Growth marketing

How to Recruit Top Inbound Marketing Talent

Written by Ashley Gwilliam / July 20, 2016

Ashley is a content writer and brand developer. After graduating with a degree in print-journalism, Ashley’s storytelling skills took her from the bizarre world of on-camera acting to the practice courts of NBA basketball players to the virtual meetings of inbound marketers. Today she specializes in building memorable brand voices online, with a focus on the travel & tourism, e-commerce and tech industries.

So, you want to assemble a marketing team?

Good luck.

Just kidding. Putting together an inbound marketing team should be a priority for nearly every business. But finding the right team members isn't always easy.

According to Hubspot's State of Inbound 2015 report, 84 percent of small businesses are now predominantly using inbound as opposed to outbound methods. Even the traditional marketers surveyed said their practices were overrated and that they're working on upper management to reallocate funds.

With that said, many of these same businesses are facing an interesting problem that was recently illustrated in the Adobe study, Digital Distress: What Keeps Marketers Up at Night? A whopping 50 percent of respondents said they lacked confidence in their digital marketing abilities. And only 9 percent strongly agreed with the statement "they know their digital marketing is working."

So, what's going on here? And what's a business owner to do? In this article, we'll discuss possible reasons for the "marketer confidence disparity" and how to go about securing top talent.

Why Are Good Marketers Hard to Find?

Just like any other field—from law to music to programming—a large disparity of skills exists. But why does the gap appear to be especially large in digital marketing?

While there have yet to be any official studies conducted on the matter, I have a good theory: The field itself is so new that a clearly defined path to acquisition doesn't yet exist.

Had you searched for a digital marketing program at an American university only 5 years ago, you'd have been hard-pressed to find one. Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed in the aforementioned study said they learned their skills on the job.

Say what you will about the necessity of a traditional college education in today's economy, but specialized technical training would arguably be more useful in this case. Today's digital marketers often have degrees in English, journalism, advertising, and the liberal arts.

That means they're often great writers, researchers, and thinkers. As the ability to combine analytical thinking with creative execution is crucial to inbound success, these people are excellent candidates.

However, without the freedom to make mistakes in a safe learning environment, even the most talented individuals will feel uncertain guaranteeing ROI.

Where to Find Top Talent

In a study conducted by Bullhorn, 64 percent of recruiters reported a shortage of skilled candidates for available marketing roles. And Wanted Analytics recently found that one of the biggest national talent shortages is for marketing manager roles, with only two available candidates per job opening.

But there is hope—the best way to find top talent is to go where the top marketers hang out. Social forums on LinkedIn,, and ProBlogger attract marketers who are actively polishing their skill sets. As previously mentioned, most marketers were not formerly trained.

That means the best marketers are proactively learning from the brightest in their field, while possibly conducting their own internal projects. Put simply, avoid standard job boards and hang out where "the cool kids" are.

Which Key Players You Need

As the industry continues to evolve, candidates who demonstrate competencies across multiple disciplines (i.e. SEO, PPC, content writing, social media advertising, design) will become more common.

But for now, you may need to hire 3 or 4 different people to get what you need. Considering typical labor burden costs account for an average of 40 percent of the typical salary, it may be in your best interest to either hire independent contractors or work with a digital marketing agency.

Here are the key players:

1. A Content Strategist: This is the person responsible for coming up with the overarching plan. They will clarify your Buyer Personas, company goals, and UVPs, before creating a customized content marketing plan for your organization. They'll be responsible for defining metrics, managing writers, collaborating with designers, and analyzing progress.

2. Content Writers: Blog articles, video scripts, and social media posts don't write themselves. You'll need either a small team of freelancers or one sharp staff writer. Obviously, the larger the budget the more content you can produce. And the more content you produce, the faster traction you'll experience. But never sacrifice quality for quantity.

3. A Web Designer: Your website is the hub of all your marketing efforts. As such, it should be responsive, optimized for search, and user-friendly. Additionally, you'll need visuals for things like eBook covers, opt-in boxes, and other design details that support your content marketing efforts.

Be Someone Worth Working With

Finally, top marketers want to work with top companies. As an employer, it’s easy to forget that a job interview is a two-way street. You’re thinking about your budget and how this person can meet your needs. Meanwhile, they're thinking about their own needs!

The good news? You don't have to be a Fortune500 to create a company top talent wants to work for.

A collaborative culture, flexible hours, and creative autonomy are all highly valuable commodities that cost you next to nothing. Accurately communicate your brand values in everything from your website to your email signature to your job advertisement and you'll begin attracting like-minded individuals.

If your company has the budget and expertise to nurture internal inbound talent, do it. There's nothing like having a full-time team to collaborate with side-by-side. However, if recruiting, training, and paying for that team isn't within budget, consider partnering with a digital agency.


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