Hiring a digital marketer can be a huge investment, but it’s worth it if you can find one that drives results for your business and improves your bottom line.
Digital marketing is a fast-changing field. Many people will put up their hand as a digital marketer, but they may be learning as they go or using outdated tactics.
Whether you’re hiring someone internally or bringing on a contractor to help, follow these tips so you’ll make the right choice.
Hunt in the right places
On face value, finding a digital marketer is easy. Head to freelance sites, job boards, or directories, and you’ll find hundreds of professionals vying to help you grow your business.
Many of these candidates might be great marketers. But if you want to ensure you find someone who gets results, you need to hunt in the right places.
Instead of vetting candidates who are seeking employment on job sites, look for people who are active in the industry. You can do this through:
Do you have any friends in the online business world who can recommend a great digital marketer? Maybe someone they’ve worked with in the past?
Use Google to find respected publications in your industry that provide digital marketing advice, and begin to analyze their authors or contributors. For example, searching for “how to market a dentist office” shows up a number of relevant sites in the dentist marketing niche. If I was a dentist looking to hire a digital marketer, this is where I would start. After all, if these people can rank on page one for “how to market a dentist office” then they know a thing or two about digital marketing!
- Social media
Do you follow any digital marketers on Twitter or another social network that you can reach out to for help? If not, then use the search features on these platforms to identify marketers in your industry.
Maybe you read a guest post on your favorite blog written by a digital marketing expert. Or you find their response helpful to one of your Quora questions. Trace them back to their website and reach out for help.
Dive deep on their social profiles
Analyzing social media profiles has now become a normal part of the employee vetting process, no matter your industry. According to a survey by Career Builder, 60% of employers check out people’s social media profiles before hiring.
Some say it’s an invasion of privacy, but that can’t be the case when you’re looking to hire a digital marketer. They should be prepared for potential clients evaluating their social profiles to see how they handle their own marketing.
Check out your digital marketer’s presence on all the major social sites, see if they have a blog, and then dig a little deeper into their experience.
Look for red flags like these:
- One or more of their accounts are inactive.
- They lack social accounts on major platforms, or their profiles are incomplete.
- They only share their own content and don’t engage with their audience.
- They don’t appear to have any results-oriented or case study driven social proof.
If a digital marketer doesn’t bother keeping up with their own social media marketing strategy, you can’t expect them to do a good job with yours either.
If you’re feeling especially snoopy, you could check out their Twitter following to see how much of it is genuine. Use a tool like Twitter Audit to do this:
Audit their LinkedIn network
LinkedIn is one social platform you should analyze with extra care because it’s where digital marketers showcase their experience.
One great feature of LinkedIn is that you can get a look at your connection’s connections. This will help you see what kind of network your prospective digital marketer has built throughout their career.
Are they actively growing a network of like minded individuals in the digital space that will challenge them to improve, and inevitably reflect well on your business?
To see their network, connect with them on LinkedIn, then navigate to their page. You should see an option to “See connections”:
Click on it, and you’ll see a full list of their connections:
Notice that you can toggle back and forth between all their connections, and just the connections you two share. If you have a mutual connection that you know well, you can always reach out to them, asking their opinion on the digital marketer you’re thinking about hiring.
If you notice that the majority of their connections are college friends and family, chances are they don’t have too much experience in the industry yet. That might not be a bad thing, but at least you are going into the relationship knowing what you are getting yourself into.
Besides looking at their connections, you can also see their other profile elements, such as their educational background and work experience. Has anyone recommended them on LinkedIn? Do these recommendations have industry credibility?
Ask for case studies and testimonials
Visit the digital marketer’s website (if they have one), and see if there is a case study and/or testimonials page. If they’re happy with the work they’ve done in the past, then there should be. If they don’t have one, ask them to send over case studies and testimonials. Any digital marketer worth your time or money should be able to show you some tangible results and recommendations from industry professionals.
Go over the case studies and analyze their results. Do they articulate real business outcomes or are they a bit fluffy?
You might see results like these:
- Grew client’s social following by 500%
- Doubled website referral traffic in 6 months
These statistics sound interesting, but do they help drive your bottom line?
If your objective is to find someone who can help grow your customer base, look out for case studies where the digital marketer demonstrates how they have helped other businesses get more customers, not just more traffic.
Everyone leaves a paper trail online, which you should definitely investigate. Google is the ultimate tool for getting a picture of people’s entire internet presence, beyond just their social profiles.
If you’re vetting a digital marketer, Google their name. Look out for forum posts, online reviews, or other places where they may be active online.
Also, consider where they are ranking in this search. If they aren’t on page one of a Google search for their own name, then it might be a red flag about their ability as a digital marketer.
For example, even though “Will Blunt” is a celebrity chef, my website, Twitter profile and LinkedIn profile all rank above him in search results:
On top of just the Google ranking for their website and social profiles, look out for client reviews or author profiles on credible marketing websites. They might have an old UpWork account, for example, that has reviews about their services.
Look for values and cultural alignment
There are a lot of different ways to approach digital marketing. You need to make sure your digital marketer won’t push strategies you’re not comfortable with. That’s why you should look for values and cultural alignment.
Ask for a proposal of what they plan to do to grow your business and how.
Maybe they advocate black hat SEO strategies that could get you in trouble with Google. Or maybe they want to promote your business to a platform with a huge audience, but it has nothing to do with your business. These are things to consider.
Since you’re essentially going to hand this person the reins to your business, you also need to make sure you like them and find them easy to work with. Test them out in the interview process by asking values-driven questions about the things you care most about.
Get them to start a website from scratch (or some other project)
This tip is a little out of left field, but it’s one of my favorites.
Whenever I hire anyone, I always get them to do a task or mini-project before making the final hiring decision.
One unique way to do this is to ask your digital marketer to build a website from scratch. It doesn’t have to be something complicated, but it proves that they are digitally savvy. Alternatively, you can set them a task that is more specific to their role. For example, ask them to map out an editorial calendar for your blog for the next two months, or get them to conduct keyword research for your PPC campaigns.
Interviews, case studies, and online research are all a great starting point, but until you see a digital marketer in action, you will never quite know how good they are.
Hiring a digital marketer could be just the thing you need to help your business kick into gear. Pick the right one, and your return on investment should well outweigh the initial cost.
These tips will help you make sure you pick a partner that’s right for your business.
How do you go about finding first-class digital marketers for your business?