In the local marketing automation world, we come across marketing experts of all types: influencers, gurus, ninjas, rockstars. It takes all kinds. Some turn out to be genuine, the rest wannabes.

digital dunce cat

With so many specialties, the role of “digital expert” is too big for just one cat.

When building a distributed marketing program, we call on our own experts to ensure our clients’ success. These specialists are trained across tactics, but stay focused on specific marketing functions so they can stay current with best practices; this mix of general and specific knowledge is sometimes called T-shaped skills. Our client service and technical teams harness this expertise via Brandmuscle’s software and service offerings to grow our clients’ businesses from the local affiliate up to the national brand. Applying our expertise to local campaigns is the core of a distributed marketing model and has helped us make the big brands we work with successful on both the local and national scale.

But digital marketing has become an unwieldy beast. We’ve determined that this “one area” is too large and diverse to be captured by any one expert.

As digital marketing at the local level continues to grow and evolve, those who claim to be experts in all of digital marketing are becoming more like digital marketing generalists than true digital specialists. The technical knowledge needed to be a true expert and the time intensive task of keeping up on digital trends is just too much for one person.

In short: there’s no such thing as a digital marketing expert.

Since we know not everyone will believe us, we’ve gathered a snapshot of what it would entail to be a true digital expert. The true digital expert would need to be familiar with both macro- and micromanagement of the following activities:

  • Website design, creation, maintenance, usability and management
  • Email marketing, including copy, analytics, timing and design
  • Search engine marketing – both paid approaches and organic optimization
  • Social media, including community management, advertising and contests
  • Digital media, advertising and retargeting
  • All things online video
  • App development, marketing and management
  • Mobile trends and techniques
  • Geo-location and remote connectivity
  • Emerging technologies like wearables, iBeacons and much more

Additionally, true digital experts must keep the following skills sharp:

  • Digital strategy, trends and integration
  • Audience identification and digital distribution
  • Usability, information architecture and user experience design
  • Web design and interaction design
  • Digital analytics, including email, social and mobile
  • Programming, languages and integration with software
  • SMS marketing, eCommerce, Retargeting techniques
  • And the list goes on…

Span the knowledge of these platforms and skillsets across multiple industries and the picture gets more complex. While some best practices and conventions work across all of digital marketing, others differ by industry or by practice, just as audiences and behaviors differ.

For instance, social advertising on Facebook works well when targeting by geographic areas for local businesses, but not on Twitter where users’ location data is significantly less reliable. Another example: emails for consumer goods are better when tied to product-specific pages, but emails supporting B2B businesses are better when they focus on thought leadership or industry insights.

In the end, a real expert is the person who knows he or she is not an expert (or ninja). When in doubt, seek out specialists who can help you wade through specific tactics and be ready to learn yourself.

Also, realize that tapping into digital expertise often requires a team of experts with individual skill sets. At Brandmuscle, our digital team’s “T-shaped” skills overlap but have enough depth to execute effective campaigns. Our team covers nearly all of the facets above, but depending on the project and the industry, one key expert will step to the front.

Working with a digital team, you’ll always end up learning a lot. You may not end up being an expert yourself, but you’ll enhance your skills and know who to reach out to the next time around.

While we’re on the topic, if you’re interested in digital tactics for distributed marketing, don’t be afraid to reach out to us.

What do you think? Are you a digital expert? Are there skillsets we forgot? Keep us in line by using the comments below.