Hiring in digital marketing? Here are 5 tips you should know

Digital marketers taking notes on their notebook, tablet, laptop and phone

There are two main challenges when it comes to hiring the right talent for digital marketing. Firstly, the field is continually evolving, so marketing managers must be across the latest methods. Secondly, evaluating candidates’ proficiency in these evolving practices often relies on their word and that of their referee. These challenges must be considered alongside the traditional considerations of identifying the right person for a role.

Thankfully there are a few tools at the marketing manager’s disposal, including digital marketing itself, to hire for digital marketing. 

Here are five top tips for hiring digital marketing professionals.

Test how they market themselves

Every digital marketer has a personal brand. Marketing managers can use digital marketing in reverse to explore those personal brands and find out how they might work in their business.

Start with a simple Google search of a digital marketer’s name to find out how high they appear in search rankings. This is also a good way to explore their previous work and find out a bit more about them.

To really find the right digital marketing candidate, try a targeted LinkedIn search. Head to LinkedIn, click in the search box, then click on ‘people’, and then ‘all filters.’ Now you can search for people in digital marketing and specify who they know, where they live, where they’ve worked and where they went to school. The results will not only be a useful list of candidates, but also contacts who may be able to connect you with your ideal candidate.

Check the colour of their hat

People working in the digital world either do things by the rules and are described as white hats, or they bend and break the rules to their own advantage – they’re the black hats. The imagery of black and white hats came from old cowboy movies and was first applied to hackers. 

SEO experts and digital marketers can also adopt black hat techniques for short term gains. The problem for marketing managers and businesses is that their actions can also bring long term pain.

One of the challenges in digital marketing is that the digital ecosystem is continually evolving. So, as new platforms, tools and opportunities come online, almost anything goes until consumers or search engines react. 

A luxury watchmaker recently discovered that it had crossed the line with influencer marketing on social media – thanks to a backlash from consumers. The United States and Australia have laws that require influencers to disclose that they are being paid. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop Australia Post or Warner Bros getting into hot water with influencers portraying themselves as free-thinking customers.

Black hat practices in digital marketing can be as simple as adding people to mailing lists without their consent or making obligatory unsubscribe links impossible to find. The cost that these practices can have on search engine results pages, company reputation and the culture of an organisation far outweigh the benefits.

Ask them to explain buzzwords in their own words

When it comes to the job interview, there are a few things you can do to help you decide on the right candidate – such as asking them to explain buzzwords in their own words. Albert Einstein is attributed with the maxim that, “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.” Explaining a complex idea in terms that a child would understand is also an essential step in the Feynman Learning Technique

So, to really put your digital marketing candidate to the test, invite a non-marketer into the interview and ask your candidate to explain digital marketing in terms that they will understand.

This is also an excellent opportunity to find out more about their experience with key digital marketing functions.

Marketing managers can improve their comprehension of digital marketing buzzwords and the best hiring practices with a Master of Marketing. Postgraduate studies like this can also broaden your network, which can make future digital marketing hires easier too.

Confirm they have experience with those buzzwords

Kaitlyn Witman is the co-founder of a full-service digital marketing agency and leads a team of digital marketers alongside designers and developers. One of her ‘alarm-bell’ buzzwords is programmatic advertising – which is essentially using software to buy digital ads whether they are online, out-of-home or on traditional media. Witman once had a job applicant include this skill in her resume; however, in the interview, they admitted that they had only added programmatic advertising data to a spreadsheet for analysis.

Pay-per-click or PPC is another term that Witman bristles at when used loosely in a job application. It refers to the fee paid for a website to appear at the top of search results – the idea is that the click might cost $3 but will ideally reap a $300 sale for the business. 

Witman always asks candidates how they implemented and ran a PPC campaign like this, and what they did to optimise it when it didn’t work.

Set them some digital marketing homework

One of the most important skills for almost any job is communication. As a result, candidates with good written skills make it through to an interview where their verbal and personal communication skills are put to the test. By this stage they’ve told you convincingly, in print and in person, that they have the skills to pay the bills – but how can you be sure? Set them some digital marketing homework.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a recruiter who recommends a simple skills test that won’t take long but will give you some important feedback. She suggests asking candidates to evaluate two sample emails from a direct response campaign. 

In addition to the raw skills in evaluation, a task like this shows you how a candidate responds to instruction, how they conduct themselves in the workplace and how they communicate their findings.

Sujan Patel is the co-founder of a growth marketing agency who fully embraces digital marketing when hiring. In addition to the traditional methods of hiring, such as advertising and networking, he uses tools like Dux-Soup to scour LinkedIn for keywords among digital marketers. 

Candidates progress through an email interview, phone interview and video interview before they get a homework assignment. It’s usually a task that takes a couple of hours, such as breaking down another company’s marketing strategy, doing some customer research, or planning a social media campaign. Using slightly more blunt terms, Patel declares that this method sorts out the good, from the not-so-good.

Learn more about our online Master of Marketing. Get in touch with our Enrolment team on 1300 701 171.