The Key Players (and Skills) Your Inbound Marketing Plan Needs
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, we just need to hire one person, right? An inbound marketing specialist?
If only it were that easy. The reality is inbound is a multi-disciplinary field with new components being added at lighting speed. Coined in 2006 by Hubspot, the term refers to the practice of drawing customers to you by publishing keyword-rich content that answers key questions.
SEO optimization, web design, analytics, content strategy, image curation, and original writing are all equally important to the process. The thing is, since inbound itself is so new, finding someone proficient in every area can be difficult. And even if you do manage to find that magical unicorn, he or she won't have time to effectively execute ALL of those tasks!
Key Inbound Marketing Hires
Which is why understanding the roles needed to effectively execute your inbound marketing plan is so important. By prioritizing the specialists who are most important to your efforts and divvying up the work among them, you'll maximize results.
In this article, we'll reveal the key players every successful inbound marketing plan must have. Again, while some of these roles can be combined, there are only so many hours in the day. Think carefully about the kind of results you want and how much work it will actually take to get there.
Inbound Marketing Manager
Your inbound marketing manager will be responsible for overseeing the entirety of your campaign. They'll collaborate with you to fine tune your company's core messaging, develop an overarching strategy, and set key benchmarks to measure along the way.
This person should process a broad knowledge of inbound and all its interdisciplinary practices. They should be able to talk design with graphic artists, user experience (UI) with developers, keyword strategy with SEO experts, and brand messaging with key stakeholders. Essentially, they must ensure every piece of the puzzle fits together. Besides having a diverse skill set, this person should have strong interpersonal skills, a keen attention to detail, and the ability to change course when needed.
At the heart of every campaign is the content working on your behalf. On-target content coupled with traffic generation creates relationships with your prospects 24/7! Of course, all that content doesn't write itself. You'll need dependable, talented, and inquisitive writers who can deliver.
Good content writers are a dime a dozen; great content writers are notoriously hard to find. They have excellent writing skills, solid research skills, and a basic understanding of SEO. In addition to writing the pieces that are assigned to them, they should feel comfortable pitching their own ideas.
And finally, the best writers are inherently curious and are thus capable of becoming "experts" in anything. When searching for high-quality writers, avoid traditional job boards in favor of industry specific hangouts (i.e. Inbound.org, copyblogger.com, and LinkedIn).
Social + Community Manager
If community building is a large part of your marketing strategy, you'll definitely want a social media manager working on your behalf. Depending on your unique industry and goals, a social media manager may be vital to your success.
This person will be responsible for managing your chosen social channels, writing messaging that corresponds with blog content, and interacting with followers. They may also be responsible for building relationships with popular bloggers, complimentary businesses, and media journalists. Their primary goal should be spreading your content widely across the Internet. That's it.
Additionally, they should understand how to write in your company voice, quickly create shareable images, and put out "customer service fires." A strong ability to multi-task, a genuine enjoyment of social media, and a strong command of the written word are imperative.
Web Developer + Designer
These are actually two separate disciplines that are often assumed to be one, but not all developers are designers, and not all designers are developers. If you're hiring in-house on a tight budget, you definitely want to find someone who can do both.
Your developer should be proficient in Wordpress, HTML, Java, and other popular coding languages. They should have a keen understanding of what makes "good design" and an eye for balance, symmetry, color, and so on. Ideally, they should also be familiar with inbound marketing (though that isn't always the case).
They will be responsible for routinely updating the company website, creating landing pages for gated content and any promotional graphics/advertisements. A fast, intuitive, and marketing-savvy developer is gold! If you find one, don't let them get away.
Multimedia Content Producer
Video is officially here to stay. According to Wyzowl's The State of Video Marketing 2020 survey, 85 percent of business respondents indicated they were currently using video as a marketing tool. The reason marketers are flocking toward video? It's what most consumers prefer.
According to Animoto's annual Online and Social Video Marketing Study, four times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. More than 4 billion videos are watched on YouTube every day. And most people are watching these videos on their smartphones. All that to say, every company with the budget to do so should strongly consider incorporating video into their marketing strategies.
Your multimedia producer should be skilled at producing video, images, GIFs, cinemagraphs, animations, and Vines. Besides knowing how to use technical software, they should have a solid understanding of how their efforts contribute your organization's overall inbound strategy.
Finally, you'll want someone who can not only make sense of your analytics, reporting on what's working and what's not, but who can also generate industry-wide data. Depending on your Buyer Persona, that could mean several things depending on your market—reports on stock trends over the past decade, water conservation statistics, or video gaming trends perhaps.
The point of this person's role will be to find original primary data about issues surrounding your industry. They will conduct research, sift through the numbers, and present it in a user-friendly format. Then, the social media manager, content writer, and inbound manager can work together to generate creative ways to present the data to stakeholders.
Look for someone who knows how to conduct effective studies and will keep the brand at the forefront of data and trend analysis. They need to be proficient in the use of analytics tools and understand how to interpret data. They’ll be responsible for ensuring that the right learnings are taken from the data and that future strategy considers these findings. Infographics, Webinars, and eBooks are all popular options.
Hiring In-House v. Outsourcing
If you're already silently crunching the numbers on how much this is going to cost, we don't blame you. Hiring all of those roles in-house can get pretty expensive. Taxes, benefits, and fees are the reality of hiring full-time employees.
Even if it IS within your budget to hire an entire team, you may still be better off working with candidates on a freelance basis. Unlike other industries, it can be difficult to measure an inbound expert's capabilities based on traditional interview techniques. Work with independent contractors and you'll have the flexibility of "trying before buying."
Your third alternative —and often the most cost-effective—is hiring a digital marketing agency. Here you'll have access to an entire team of inbound experts at your disposal. You'll also have access to their software, templates, and tools. Not only will an agency save your company the time of having to create your own systems and train your own workers, it will provide you with a "stress-free blueprint" for achieving a more sizable return on investment.