Leading a Digital Marketing Team: Top 3 Challenges and How to Meet Them



Learn how to handle the common difficulties faced by digital marketing teams.

According to a global study conducted by Deloitte in 2015, at least 53 percent of workers, including digital marketers, dream of rising up the corporate ladder to leadership or senior executive positions. However, as experience has taught us, only a handful of digital marketers have the requisite knowledge and skill to effectively lead their teams.

The explosion of disruptive technologies and the rise of global consumerism are progressively revolutionizing the entire digital marketing world, consequently making team leadership rather challenging for most individuals. As a matter of fact, 41 percent of senior digital marketers don’t think their departments work well with other business functions, and only 65 percent are confident that they’re adequately proficient in their craft.

Additionally, the growing need for the right skills and technologies, plus effective marketing strategies can make the job very challenging. Unfortunately, these challenges spread across small, medium and large enterprises, although they can be more pronounced in the latter. Although big teams have better efficacy levels compared to smaller counterparts, leading one is considerably more demanding.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, results produced are largely dependent on how well you cope with these problems. To help you through this process, here are some of the top challenges and how to meet them:

1. Keeping up with changing trends

Digital marketing, unlike other types of marketing projects, is heavily reliant on technology. While this is predominantly beneficial, it comes with a caveat — technology is constantly changing. Although progressive changes lead improved tech efficacy levels, not many marketers and team leaders are willing to keep up with the trend. In fact, while consumers continue craving enhanced digital and social experiences, 55 percent of digital marketers, including top executives, are struggling to cope with accelerated digital transformation – up from seven percent in 2015.

The only way to reverse this, of course, is adopting a flexible marketing strategy that addresses changing tech and social trends. Keeping up to date with relevant trends will help team leaders assess the efficacy levels of respective technologies, and subsequently incorporate them in line with their teams’ capabilities.

2. Board illiteracy

The most effectual tech marketing strategies, in most cases, need to be backed by correspondingly big investments. And that, of course, requires full support and funding by boards. Unfortunately, most board members are all about numbers and company organization. Only a handful are conversant with tech and digital marketing. As a matter of fact, according to a study that sampled over 300 companies, only 18 (six percent) of the senior board members were described as “highly digital.” As a result, many digital marketing proposals are turned down not because of ineffectiveness, but due to board illiteracy.

While businesses need to place digital savvy individuals on their boards, digital marketing team leaders should also put in more effort in bonding with their respective boards. This helps in creating a critical link between the board and digital marketers, allowing leaders to present to their boards by breaking down the most technical details into simple, digestible facts.

3. Management and HR pitfalls

And finally, digital marketing team leaders are constantly challenged by standard management pitfalls, pretty much like other company executives. In the digital marketing world, for instance, it’s common for prospects to exaggerate their qualifications during the interview process. Additionally, most recruiters tend to focus more on soft skills than practical capabilities like tech proficiency. One of the best ways to avoid candidates that don’t fit the established work culture is recruiting them on a probationary period for some time, say six months or so, enough to comprehensively analyze their abilities and weak points.

Another common pitfall is making assumptions on team members’ skill levels and various digital marketing strategies. While 47 percent of team leaders make judgments based on intuition, it’s always advisable to leverage data in the decision making process. This should help you make informed decisions, backed by concrete data. And since it relies on metrics, digital marketing team leaders should implement KPIs on not only on their team members but also on their respective marketing strategies.

At the end of the day, your efficiency in tackling a problem is largely dependent on how early you recognize a challenge and the subsequent evaluation processes. To facilitate this, you should encourage active collaboration and engagement in the workplace, in a bid to involve even your digital marketing team members in decision-making processes.

Photo credit: Shutterstock / SFIO CRACHO


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