So, you've decided it's time to grow your team! A very exciting time for any business. Your business is growing, and you need help on the marketing front to keep that momentum going.
"A lot has changed in 2020" is an understatement. But, not much has really changed when it comes to how companies are hiring. If you're wondering how to hire eCommerce marketers in a post- (during-?) COVID world, read on — we've got the goods.
1. Identify your needs
Let's face it, you can't hire anyone before you know what your business needs are. Before you can decide how to approach hiring eCommerce marketers, you need to get clear on where your growth team is at now, and where you estimate it to be in 6, 12, and 24 months' time. Talent planning is a vital first step many often miss out.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- What stage of growth is your company at? Where is it headed?
- What kind of marketing resource do you already have on the team? What skill set is missing?
- How will the new eCommerce marketer (in-house or agency) fit in with the wider team?
"Marketing" is a term that covers a whole expanse of activity. Not only should you create a talent plan for your eCommerce marketing team, but you should be super clear on your business goals, and the strategy with which you plan to get there. This will steer you in the right direction of knowing what kind of marketer you need.
It is worth considering the following:
- What is your primary growth strategy? Are you more content and SEO-driven, or is paid advertising the way to go for you?
- Are you looking for an expert in one area to work closely with the C-level, or a generalist to lead the overall marketing strategy and execution?
These are all excellent starting points when approaching how to hire eCommerce marketers. Getting clear on what resources you already have, and what resources you are missing, will help you get laser clarity on what you should be looking for in your hire.
2. Decide between in-house or agency marketers
Once you've gotten clear on your needs, the next step is determining whether an agency or an in-house marketer is the best fit for the job. It is important to decide early-on which route makes the most business sense for you, as this decision will heavily influence the subsequent hiring process.
Before deciding whether an in-house marketer or an agency marketer is the best fit for you, it is worth weighing up the pros and cons of both options:
Pros of in-house marketers
- They're always available. Okay, not always, but within reasonable business hours, they can execute very tight deadlines if needed.
- They know the business inside and out. This puts them in a better position to make strategic decisions, and means you as a company build leaders from the inside.
- They can jump into other roles if necessary, like supporting sales or customer service.
- Their skill set will develop with the needs of the business, making them your business's own personal Swiss-Army knife ninja marketer extraordinaire.
Cons of in-house marketers
- They run the risk of being spread too thin. Marketing is such an expansive discipline. When you have someone on retainer, it is easy to get them executing on lots of things and so moving the needle on none of them.
- They're not necessarily highly-specialized experts, and sometimes you really just need an expert to get in, do a specific job, and get you great results. When you hire an agency, there is generally a bigger emphasis on ROI, so you go for specialists and expect results fast.
Pros of agency marketers
- They're easier to fire than in-house marketers. This makes them highly results-driven, so agencies will usually be very good at what they do. And if they don't deliver the expected value, it is a lot less "messy" to let an agency go than an in-house employee (of course, always read the fine print in the contract!).
- Agency marketers have a network of highly-specialized, experienced experts at their disposal, that they can call should the scope of your business needs grow or change. You won't be out of options or have to start your hiring journey from scratch.
- You can actively look for agencies that have experience within your existing niche or industry. For you, this translates to lots of time saved on experimenting and A/B testing, as they will be on the cutting edge of the best practices, and have tried and proven strategies to get you the results you need.
Cons of agency marketers
- You can't vet the individual marketer you will be working with from the agency, the way you can with an in-house hire. Bigger agencies tend to hand over accounts to junior team members, sometimes with minimal transparency. This means you could end up getting support from someone less qualified than you'd like.
- They don't understand your business as well as an in-house team member would. Not because they're not capable, but simply because they're also looking after another handful of accounts at the same time and just can't dedicate the amount of time to your business an in-house hire can.
If you feel an in-house marketer is the solution for you, jump to section 3.
If you feel an agency marketer is the solution for you, jump to section 4.
3. Hiring in-house eCommerce marketers
You've identified your needs, weighed up your options, and decided that an in-house marketer is the best solution to meet the growing needs of your marketing team. Great!
Everyone knows the basics of hiring, so we won't drone on and on about it. It's usually some configuration of the following: resume + cover letter, phone screen, a few interviews, maybe a strategy presentation or assessment to finish.
When it comes specifically to eCommerce marketers, there are a few things to bear in mind that can help you find the best candidate in the least time. Here are our top 4 tips to making sure you find the best eCommerce marketer you can.
