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5 Digital Marketing Skills That A Candidate Can't Fake


Job titles like ‘Social Media Manager’ and ‘Content Marketing Executive’ didn’t exist 10 years ago.  In fact, the industry has evolved immensely over the last five years, let alone decade!  As a recruiter, you might agree that it doesn’t take much to pique interest in job postings relating to digital marketing from a candidate perspective. However, recruiting for digital marketing roles perfectly demonstrates the importance of having quality over quantity in terms of candidates.

All too often, you’ll find yourself reviewing candidates who list their job title as ‘Social Media Manager’ with three years’ experience and bring them in for an interview to find out that the only real experience they have is posting updates on their company’s Facebook and Twitter pages.  This would have been fine back in 2011, but since the average company will allocate 30% of their marketing budget to online marketing in 2016 (expected to grow to 35% by 2019), basic skills just won’t cut the mustard anymore.  So how do you decipher whether or not a candidate has the experience under their belt to serve your organisation? Well, there are certain skills that you just can’t fake if you’ve been working in a bonafide digital marketing role.  Today, we’re going to look at those particular skills, as well as what questions you can ask in order to find top talent for your organisation.

Skill #1: Managing Paid Social Campaigns

57761423Why it’s an essential skill:  Don’t get us wrong, creating well-written organic posts for social platforms is absolutely a skill in itself.  However, if a significant portion of your web traffic is coming from social media advertising, you’re going to need to hire someone who knows their way around Facebook Business Manager/Power Editor and the Twitter Ad Platform.  In a recent Mashable article where 15 industry heads were asked what the most important digital skills are in the market right now, Miles Jennings of said:

‘A new digital marketing hire should be well-versed in paid social media advertising, especially through Facebook or a similar social platform that our company uses regularly. They need to be able to understand and implement Facebook analytics and insights, create “lookalike” and custom audiences, experiment and test creative campaign and images, and be secure in their knowledge of the overall social media landscape. There are many budget-saving opportunities within the social media advertising space, so we want to make sure that our digital marketing talent knows the ins and outs of this popular and easy-to-implement marketing space.’

What to ask:  Ask the candidate to tell you about a successful Facebook or Twitter campaign that they have managed.  Look out for mentions of cost per click and engagement rates.  You should also ask what the particular goal was for that campaign, and what the result was in terms of conversions (enquiry forms submitted, sales made, white papers downloaded).

Skill #2: Data Analysis

810357440055cf92ce320800569af93bef0192bcc01b6471bed8c041f69c7f79Why it’s an essential skill:  A great digital marketer is someone that is able to take all of the data that’s available to them, and turn it into clear information that can be used to improve the product or service on offer. More and more companies are investing in ways to use big data to understand the customer journey and overall experience.  Many are actually hiring dedicated data analysts for their marketing efforts.  Nevertheless, it’s vital that any and all digital marketing hires know their way around analytics.  That way it’s clear to see that there was a strategy involved in their last position and that they weren’t just running digital campaigns willy-nilly and hoping for the best.

What to ask:  Ask the candidate if they have experience using Google Analytics.  Ask where their previous company’s website visitors came from, both geographically and in terms of navigation from other platforms.  Ask them what the best times to Tweet or post Facebook updates are, based on analytics.  Ask what the most visited page on their website was in the past 3 months.  A skilled digital marketer shouldn’t have any trouble answering all of these questions.

Skill #3: Email Marketing

screen-shot-2013-07-17-at-11.13.20-amWhy it’s an essential skill:  As more and more social platforms are introduced into our lives that require a shorter attention span and little to no focus on reading, it’s important to remember that there’s still a spot in the digital marketing mix for the humble email. The benefits of email marketing are many: Cost Effectiveness, Possibility of Reach and Ease of Measurement to name but a few; that’s why it’s important to hire someone that knows how to write copy for email campaigns and has a knack for understanding audiences as well as A/B testing.

 What to ask:  Ask the candidate if they have experience working on email marketing campaigns.  Do they have a specific example of a successful campaign that they worked on?  Can they demonstrate this for you in terms of listing stats like the open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate and unsubscribe rate?

Skill #4: Listening


Why it’s an essential skill:  Of all of the skills on this list, ‘listening’ is the one that’s probably the most difficult to determine if the candidate is faking or not.  It’s also one of the most important skills for a candidate to possess.  If you don’t have your ear to the ground with social listening, you’re really not doing your job as a digital marketer.  Shalyn Dever of Chatter Buzz recently talked about the importance of listening in Digital Marketing:

‘As a digital marketer, our ability to promote our services through words, images, video and social media are essential. Digital marketing also provides an opportunity for its specialists to listen to various groups of people, from clients to consumers, in new ways. Through social media and analytical tools, we can listen to our consumers’ thoughts on a product, relevant issue or our own services. When I hire a digital marketer, I’ll see if they’ve sought to listen to consumer and client needs and create a solution from their own observations or insights.’

What to ask:  Ask the candidate what specific tools they use for social listening.  Do they trawl through forums? Do they have Google Alerts set up to monitor online mentions of their competitors? Do they know what the top reasons are for the positive and negative reviews that are posted to their company’s Facebook and Twitter pages? Most importantly – what do they do with all of the information that they find?

Skill #5: WordPress

tell-me-how-professional-bloggerWhy it’s an essential skill:  Any organisation that has their finger on the pulse of the industry will tell you about the importance of content marketing.  Blog posts, webinars, videos, infographics – all of these are the things that readers are finding most engaging right now.  People are savvy when it comes to knowing when they’re being targeted with poorly executed Facebook and Twitter ads that aren’t relevant to them.  What people are engaging with, however, is valuable content from which they can take something useful away (and ultimately view your company in a positive light!)

Angela Ruth of talked about the importance of having experience using WordPress.

‘With so many platforms now built on WordPress, it is a vital technical tool to add to your toolbox. If you want to create and manage a blog or even a website, WordPress has become the go-to platform for digital marketers. It also helps to continually educate yourself on new plug-ins and functionality because WordPress is always offering something new and useful that speeds up content production.’

What to ask:  Ask the candidate to send you through some samples of their blog posts ahead of the interview.  During the interview, ask them where they get their ideas from.  You’re trying to see if they just pull ideas out of a metaphorical hat, or if they are more interested in creating valuable content for potential customers, i.e. answering a frequently asked question, giving tips on a specific topic – are they ultimately helping to make their reader’s lives easier?


If you want to learn best practice on how to interview candidates then why not check out SocialTalent’s Interview training. OR if that’s not enough, feast your eyes on Our Hiring Manager training. Either way, you’ll be flying it in no time!

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