Why a great digital marketing specialist isn't one

Such a headline may leave some of you confused. This is my thought of the day, bear with me!

Since the dawn of time, we humans have been specialising in order to excel in a particular field. This is especially true in the beautiful world of digital marketing we work in. Why? Because we do often deal with matters considered highly technical by a vast majority of people. So technical or advanced it seems, that only a specialist can deal with it.
Let’s see, if you are going to advertise on Google, then it makes total sense to want a Google Adwords specialist looking after your campaigns, doesn’t it? Of all the jobs available in the world, that person is the one most likely to get you the best possible results because that is his specialty. The same applies to content marketing, email marketing, search marketing, web analytics, social media marketing, web design, etc.

But whilst specialisation makes a lot of sense (in theory), especially in a field where a particular skillset is in high demand, it simply doesn’t cut it anymore in today’s digital marketing landscape.

Times have changed, and today’s best digital marketing person is an oxymoron: a multidisciplinary specialist, therefore a generalist.

You see, digital marketing is made up of many sub-specialisations. But in isolation they work like a car without tyres. Indeed, your vehicle will move, but at a slow pace, in a hard-to-control manner with a high chance of unwanted results. They need to all work together for you to see how powerful they really are.

At Reef, we understood this quite early on: in fact, when our agency was still just a draft on paper. We saw – and continue to see – digital marketing as a large ecosystem where every single element interacts with each other to form a well-balance, harmonious ensemble (like a reef!).

Following that concept, we ensure every member of our team is not just a specialist in one area, but a savvy digital marketer who understands our profession as a whole. This approach means we can build the most appropriate approach for our clients, in harmony with their greater marketing strategy (which can include offline marketing, events, PR, etc).

This is also crucially important because the customer journey is spread across many channels and only by understanding how each interact can you make a sense of what is happening.

  • No matter how well a Paid Search Specialist optimises his campaign, he may never achieve a positive ROI if he cannot explain to the client why the landing page is the cause of his low performance.
  • A copywriter may never see his content, no matter how well-written it is, get ranked high on search engines and receive large volumes of organic traffic if the keywords used have not been properly researched with SEO best practices in mind.
  • An email marketer may never understand the success of his promotional email campaigns if conversion tracking is not set up in Google Analytics.
  •  Etc.

Do not misunderstand me however. I still believe being able to understand a marketing channel in great detail is a plus. All I am saying is that it should not be your sole focus so start cross-training yourself as soon as you can.

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2 Responses

  1. Mate, it makes me so happy to read these thoughts after all the discussions we’ve had over the years. Couldn’t agree more. It’s all about the T shape! https://moz.com/rand/the-t-shaped-web-marketer/

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