Name tag with Digital Marketing written on it

How to find a great digital marketing expert (or employee)

In today’s world, it’s almost impossible to grow a business without being online. The good news is digital marketing campaigns are cheaper and easier to implement than offline marketing campaigns on TV, Radio, or in Print.

We understand that for many businesses, “being online” means having a website. However, to take full advantage of this digital revolution, you have to implement all digital channels (Website, SEO, SEM, PPC, Email, Social Media, etc.).

Digital Marketing Expert In A Nutshell

In a nutshell, you can think of a great digital marketing expert as a conductor in an orchestra – where the Website, SEO, SEM, PPC, Email, and Social Media are all necessary but different instruments in the orchestra.

Therefore, a digital marketing expert is very different from an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) expert, Website designer/builder, Social media expert, or someone that specializes in PPC (Pay-per-click) advertising. While there is some overlap, specialists should not drive your high-level strategy. For example, an SEO expert should not lead your website strategy because you may end up with a website that ranks high in Google but does not align with your other business or customer goals.

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A great digital marketing expert will plan and oversee all digital channels for your business – Website, content marketing, social media, email marketing, SEO, and PPC. For example, suppose you are trying to position your product or service as a premium offering. In that case, you cannot offer deep discounts on Facebook (Ads), and at the same time, promote exclusivity on another channel (e.g., Website). This is why many companies have a marketing manager, a chief marketing officer, or a digital marketing consultant overseeing all marketing campaigns and channels.

Therefore, a great digital marketing expert (or consultant) must have experience in customer and market research, strategy, planning, execution (different digital marketing channels), and optimization. Furthermore, he/she needs to communicate marketing ideas, direction, and strategy up, down, and across your organization – the task that many external consultants/experts find challenging. 

Real Digital Marketing Experts vs. Self-proclaimed Experts

Hiring a digital marketing expert (or consultant) is no different from hiring any other expert. You don’t just take their word for it; you ask many questions and review their previous work.

With that in mind, you should ask for actual examples of their customer research, strategy, planning, execution, and optimization. This is the only way to identify real digital marketing experts vs. self-proclaimed experts.

For instance, ask a digital marketing expert (or consultant) for examples of:

  • Customer and market research
  • Digital marketing plan and strategy
  • Successful campaigns (and why they were successful)
  • Unsuccessful campaigns (and why they were unsuccessful)
  • Website optimization
  • Social Media campaigns
  • SEO improvements
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • PPC advertising
  • Conversion improvements
  • ROI numbers (return of investment)

If you find someone with experience in all of these areas, then great, but don’t automatically rule someone out if they miss experience in only one or two areas. Most digital marketing experts have a network of specialists to help them plug those knowledge/experience holes. However, if the expert you are talking to doesn’t have experience in 3 or more areas, then that’s a red flag – especially if you need them to manage all your digital marketing efforts.

Cost & ROI

You will typically get what you pay for – the more experience someone has, the more expensive they will be. However, as is the case, with any investment opportunity you analyze, the potential return on investment is as important as the initial cost. 

Most business owners will happily pay a premium if they see a real impact on their bottom line. For example, paying a marketing expert $5,000 to generate $10,000 in additional profits is clearly better than paying someone $500 with no impact on the bottom line. 

When picking a digital marketing expert, focus on the potential outcome as well as the cost. Note: Asking for examples of previous campaigns will help you assess possible ROI and certainty levels.

Related: What Are Your Best and Worse Lead Generation (And Marketing) Tactics?


Digital marketing is still a relatively new concept to many small to medium-size businesses, hence why looking for and hiring a digital marketing expert can be intimidating. Hopefully, we helped you understand the role a little better and what types of questions you need to ask – to help distinguish between someone that truly has the knowledge and experience to grow your business with digital marketing and someone that is only looking to up-sell their expertise and squeeze a few extra dollars out of your business.

Related: Making Big Marketing Bets

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