Startup Advice

Hiring a digital marketer? Make sure they’ve got these hidden skills

Konrad Markham /

Looking for a good freelance digital marketer? You’re not alone.

Australia’s freelance economy has reached an estimated at 4.1 million people and more small businesses are finding that it is more cost-effective than ever to tap into “on demand” talent.

Digital marketers are expected to have hands-on knowledge and a level of expertise across all key areas of digital marketing.

These include: Digital strategy, website development, blogging, content marketing, social media, SEO, search engine marketing, paid digital media, e-commerce, data analytics, and more.

What many businesses do not know, however, is that there are a range of other skills that are not generally listed on CVs that are crucial to the success for a freelance digital marketer.

These critical “soft skills” are:

1. Diplomacy

The anonymity of the internet has encouraged people to express their views online strongly and directly – which may come off as abrasive.

This means freelance digital marketers must be able to exercise empathy, listen, show patience, and importantly, stay calm under the pressure of an online onslaught.

To see whether your freelance digital marketer is diplomatic, ask them to show you examples of social communities they have managed or moderated.
Determine how they handle criticism and negative comments. Do they become defensive, or worse, just ignore negative feedback?

2. Curiosity

The digital marketing landscape is dynamic and constantly changing.

The tools and best practices that work today may not necessarily work tomorrow.

What evidence can they show you that they stay abreast of all the changes in the digital landscape?

Are they really open to new ideas and receptive to new information?

Do they have a willingness to try and recommend new tools and media?

In their planning recommendations, have they recommended a percentage of the budget be allocated to new tools and innovations

3. Engagement

Storytelling drives engagement.

From the subject line of an email, to the copy on a website, each piece of your brand identity works in tandem to tell a story to your customers.

The ability to tell a story is a critical, but often overlooked.

While click-bait may be a much hated term, is does reflect the need to be able to quickly tell your story and engage your audience with just a couple of words.

Look at examples of previous work that they have done.

Does it align with the target audience, the brand and the category?

Does it tell you a story that you want to keep reading or is it just a sales pitch?

4. Resourcefulness

As brands become more reliant on resources like visual content to engage an audience, digital marketing can be expensive.

This means that freelance digital marketers need to be resourceful, particularly when it comes to visual content.

Try to determine whether they are resourceful by looking for examples of times in which they have found ways to make a big impact while minimising cost.

They may have facilitated and encouraged user generated content, or used unconventional channels to growth hack.

Can they demonstrate the ability to do more with less?

5. Understanding of strategy

To succeed in digital marketing, one needs to be extremely analytical and strategic.

Understanding key drivers and the relationship between different variables, and planning ahead can make a real difference to marketing efforts and reduce marketing spend.

Having a strategic focus is critical for all levels of marketing freelancer – it shouldn’t just be restricted to an on-demand CMO.

For example, when it comes to Pay-per-click advertising, ask your freelance digital marketer whether they may have a bidding strategy – or do they set their campaign on auto and forget about it?

When hiring a freelance digital marketer, it is critical to ensure that they have the appropriate character traits, as well as the proven experience and skills, to drive your business’ success online.

Konrad Markham is a leading marketing consultant with more than 10 years experience across Australia and China. He has worked with both agencies and clients to help companies develop and implement digital campaigns covering digital strategy, content marketing, SEO/SEM, social, eDM/CRM, e-commerce, analytics and website development. 

This article was originally published on Smart Company

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