What Makes a Great Digital Marketer?

For both budding marketers trying to hone their skills and companies looking to hire someone who gets digital marketing, it’s a helpful exercise to explore the question: “What makes a great digital marketer”?

From my years of experience, here are the qualities I’ve observed in the most effective digital marketers:

Intellectually Curious

The intellectually curious marketer makes it a priority to invest time and energy to continuously learn something new. It’s not a chore to do so; it’s a deep, persistent desire to figure out how things work and to always ask “why?”

Example: “Instagram announced today that they’ve added a skippable video ad format to their activity feed. By 3 pm that afternoon, Lenny had a point of view on the pros, cons, how he could leverage existing creatives in the new format, and already approached his stakeholders excitedly to try it.”

T-Shaped

In the context of digital marketing, a T-shaped person is someone who has an expertise in one particular area (the vertical stroke in the letter “T”) but knows enough about other areas (the horizontal stroke in “T”) to be able to contribute across teams and channels. It’s more likely that someone who is T-shaped will be able to pick up other parts of digital marketing much faster than usual since many of the underlying principles are the same.

Example: “We hired Patty to run search ads for us – when we got the budget to run display ads, she was able to grow into the role quickly since she understood search so well.”

It’s more likely that someone who is T-shaped will be able to pick up other parts of digital marketing much faster than usual

Adaptable

Digital marketing is an ever-evolving landscape that moves at a breakneck pace. What works today may not necessarily work tomorrow. And what might work for one company may not work in another. A great digital marketer never assumes that what he knows to be effective will remain so – he should always have a healthy skepticism and be able to react as necessary.

Example: “When a new Facebook ad format was released, Nelson achieved a 25% lower CPA compared to LinkedIn and as a result, allocated more of his budget to it. After a few months, the competition caught up and it wasn’t as effective – he was able to see this and adjust accordingly.”

Comfortable with Data

One of the primary strengths of digital marketing vs. traditional advertising is having data to make decisions. Naturally, a great digital marketer should be comfortable collecting, interpreting, and taking action on data as she sees fit.

Example: “Maggie wanted to figure out which call to action on a button worked better: “start now” or “learn more.” She quickly defined her success metric as conversions per click and after a few weeks, she was able to say with confidence that “start now” worked best because she had statistically significant results proving so.

Naturally, a great digital marketer should be comfortable collecting, interpreting, and taking action on data as she sees fit.

…But Have a Creative Bend

Marketing at its core is about getting the right message to the right person at the right time. The right message part is so critically important and often overlooked, especially with companies becoming increasingly data-driven. The right message is the first impression, the doorway into what a company does and what it stands for.

Example: “Although Ned is not a designer, he was able to use his knowledge of the business and his natural creative instincts to collaborate with a creative agency. The result was the creation of a visual narrative that resonated well with potential customers.”

Team Player/Lack of Ego

There will never be a point in life where a person will understand everything there is to know about digital marketing. There are simply too many moving parts to run world class campaigns for one person to handle. A great digital marketer understands this. She is able to understand what her strengths and weaknesses are and be able to collaborate effectively with other members of the team to get things done.

Example: “Edna ran an a/b test but the results were unclear – rather than making a questionable decision, she employed the help of a data scientist, Seymour, who sits a few seats from her and determined that her results were indeed statistically significant.”

Bias for Action

This one is simple: a great digital marketer just gets things done. All the ideas in the world amount to nothing if action isn’t taken on them. A great digital marketer acts decisively, takes ownership of the outcomes, and makes no excuses.

Example: “The web team agonized for weeks over which benefit ad copy to highlight on the landing page. Troy took matters in his own hands by testing each benefit in search and display ads and made recommendations to the team based on his findings.”

A great digital marketer acts decisively, takes ownership of the outcomes, and makes no excuses.

This is not a laundry list of specific skills, like being an expert at search marketing or having a working knowledge of SQL. Rather, these are the qualities – the soft skills if you will – that, in my humble opinion, embody someone who is great at digital marketing. But remember, all of these qualities can be learned and cultivated. With motivation and a plan, anyone can find or become this best-of-the-best digital marketer.

Know someone who has these skills? Send them our way! See our open positions:http://firewood.wpengine.com/careers/

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