Setting Up Your Online Marketing Manager for Success
Written by Carrie Albright, Associate Director of Services
The benefit of hiring a marketing manager can potentially be offset by the training required for the position. This can be especially true when your manager is not only learning the ins and outs of their new employer, but also the nuances of the digital marketing objectives. To ensure that the marketing manager is thoroughly prepared to carry out the desired responsibilities, a checklist of fundamental themes can be useful.
These themes begin with understanding the company they’re working for and its history. There then needs to be a deeper understanding of products or services and how your business approaches them as sources of revenue. Internal key performance indicators must be established or negotiated with an understanding that any vendors must also be assigned goals for their performance. Any new marketing manager will be eager to prove their worth, which is the perfectly-timed next step of establishing a plan with a clear layout of the value and implementation process accompanying it. The last step is onboarding this new marketing manager with a cadence of reporting and extracting insights to be presented to you, the department, and your executives. These five points highlight internal questions to ask as well as an external relationship guide to best prepare your marketing manager for the road ahead.
Learn the business
Easily the most obvious first step is familiarizing oneself with the business. This includes the overarching objectives for the present and for the coming years, be it growth, efficiency, or a combination of both.
Additional questions include company history – successful endeavors, insights from past missteps, and the speed with which change has been accomplished. In the digital marketing sphere, we often dabble in many platforms or with various strategies. A marketing manager must be informed of not just the past trials, but the timelines, goals or objectives, and outcomes from each platform.
Every marketing manager should also be familiar with audience targeting: including gender, age, income, interests, or profession. Geographic presence is a must-know, as it indicates where your priority targets reside. If goods or services are only available to a certain location, this information is critical for those embarking on the marketing manager position. The added detail regarding audiences is the presence of seasonality in your business. Whether the fluctuations occur because of user needs or because of the company’s product or service availability, misalignment of seasonal expectations can greatly impact how effectively a budget is used across your fiscal year.
Many companies conduct independent market research, but data is also available through much more affordable resources. Any marketing manager should be versed in tools such as Google Analytics, a free platform that tracks multi-channel user trends.
Below is an example view of Google Analytics’ Multi Channel Funnel Report, where the overlap of sources is demonstrated with a Venn Diagram.
Similar to audience targeting, marketing managers must know the product’s value and priority. As marketing initiatives are created and implemented, it is integral that profitability is taken into consideration. If a particular service, product, course, or lead is tied to higher revenue, the marketing manager must be able to prioritize these features appropriately.
Understand the KPIs
Before launching any strategies or plans for the business, a marketing manager must understand the key performance indicators (KPIs) of the company and specifically, the digital marketing department.
The majority of our clients focus their primary efforts on a fiscal budget utilization or total revenue goal, which serves to grow awareness or overall profitability. Identifying a secondary set of KPIs is what allows the marketing team to grow efficiency within these expectations. ROAS or cost per conversion goals are often tied into account goals to ensure that revenue is growing while also improving profit as well.
While the department may have pre-existing goals, it’s also important to encourage the marketing manager to adjust these expectations or even propose entirely new KPIs. We often encounter teams that value growth and exposure but don’t include the long-term outcome of these efforts. Contrastingly, some businesses highlight a goal ROAS but fail to consider that this may limit the revenue generated within the account.
Beyond these metrics is the ability to evaluate when and where KPIs may differ. Some platforms are intended to build brand awareness and loyalty and may have a longer attribution cycle. Establishing a cost per lead goal may counteract the effectiveness of this initiative. On the other hand, some platforms specialize in direct response marketing, often retargeting, for which efficiency is an appropriate goal to set. A review of a program’s KPIs allows for the team to realign the expectations for what each initiative can deliver and how it is evaluated.
It goes without saying that a lack of KPI can easily be your downfall. Your marketing manager should have clear KPIs for their own performance but also for your affiliates. Your marketing manager should be able to hold your agencies and vendors to an agreed upon performance standard and address an action plan when they are missed as well as when they are exceeded. Failing to impose clear goals on external support makes for more work on your manager, and often turns out to be less impactful. Ensuring your marketing manager established agency and vendor goals will provide him or her with the support to reach your internal goals.
Explain Your Plan and Why
Once the groundwork has been established, a marketing manager should be prepared to provide a plan for next steps. This includes a proposal for what objectives will be reached, such as increasing ROAS during off-season, as well as the strategies linked to this success. For example, focusing on low-cost product promotion while reducing low ROAS targeting, utilizing new creative and copy to engage past visitors, using past purchase remarketing and email lists to promote complementary products.
Your marketing manager should be able to outline the objectives and strategies and should simultaneously know the tactics that will accompany each strategy. A timeline for when each tactic is implemented will provide clear steps on when results can be expected and when tests can be concluded.
Below is a final version of a “roadmap” demonstrating expected timelines and priority action items. This layout establishes clear expectations for follow-ups or next steps:
Identify What You Need to Lead the Team
A successful department head must equip their team with proper resources. Whether it is a budget to be used at the marketing manager’s discretion, or the staff to execute departmental needs, providing autonomy to your team will allow for the aforementioned plans to be more easily achieved.
Working between teams is a necessity for any business, particularly when you have an agency operating behind the scenes for you. But the challenge becomes gaining priority for your manager’s items when another team has its own set of obligations. The most effective way to foster collaboration is to institute mutual benefit. Requests for creative, for example, are rarely on a whim. The intention is to deliver this creative to an audience who will then be compelled to purchase your goods or services.
Establish a Cadence of Reporting, Rolling up Insights and Moving Forward
A marketing manager is often the primary contact for your various advertising channels, as they should be. This means that decisions and performance reports frequently come directly to that person for interpretation and guidance. The critical error some marketers make is failing to pass this information to relevant parties on a regular basis. As you onboard your marketing manager, be sure that they establish a cadence of reporting and sharing of insights and next steps. Forward momentum is paramount for any business and your marketing manager should be able to provide innovations that no one else is privy to. Encourage your manager to prepare for that responsibility.
For some marketing managers, it’s easier to work with the data than communicate it to others. While this may ultimately lead to strong departmental performance, the lack of explanation can leave you and your executive team unsatisfied. A marketing manager must have the ability to provide regular performance updates, with clearly articulated insights. What occurred over this time period? How did we respond to this growth to promote further success? What did we implement to mitigate the lost performance? Cut and dry sound bytes can provide a clear picture of goal achievement and this can be the difference between an informed executive and a frustrated CEO with no appreciation for the marketing manager’s work, no matter how dedicated. Teaching your marketing manager to provide these insights and following actions can give all parties clarity and a common path forward.
Positioning your marketing manager for success has as much to do with their understanding of communication and business goals as it does industry strategy and tactical know-how. Fully comprehending a company’s historical path and KPI guidelines are critical in moving the digital marketing efforts forward. Add to this the need for a clear strategy for growth and efficiency, complemented with performance insights and clear success sound bytes, and your new marketing hire will quickly fall into a rhythm of effective and productive management.