The first few months at any job are critical to make a good impression, earn the respect of your team, get things on the right track and start generating demonstrable results. This is especially true in digital marketing recruitment, where roles are still emerging and companies are struggling to see how you fit in their organization.
Whether this is your first time at the digital helm or you already have a few years as Chief Digital Officer or Director of Digital under your belt, filling a big position with lots of responsibility at a new company can be intimidating.
In our years of digital marketing recruitment, we’ve found that having a general integration plan for yourself makes you a more attractive candidate during the interview process and will help you start your new position with relative smoothness. Use this schedule as a foundation to craft your own calendar and a guide to start proving your worth in a timely fashion.
The exact dates will of course vary depending on your resources, the company’s market position, urgent priorities that arise, etc. But this can serve as a rough timeline to base your processes off of and put yourself in a place where you’re showing results and demonstrating tangible value.
Mostly standard onboarding procedures to begin, but take every opportunity possible to start feeling out your employer’s digital situation:
- Do as much brand, corporate, ethics and legal training as you can early on. A lot of this is boring but necessary, so get it out of the way as quickly as possible to clear your plate for marketing work.
- Learn how the entire company is structured; a digital leader might be a marketer first, but you also have a responsibility to innovate and integrate digital processes across the company. Find out who controls the office coffee supply.
- Learn what major software tools your new organization relies on, both internally and externally. Train on new software and refresh your knowledge on tools you are rusty with.
Time to take stock of your resources, both digital and human.
- Find out more about the talent you have on hand—and not just their technical expertise. Identify the natural leaders and problem solvers, the subjects matter experts and anyone who needs keeping an eye on.
- Take ownership of your organization’s digital properties and tools. Companies tend to accumulate web accounts, software logins, subscriptions and documents without a cohesive strategy. Keep them organized and working together. Take control of all these assets and evaluate their usefulness.
- Take a peak under the hood of your digital engines. Check the integrity of your main site’s code, your automated workflows, and the reliability and security of your servers.
Once you know where your digital marketing capabilities stand, you can decide which direction to take first.
- Compare your position and resources to those of your competitors. What are they doing better (or worse) than you?
- Distribute access to your digital assets to your team as needed to delegate responsibility and capability to those who need it.
- Identify any glaring weaknesses or vulnerabilities in your team or digital infrastructure. Are there major cybersecurity risks? Gaping vacancies in your marketing department that will halt meaningful progress?
With this better perspective, you can start prioritizing goals and laying a foundation for success.
- Create a strategy to remedy any big problems you identified previously. That might mean planning a code overhaul, a mass removal of content detrimental to the brand or SEO, or implementing a new workflow to improve marketing and security.
- Develop your company’s marketing profile—where it’s been in the past and where it wants to go. Evaluate the strengths of the brand and how you can leverage or improve it.
- Collaborate with other executives and managers to create measurable short-term benchmarks you want to reach in the next six months to a year. This way you’ll have demonstrable progress to show in the short term, even if you’re not driving immediate revenue growth.
Once the “low hanging fruit” are taken care of, tackle the more advanced challenges.
- Decide whether any sweeping changes, like a site redesign, will be necessary to your digital marketing success.
- Find a way to fill or work around any talent gaps in your team. Start the hiring process of any essential digital team members, restructure the team to alleviate any shortfalls, and consider digital staffing, contracting and freelance resources.
- Consider ways to strengthen your company’s core messaging and unique selling proposition with the tools and processes at your disposal.
Up until this point, you’ve mostly been cleaning up messes and evaluating your capabilities. Now you should start getting to a point where you can start planning your own initiatives and campaigns.
- Create a social media strategy. Establish a cohesive voice across channels that enhances the company brand. Delegate tasks, create best practices for consumer and industry engagement, and outline a social content strategy to maximize engagement and social signals.
- Take a deep dive into overall content strategy. Find out what consumers are looking for at various stages of the funnel, from awareness to conversion, and create a plan to efficiently generate and distribute content that they’ll find useful and compelling along the way.
- Create an SEO strategy. Research priority keywords and evaluate your current search rankings. Establish a plan to improve your web properties’ structures, load times, and performance. Then adjust your content strategy accordingly to incorporate keywords as necessary and start planning a long-term link-building campaign.
Around the beginning of your third month, you should be in a position to start establishing long-term objectives and prioritizing goals.
- Identify core KPI’s for your various initiatives: opens, click-through rates, responses, leads, shares…what measurements most closely align with success?
- Make sure you have all the tools and analytics capabilities to track and evaluate your KPI progress. Obtain any software and talent you currently lack.
- Clean up and optimize currently active campaigns and assets. It’s usually easier to improve resources you already have than to create them from scratch.
Your priority might be marketing, but your experience and talent can improve processes across the company. Investments in other digital functions will have long-term payoffs for your marketing initiatives.
- Start coordinating with other department heads on ways to streamline internal digital processes, improve security and provide a cohesive external front to consumers.
- Create a testing matrix for your campaigns. Test everything.
- Start research into customers and their experience. What channels are they encountering your brand on? What devices are they accessing your properties and services on? Where are they dropping off and leaving the sales funnel?
By now you should be mostly familiar with the industry, marketplace, company structure, and capabilities.
- Check your benchmark progress. Adjust your goals if necessary, and see if any of your responsibilities are going better than expected or need a little extra attention.
- Based on what you know about the company so far, take an opportunity to look into its immediate and long-term digital future. Identify likely problems you can try to mitigate now and potential opportunities you can take advantage of.
- Check in with your colleagues and managers to measure your progress, share results and plan for the success of the coming months.