What is a Digital Marketing Expert? Or, What you Should Really Look for in a Digital Agency.

There are a lot of experts out there in the digital marketing field. No sooner has a platform launched a new advertising system, then an ‘expert’ will pop up to write a blog post on how best you can use it and what you need to be ‘looking out for’. But how expert are these experts? Did we ever ask the question on what makes up their credentials for expertise?

How Do You Become an Expert?

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’ he puts forward the idea that in order for someone to become an expert at something they would need to practice for on average 10,000 hours. This idea can be traced back to a 1993 paper published by University of Colorado professors Ericsson, Krampe & Tesch-Romer.  The Professors studied a group of musicians from Berlin. They noted that those that went on to become professional musicians all had stuck with their task and completed over the 10,000 hours of practice. Those that had not, well, did not.

What does 10,000 hours look like and how does this relate to digital marketing? Well, taking into consideration the need for sleep, eating and the odd vacation, 10,000 hours is a solid 6 years of practice. That’s a lot of time to be doing the same thing.

What is a Digital Marketing Expert?

But how does that relate to digital marketing? If someone tells you that they are a PPC expert can you assume that they have been repetitively doing PPC tasks everyday on the same platform for 6 years. It seems unlikely. Also, if they had been running PPC accounts for 6 years, did the platform stay the same throughout that time so they could hone their skills on something that was uniform and reacted in the same way each time? Again unlikely!

In the last 6 months Google has released 42 updates to the Google Ads platform. Everything from a change in how metrics are reported to completely new ad types and targeting. Facebook also has an alarming rate of improvement and iteration going on, with new ad types and targeting coming out on a weekly basis. With all this change is it even possible to become an expert on these platforms? It would be like these musicians going to pick up their violin and the way they had to play it changing on a weekly basis.

So what is the basis for expertise in digital marketing? With the constant change in the industry with products and platform opening and closing at a rate that is difficult to keep track of, how can you develop an expertise?

Know Your Audience

In our opinion, a key element in digital marketing is the marketing rather than the digital. At its very core digital marketing is marketing. Someone’s expertise at digital marketing should be centered in both their expertise as a marketer as well as a digital expert. Marketing is about understanding people and their motivations and needs. It’s taking this understanding and translating it to the digital platforms that is key to an expertise.

So although the platforms and the levers that are being used are changing constantly, the people behind them stay relatively the same. We as marketers have to try and understand people’s needs and motivations and as digital marketers we have to try to understand what tools are out there to reach them.

So with all this change, what should you look for in a digital marketing agency? Well, at its very core they should be marketing experts. Do they take time to understand your customers and their journeys? Do they work out what messaging is best and at what time to deliver it? If they do that, then that is half the battle won. If not, then they may be very good with the tools of the job but have no feel for the craft.

Being able to bring together both the understanding for your audience and the digital expertise is what will really help to drive change in digital marketing channels. So, next time your looking for a digital marketing expert take time to understand their expertise in both the marketing and the digital.

We hope you found that interesting and informative. We build full funnel digital advertising campaigns that leverage all the data you have in your marketing stack. If you want to find out how we do this or if you just want to chat get in touch with us here.

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