Great digital marketing managers have several things in common: they are passionate users of technology; they exhibit a fanatical attention to detail; they know how to connect the dots in very complex, dynamic systems; and they are skilled at translating business needs into technological reality.
At least that’s what I gleaned from conversations with two Aquent talent: Terry Kong, a digital marketing manager represented by Aquent’s New York office; and Becky Huber, a marketing manager with strong online experience represented by our Richmond office.
Terry currently oversees direct digital marketing (email campaigns, newsletters, etc.) and intranet management for a major financial company’s corporate and institutional business. Becky has worked through Aquent at a well-known credit card company where, among other things, she was involved in their first online marketing campaign. Here’s some of what they told me when I asked, “What separates the great from the good, digital marketing-wise?”
1. Passion for Technology
“Subject matter expertise is good,” Terry told me, “but you really need to know the technology. Actually, it goes beyond knowledge and understanding. You have to be into technology.”
“I’m looking for internet junkies and email junkies,” adds Becky. “People who are not just interested in or familiar with technology, but actively engaged with it.” Terry, who builds websites and explores the world of gadgets in his spare time, explains it this way, “I want the folks on my team to understand the limitations and the power of technology because they’ve actually used it.” On that score Becky points out, “There is a lot you can learn and pick up in the execution space, but you have to start with genuine enthusiasm for the tools.”
2. Attention to Detail
“Effective online marketing, whether we’re talking about banner ads or SEM, requires that you compress everything you want to say into 6 to 10 words. You have to drill down to the core, the heart of what you do,” says Becky, “then you have to get your hands on all the research you can and find out what it is about what you do that really engages the audience. And THEN, you have to test continually.”
The ability to test continually was something that Terry really liked about e-retailing specifically. “In contrast to B-2-B online marketing,” Terry points out, “with retail stuff you can see results day to day and you can tweak on the fly to get closer and closer to the pot of gold.”
3. Connecting the Dots
Of course, when testing and tracking, you need to know what to look for and what to do with the information. “When people are clicking, you need to ask, ‘Was it the message or was it the offer?’ ‘Did they react to the brand or the low rates?’ Etc.,” Becky explains, “and it’s not just how many clicks, it’s about figuring out where you are engaging key customers. What language prompts a click? What prompts conversion? And, in the end, what prompts actual usage of your products?”
At the highest level, this ability to connect the dots translates into real strategic vision for your online marketing programs. “Strategically, you have to see how all the pieces fit together from end-to-end,” Becky continues. “It means looking at and streamlining the user experience so that users have access to all the info they need but can get what they want in as few clicks as possible. It also means paying attention to landing page design and ensuring that the design and the message extend across all stages of the process. In short, you’ve got to think about everything you’re trying to accomplish and know how to get from point A to point Z.”
4. Be a Great Translator
It’s important to realize that online marketing is still an emerging discipline. People in different industries, and even different generations, have varying levels of familiarity and comfort with what’s possible and what’s practical in this field. “In the clash between traditional and online marketing, you have to be a great translator,” as Terry puts it. “You have to speak the language of business and the language of technology. I’ve been on both sides, which really helps me do this.”
In addition to being a translator, Terry points out, you have to be a salesperson and an educator. “Our intranet is a key resource for the client sales managers serving our largest accounts and I’ve had to put on my salesman’s hat in order to demonstrate the value and benefits of this system for everyone. On top of that, some people are still used to the old days when you would hand off a technical request to my group and get results in a day or two. The power and efficiency of the system, however, depends on people actually doing things themselves. One of my jobs then is training them and encouraging them to get in the habit of using the system. That way, everybody benefits.”