This past year, I’ve spent a lot of time scaling my digital marketing team, so I want to share with you five things you can do if you find yourself in a similar situation, doing way too much yourself and you need to hire some help.
By the end of this article, you’re going to know what to look out for in terms of meeting the biggest need of your team, what to staff and hire for versus contract, as well as having a stronger understanding of when it might be time to take that next step past the next step of the scale up process.
What are the biggest things that you need for your team?
There’s really five things that you need to do when it comes to scaling your digital marketing team. The first thing is really just figuring out what are the two or three biggest needs for your team. What I mean by that is taking a look at your overall calendar and asking yourself, what are you spending the most time in when it comes to digital marketing.
For example, is it in keyword research? Organic content marketing? Is it in paid advertising? Is it in some sort of just general marketing purposes? Whatever it is, you need to zero in on the two or three things that are being the biggest time sinks for you as the leader of your digital marketing team or company or whatever it is that you’re building in the digital marketing world. Whatever that is, that’s going to be your biggest priority in terms of finding somebody to help offload that from your shoulders.
So let’s take an example of building a niche site. In the case where you’re building a niche site, you might have this bottleneck right now where you have to do a ton of keyword research and that takes a lot of time and careful attention, and so that might be taking upwards of 15 to 20 hours a week of your time, which is preventing you from potentially writing the content that you need to publish to your production goals.
Well, in that case, finding somebody to be your keyword researcher or your SEO specialist might be something that you’d want to staff for. Similarly, let’s say that you’re working for a B2B SaaS business and you’re spending a lot of time tweaking your paid campaigns. Paid is working however, it’s just requiring a lot of maintenance on a daily basis in terms of izing keywords and making sure that things are running smoothly for your evergreen paid advertising campaigns.
Well, in that case, it might be time for you to start looking at hiring a paid ads specialists in order to just really start specializing out the functions of your digital marketing team. So in the case where you’ve been operating with a ton of generalists in the past, I would highly recommend that you think about how can you sort things into the core fundamentals of digital marketing that often is broken down into organic versus paid.
It can also include aspects of growth if you’re in the startup world and what you just want to figure out are what sides of acquisition, retention, as well as activation, are we really starting to work on when it comes to getting prospects to become customers? So first things first, just take stock of what your needs are.
Operationalize your standard operating procedures
In the case where everything is stuck in your head, it leaves you in a tricky situation for your business. The reason why is because I like to say you don’t survive the hit-by-the-bus sort of test, which is in the case where heavens forbid you get hit by a bus business just stops running and that’s a problem.
What is so great about franchises that have just extended out everywhere across the world, like McDonalds. Well, what’s great is that regardless of who’s showing up that day, there’s going to be a Big Mac that’s going to be made in a particular way. And so similarly, you want to think about that in the context of your digital marketing team.
Is there a clear process in terms of how keyword research is done, how content briefs are prepared, how writers are writing things? And if not, you need to start creating documentation for each of these particular skill sets. There’s a free tool called Tango that will actually visually follow along with you as you do certain actions.
So that might be a great way to document things. But the things that I’ve used in the past have honestly been not too difficult to use. I’ve been using things like Google Documents combined with Loom videos, and then just making sure that everything is clear in terms of what’s clear and written documentation, as well as what I go over in videos.
In each of my Loom videos, I make sure that I include at least two or more examples of me literally doing the action that I want the team member that I’m hiring to do as well. By doing this, I’m mitigating for any potential risk factors of somebody not understanding things the first time or in the case where they’re just a more visual learner and they want to see something as opposed to just read about it. So make sure that you operationalize everything both in written form as well as in visual format.
What works for your budget?
Step number three of scaling your digital marketing team. At this point, this is where you really staff to what works for your budget. The reason why I want to make this clear distinction is because everybody starts at a different place. You might be in a situation right now where you have a really tight budget, and so you can’t actually hire a full-time employee. Well, in that case, you can still contract out certain work that meets the needs of what your team needs. In other words, in the case where you used that example I used earlier where you’re finding yourself spending hours doing keyword research, you can hire a contractor to just help you with that, or you can hire a virtual assistant.
I go over tons of tutorials and free tips and tricks on my channel that you’ll check out later in terms of how to go about hiring for these sorts of folks. But essentially, they can help you in getting trained on how to do this action. That way you don’t have to be the one to be doing every single action every single time.
It’s really important for you to start scaling yourself and meeting yourself at where your budget is. You know, years ago, probably a decade or so ago, when I was first starting out and building a ton of different online projects, I didn’t have much of a budget. And so at that point in time, I could only delegate certain things that I really didn’t want to do myself.