1. Check their skills
The biggest secret to cutting down your time to hire is screening candidates for skills right at the beginning. There are plenty of tools out there that enable you to vet candidates based on their abilities, but our favorite is Toggl Hire. You can create a marketing skills test in just two clicks, and share as part of your job description. When candidates apply, you'll be able to instantly filter them by test result to see who is the most qualified.
Lots of companies have seen their time to hire drop by over 80% with this method. Plus, you'll have fewer but more engaging interviews further down the hiring funnel.
2. Test their analytical thinking
Yes, marketers are usually thought of as creatives, and there is no doubt creativity is a core part of a good marketer. But an equally important skill is critical and analytical thinking. The marketing in the eCommerce industry has become increasingly data-driven, so the ability to handle, manipulate, and understand large amounts of data is vital for success in this role.
Make sure once you create your initial shortlist of candidates, you add additional testing around these crucial skills. This can be as a short 1.5 - 2 hour homework assignment, or an in-interview task.
3. Don't overlook soft skills
It is often said that the trademark of the best marketers is empathy. Being able to empathize with your audience at various stages of the funnel is critical to developing a relevant and compelling marketing strategy. As well as empathy, there are a few other soft skills to keep a look-out for when hiring an in-house eCommerce marketer.
- Communication - Marketers are the voice of your brand, so make sure they are good at communicating across various mediums, platforms, and with various stakeholders!
- Organization - Project management is a big part of a marketers job, and an in-house marketer will have to coordinate several cross-functional projects with internal as well as external teams and freelancers. You want someone on your side who is good at juggling multiple balls at the same time - preferably without dropping them.
- Time management - Marketing is a bottomless pit — in the sense that there are always more A/B tests to run, more content to create, more keywords to brainstorm. With competing demands on time, you need your eCommerce marketer to be someone who can set deadlines, keep a laser focus on business priorities, and isn't afraid of saying "no."
4. Does their character fit the culture?
Hiring for skills is only half the picture. You want to be sure your new hire will fit in well with the team. Hires that are a good cultural fit typically are more satisfied in their role, start contributing faster, and stay with the company longer.
In order to determine which of your candidates are the most aligned with your company culture, make sure you fully embody your company values in every touch point you have with your candidates. You can usually "feel" it right away when you meet someone who's energy, work ethic, and attitude matches those of your existing employees.
If you need some extra help to determine a candidate's cultural fit, here are some good questions to try asking in interview (bonus, have your existing team answer these questions and see how the candidates stack up!):
- What type of team do you thrive in?
- How do you respond to authority and criticism?
- What do you think makes a good leader?
- How do you spend your free time?
- What makes you feel accomplished?
4. Hiring agency eCommerce marketers
You've identified your needs, weighed up your options, and decided that a marketing agency is the best solution for your business. Fantastic!
When hiring an agency for your eCommerce marketing activity, there are different things to look for that are specific to the specialty they operate in (SEO, Google ads, Facebook ads, etc). Here we will share some common threads to look for no matter what kind of agency you're hiring to support your eCommerce marketing efforts.
1. They're familiar with your tech stack
Every agency has their own way of working with clients. That includes the stack of tools they use to help them do their job day-to-day. Agencies are working with multiple clients at once, so typically have their systems down pat on their own eCommerce marketing tools. However, if your team or company uses different tools to the agency, things could take a little longer than usual, especially in the beginning.
The growing pains will subside, and by no means does an agency's tech stack have to make or break whether you hire them. But it is a question worth asking in the interview process. Hitting the ground running will be a lot smoother if you're both singing from the same hymn sheet — so to speak.
2. They have experience and success stories with other clients in your industry/niche
As you well know, marketing looks very different depending on the niche you operate in. A strategy that sends a food blog soaring is not necessarily going to help scale a B2B SaaS product. Choosing an agency that has a killer reputation in your specific niche or industry will save you precious time and money. Instead of burning through budget testing various tactics, a reputable agency will be able to jumpstart the process with you using tried and true methods.
3. They don’t give you guarantees
Don't get us wrong, it is great to have ambition and set big goals. But an agency that guarantees any kind of result is probably one to avoid. Whether PPC, SEO, or organic social campaigns, no results are ever guaranteed, especially in the eCommerce space which is growing and changing so rapidly. If an agency offers you any kind of guarantee, it is likely a red flag. Instead, ask for testimonials and proof of past results to gauge capability. Transparency around pricing, methods of work, and professional communication are all good indicators you've chosen a solid agency for your eCommerce marketing needs.
In conclusion, whether you're hiring an in-house marketer or an agency, your eCommerce marketing hire is a crucial piece of your growth puzzle. Follow the steps in this guide to hire eCommerce marketers, and you'll find the best talent both in 2021 and beyond. Good luck and happy hiring!