It can be challenging for an entrepreneur, recruiter, or really any other type of decision-maker to hire a digital marketing expert to help grow a company – especially if they themselves are not experts in this field.
For instance, how will they know how to evaluate a candidate’s true capabilities, expertise, or even fully vet references from previous jobs?
This decision becomes if more difficult if you are the person doing the hiring. You feel the weight of the responsibility to fill the role quickly, but with the right person. You need to work efficiently, but you can’t rush the process.
After all, hiring the wrong candidate not only wastes time and resources but can also become a lost opportunity to hit your goals.
Thus, striking the right middle ground of a swift hiring process that actually finds the best candidates for your open position becomes an all-consuming procedure instead of just one of your daily tasks aimed at improving the business.
I have run several digital marketing agencies – and over the past fifteen years, I’ve hired more than one hundred digital marketing experts. That’s not including the many, many more I have also interviewed.
So, I can tell you that, based on my experience, many candidates can fall short of the expectations their resume sets up.
I’m going to share with you 4 questions you can ask to help you filter and qualify the right candidates to meet your expectations and company goals.
In addition, I’ll share a sample test that I give to candidates that answer those 4 questions well to test their skill sets in a more realistic environment, and the qualities you should be on the lookout for when seeking a digital marketing expert for your business.
What Are The Responsibilities Of A Digital Marketing Expert?
Before we dive into these questions, let’s take a moment to highlight what responsibilities of a digital marketing expert should be.
Digital marketing experts should have hands-on experience in setting up and optimizing several marketing channels such as:
● Pay per click (PPC)
● Search engine optimization (SEO)
● Content marketing
● Email marketing
● Social media marketing
● Native advertising
● Affiliate marketing
They should have strong experience in both the creative and technical aspects of marketing.
In short, that means that they should have experience conceptualizing campaigns, working with designers to create images and videos and writing compelling copy that speaks to the target audience (creative) while also setting up campaigns, using various platforms, tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and creating reports (technical).
With that said, let’s get started with the five questions to ask to help you hire the right candidate for this role:
1. What digital marketing channels are you experienced in?
The purpose of the first question is very straightforward – you want to know what channels they can currently conduct marketing campaigns on.
A strong candidate will provide the following information in their response:
1. The channels they have worked on – including setup, campaign management, optimization, and reporting.
2. The number of years they have used those channels professionally.
3. The results that have achieved on those channels for similar brands.
4. Any applicable certifications.
It is important to remember that a great digital marketing expert candidate can – and should – learn new platforms down the road. So, it is not necessarily an immediate red flag if they don’t have experience in a specific platform that you use.
It is, however, important that you have all the information on their expertise and potential so you can make an informed decision.
2. What digital marketing campaigns have you worked on and what was your role in them?
Any digital marketing candidate could say they worked on a project – but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they actively worked on a campaign, or had any sort of a hands-on role with it.
Therefore, it is crucial to determine how big a role did they really play in a marketing campaign’s success in order to see if they can truly execute strategies.
Top digital marketing candidates should share:
1. What their role was and what exact tasks were they specifically responsible for.
2. If they worked on a campaign from start to finish, or if they joined a project later on.
3. Did they have any hand in strategy, or did they simply execute tasks.
4. What the results were, and how long they took to achieve.
5. What other candidates worked on the project (such as copywriters, designers, developers, etc.) and what the collaboration process was like.
3. How would you define KPIs and measure results in particular marketing campaigns?
Digital marketing encompasses more than just copywriting and simple setup – experts need to be able to track the results and continually improve campaigns, too.
Make sure you ask your candidates which key performance indicators (KPIs) they think are important in marketing initiatives. In fact, you can test them further by asking about specific platforms and goals – such as retargeting for conversions, or social media ads for brand awareness.
Any worthwhile marketing candidate will be able to outline the KPIs they would measure, why they are important to track, how often they would measure success and create reports, and even how they would optimize and under-performing campaign to gain better results.
Here are some hints for information to keep an eye out for:
· An ideal candidate should point out the importance and advantages of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly reports and what each of those reports should contain.
· Common analytics tools that strong candidates should mention include Google Analytics, Social Media Analytics, Cyfe, Supermetrics, SEMRush, Moz and ask about the experience they had with each.
4. What do you expect to achieve in the three months and what do you want to achieve in the first year?
Many companies set expectations for a new job when they are onboarding the new team member – but that is a grave mistake. Instead, it is a better use of time to set those expectations before you even hire or onboard a new employee.
Although setting expectations so early may seem like a waste of time, in reality, it will keep you more efficient. That’s because, when you set expectations for a role before a candidate accepts and is onboarded, they are more mentally and emotionally prepared for the work involved, and thus better equipped for long-term success.
Because digital marketing in particular is so numbers-driven, you will need to know what this candidate hopes to achieve within three months of starting (the short-term goals) and within one year after starting (the long-term goals).
This will enable you to identify if a candidate can think critically and build valuable marketing strategies – and perhaps more importantly, if their ideas and expectations align with yours.
However, it is important to note that these goals may shift after the candidate starts, should you hire them. That is because they likely don’t have all the information, numbers, performance history, or other factors that may influence marketing priorities.
Regardless, a strong digital marketing candidate should be able to quickly identify real frontward-facing pain points from your business, and formulate a plan of action to enact solutions effectively.
Bonus Tip: Give digital marketer candidates a skill set test
When a digital marketing candidate says, “I can do this job,” it’s your job to ensure that they can actually deliver what they say they can. Enter: A mini marketing strategy test.
I like to give all candidates a unique test to enable them to really show me what they can do – not just tell me.
For digital marketing experts, I typically ask them to complete the following and send back to me within three days:
1. I pull some background information from an old campaign my company did, including client, general direction, and end goals.
2. I ask candidates to rebuild the campaign (in their vision) from scratch.
3. Candidates are expected to identify the KPIs within their strategy, as well as the “low-hanging fruits” (the most achievable goals) and weaknesses they would fix and optimize.
4. Finally, I encourage the digital marketing candidates to provide a list of tasks they believe would achieve the goals (both short-term and long-term) and why.
Nowadays, having expert digital marketing experts on your team could be the difference between a growing company with increasing revenue… and a stagnant one.
Therefore, it is imperative that you take the time to vet and qualify candidates correctly the first time by asking the questions below:
1. What marketing channels and platforms do you have experience in?
2. What was your actual role in certain marketing campaigns in your portfolio?
3. How would you define KPIs and measure results in digital marketing campaigns?
4. What are the short-term and long-term goals you have for us?
These questions will enable you to identify the best fits for your business, determine their strengths and weaknesses, understand their expertise, and see if they can truly deliver results.