But over time, as I have been able to build up different projects and whatnot, it’s allowed me to scale my team in which they do all sorts of different things. I have some people that just upload posts in the back end of the sites I’m building. I have other people that are prepping and optimizing for images and the alt text around those images.
Things that just are part of the overall process of doing good, effective organic SEO. But I don’t have the time to do every single thing myself. So think about what works for your budget. Maybe start with contractors. See how far you can get with contractors before you then think about full-time employees.
Full-time employees often have additional costs associated as well. In the case where you’re hiring in the US, for example, you will also have to pay benefits as well as just other taxes on top of that. And so just factor in that whatever salary you’re thinking about giving a full-time employee, you typically have to also add an additional 10% on top of that in order to just cover all the things from a regulation and just policy standpoint to be kosher there.
Set clear key performance indicators
What you want to do here is you want to set really clear KPIs. In the case where you have been running your digital marketing with no clear key performance indicators, that has to change now, especially before you start hiring other people to your team. If your team has no idea what the overall team is working towards, then that’s a problem because that means that there’s no clear goal for what everybody is working towards.
So a good example is on my niche sites recently the goal has been going from one a day content to at least 50 posts every single month. So in other words, we are looking to increase our output almost by a factor of double, but pretty much we’re going from 30 to 50. So that I believe is 67% growth, and that’s a big overall collective movement that the team has to make across the board.
If you think about that process of going from 30 posts a month to 50 posts a. It means that there’s a ton of additional steps that have to be taken. More keyword research has to be done. More content briefs needs have to be prepped, as well as more writers need to be onboarded and staffed, as well as overall writers that are already in the system also have to start writing more as well.
So make sure that you’re communicating what are the KPIs for your team. In the case where you’re working for a B2B business, that might be the number of leads that you’re generating every single month. That is going to be the key thing that your digital marketing team is really focused on, and that’s going to give them the clarity of focus of knowing that with any project or initiative they’re working on at work, it should be really connected back to that key objective, which is to increase the number of leads that are coming into the business.
Whatever the goal is, make sure it’s super clear, measurable, attainable, as well as relevant to the business and what folks are working on. Another example I can use is that in the past quarter at my full-time job, one of the big goals was scaling paid advertising, so we wanted to double the budget in terms of our paid budget while also seeing at least an 80% increase in leads.
In other words, we were recognizing that with the increase of budget, we’d likely be able to get a decent number of additional leads. But we were also hedging for the fact that things might not go perfectly to plan, and so we just wanted to grow leads by 80% as opposed to a one to one ratio with the increase in budget.
But by having these sorts of clear goals, I was able to work really clearly with my paid ad specialist every single week at weekly one-on-ones in order to make sure that we are tracking towards those goals.
Measure performance and adapt accordingly
The final thing here is to measure performance and adapt accordingly. Digital marketing changes all the time, and so it’s really important that you’re getting a pulse on what are the KPIs that you’re tracking towards and whether or not your team is hitting them.
In the case where you set out to do something and that KPI isn’t actually the thing that’s moving the needle for the business, you need to either adapt it or scrap it all together. That might mean changing things with respect to your team. There’s been times in which I’ve taken a bet on a particular digital marketing channel, and it hasn’t been the right move.
And what that’s required is for me to go through a round of layoffs where I actually have to let go of some positions, because that’s just not a strategic focus for the business at that time. But when you’re looking to scale your digital marketing team, it’s really important that you’re actively thinking about, you know, what were the goals? How clear were the goals, and how close do we get to hitting them? And did us hitting them actually help the business attain the goals of what we were setting out to do.
In the case where it was even better. It means that you can continue going to the next level in terms of scaling up. That might mean adding an additional paid ad specialist or adding another helper operations associate to help the overall team function faster. But in the case where it didn’t, it might require you to start thinking about how to restructure your team as well.
You know, aside from the five things I went over today, the thing that I tell you in general when it comes to scaling your first person on your digital marketing team is can be really great to start with a generalist and then specialize later. The reason why is because when you get a generalist, you can still kind of play the field in terms of figuring out exactly what it is that you need done in terms of the workloads, and then over time as that starts to develop, you will start to see that specialization emerges
That might be figuring out things like, you know, there being a clear need for a paid ad specialist or being a clear need for a Google Ads person as opposed to a TikTok ads person. Whatever the case may be, you’ll want to make sure that you really are adapting really quickly and taking that final point to heart. Because I’ve had to go through tons of different versions of digital marketing teams in the past, just based off different businesses I’ve worked in.
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