starters

How you decide where to locate your employee is ultimately up to you. Will it be an even split between time in the office and working remotely? Will they be spending most of their time travelling? Or is it a 50/50 split? You can make that decision based on what kind of employee you’re looking for, but also keep in mind that you’ll have some additional overhead costs with remote employees, so factor that into your budgeting.

Most digital candidates will prefer a hybrid option, whereby they divide time between the office and home. Given the competitive nature of the market at the moment, you may want to consider offering a 100% remote role, thereby allowing to spread the net wider.

Their first week should be planned in detail

Have your new hire shadow an existing employee in your department for a week. For your first team hire, this may be you! This will not only give you an opportunity to see how they interact with your current employees, but it will also allow you time to explain the importance of certain tasks. After introducing them to other departments in their first week, you’ll need some one-on-one time with them so that they know what’s expected of them.

It’s understandable to want your employee to get right into their work, but taking some time to thoroughly explain the business will save you time in the long run. Explain your current company strategy, mission and goals, along with any targets for growth you have. Your new employee will probably bring their own ideas to the table, but it won’t hurt to make sure you’re on the same page.

One of your first tasks as an employer is to ensure that your new hire feels like they fit in and can find their place within your company. A good way to do that is by creating an activity where everyone on your team can get together and really get to know each other. Try planning a team lunch to break the ice! Hosting it at a restaurant or bar will allow you and your staff to build relationships over food, drink, and conversation while also getting some time off from work. Encourage everyone who attended to share what their experience was like—even if they didn’t enjoy themselves—so that future meetups will be better for all involved.

Once they’re settled in, it’s a good idea to plan objectives with them. Starting with a plan for what to achieve in the first 2-3 months is a great way to get things going. You can’t expect someone to magically hit all your numbers. That is why it is essential that you give them realistic goals for their first few months, and explain how they will be measured, e.g. the number of sales made, websites created/optimised, money saved on budget XYZ by month 2, etc. Have these written down, so they have something to reference when figuring out how to plan their time.

Get them to create a marketing plan in their first month

In their first month, your new marketing employee should be building a marketing plan and reviewing analytics to track and improve your marketing strategy. To know what your company needs, you need to audit your website and your current digital marketing presence to determine what you’re lacking. What isn’t working? How can we improve conversions and page views? There are many KPIs to measure (conversions, profits, ROI), but it ultimately comes down to whatever matters most to your business. Your marketing hire should be able to look at your site’s analytics and provide examples of why certain types of ads perform better than others on specific pages. Ideally, he or she will help pinpoint and target new audiences so you can get more conversions from paid advertising without increasing spending unnecessarily.

Setting up a paid advertising campaign is relatively easy – but knowing which platform will give you maximum return on investment is critical in determining which channel(s) should come first. A strong digital marketing employee will know where to place their bets on ad spend.

Whether you’re creating a new website or optimising an existing one, SEO (search engine optimisation) is crucial. You want your site to appear in search results when people search for related content; unfortunately, many businesses fail to optimise their site and thus miss out on potential customers. Don’t let that happen to you: put some thought into your SEO strategy and figure out what’s going to work best for your business and which keywords you should focus on.

You should make sure your employee is including conversion rate optimisation in their plan. How much traffic, leads, and customers can you reasonably expect? Which key performance indicators might be important for each piece of digital marketing in order to achieve its goal?

Within three months you’ll know if they are the right fit

It may sound like a long time, but the first three months of a new job are a critical time for new employees. During these first few months, you’ll have to quickly decide if your employee is a good fit for your team and culture. Ideally, new hires should be able to ramp up quickly, learn on their feet and help contribute to your business before they’ve even completed their onboarding process.

In the first few months, the campaigns your employee has created should be reaching their targets. If not, make some changes to existing ones or abandon them altogether. It’s unlikely that everything will work on its own right away. If this doesn’t seem to be happening, let them know that you have faith in their abilities and want to help them succeed. Talk about what they’re working on and how it fits into your overall marketing plan for the company. Help keep morale high, so they feel valued and happy working at your company.

One of our favourite ways to increase conversion rates is through an effective conversion rate optimisation strategy (CRO). An A/B test allows you to split traffic from your site into two or more groups. You can then show one group a variation of your landing page, and another group a different variation, and compare how they affect visitor behaviour. This gives you actionable insight on which headlines, images, or calls-to-action work best for driving conversions.

Google is constantly adjusting its algorithm, and knowing what’s coming down the pipe is vital to stay one step ahead of your competition. Encourage your marketing employee to subscribe to sites like Search Engine Land and MediaPost for SEO news; Social Media Today and AdWeek for social media news; and AdExchanger for display news. Of course, not every change will impact your business, but having an idea of upcoming changes can help you better prepare for those that do.

Effective communication is overlooked but can make all the difference

You may feel like you need to monopolise your new digital marketing employee’s time. But, as a new hire, they have a lot to learn from everyone on your team. Try to give them space so that they can get acclimated with their new environment, but make sure they always feel valued within your organisation. This will help motivate them and potentially lead to better results for your business in the long run.

When you’re not working with your new employee every day, make sure you make time to talk and get to know them. At a minimum, you should meet up once a week and make sure they have all of their questions answered. Even if you aren’t meeting up, it’s important to try and check in as much as possible. If an issue comes up over email or Slack but goes unanswered for three days, it can lead to a huge drop off in productivity for your company.

As a business owner, it can be hard to manage and stay on top of your employees. While you don’t have to do formal reviews every quarter, it can be useful to talk with them about their goals in life, their work/life balance, how they feel they’re doing at your company or how they feel their direct peers are performing. This will not only give you insight into what makes them tick but will also allow you to better understand if they might need any extra coaching or training. Overall, it allows for more effective communication between everyone involved and ultimately increases productivity and efficiency within your organisation.

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