Effective Digital Marketing Teams

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High performance teams don’t happen by chance – they must be built.  Before you can build up the digital marketing department in your business, you’ve got to establish a culture that will allow them to thrive. Here’s 7 key steps towards scoring your digital marketing dream team.

The modern digital marketer has tremendous expectations to live up to. Just fifteen years ago, digital marketers were only responsible for SEO and ads. Today, “digital marketing” isn’t just one job, it’s an umbrella term for a slew of responsibilities. Anything that can get a product in front of a potential buyer can be considered digital marketing. That includes everything from content marketing to Google ads, to website design, to social media outreach.

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Marketing continues to grow in complexity and accessibility, which makes building a high-performing team more difficult than ever before. After all, you can’t exactly put “social media expert, website designer, data analyst, and writer needed” in a job ad-even though that’s essentially what you’re looking for. The trick is to build a team that’s adaptable. This means hiring ambitious, creative, and flexible people who are equipped with the right tools to learn fast and iterate faster. Here are seven keys to building that elusive high-performing marketing team.

Think nimble

Marketing isn’t a job for people who need structure, hard-and-fast rules, and supervision to be successful. You need MacGyvers for this job – people who can be flexible, quick on their feet, and prefer a fast-changing, challenging environment. Assembling such a powerhouse team is only half the battle. You need to be able to set them up for success and keep them around for the long haul.

1. Hire for hunger

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The temptation is to hire people based on their industry experience alone. But because the marketing landscape changes so fast, that experience can become obsolete all too quickly. Instead, you should balance experience with potential. That means looking for people who are driven, eager to learn, and quick to seize initiative. You can filter out these people by expanding your application requirements. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Look for creative aptitude. This doesn’t mean hiring English and Art majors. This means creating a job ad that helps the position be self-selective. Include polarizing pros/cons-such as a lack of overhead, ability to work independently, and ability to come up with creative ideas on a deadline.

  2. Include a project. Present interviewees with a real-life marketing problem that your company has had to deal with and ask them to solve it. Make sure to give them real constraints such as budget, time, and resources.

  3. Ask for work samples. Things like published articles, real Twitter accounts, and email screenshots are an easy way to get a glimpse into what the interviewee is capable of. Be sure to ask for the rationale behind their work.

2. Encourage employee specialization

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Once you’ve discovered how to sniff out high-potential employees, you can start thinking about the dynamic of your team. Don’t push every employee to be a jack-of-all-trades-and a master of none. Instead, encourage your team members to develop expertise. It will teach them the underlying principles of great marketing-something that doesn’t change as tech evolves. The only way to achieve this is to constantly communicate with team members about their aspirations. Sit down with each person and come up with a 5-year plan. Learn what they want to get out of working at the company, and build a path for them to achieve that through a specialized role. You can do this by:

  • Having monthly 1:1s. Set goals during these meetings that help employees work towards their objectives. Talk through problems and focus on keeping employees excited about their work.

  • Providing learning opportunities. Find conferences, books, webinars, based on your employees’ interests. Equip them with more tools to learn about what they’re more interested in.

Empower each employee to hone a specific skill set. Then, they’ll grow professionally and become better employees.

3. Stay lean as long as possible

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According to agency experts, “staffing up” is one of the most popular mistakes that marketing teams make. Managers assume that hiring more smart people will equal better output. They think that staffing is a band-aid that will fix any performance problems a team might be having. But more employees should only be taken on if there’s more work than the current staff can handle. Otherwise, the focus should be on getting the small team to optimize internal communication, improve their research methods, and become better at iterating and testing their campaigns. Payroll is most marketing teams’ biggest expense. And adding more people-no matter how smart or capable-to a team with lousy systems is only going to make matters worse.

Create a culture of collaboration

Trying to improve your conversion rates or get more page views can feel like a never-ending uphill battle. You might have A/B tested all your copy, tried 40 different CTAs, and still, your metrics don’t budge. To continue to chip away, despite all your failed efforts, you need to have a strong support network. A team that works together isn’t just great for having more minds working on tough problems-they make failures easier to bear, and successes more fun to celebrate. Here’s how to create a healthy culture in such a demanding work environment.

4. Make collaboration easy

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The dynamic work environment means that there’s a lot of individual learning going on. Employees-siloed at their respective desks end up only communicating the most relevant information to the rest of the team during time-sucking meetings, if at all. This lonely environment puts immense pressure on the individual and makes in-person meetings the only time and place to collaborate. Not to mention the team is squandering the opportunity to learn from one another’s mistakes. Use collaborative software to get more team members learning from each other and working together. Here’s a few to get you started:

  • Teamwork Projects: Marketing teams can collaborate more effectively by using Teamwork Projects as a central place for managing projects, tracking progress and team communication. Teamwork Chat is another tool from Teamwork.com’s software suite that integrates directly with Projects, giving you the ability to turn real-time conversations into follow-up tasks without ever leaving the chat environment. Using templates for acitivities such as digital marketing plan and social media calendar can also improve collaboration and productivity.

  • Quip: This is a stripped-down word processor that was built for collaboration. Any number of people can work on a blog, an email, or some website copy simultaneously and chat within the same window.

  • I Done This: This is a simple checklist tool that lets teammates communicate accomplishments, goals, and blockers. It’s a super lightweight tool that gets people on the same page without disrupting them.

When every campaign, project, and experiment is browsable, teammates can work together and also learn from each other. This increases the speed of individual growth and makes the processes of iterating campaigns significantly more efficient.

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