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4 Things to Consider When Hiring Your First Digital Marketer

Calendar icon 15th December 2021

By Tom Pearce, Director of Marketing, based in Zeren‘s London Office.



When making decisions to set up your Digital Marketing offering, it can be hard to know where to start. There are many factors to weigh-up when deciding which route to go down: 1) In-House vs. Agency; 2) Level of the Individual: Visionary vs. Hands-On; and 3) Investment Level: Resource vs. Budget – to name but a few.


In this article, I’m keen to discuss the challenges that are faced, and provide some suggested solutions to try-out when hiring your first Digital Marketing champion.


1. Digital Talent Shortages


This had to be ‘Number One’ on my listWith the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and companies investing more in digital than ever before, there’s been an ongoing war for talent in the most competitive job market since 1998, reported via KPMG. We are seeing salaries rise and an increasing demand from candidates for more flexibility.


The solution ultimately comes down to ensuring you have a defined brief. Businesses that have success in this competitive market are the ones that can quickly make decisions on candidate profiles, really know their value proposition and work with Search partners that are an extended brand ambassadorRecognise your USPs and why candidates should choose you over other opportunities and, internally, decide where you stand regarding ‘Skills vs. Attitude vs. Potential’ to enable swifter decisionmakingThe companies that are winning in this market are the ones that can act decisively, fast. 


2. Where Do I Start When Hiring For My Team?


This is probably the most pressing topic you will be thinking about and, for me, the hardest to answer simply within a few sentences, as it very much depends on your business model. Breaking it down, when starting your Digital Marketing function, there will be three areas to consider: 1) the needs of today (execution of campaigns); 2) the needs of tomorrow (mid-term strategy); and 3) the needs for future growth (a credible plan for fundraising).


Trying to find and hire someone that can do all three at once is like trying to find a unicorn. Good advice would be to think about how you’d like to build out the team: bottom-up or top-down? A bottom-up team would start with the hire of someone who is more execution-focused and would report into the CEO/Founder. This can be a good solution if you are unsure of the direction of the Marketing team, and maybe it is too soon to commit to a senior figure. On the other hand, a top-down team would start with the hire of an experienced high-flyer that aligns with your brand vision and goals; someone you fully entrust to build the right team (either internally or using supplementary agency resource). This route will mean you will likely spend the beginning of the marketing journey focused on building-out the plan (when, where, how?), and the execution will follow.


3. Marketing Technology and Industry Trends are Constantly Changing


Think about if you were to put a Senior Marketing Executive from ten years ago into a time machine and bring them to the current day. How much would have changedThink about all the new technologies in the market today that are in instant demand; the birth of new marketing channels and the ability to track and target audiences more than ever before. Our industry is forever-changing, new technologies are constantly entering the market and the way you interview your candidates must also adapt.


A recommendation would be to perhaps think about asking for external specialist advice – someone who really knows marketing – to interview your marketing candidates. Get them to thoroughly drill-down into the specifics of the candidates’ experiences, as it may not be something you are professionally familiar with.


4. Take the Time to Truly Understand the Role of Marketing in Your Business


Marketing and Sales go hand-in-hand. However, it can sometimes be difficult to know how much Marketing – and the investment made in Marketing – is responsible for company and revenue growth and commercial success.


Interestingly, research by The Chartered Institute of Marketing found that despite marketing being responsible for driving revenue growth of 19%, 60% of marketing directors do not believe their contribution is taken seriously in their company”. For businesses that are born online, usually via social media, their marketing revenue growth can be much higher, and where digital marketing investment is their main form of business development, sometimes up to 100%.


Take a company like Huel, for exampleSince its launch in 2015, Huel has sold over 100 million meals and built-up a passionate community of over 400,000 followers across social media channels. Ultimately, it really depends on your business model and the growth model as to your approach. Taking the time to understand how marketing a) could, and b) should, contribute to growth, will not only help anchor who the right person to hire should be, but also what to expect of them and how to align the business behind them to ensure they are successful.


In summary, my advice is to explore how Digital Marketing can add value to your business. Speak to advisors, industry connections, review competitors and see what marketing has meant for their company and how success is measured for them.


If you hire an excellent Marketer, your business will inevitably accelerate, and your sales team will thank you for it – and this is where Zeren can help. We know how to attract the best marketing talent for your business and specialise in partnering with high-growth, online, digital and technology businesses at all stages of growth. What are you waiting for?



Zeren exists to empower the world’s change makers. We do this by building high-performing teams in the world’s most innovative businesses, to accelerate growth by connecting visionary leaders and ambitious talent.


We are a leading global Executive Search & Recruitment Firm with offices in New York, London and Frankfurt. We partner with both high growth, investor backed businesses and ambitious corporate brands around the world.